Friday, December 30, 2005

Looking back at 2005: May

I think it's really funny that out of her school trip to the Goat Farm, all Karina remembers is the A&W treat they had.
Which goes to show that kids see and remember things differently from adults. When out on trips I place more importance on the things we see on exhibit (e.g. zoo animals, fishes at the aquarium). My children on the other hand place more importance on where and what they eat. Hahahahah.

The story on the dogs is a sad one. I decided it was too much for me to handle and so they had to go. My mom was happy to say "I told you so." Anyway, surprisingly the kids weren't sad at all. I guess they too had enough of shoe biting episodes. Goodness knows how many new pairs of shoes and slippers we bought those few months. Last straw was when they chewed on daddy's church shoes which I might add, was supposedly out of reach.

Thank you to the following sites for the wonderful freebies:

Looking back at 2005: April

This kiddy pool has been a lifesaver on many a hot day. They have cups, pails and water guns to keep them busy. I need to be a better mom and take them to a real pool more often.

Thank you to the following sites for the wonderful freebies:

Looking back at 2005: March

Children are full of surprises. Here was Karina scribbling away at her whiteboard as usual, pretending to be a teacher when suddenly she writes something legible. Which goes to show that as parents, all we need to do is give our children the freedom to explore. We do not need to pressure them to conform to developmental charts. They just need room to grow, to play, and to experiment. Our job is to provide opportunities and then let go. Too many instructions and too much control on our part just kills the fun which kills the learning.

Thank you to the following sites for the wonderful freebies:

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Looking back at 2005: February

The photos here focuses more on the children's "play" activities. I particularly like the photo of Damus with his guilty powdered face. My first instinct was to scream at him. But I held back and decided to laugh at the situation instead. It took a lot of will power to do that. This photo reminds me of the many memorable moments I may have missed out because I decided to scream first. It's a reminder that sometimes humor and laughter is the better way.
Also had to include my little girl in her red Chinese New Year dress. Only one year and she has outgrown it already.

Thank you to the following sites for the wonderful freebies:

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Looking back at 2005: January

At the beginning of this year, I made a goal to snap pictures of my children every month and then document it in scrapbook form. Looking at all the photographs I see how much my children have grown and changed in just one year. Another thing I noticed is how little it takes to make children happy. Life is simple, life is enjoyed. Well, after wrestling with procrastination, this is what I have to show. Let us start with January....

  • My little botak-head Damus enjoying his lollipop. It got his hands messy and he would dribble down his shirt. Tied a bib round his neck but he hated it. One little lollipop = stress for mommy, joy for Damus.
  • Karina trying to do a Wong Fei Hung stance. We were just being silly dillies.

Check in tomorrow for the February scrap page.

P.S. I would like to thank the following sites for the wonderful freebies that has made it possible for me to create my scrap pages:

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Rookies at Christmas Cookies

How do you make Christmas meaningful for your children? My answer would be setting family traditions Unfortunately for me I don't come from a Christian background and therefore, family tradition would have to start with me, here, at my home. There is actually a list of things I would like to see happen:

1. Family and friends Christmas get-together.
2. Christmas countdown - Reading a Christmas story each day for 25 days to remember the true meaning of Christmas.
3. Gifts to families members must include at least one non-monetary gift. This idea was prompted by the following conversation with my daughter:

Mom: Karina, Christmas is about giving and not so much about what you get. So, what are you giving Mommy and Daddy this year?
Karina: Nothing. You have money so you buy your own present lah.
Mom: You don't need to buy our present. The present could be something you do for us.
Karina: Ummm....
Mom: How about sleeping at 9pm everyday. That would be a lovely present for Mommy and Daddy. Can you give us that?
Karina: (Looking at us like we are talking alien).

4. Service. Doing something for someone else as a family.
5. Making and giving Christmas cookies.

And so this year I thought I'd start the Christmas cookies AGAIN. Yes, I tried it a couple of years back and it was a disaster that I swore never to do it again. BUT I figured my children are now old enough to join in the fun, so here is our story.

The Rookie teaching Rookie Jr. how to use cookie cutters. Everything looks fine in this picture. The yelling only started later. Hehehe. But I repented and remembered that this wasn't about making perfect cookies. It's about bonding and making memories. *Trying to flick away the evil Mommy breathing down my neck*

That's how we do it. Now let daddy take a pix so we can remember this proud moment.
Ok, picture is taken now move aside so Mommy can finish the rest. JUST KIDDING.

Aiyoh, we had to throw away about half the cookies. First of all, I cut the first batch to thick. Didn't look like they were cooked even though the bottom was burnt. Cut the next batch thinner but still bottom black, top too white. I suspect the electric oven. Will try with my gas oven next time. But what about this batch?

Karina: Yum Mommy, very nice. You so clever lah Mommy.
Damus: Mommy, I want more cookie.
Mommy: You like it?!!! I love you guys so much.

Hmmm... who taught them to talk like that? Kids just know how to make Mommy melt, like chocolate in their hand.

Ok-lah, since you guys so clever to talk, I let you have fun decorating it.

Yes Damus, you can have fun too.
NOOOOOO! Don't put too much on one spot.

Oh no, mess everywhere.
Mommy needs to take a chill pill.

Way to go guys. It actually looks edible now. Yeah, cover up those burnt spots.
Report: Cookies were finished before the night was over. Phew!

This was today's effort. After many hours and now a back ache, this is what I have to show. Much better right? Like my good friend said, "It takes practice. I'd be surprise if you got it right the first time."

Karina: We are giving some to Aunty ah?
Mom: Yes, Christmas is about giving.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Many Ways to Get Your Child to Sleep

It's just my luck that my two kiddos turn out to be night owls just like their mom and dad. Their bedtime for the last few weeks has ended up being about 12am. It looked like tonight was not going to be any different. It's just amazing that they can last that long, exuberating so much energy without even a wink in the afternoon. This was tonight's affair:

Plan A: "It's 9:30pm now. Bedtime was suppose to be 9pm. Let's all go to the room and try to wind down ok?"
So we go through the motions of reading stories, prayers, hugs, goodnights, I-love-you and STRICT instructions that they are to stay in the room. WARNING = If you leave the room, you sleep outside in the hall.
RESULTS = Failed attempt.

Plan B: "You guys are suppose to sleep. No more playing and jumping around." WARNING = In 10 minutes I will check back again, if I see you guys playing, I will turn out the lights. (I usually keep the lights on coz' they don't like the lights off if Mom or Dad isn't there).
RESULTS = Failed attempt. I turned off the lights and the screaming and crying begins. The young boy decides he is going to sleep outside. The sister is distressed coz' that leaves her alone in the room and is not keen on sleeping outside the whole night.

Plan C: After a while I go turn the lights back on in the room for my girl. "How about some music?"
RESULTS = Failed attempt. Calms down the girl but she still ain't sleeping. In fact I found her flipping through a book. Boy is still running around the house.

Plan D: "Ok, I give in. Looks like you guys aren't going to sleep if I'm not in the room." I give my boy his precious "nen-nen" to suck. Usually that lulls him to sleep.
RESULTS = Failed attempt. Why my boy still so alert? My girl is happy Mom is around she starts jabbering away.

Plan E: "Let's all close our eyes and imagine we can see stars." Hopefully by closing their eyes, they might start to feel sleepy?
RESULTS = Failed attempt. My girl can see stars but it's not making her sleepy. In fact she is still jabbering away on what she can see with her imagination. My boy lasted 30 seconds with his eyes closed. He said he saw Honey Stars and then decided he was done keeping his eyes closed.

Plan F: "Hey, we better keep very still and quiet. If not the T-Rex might get us. Let's pretend we are hiding. Shhhhh!"
RESULTS = Success! Zzzzzzzzzzzzz

Now, I know some of you only need a Plan A. Me? I'm glad I didn't have to go through the entire alphabet. Obviously Plan F will be upgraded to Plan A. I just hope it still works tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Can Potty Training Be Fun?

Came across an interesting article titled "10 Ways to Make Toilet Training Fun & Exciting". Potty training fun? Exciting? Didn't think those words could gel together. Unfortunately for us here in Malaysia, some of the suggestions may not be applicable as they pertain to potty training products not available to us. Well, I mean as far as I know they are not available. If I'm wrong, let me know. The article highlights some interesting stuff I didn't know existed. Anyway, two things from that list I want to mention that is doable and kinda entertaining:
  1. Food Colouring: Put drops of blue food coloring so that children can watch it turn green after they wee-wee. Hopefully this doesn't actually gross them out further. Or worse, they might find it so kewl they wanna play with it. Eeew! I can just imagine when they are schooling and have a lesson about colours, the question they will definately answer correct would be "what colour do we get when we mix blue and yellow?" Hahahahah. Ok, my imagination is going wild a bit. Anyway, I still think it's an interesting tip. I might try this just to see my son's reaction.
  2. Phone Call from Superhero: Get friends, neighbours or relatives to disguise as your children's superhero and reward them with a phone call. You might be in trouble if your child happens to like Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse. My son happens to think T-Rexes are cool. I guess I could just get someone to roar to him over the phone. Hehehehe.

Well, I finally got my son to go potty daytime. How he potty trained is very different from his older sister. My older girl went straight to the toilet. My son had a hard time with the toilet. He wasn't afraid or anything, just not his thing I guess. He now uses a potty shaped liked a toilet and poor Mom is having her first taste of being the Dung Collector and Eliminator. No one in the house seems to want that honorable position. Anyway, it just goes to show that each child is different and parents need to be in tune with them. We must be flexible and willing to adapt to the situation. We should be armed with various ideas and not be stuck on just one method.

Well, here are a few more things that I found interesting or useful on potty training:

  • A chart that you can download for free. Look for the sign that says "FREE POTTY CHART! Track your child's progress with stickers or smiley faces.
  • Training urinals for boys.
  • Potty Poncho. This one we would all jump on as we know the state of most public toilets in Malaysia. They have disposable ones as well.
  • Travel Potty Chairs. This is what I needed the last time I went back to Bukit Mertajam. Only once in a lifetime a kid gets to travel with his own toilet.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Another Christmas Story

Sorry, again I do not know who to give credit to for this wonderful poem. Just a reminder that Christmas is not about Santa Claus.

The Stranger
At Christmas time there was a man who looked so out of place

as people rushed about him at a hurried sort of pace.
He stared at all the Christmas lights, the tinsel everywhere the shopping center,
Santa Claus, with children gathered near.

The Mall was packed with shoppers who were going to and fro,
some with smiles and some with frowns and some too tired to go.
They rested on the benches or they hurried on their way,
to fight the crowd for purchases to carry home that day.

The music from a stereo was playing loud and clear
of Santa Claus, and snow men, and a funny nosed reindeer.
He heard the people talk about the good times on the way,
of parties, fun and food galore, and gifts exchanged that day.

"I'd like to know what's going on," the man was heard to say,
"There seems to be some sort of celebration on the way,
And would you tell me who this is, all dressed in red and white?
And why are children asking *him* about a special night?"

The answer came in disbelief, "I can't believe my ear!
I can't believe you do not know that Christmas time is here.
The time when Santa comes around with gifts for girls and boys.
When they're asleep on Christmas Eve, he leaves them books and toys."

"The man you see in red and white is Santa Claus, so sly.
The children love his joyful laugh and twinkle in his eye.
His gift packed sleigh is pulled along by very small reindeer,
as he flies quickly through the air, while darting here and there."

"The children learn of Santa Claus while they are still quite small.
When Christmas comes, *he* is the most *important* one of all!"

The stranger hung his head in shame, he closed a nail-pierced hand.
His body shook in disbelief, he did not understand.
A shadow crossed his stricken face, his voice was low but clear.
"After all these years, they still don't know."

And Jesus shed a tear.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Christmas Symbols

We finally got replacement lights for our Christmas tree last Monday. So the Christmas tree is officially up in my home. The kids are getting excited about their Christmas presents. With pathetic, pleading voices they ask if they can open them up NOW. The lesson of the month seems to be "Blessings come to those who wait."
Anyway, seeing that most people are getting their Christmas tree up, here is a little story that teaches us the meaning behind the Christmas symbols. I do not know who to credit this story too, so if you are the author, thank you for the reminder.


Late one Christmas Eve, I sank back, tired, but content, into my easy chair.The kids were in bed, the gifts were wrapped, the milk and cookies waited by the fireplace for Santa. As I sat back admiring the tree with its decorations, I couldn't help feeling that something important was missing. It wasn't long before the tiny twinkling tree lights lulled me to sleep. I don'tknow how long I slept, but all of a sudden I knew that I wasn't alone. I opened my eyes, and you can imagine my surprise when I saw Santa Claus,himself, standing next to my Christmas tree.He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot just as the poem described him, but he was not the "jolly old elf" of Christmas legend. The man who stood before me looked sad and disappointed. And there were tears in his eyes.
"Santa, what's wrong?" I asked, "Why are you crying?"
"It's the children,"Santa replied sadly.
"But Santa, the children love you," I said.
"Oh, I know they love me, and they love the gifts I bring them," Santa said, "but the children of today seem to have somehow missed out on the true spirit of Christmas. It's not their fault. It's just that the adults, many of them not having been taught themselves, have forgotten to teach the children."
"Teach them what?" I asked.
Santa's kind old face became soft, more gentle. His eyes began to shine with something more than tears. He spoke softly. "Teach the children the true meaning of Christmas. Teach them that the part of Christmas we can see, hear, and touch is much more than meets the eye. Teach them the symbolism behind the customs and traditions of Christmas which we now observe. Teach them what it is they truly represent."
Santa reached into his bag and pulled out a tiny Christmas tree and set it on my mantle."Teach them about the Christmas tree. Green is the second color of Christmas. The stately evergreen, with its unchanging color, represents the hope of eternal life in Jesus. Its needles point heavenward as a reminder that mankind's thoughts should turn heavenward as well.
"Santa reached into his bag again and pulled out a shiny star and placed it at the top of the small tree. "The star was the heavenly sign of promise. God promised a Savior for the world and the star was the sign of the fulfillment of that promise on the night that Jesus Christ was born. Teach the children that God always fulfills His promises, and that wise men still seek Him."
"Red," said Santa, "is the first color of Christmas." "He pulled forth a red ornament for the tiny tree. Red is deep, intense, vivid. It is the color of the life-giving blood that flows through our veins. It is the symbol of God's greatest gift. Teach the children that Christ gave his life and shed hisblood for them that they might have eternal life. When they see the color red, it should remind them of that most wonderful gift.
"Santa found a silver bell in his pack and placed it on the tree. "Just as lost sheep are guided to safety by the sound of the bell, it continues toring today for all to be guided to the fold. Teach the children to follow the true Shepherd, who gave His life for the sheep."
Santa placed a candle on the mantle and lit it. The soft glow from its onetiny flame brightened the room. "The glow of the candle represents how people can show their thanks for the gift of God's son that Christmas Eve long ago. Teach the children to follow in Christ's go about doing good.
Teach them to let their light shine before people that all may see it and glorify God. This is what's symbolized when the twinkle lights shine on thetree like hundreds of bright shining lights, each of them representing one of God's precious children's light shining for all to see."
Again Santa reached into his bag and this time he brought forth a tiny red and white striped cane. As he hung it on the tree he spoke softly. "The candy cane is a stick of hard white candy. White to symbolize the virgin birth and sinless nature of Jesus, and hard to symbolize the Solid Rock, the foundation of the church, and the firmness of God's promises. The candy cane form's a"J" to represent the precious name of Jesus, who came to earth. It also represents the Good Shepherd's crook, which He uses to reach down into all ditches of the world to lift out thefallen lambs who, like all sheep, have gone astray. The original candy cane had three small red stripes, which are the stripes of the scourging Jesus received by which we are healed, and a large red stripe that represents the shed blood of Jesus, so that we can have the promise of eternal life. Teach these things to the children.
"Santa brought out a beautiful wreath made of fresh, fragrant greenery tied with a bright red bow. "The bow reminds us of the bond of perfection, which is love. The wreath embodies all the good things about Christmas for thosewith eyes to see and hearts to understand. It contains the colors of red and green and the heaven-turned needles of the evergreen. The bow tells the story of good will towards all and its color reminds us of Christ's sacrifice. Even its very shape is symbolic, representing eternity and the eternal nature of Christ's love. It is a circle, without beginning and without end. These are the things you must teach the children."
I asked, "But where does that leave you Santa?" The tears gone now from his eyes, a smile broke over Santa's face. "Why bless you, my dear," he laughed, "I'm only a symbol myself. I represent the spirit of family fun and the joy of giving and receiving. If the children are taught these other things, there is no danger that I'll ever be forgotten.""I think I'm beginning to understand.""That's why I came," said Santa. "You're an adult. If you don't teach the children these things, then who will?"
---Author Unknown

Monday, December 05, 2005

Teach Children Work and Responsibility

I was at a conference last Sunday and found myself running a mini nursery for kids at the back of the hall. You see, I knew my kids would get restless at some point and I had brought blocks for them to play. Slowly other toddlers toddled their way over to seek refuge from their boredom. Anyway, there was this girl who is a few months younger then Damus (should be 2yrs. old already) and she was eating some bread. The next thing I knew, the bread was on the floor and she was no where in sight. Quickly I located her and told her to pick it up. Obediently she did. I asked her brother to bring her to the dustbin. But instead, this little girl just handed the bread to the brother, told the brother to throw it (in baby talk) and walked off.
Here were the thoughts that ran through my head:

  1. Wow, you sure know how to make use of your brothers.
  2. Being the youngest of 4 AND the only girl, you are probably the princess in the house (this was later confirmed by the father.)
  3. You probably have not been given much chance to learn the value of work or responsibility. Your parents are headed for trouble.

Values such as work and responsibility must be cultivated from a young age. My kids know that when they make a mess, they clean it up. Yes, even little Damus. The job may not be done perfectly, but at least they are given the chance to learn and do. I find many times adults are too quick to jump in and deprive the child from learning such values. For example, Damus had spilled something in the kitchen. I asked him to clean it up but MIL jumped in and said, he's too young to know how to clean up. In my heart I screamed, HE IS NOT. The sad part is she didn't even give him a chance. What she didn't know was that he was already a pro at cleaning (he's had plenty of accidents to practise).

Have you noticed that when kids are at the age deemed "too young", that is when they are most willing to work? This is the time they learn the best and yet, this is the time most parents deprive them of such learning. ABCs and 123s should not be their only lessons.

Things you can teach your toddler:

  • Put back your toys.
  • Throw rubbish in the dustbin.
  • Don't leave things on the floor.
  • Put things back where you got them from.
  • You mess, you clean e.g. wipe up spilled drinks, sweep up food dropped on the floor (of course Mom will follow up later)
  • After eating, bowls and cups go in the sink.
  • Take your dirty clothes to the laundry basket.
  • If you need to spit out food, go to the dustbin.
  • You lose something, you look for it.

So parents, (especially those with toddlers) teach work and responsibility today. Give your kids a chance to learn and grow. Make it part of their life before they decide they don't want it to be. Yes, it's a well known fact that as kids grow older, they realize work is not that fun anymore. So don't just get caught up in the academics (e.g. wah, my kid can read at 2 but don't know what to do when food drops on the floor). Decide today to give them the greater gift.

Friday, December 02, 2005

A Monkey's Welcome

This cheeky monkey at the Malacca Zoo was very entertaining.

We found the Malacca Zoo to be better than the National Zoo. BUT don't go there on Friday's as they stop the shows and tram service for the Friday prayers. Also they are building new living quarters for the lions and tigers. The tigers are still around but somehow I missed the Lions. Anyway, below is a picture of King Julian from Madagascar. My daughter asked "Mommy, where is his crown?" Hahahah.

We were hoping there would be elephant rides but there weren't. Elephant and horse rides only available on weekends and public holidays. However Damus manage to get a different kind of ride. Thank goodness for cousins.

Well, it was a pretty good outing. Apart from just looking at the animals, Karina also got to practice her photography skills. She's getting better at focusing. Below is another picture of the cousins. They only get to see each other during school holidays. It's great they get along so well even though there is quite a bit of an age gap. By the way, Damus is the only boy in their generation. Rose among the thorns or thorn among the roses? Hmmm....

Thursday, December 01, 2005

More Fun On My Blog and Christmas Stuff.

Hi people, I found some more interesting stuff for you to do on my blog. Scroll down on the right and you can increase your vocabulary with Word of the Day. Below that you will find Quotation of the Day. Last of all is something fun for all: Hangman! Hope you guys like it.

Christmas Announcement:
  1. If you have nowhere to go on Christmas Eve, you are welcome to join me, my family and friends for a BBQ Blast. We will be over at Taman Mayang (the very small park/playground behind Yuk Chai school). There will be food, games, christmas carols, Santa Claus and maybe a pinata. If you are interested, just leave a comment or email me (
  2. Thinking of attending church on Christmas Day but not sure which church to go to? You are more than welcome to come to mine. We start at 10am and are over at PJ State (# 2, Jalan 52/4, PJ. Corner lot right opposite Public Bank, next to the restaurant).
  3. Subang Parade has Christmas Craft Workshops and Performances for kids and adults. They have stuff like Snowman Wind Chime, Stocking Making, Bracelet Making, Christmas Floral Arrangement, Handkerchief Making etc.... There is a schedule of the programmes. I happen to have one that's why I am able to tell you about it. Sounds really interesting and something my kid might enjoy.
  4. Atria also have Christmas activities going on. Sorry I can't find their flyer. I'm sure all the shopping malls have something going on. Do share if you have some information. You know how kids are when they have nothing to do and are couped up in the house too long. Boing, boing, boing... there they go, bouncing off the walls again, driving everyone nuts.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Top 10 Things To Do On My Blog

People seem to like Top 10 lists. So here is my top 10 list of things to do on my blog:
  1. Subscribe to my blog. Scroll down the right column until you see the box for you to enter your email address. Do it coz' then you don't have to keep checking to see if I wrote anything new. If I did, you will be informed right away. Do it coz' you like what I have to share.
  2. Leave a comment. I'm sure we have many things in common. Let us share our experiences and support one another.
  3. Visit my bookshop. In the right column you will find my Value Bookshop logo. I offer used children's books for parents in Malaysia and Singapore.
  4. Tell a friend about us. You can also find this in the right hand column. I would love to see more parents visiting the site and adding their comments. The more the merrier right?
  5. Buy books or subscribe to parenting magazines through my site. I only recommend books that have good reviews. You can also do a search using the Amazon search function located in the right hand column. I have this coz' my bookshop doesn't cater to people outside Malaysia and Singapore. So this option is more for US citizens.
  6. Click on the google ads at the top of the page. Most of the time they should coincide with the topics being discussed.
  7. My Kid's Favorite Hangout features educational and interactive websites for toddlers and kindergartners. If you have other sites of interest, please let me know.
  8. Read other blogs on my blogroll. Some are really top quality blogs. My favorites are, Momster in Paris, Tyler's Tonic Pool, The Parenting Weblog, and Thinking Aloud.
  9. Check out the Resource for Parents. The SAHM group is where I usually hang out. The mothers there are wonderful and give plenty of support. It's a place to share your ups and downs. MyMomsBest is good for mothers who are interested in breastfeeding.
  10. Go to Blog Top Sites and rate me.

Dinosaurs and Barbie

You know how kids become engrossed on certain things at different stages of their lives? Well, we are going through the Dinosaur and Barbie age. You would think that it was my boy into the dinosaurs and my girl with Barbie. Well, it started out that way but interestingly their interests started to intermingle. So my girl is also loving dinosaurs and to the dismay of Daddy, my boy also likes Barbie. I try to console him by saying, "Hey, it's okay what! She "leng loi" (cute girl) mah."
Anyway, to encourage their exploration into the dinasaur era, we bought little dinosaur models. They fight with the little plastic toy soldiers. Jurassic Park(all 3 sequels) is a big hit in the home. We have our daily doses of that. And that is coupled with "Know the World of Dinosaurs" book. We use this as a reference when we watch Jurassic Park. At the moment T-Rex, Velociraptors and Pterodactylus are favorites. Of course, the day does not pass without the kids acting like they are dinosaurs.

Now the Barbie phase isn't so much about playing with a Barbie doll. Thank goodness, phew! I'm sure you know how much they cost. Anyway, it's more about watching Barbie movies: Rapunzel, Princess and the Pauper etc.... Actually, I confess that I like them too. Really good songs and the Prince usually not bad looking too. Hehehe. Ahem, ahem... adult, yes I am suppose to be an adult.
Anyway, they've got really good story lines and it helps when I need to remind my girl she needs to tone down the gangster-act and be more gentle.

I think the dinosaur and Barbie will be staying for awhile. I wonder what's next?

By the way, if you have a child interested in dinosaurs, you should check out this book at my store:
Harry and the Dinosaurs Have a Very Busy Day.

Below is a picture of Karina being "girly". She took my lipstick without my knowledge and this is the result.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Boyz and Their Hamsters

The last few days Karina was away at her grandma's. Naturally little Damus enjoyed having Mommy and Daddy all to himself. He didn't quite miss his sister whereas Karina would call 2-3 times a day just to find out what we were doing. How can I blame him? He had hamsters to keep him occupied. Yes, Daddy decided we should have hamsters, so we went out to get a pair. The sales girl recommended The Winter Pearl hamsters as they are not as active and good for small children. Meaning they don't bite, stay long enough for you to pet them and are easier to catch if they start to run away-lah.
Daddy has named it the Adam and Eve Project. Yes, that's the name of the hamsters and I don't think I need to tell you what he plans to do with them. He has had experience breeding them before up to a few generations. I was very tickled when he first related to me his story of how he used to bath them and care for them. Some died because he dried them in the sun after their shower and forget about them. Even went through the mistake of touching their babies resulting in the mother brutally murdering them the next day. So what happened to that hamster episode? Eventually they outsmarted him and the whole family ran away. Hahahahaha. So that is the story about the Big Boy and his hamsters.

Now about the Little Boy and his hamsters. Well, Damus has always been attracted to animals. Gee, he even dared to pet the snake and crocodile at the Petting zoo. Anyway, it was really a thrill for me to see him deliriously playing with them. Well, so far they are good pets:
  • Don't take up a lot of space in the house.
  • Quiet little creatures.
  • Don't smell (well, not yet).
  • Eats little. Need to fill up their bowl few days once. So I don't have to stress over "what am I going to feed it today?"
  • Entertains not only the children but the adults as well. Hehehehe.

Only thing is have to remind the children to be gentle when handling the little creatures and DON"T let them runaway. Hmmm... seriously considering the hamster leesh we saw at the store that day. Hahahah. Yup, a hamster leesh! They do have such a thing. What a hoot!

Monday, November 21, 2005

"Mom, Dad, I'm BORED!"

Well, the school holidays are here. This is the time when kids enjoy the luxury of sleeping in and no homework. However, for many it is also a time to complain to mom and dad that "I'M BORED".
Actually with Karina and Damus being so young, it doesn't really matter if it's the school holidays or not. They are at a point in their lives where FREE TIME is experienced in abundance. I hear "Mom, I'm bored!" almost everyday. I know there are many parents who over-schedule their children with tons of extra-curicular activities. However, I'm not into that practice. First of all, I don't have that kind of money to spend. Second, I believe children need their free time. Hey, isn't that the joy of being a kid? Don't you sometimes wish you could go back to your care-free days too?
Anyway, I must also admit my children usually get into mischief and do all the annoying things when their free time is overly UNstructured. So, what I'm saying is, even though children need their free time, they also need occasional guidance and ideas on what to do.
I know many parents are in the same boat as I, so I thought I'd share some of the things I've done, are doing, and wish to do. (Just for your information, my kids are 2 and 4, so the list below caters more for that age group.)

Boredom Busters:
1. Water play (especially on very hot days). Either put out a kiddy pool or just fill up a pail of water and give them lots of cups and containers.
2. Blowing bubbles.
3. Painting.
4. Disco time. Just put on some dance music and let them "Shake Their Booty."
5. TV time. Although a great "quiet time" option, but must be monitored and have limits to viewing hours. I usually limit to 2 CDs a day.
6. Computer time. Refer to my previous posting titled "Am I Too Young To Be A Geek Mommy?" and my article published at the Parent Weblog.
7. Trip to the park. Swings, slides, and running free are good ways for them to expand their neverending energy.
8. No park nearby? A walk round the neighbourhood is a good alternative. Sometimes I make it a little more interesting by having them collect things along the way (e.g. leaves, flowers etc...) and have them make a "nature collage" when they get back.
9. Reading and story time.
10. Play ball. Kids just love throwing, kicking, bouncing or rolling a ball. It's good for their coordination too.
11. Teach them a sport. This is more for older kids (aged 4 and above). Planning to get Karina started on golf. Introduced a little badminton to them too. Thinking of getting them into some sort of Martial Arts later on as my kids seem to be the aggresive kind. Better to teach them how to be properly aggresive:)
12. Eat stick ice creams, and then use the sticks to make stick puppets. You can have "family puppets" where you mount photos of yourself, the children, grandparents etc.... You could also have "animal puppets" to liven up your rendition of "Old McDonald Had a Farm."
13. Creative hour. Sing nursery rhymes and have them put in their own words. For example, my kids had dinosaurs, lions, and monsters on Old McDonald's farm. Make up stories that begin with "If I ...." You could use the following examples:
  • If I had a pet dinosaur...
  • If I could fly...
  • If I lived in the jungle...
  • If I was a princess...

If they can't write yet, write the story down for them and have them do the illustrations. Sometimes, it doesn't need to be so structured. My kids are just as happy scribbling, coloring, cutting and pasting just for fun. All they need is the materials and they create they own fun. BUT it must be very clear that cleaning up is also their responsibility.
14. Pretend play. Kids don't need adults on this one. Just let them be and they will come up with their own stuff. You just need to supply them with "stuff" e.g. boxes, cups, bottles, toys, etc....
15. Teach them to use the digicam and see what fun and weird photos they come up with.

16. Let them spend a few days with the grandparents. I know this may not be an option for everybody. If it is, DO IT.

School holidays is also a time when you see the mushrooming of "special" programs by the commercial sector. Here are a few for your consideration. Warning... they usually cost money, are mostly for older kids (age 7 and above) and are catered towards those in the Klang Valley.

Well, these are just my limited suggestions. Anybody please feel free to add to the list and help other parents survive the "Mom, Dad, I'm BORED!" dilemma.

Monday, November 14, 2005

My Budding Junior Photographer

Here are some of the clear and interesting pictures taken by Karina.

Inspired by Min's posting on pictures taken by her daughter Laura, I decided to give Karina a chance at our digital camera as well. She has been itching to play photographer for a looooong time. Unfortunately, every time she asked for it, I kept getting flashes of the valued item slipping from her little hands, plunging to the ground ... ending in my death. Of course! My husband would kill me if she really broke it and I was the one who gave the permission to use it.
Anyway, this time round I figured I would brave death for the sake of nurturing a little girl's passion. Afterall, a parent's role is also to provide learning opportunities. However, often I feel it difficult to know when to hold back and when to let go. I know of parents who are overly cautious of many things that their children miss out on the learning. On the other hand, I also have seen parents who are too lax with their children, that discipline and safety is overlooked. Finding balance is a big parenting challenge.
Anyway, after deciding to let Karina handle the expensive equipment, I figured I best teach her how to hold it properly besides just teaching how to aim and shoot. She went away happy, eager and full of zest. After coming back with plenty, and plenty of blurry photos, I decided my next mission was to expose her to a pluthera of professional photos. Hopefully it will unconsciously teach her that there is a goal to shooting a photo e.g. capturing emotions, artistic value, preserving memories, etc.... Something like that lah. I myself am no professional but I believe a little education for both of us will not hurt but enhance the experience.

Here are some sites I found that may help anyone else thinking about nurturing junior photographers at home:

Monday, November 07, 2005

Nursery Rhymes: An Essential Parenting Tool

Damus, Damus, Dumpling
Boil him in the pot. (Tickle him all over.)
Sugar him and (tap him lightly)
Butter him and (rub him all over)
Eat him while he's hot. (Pretend to gobble him up.)

This is the nursery rhyme I tried out on Damus today and he loves it to bits. I got it out of a book called Baby Games: The Joyful Guide to Child's Play from Birth to Three Years by Elaine Martin. Apparently it's a traditional rhyme from Great Britain.

Since the birth of my first child, I've had to relearn many nursery rhymes. Yes, I've had to have a refresher course on old rhymes and update myself on new ones. (Well, maybe they weren't new. I just never heard them before). Don't laugh when I say my best teacher was Barney as I'm sure I'm not the Purple Dinosaur's only adult student.

Anyway, I believe that nursery rhymes are an essential parenting tool. Most definately it brings about all the language benefits that are highlighted in many articles and researches. But I do not wish to delve into the mechanics of how it works and introduce big words such as phonemic awareness or phonemic segmentation. It is good enough for me to know that nursery rhymes help our children learn to read and write.
The following are other ways how nursery rhymes have been an essential parenting tool to me:

  1. When I run out of funny noises and funny faces to make at baby, nursery rhymes come to the rescue.
  2. People say you should constantly talk to your growing baby. Well, I'm just not the talkative kind and not in the habit of rattling my head off to someone who can't talk back yet. So another way to have my voice ringing in my baby's ear is to keep on singing and chanting nursery rhymes.
  3. It's a great activity to keep toddlers busy in the car.
  4. One of the best way to liven up bonding time. You can make up actions to most of the rhyme (e.g. Wheels on the Bus, Eensy Weesy Spider). Come on, which toddler doesn't love to do the actions to Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star? Throw in some bouncing, jumping, clapping, rocking etc... and you would have already created your very own one-to-one music and movement session. FREE of charge!
  5. Children strive on parental love. The tickling, gentle stroking, hugging, kissing that you add to nursery rhymes (e.g. Round and Round the Garden) spells I-LOVE-YOU loud and clear.
  6. You can use nursery rhymes to introduce or be part of a specific topic or theme. Check out this page about PIGS. Get rid of the mentality that teaching should be left to schools. There is no better school than that of you own home. And there is no better teacher than YOU.
  7. Because the rhymes are short, easy, silly, nonsensical, sometimes violent, gruesome in a harmless and funny sort of way, it naturally appeals to children. It creates a fun atmosphere and children are learning without knowing it.
  8. I get a kick out of hearing them learn the rhymes. It can be hilarious at times. When my daughter was learning Baa Baa Black Sheep, she gave one of the bags to the "monster" instead of the "master." Little Damus is just soooo cute as he rushes to grab something to jump over when we recite "Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jumped over the candlestick." It's wonderful to see them beeming with confidence and high self esteem when they've learned to say the rhymes all by themselves.

Don't worry if you sing like a frog. My husband does (hehehe, sorry-ah dear). He even mutilates the rhymes as he forgets the words and makes up his own. Most of the time the melody is also made up. But that doesn't stop him entertaining the children or from soothing baby and getting them to sleep.

So my advice to all parents-to-be, use your 9 months to brush up on your nursery rhymes. (It will also help in prenatal bonding). There are so many more fun ones to learn (with finger plays and stuff) apart from your usual Baa Baa Black Sheep and Humpty Dumpty. If you need help, Barney is always available.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Make An Effort To Remember The "Funnies".

"Kodak moments" with our children are sooo precious. And yet we often let them get forgotten. The vivid details of our children's funny and touching antics, expressions and phrases soon turn blurry as Father Time ticks on. In addition, our brains seem to have a knack of cutting and editing memories to the point we forget what was funny, only remembering it was funny.
So, what can we do to remember the "Funnies"?

  1. Book of Phrases
    There is a saying that goes like this, "A blunt pencil is more reliable than a sharp mind". Therefore, another project I have created for myself is to record down in a special notebook all the "Funnies". For example, hmmmmm.... See! I can't remember already. That's why I should write them down the moment it occurs.
  2. Scrapbook
    This is a HOT hobby in the U.S. but not quite so here in Malaysia. A scrapbook is more than a photo album. It's a picture book with journaling. You know how you flip through a person's photo album but the photos are meaningless? Well, with a scrapbook, the story behind the photo must be included. There are 2 ways to do this: traditional and digital.
    Traditional way --using photographs, cardstock papers, scissors, glue, accessories etc... and physically creating a scrap page.
    Digital way -- Basically using the wonders of computer and computer software to create the scrap page.

    You can view other samples of scrapbook pages here:

    I must admit that it can get overwhelming at times to do the scrapbook. But it is important to remember to keep it simple. More important is the memory you are preserving and not so much to show how clever or creative you are.
  3. Home Videos
    Unfortunately for me, my kids do not behave normal when they know mom has the video cam out. So it's almost impossible to catch those moments we want to remember. Plus you can't ask them to reenact the scene. It's just not the same. But no matter what, home videos are fun. My kids love to see themselves on the screen, even if it's about them crying, screaming and making a scene. Yes, I take those so I may blackmail them in the future. Just kidding.

Keeping these memories takes effort. But I look forward to the many days I will sit on my rocking chair reviewing all the "Funnies" and feeling blessed that I had a good life with great kids.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Mommy's Time Out

Every mother needs a timeout. No, not the kind we give to disobedient children. The kind that allows the mother to temporarily escape from the chaos of daily family life. The kind that is also widely known as "Me Time." Mothers are like a bank account. If you keep withdrawing funds without replenishing, the account will eventually close down. Yes, yes, I see all you mothers reading this nodding your heads in agreement. I hear ya fellow moomies.

Anyway, I was reading of Min's getaway adventure to Bangkok and wondered if I would ever get a chance to do that. AND if I did, would I do it. Sometimes we mothers are kinda hard to figure out. When we are at home with the screaming kids, we wish to get away. When we have a chance to get away, we fret that we will miss them too much. Then we worry if DH and kids can live without us? We wish them to be independant but we also like to think we are indispensable. Ok, psycho mothers is not today's topic. I was actually wondering what mothers do to freshen up their spirits. Well, below is a few (very few) things I do:

  1. Chilling out at a bookstore wishfully looking at books I know I don't have time to read.
  2. Curling up in bed with some girly or hobby magazine. At least I will have the satisfaction of reading it cover to cover.
  3. Listening to Jon Schmidt. What a fantastic, awesome piano player. Discovered him during my uni days. Unfortunately lost a couple of his CD's during my move home. But now found his Sound Box where I can listen for free! My favorite is a track called "All Of Me". Very uplifting and envigorating. You can feel the intensity of his playing. You have to listen to it.
  4. Going out for supper e.g. roti canai, icy dessert etc....
  5. "Makan" (Eat) out with good friends, especially if it involves seafood like Marmite Crabs. Yummmmm. But at this time I will also take eating banana leaf rice or nasi kandar.

Here are some things that I found or wish to do when I overcome my "psycho" syndrome:

  1. Something artsy-fartsy like going to MPO or a live play.
  2. I found out today that there is actually a bookmeet thingy in KL.
  3. Facials, massage, jacuzzi etc....
  4. Girls only retreat.
  5. Line dancing

Ok, so what does everybody else do? Please share-share.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Am I Too Young To Be A Geek Mommy?

"I am a geek!" This is the phrase that my DH has been teaching my little Damus. Can't blame him though as Damus has been kinda hooked on the computer. This little 2 year old can maneuver himself around his kiddy websites. Quite amusing to see him clicking, singing and sometimes giggling away. Karina also started on the computer at around 2 years old. Anyway, it brought to my attention a new set of challenge that parents have these days. Read my article on this topic of computers and children over at The Parenting Weblog.

Below are links to some interesting reading:

1. So, Are Computers Good for Children?
Lowell Monke is featured in this article. He is a professor at Wittenberg University in Ohio. This is the "why you shouldn't" part of the debate.

2. Six Myths about Young Children & Computers
Taken from the book: Young Children & Computers, A Parent's Survival Guide (published in February, 1998). Find out the truth to statements such as:
i. Computers will make my child smarter.
ii. Sitting close to a computer screen will damage my child's eyes.
iii. Computers give off harmful radiation.
iv. My child will become less social by using the computer.
v. My child should understand how computers work.
vi. Making my child computer literate now will better prepare her for the future.

3. Stretching is important for Healthy Computing!
This is more for the parents. Exercises to do when you find yourself spending too much time on the computer.

4 . Computers in a child's world
Article by Brenda Casey, an Early Years Advisor. She writes how computers can be used for good.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Are You A Happy Parent?

I have been invited by my former secondary school to be the guest of honor during their "Quality Day for Cocuricular Affairs and Student Affairs". They requested that I come to inspire and motivate their students to strive for achievement in cocuricular activities seeing that I've had many successes during my golfing days.

Anyway, this is not my topic for today but it sets the background for it. You see, for me to attend the function, I would have to stay overnight at my mom's and have her drive me there the next morning. As I was making arrangements with my mom, she brought up a couple of questions that sort of surprised me. It also made me a little upset as those questions represent the viewpoint of many others I have talked to. Here is a gist of our conversation (may not be the exact words but sums up what happened):

Mom: But you're not playing golf anymore (referring to why they would invite me).
Me: Yeah, but I was successful when I did.
Mom: Do you think you are successful now? (referring to the fact that all I do is stay at home to care for my kids).
Me: Yes I think I am successful now. The fact that I stopped my golf does not erase what I have accomplished in the past.

Isn't it sad that many people think that being a SAHP (Stay at Home Parent) is a death sentence to a person's talents, education and success? It grieves me even more to hear a woman, especially one who is a mother, adopt that kind of thinking. Even worse is when they try to convince others that they are right. I have had many people ask me when I was returning to golf? Or why am I wasting my talent staying at home? I also get comments such as "You could be making so much money on the LPGA. Just look at so-and-so."
It is this sort of thinking and comments that give birth to many unhappy parents.

How can we (SAHP) raise above this negativity and senseless talk? Believe in the following instead:
  1. Parenting is NOT for no-brainers. It not only requires much talent and education, it also gives opportunities to create more talent and education that cannot be offered or found even in the best educational insititutions. Caring for another being is not a job to be taken lightly.
  2. No regrets. Do not look backwards and ponder on the "what ifs". Look forward and focus on the "what can be."
  3. Success is measured in more than one way. Believe that what you are doing is worth more than money, gold, fame, power etc.... You are investing in people and relationships which is of far greater worth.
  4. Occasional set backs do not make you a failure. It does not erase past achievements and do not define who you are. There was a time in my life I would feel like such a loser whenever I lost a tournament or had a bad round of golf. I felt pressured as I believe I didn't live up to other people's expectations. It was then that my father taught me a very valuable lesson. He reminded me that a bad day or a bad tournament does not make me a lesser person. I was still me with titles to my name and opportunities to do better.
    And so it is with being a SAHP. We have our bad days and our challenges. People may not think very highly of what we do. BUT it does not make us a lesser person. You are still you with all your past achievements, potentials and a future that is still very bright.
  5. There is a time and season for everything. This is the chapter in your life that spells "FAMILY". There is nothing wrong with that and nothing to be ashamed of. Plus, it is not the last chapter in your life.
  6. "What happens in your house is more important than what happens in the White House" - Barbara Bush.
  7. "No other success can compensate for failure in the home" - David O. McKay

People, we need more happy parents in this world. Stop the negative talk, the belittling and the put downs. I say with much conviction that I am a happy parent! Don't try to convince me otherwise.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Mommy Monster Is Back!

This anger management thingy is really tough to do. I'm like a drug addict trying to be rehabilitated but get's drawn back into the nasty stuff. There were plenty of bad vibes the last couple of days - screaming, threatenings, cynical remarks, anger etc.... Yech! As I'm talking with a raised voice I can hear a smaller voice inside warning me. BUT it's difficult to stop a bullet train.
Anyway, finally had a counseling session with my DH. No, he is no Freud with a couch but he gave very good insights. Hmmm... when did he travel to the higher plane?

Basically we came to this solution: Ai Lian needs to get rid of the spirit of contention by learning to have more CHARITY.
Not the give-away-money kind of charity, but the pure-love-of-Jesus kind of charity. The one that spells unconditional love, patience, selfless, forgiving etc....

Since becoming a parent I've been reading "how-to" parenting books. Tried to read another one the last few nights but was unsuccessful. Mainly because I felt like a hypocrite and it would prove useless. Useless? Yeah, it's like trying to improve your golf game. You need to work on your weaknesses and not your strengths to get better. I can score an "A" in the theories of parenting but am currently flunking in the practical exam.

My DH is right. If I'm going to win this battle, it's got to be directed by a higher law - CHARITY. All the theories, tips and tricks I read and conjure up ain't gonna work if I don't have the key that governs it all.

So today I decided I was going to do the right thing. BUT before noon, I was back to being Monster Mom. Getting my daughter to finish her homework tends to do that to me. Anyway, I have blogged before on how to make this preschool homework less stressful for parents. So how come I'm not taking my own medicine? Well, bad habits die hard but they can be killed. Charity... I tell ya, that's the weapon to use.
Remembering about getting rid of contention, I took some time out and asked myself:

1. "Is she the enemy?" - NO. So stop talking like she is.
2. "What should your intention be?" - Helping. Teaching. Stop trying to teach her a lesson.
3. "What are you doing to help?" - Nothing at the moment. I'm just making things worse.
4. "What are you going to do?" - Show her I care. Make sure she FEELS that care. Use positive words.

So looking at my daughter with new eyes and a changed heart, I asked her to sit on my lap and we were going to do the homework TOGETHER. At first she was very negative. I told myself that I must not blame her for that as I was the contributing factor to that "wall of defense."

To cut the story short, I manage to get my daughter to finish her homework in a very short time, without complaining, and she had fun. All I did was say, "ready, set, go 1, 2, 3, 4...." As she wrote, I counted. And the fun was to see the different lengths of time she took to complete one word. And she thought it was fun to beat the previous timings. So she wrote faster and faster. See! Charity works.

Man, it's going to be an uphill battle for me to shed myself of a bad habit and replace it with CHARITY. I know there will be times I'm going to slide backwards. And when I do I will go back to the picture I have of Jesus with this saying "I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it."

Monday, October 17, 2005

Don't Kill Me With Criticism

My poor son is down with Hand, Foot and Mouth disease (HFM). The house has been rather quiet since yesterday. My bouncy toddler has lost all appetite whatsoever. So far he's only had a few spoonsful of nestum and a little bit of steamed egg. Trying to get him hydrated is also a losing battle for me. The only thing he is willing to drink is his chocolate milk. And thank goodness he is a die-hard breastfeeding toddler (I never thought I would say such a thing after many failed attempts at weaning.) At least I know he is getting some breastmilk.

Talking about breastfeeding my toddler brings me to the topic of the importance of complimenting children. How does the two relate? Well, it so happened that I was talking to my mother about my son's condition. And I mentioned about how glad I was that he at least was able to take in some breastmilk. My feelings of gladness was immediately killed with this comment "Aiyah, your breastmilk is not nutritious anymore. Why don't you give him some formula milk?" Well, thanks for the vote of confidence mom.
This is not the first time I'm dished out criticism when looking for support. Yeah it's good intentions on her part, but it didn't make me feel good. It's like opening a present only to find worms inside.

I realized lately that I tend to get very contentious with my mom. Like when I found myself getting defensive with her followup calls today suggesting how to help Damus e.g. boil barley water and get a certain chinese medicine for ulcers. Good intentions? Definately. So why the ill feelings? Because it wasn't what I wanted to hear. What I needed to hear was something like "Tell me what you're doing....That's good Lian. I can see you're doing the best you can. It is tough. He's in good hands."

Anyway, this got me thinking, please don't let me make the same mistake with my children. As parents we have a tendency to think we were put on this planet to solve all our children's problems. Yeah, to a certain extend we do have that responsibility. But while we are busy playing Mommy/Daddy-Fix-It, we must not neglect to support and compliment. Don't you agree that the many times we pour our troubles, fears, and anxieties on someone else is to seek for empathy and support and not so much to seek for solutions?

We have to remember that diseases, illnesses, accidents and natural disasters are not the only killers in this world. Words are just as powerful as they effect the human soul. Let us not kill our children with our criticism. So if any of you see me playing Ms-Fix-It, kick me and remind me to do the more important, Ms-Listen-Support-and-Compliment.