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 Amazon.com 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 simontalks.com, 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.