Friday, January 25, 2008

How To Make A Pinata

I did this snowman pinata last Christmas. Thought I'd better post it before I forget. Pinatas are a wonderful activity to add to any children's party. Don't have to buy expensive ones at a party shop. You can make your own with just a balloon, paper mache and some decorations.

Just in case you are wondering what in the world is a pinata, its a "container" filled with candy and/or small toys. It hangs in the air as children, blindfolded, try to hit it with a stick to break it.
As the candy and toys fall, everyone rushes to grab it. Very fun.

I've taken pictures so you can see how I made it. A word of caution -- it can be a bit messy. Be ready to get your hands sticky.

1. I blew up two balloons and stuck them together. One balloon for the snowman's head and the other for the body. Find a container like a pail or pot to hold the balloon while you work.
2. Tear strips of newspaper about 1-2 inches wide. Don't have to use scissors or blade to cut the paper. Tearing them with your hands is good and better (I read that somewhere).
3. For glue, I just used corn starch and water. You could also use normal flour. Start with 2 cups flour, 1 cup lukewarm water. I used an old ice cream tub to hold the glue.
4. One strip at a time, dip into the glue and then layer it on the balloon. You could use a paint brush I guess, if you don't want to get your hands dirty.

5. Do one layer horizontal, and the other layer vertical. Overlap the strips until you cover the whole balloon.
6. After 2 layers, let it dry.

7. The last layer I used white paper because then it is easier to decorate it. You could use white mahjong paper or normal white paper.
8. Don't put too many layers coz' then it will be difficult to break the pinata. About 3 layers is good.

9. After everything dries, use a pin and pop the balloon inside.
10. Cut an opening near the top with a blade and put whatever candy you want inside. I don't recommend wafers, biscuits or whatever that can be beaten to crumbs. Remember, children (and adults) will be whacking at this thing. You don't want crumbs to be falling out. Any hard or wrapped candy is good.
11. Just seal back the opening with clear tape.
12. Poke two holes at the top about 3 inches apart. I used a drill but you could use anything to make a hole e.g. crochet needle, screwdriver. Put a string through it so you can hang the pinata. Make sure the string is strong enough and will not break. After you put candy into a pinata, it can be quite heavy.
13. Decorate the pinata according to your creativity.

You want something really simple, just use one big balloon. Use crepe paper to make it colorful.
Hope I've covered enough for you to try making your own. If you do have a go at it, I would so love to see what you did. So don't forget to show me yours okay?

  • Don't really have to blindfold the children. Some of them have trouble as it is trying to crack the pinata with their eyes wide open :)
  • If you can't hang it from a beam in the ceiling, hang it at the end of a long stick. Have the person holding the stick stand on a chair or something. Make sure the stick is long enough so the poor guy holding the pinata don't get accidently whacked. Also, make sure you find someone with strong arms.
  • Baseball bats are good for hitting a pinata.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How To Help Children Be Not Afraid of the Dentist

Just a follow up from my last post. Seeing that both my kids did okay in the dentist chair, I must have done something right. So, let me think back to some things I did that may have helped allay their fears:
  • I never told them any dental horror stories. I guess I never gave them a reason to be scared e.g. don't tell them about your own fears or how horrible it is to hear the sound of the drill etc....
  • Talked about it like a matter of fact. A dental check-up is all part of the routine - brushing, flossing, dental checkup.
  • Read books about going to the dentist or loosing teeth. (I currently have 2 of the books available at my children's bookshop: 'Dad, Are You the Tooth Fairy?' and 'Harry and the Dinosaurs Say 'Raahh!')
  • I didn't give them a choice. Don't say, "you want to go or not?". I just said, "We have to go and see what the dentist say. I already called the dentist, we are going ...."
  • Be honest and tell them what will happen e.g. The dentist may pull out your teeth, so the other one can grow properly. He will make your mouth numb first so you don't feel any pain. Even if you feel pain, it will be like an ant's bite.
    With my son, I told him that the dentist will just look at his teeth. If he has been good at brushing, the dentist won't have to do anything. As an incentive, you could always say "let's go show the dentist what beautiful teeth you have."
  • Continually give assurance and comfort. Sit on the dentist chair first if you have to.

One more tip from a&a'smom (which I am guilty of not doing):
Visit the dentist regularly. Don't only go when there is a problem coz' that is how children will associate dentist with pain.

I have a FREEBIE for you -- dental care worksheets. Say thanks to SMILES (San Diego Dental Disease Prevention Program) for these fun worksheets.

Just click here and save it to your harddisk. There are 20 pdf files.
(For more FREEBIES, visit my bookshop's blog)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Permanent Tooth Sprouting

Last week, K opened her mouth and showed another tooth growing behind her bottom front incissor. YIKES! Permanent tooth already coming up and milk tooth not yet drop. What to do? What to do? My brother who came over for baby D's birthday "makan" said, with his daughter, the dentist told him it was normal. Nothing to worry about. But to be on the safe side, I asked my dear good e-friend Sheela to enquire from her dentist husband, if I would need to visit the dentist. The answer "YES". So off to the dentist we went, FOR THE FIRST TIME!
Came back and this is what she look like.
What a bloody affair. Scary or not????
Actually ah, no pain. I say she was a very brave girl even though she said she was scared when sitting on the dentist chair. So scared until she don't know how to answer the dentist. Dentist asked "how many times you brush your teeth", she answered "don't know!". Dentist asked "where do you go to school?", she answered "Shah Alam 2". Actually her school is in Puncak Alam, not Shah Alam 2. Mommy also feel a bit scared, sitting down and watching her. I thought she might have felt some pain during the injection or after the anasthetic wear off, but final verdict... "NO PAIN MOMMY!"
She not only pulled one tooth, but two because the permanent tooth is quite big! Dentist was going to pull only one and said to come back next week to pull another. But I figured, she is already numbed and already on the dentist chair. Might as well pull another and spare her the fear of coming back again. I know if it was me, I wouldn't want to have that hanging over my head the entire week.
This is her smiling face "before"

This is her smiling face "after"

If you have a child that thinks it's painful to go to the dentist, show them what this Jie-Jie do after she come back. Seeeeee.... no pain. Can still play computer game. No pain itelyu.

Damus also had a check up. Dentist knocked his front tooth a bit to see if it was painful (coz' he fell down a few years back and injured it). He came back home and told his daddy that the dentist "whacked" his tooth. Aiyo! Anyway, I thought this was a funny picture. His jie-jie is trying to open his eye, coz' they get very small when he smiles. Don't he look like an evil Jekyll?

p.s. Talking about dentist, here's a little story about myself. When I was younger, my mother drove me to the dentist but I absolutely refused to get down from the car. I practically hung on to the car for dear life. But then I have very good reason -- that scary, evil nurse/dentist in primary school had scarred me for life. The horror of watching classmates return from her clinic with bloody gauzes hanging from their mouths (shudder).

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Baby Milestone: 1 YEAR

So quickly times has past and baby is now 1 YEAR OLD. What marks this milestone?
  • His understanding has increased by leaps and bounds. These are some words and instructions he understands:
    - “pom-pom” meaning bath time – he tugs at his shirt trying to get it off.
    - “brush your teeth” - he points at the toothbrush.
    - “put inside” - put cloth diapers into the drawer, toys into containers. We got him a toy where you put the shaped blocks into the correct hole. He is able to put them in. Still a little clumsily but successful 80% of the time. I’m sure he’ll figure how to match the blocks to their respective holes soon.
    - book, ball, or shoes – he will go and find it.
    - “You want me to read to you?” – he will bring the book and plop down on our lap.
    - “kiss” – he will open his mouth and plant a kiss on our cheek or mouth with sound effects 'Aaa..Wah'.
    - “Where’s the cat?” – he will go to the door and look outside.
    - “Where’s your tummy?” – Pat his tummy
    - “Where’s your ear?” – Tug at his ear
    - “Where’s your tongue?” or if I see him chewing an unknown object, I scream “What’s in your mouth, open up!” – He will stick his tongue out.
    - “Pray Danic” – he will put his two hands to his chest. Doesn’t work all the time though, depends if he is distracted or not. Plus, only holds that position for about 5 seconds.
  • Tries to pull up my shirt when he wants 'nen-nen'. He even says “Aaahhh”, opening his mouth just like when we feed him.
  • When we feed him, he will put one finger to the palm of the other hand to tell us you wants more. Pats his stomach to tell us he is full.
  • Likes to turn round and round to make himself dizzy.
  • Likes to do writing like his siblings. He can hold the pencil and make light scribbles on paper.
  • His first word is “Aaa…pa” – as in apple. He will flip through the books and look for apple. - Recently he started saying “Paaa…pa” for paper. Of course he can say “Mama”, especially when he wants me to carry him.
  • When his shoes accidently come off, he will bring it to me and ask me to put it on for him. Sometimes he tries to put it on himself. The other day while I was on the phone, he brought his shoes to me because he wanted to go outside.
  • He can sit on the slide by himself. Even sit on the swing by himself.
  • He likes to play catching with his brother.
  • His siblings quarrel often and one of them usually ends up crying. He will comfort whoever is crying – sayang their head, hug them and give them kiss.
  • Likes to climb on to our back or stomach when we lie down to play horsie.
  • He can climb out of the baby cot.
  • He can wave bye-bye.
  • Likes to throw everything down the staircase
  • He points to the things he wants.
  • Claps his hands when we say "good boy". Or he will clap hands to show that he has accomplish something or did something good. For example, he took something from the table. When he put it back like we asked him to, he clapped his hands and we had to clap for him too. Unfortunately he kept taking it just so we could clap when he put it back. Sigh! Cheeky monkey.
  • Very engrossed with advertisements on TV. He will sometimes sing along or dance to the music.

Wow, quite a long list. Which goes to show the rate of development in babies this age. Well, what can I say, he is a joy to have and I love watching him grow.

Mamas Bag of Tricks:

Even though it may be dangerous and troublesome to let baby try new things, we have to give them room to explore. For example, letting baby slide down himself at first seemed like too much for this baby. But if I didn't try, I wouldn't have known he could do it himself. Daddy went one step further and let him swing by himself. Who would have guessed that he could actually do it? Of course safety precautions must be taken. Anyway, the message here is to not underestimate baby or "protect" too much less we hinder their development.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Baby Milestone: 11 Months

Tomorrow is baby's FIRST birthday and I realized I hadn't done his 11 month milestone. So, here it is before I do his birthday scrap.

December was an exciting time as we eagerly awaited for Christmas to arrive. The Christmas tree was up and baby busied himself pulling off the round ornaments. So, what are some tips to stop baby from pulling down the whole tree?
  • Don't put up a tree
  • Put up the tree but put the ornaments up high where baby can't reach them.
  • Constantly watch baby and hold his hand firmly whenever he reaches for an ornament. Firmly say "NO" and teach him to give it to you.
  • Confine baby to the "dungeon" - that's what we call the baby cot/fenced up play area.
This baby is different from his siblings. His siblings cried the first time they saw Santa Claus. Baby showed no fear. Well for now that is. Don't know how he'll be next year.

He has already learned how telephones work. Whenever he hears the phone ring, he puts his hand to his ear (imitating how we put the phone to our ear). This one time we were at the supermarket and our handphone rang. We didn't hear it coz' it's quite noisy. But baby alerted as coz' he put his hand to his ear.

He plays with books more than he plays with toys. He loves to sit with a book and flip its pages. Will still bite the books once in a while.

Loves to go into the kitchen. He comes running especially when someone opens the fridge door.

He also loves to look out the back gate to see the children playing at the back court. You just know he longs to go out and run like them.

Trauma for the month:
We were busy getting ready to go out. He was playing with the front grill door. He then slammed it on his thumb. It got all red (bleeding inside) and he screamed and cried. But his pain tolerance must be quite high, coz’ he didn’t cry long. After that it didn’t even seem to bother him much. The nail eventually fell off.
Mamas Bag of Tricks:
Don't let your child play with the door. Obvious parenting tip but accidents do happen, especially when you are busy and not watching.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

When I'm Old...

I count myself very lucky to have parents that can still take care of themselves. My parents are already passing their mid 60s but have no problem with mobility. Although my dad had a bypass in the 90's, he still is actively out and about. My mom is a very happy-go-lucky person. No ailments such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems etc... whatsoever. She still plays golf every morning and does her line dancing. Oh, not to forget her mahjung playing too. Now she takes Cryptomonadales and often sits in the bio-electric chair. My mom always said, if we take after her, we will have no problems.

Well, I really hope that I am still that active and ailment free when I'm aged. But what if I'm not? What about you? Will you opt to have your children care of you or will you not mind a care home for the elderly?

My friends and I were talking and we said maybe we should all just house ourselves together when we're old so we can take care of each other, or hire someone to take of us. It'll be like an exclusive retirement home. I think growing old among friends is a good option no?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Candy Bouquet Business: A Work From Home Idea

I haven't been writing much on work-at-home topics but I came across this wonderful idea of starting a Candy Bouquet Business.

I think it is a very unique idea, different from flower bouquets. It not only looks good, but you can eat it too. I, for one, just love candy. There are two different kinds of candy bouquet:
  1. Candy mixed with flowers (either real or plastic)
  2. All candy
I have not come across this kind of bouquet in Malaysia. Well... maybe except for the Ferrero Rouche bouquet. Maybe some of you moms out there want to give this a try. You could make candy bouquets for Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Birthdays, Graduation, Weddings, Christmas, Hari Raya, Baby Gifts etc....

Here is an ebook to help you on your way to starting a Candy Bouquet Business.

180 page step-by-step Guide "How to Make Candy Bouquets for Fun and Profit"

If you are still wondering what in the world is a Candy Bouquet, just watch this commercial.

One of the challenges I see in this business is getting your children to not eat all the scrumptious candy and also not eating it yourself :)

Friday, January 04, 2008

Insight on Learning Problems

Parents spend a good deal of time worrying about their child's education. Well, I asked a good friend of mine who has many years of experience teaching young children to share her insight on why normal children sometimes encounter learning problems. She cites 3 general reasons:
  • Age factor /Readiness
  • Short Attention Span
  • Temporary Shut Down of the Brain

The full article is on my Value Bookshop's blog. Click the following to read it:

Why Smart Children Have Learning Problems?

Starting School - Part 2

Yesterday's first day of school was deemed "boring" by K. Well, today she had a bit of "stress" (including mommy).

Had a phone call about 12:30pm today saying Karina had missed her school van and was crying. So faster than a speeding bullet, mommy rushed over to look for her. As I pulled into the carpark, I saw the van just leaving the school. The 'pakcik' said he couldn't find my dear K. I look at all the children around the gate and didn't see her. So I went inside the school, to the school office and the teacher's room and no sign of her. Went outside again and finally, saw the back of a little girl in her baju kurung uniform standing in the sun. With tear stained eyes, she hugged mommy tight-tight.

Don't know how this little girl couldn't locate her school van. Plus I believe the poor 'pakcik' couldn't recognize her because wearing baju kurung, she looked like all the rest of the Malay girls. Even I missed her the first time round. Thank goodness I made her memorize the house phone number. Also repeatedly drilled her on what to do in case such an incident were to happen - go to the school office and call home or locate your teacher. Thank goodness all that preparation helped. Other things taught were not to follow strangers e.g. don't trust anyone who comes up to you and say "your mom asked me to pick you up" or "the pakcik asked me to come get you."

Another lesson for today was regarding pocket money. She told me she had given her friend RM2 to go buy chicken nuggets for her. Her friend gave her back RM1. In her little mind, all is fine and dandy. Afterall, her friend did give her back some money. Well, all would have been well if it were not for the fact:
  1. I cooked her chicken nuggets to take to school, so why in the world is she still buying chicken nuggets??????
  2. She didn't eat the chicken nuggets that were bought, her friend ate it all. So, in other words, she 'belanja' the friend a meal lah.
  3. She didn't finish eating the chicken nuggets in her lunch box.
  4. Her friend didn't ask for the money, she voluntarily gave the money to her friend.

Asked her why? I get the famous answer "don't know!" Sigh! Okay, pocket money is now slashed from RM1.50 to 60 cents. Sigh!

Mamas Bag of Tricks

  1. Repeatedly drill your children on safety procedures. Tell 101 times also nevermind.
  2. Make sure they know how to contact you. Either memorize or write down phone numbers and address.
  3. Don't forget to assure them if anything goes wrong, you will come and get them. So it is NOT a big catastrophe. Mommy/daddy WILL COME for them.
  4. Don't simply give money to your friends. Mommy/daddy not rich you know!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Starting School

I guess I join the many parents out there whose child is starting school for the first time. Since my DD is in the morning school, we woke up early to catch her van transport. I asked her if she was excited, she said "No." BUT I knew she was as she was out at the gate very early (6:45am) waiting for the van rather impatiently, plus she packed her school bag the afternoon before.
My girl is rather independant so I don't really worry about her starting school. I think most children starting Std. 1 are already regular school goers because of kindergarten. So, there was hardly any fussing or crying going on. Actually, the worried onces were the parents anxiously standing around, finding it difficult to let go.
My only worries for DD are:
  1. She won't understand what everyone is talking about because her Bahasa Malaysia is not that great.
  2. She won't know how to find the van that is her transport home. Or she will get into the wrong van. Went to the school to make sure she knows how to identify the van and get on the right one.
Orientation day was on the 1/1/2008. They highlighted 3 things to the parents:
  1. Transitional period - The children will go through a 3 week transitional program. It's a time for teachers to get to know the pupils, for pupils to get to know other pupils, and also to familiarize them with the school compound. Basically, to get them to transition from kindergarten to a bigger, formal school environment. So they will be no learning for this 3 weeks. They tell us this coz' they don't want parents to call and question them "why my child no homework ah?" or "why my child say they only jalan-jalan in school today?" They also told us the child does not need to bring any books during this time, just writing material and color pencils. Talking about books, the said they will only give during the 2nd week but today she already brought home some.
  2. KIA 2M - I think that's what it's called. The kids will be given an evaluation test (one on one with the teacher I believe) to gauge their reading, writing and counting skills. Those that don't have sufficient reading skills will attend this special KIA 2M class. Evaluations are done 3 times a year. Any time they pass the evaluation test, they will be integrated back to the normal class. According to the teacher, there are children that start school without even knowing the alphabets even though they've already attended 2 years of kindergarten. This program is to ensure all children have basic reading and writing skills. Oh, must add that this is only for Bahasa Malaysia.
  3. Special education class - I'm impressed that this school actually have a class for children with special needs. Teachers will monitor the children and those that need special attention, will be transfered to the special education class.

Now, I don't know if this is the same for all schools. I'm sure the Chinese schools will differ. But maybe these 3 programs are the same for all kebangsaan schools?

Okay, so how was the first day of school for K? One word-- BORING!
Why? Because they didn't do any work. Nevermindlah, you come back home, mommy give you plenty of work okay? :) I guess the following can be a tip:

  • Don't hype up too much the experience of starting school. In other words, don't tell children "it will be sooo great" or "it will be fun, you make new friends, learn new things" etc.... First day of school will generally be confusing and like my daughter said, BORING. Be realistic and let your children know that the first few days is a transitional period. Teachers are getting things in order, new students are figuring how things work.

Here's a list of how much we spent or what we got for getting ready for school:

  1. School bag - given by friend. Not advisable to get the roller/pulley bags because they don't last long. If you have to carry them, they are heavier than normal bags. Plus, you can't roll them everywhere e.g. staircase, uneven terrain.
  2. Pencil box with pencils, eraser, pencil sharpener, ruler - given as Christmas present.
  3. Color pencils - given as a Christmas present.
  4. Water bottle - given as a Christmas present.
  5. Food container for recess - just an old one from the house.
  6. Wallet - given as a Christmas present.
  7. Watch - RM10.00
  8. Glitter pen (marker pen also okay, but glitter pen looks nicer mah) - to write her names on her bags, pencil box etc.... Plus glitter pen can be used for other art and craft work -- err... can't remember how much it cost.
  9. 2 pairs of school shoes - RM23.99 each.
  10. 1 set baju kurung uniform - RM40.80
  11. 2 sets pinafore uniform - RM69.60
  12. 4 pairs of white socks - RM11.80
  13. Exercise books and school badge - RM23.60
  14. School fees and whatever other fees like PIBG, sports, awards etc... - RM148.65

Another thing I realized today that I should get for her - umbrella or raincoat. Okay, I hope this has been somewhat helpful to parents who will have children starting Std. 1 next year.