Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sick Kids

Friday evening after school, my daughter started to feel sick. The next day, she ran a high fever. When she got better, the other two boys started their feverish spell. Jie-jie has progressed to coughing incessantly. Yesterday, kokoD who is usually very active and can't stay still for one minute, lay almost lifeless on the couch the whole day. He hardly ate anything too. BabyD was also sick but still running around a bit.

When they are bouncing off the walls, we wish for peace and quiet. Now that the house is silent, I can't wait to see them lively again. Motherhood is a crazy, crazy thing.

Baby Milestone: 20 Months

I haven't been writing about baby for awhile. I also haven't been scrapping for awhile. So, here goes some baby updates.
  • Still isn't talking much. Compared to his siblings, he is slower in developing speech. He can say "mama," "papa," "koko," and "jie jie." Even to call "mama" and "papa", we had to train him for 1 whole week before he called us correctly. When he remembered "mama", he forgot how to say "papa" and vice versa. It was so funny coz' you could see him trying to think how to form the words. He would move his lips trying to get the right sound and the wrong sounds would come out. Then he would try again. Finally, he can now "label" us correctly. But he didn't have any problem with "koko" and "jie jie." Maybe because he plays with them so often. When he talks to us, it is like playing charades. He uses all sorts of sign language and facial expressions. He understands a lot of things and knows what we are talking about. So I know there is nothing wrong with him. I guess he is just the strong, silent type. Hahahah. Which is a good break from his noisy, chattering siblings.

  • He has started to show interest in drawing. He will help himself to our stash of recycle paper and writing materials. I would put his hand on top of the paper and trace round it. He loves that. He can follow my instructions to draw circles or "up and down." Absolutely loves to play with chop (or what some people call rubber stamps.)

  • Still addicted to his "nen-nen." Yes, I am still breastfeeding him.

  • He is 12 kg. Very solid structure and still has a little tummy. He's got all his teeth out already.

  • Loves to climb like a little monkey. He would push a chair next to my bed and then jump onto the mattress. Also loves to jump on my couch (thanks to the brother's example). I'm still trying to get him to stay off the tables. Sigh!

  • He don't like to watch television... well, except commercials. Toys don't appeal much to him too (unless his siblings are playing with them). His favorite past time is to pull his stool next to me in the kitchen and watch me cut vegetable and stuff. If he is really hungry, he will hold his bowl out while I am getting the food ready.

  • He is a great helper around the house. He will help me carry the folded laundry upstairs. If you need to find something, he will find it for you. When I come home from grocery shopping, he insists that you give him a bag to carry inside. When it is time to sweep the house, he and his brother will put up the carpet, foot rug and footstools. He will even take the broom and dustpan for you.

  • The most special thing about this little guy is his warm, caring nature. If an aunty asks for something to eat, he will share his food. Last Saturday we were at a friend's farewell party. He walked up to an aunty that he hardly knows and offered his cup for her to drink. She, of course, would not take his cup. So he walked to the drink table and took a cup. He pointed at me to fill it up and then went back to the aunty and insisted she have a drink. Hahahah. He has got many "aunties" at church that dot over him. And he freely rewards them with his hugs and kiss.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thoughts On China's Milk Problem

CHENGDU, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 22:  A baby who suf...Image by Getty Images via DaylifeJust a quick post on this issue. It's horrible all these babies getting sick and dying from contaminated milk. Yesterday I got the message about the food items that have been recalled. Now everyone is wary about China products. I just can't help thinking:
  • All the more reason why BREASTFEEDING IS BEST.
  • Good motivation to stop eating sweets and ice-cream.
And my son has suggested we get our own cow.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Simple Kite Craft

If you're thinking of a way to keep your kids occupied, you can try this kite craft.

I traced a kite shape onto art block paper and had the kids color and decorate it. Then I used some string and tied up bits of crepe paper to make the tail.

KokoD wanted to fly the kites. Obviously these kites are not going to fly. Anyway, I wanted to make him happy so I did this instead:

That's as close as I can get them to fly. KokoD was semi happy. He still wants a kite to fly. Guess I'll just have to learn how to make one. Thank goodness I know someone who knows how to do it. Must ask her for instructions. Come to think of it, maybe I'll just look around for a cheap kite. Hahahah. Is there such a thing? CHEAP kite?

Mamas Parenting Tip
  • When it comes to art, I believe you need give children ideas. I always have this thinking that we need to give our children the freedom to express themselves. That's true but I've also come to learn that before we let them "create", we need to guide them first.
    For example, after I drew the kites, I gave my children some colored paper to decorate the kite. When they came back to me with their finished work, I was like "huh?" It was like a few shapes randomly glued here and there, and the background was bare.
    So, then I took a pencil and drew a pattern on one kite. I suggested they use crayons to color coz' the colors are brighter and bolder. I also colored it a bit for them so they could see what I was talking about. I also gave them further suggestions like thinking about themes for their kites e.g. sea life, jungle etc.... Anyway, I think that helped give them a better idea about patterns as oppose to randomly sticking stuff here and there.

  • This is a great way to teach about symmetry. You could fold the kite in half. You draw a pattern on one side and have them copy the other half.

  • If you're going to hang the kite like I did, you might want the child to color both sides of the kite.
Happy crafting!

p.s. Don't forget to check out FUN KIDS CRAFT for many more easy kids craft ideas.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Vegetable Garden Planting

Yesterday was harvest day. Yum, yum! Just look at those freshy, green leafy vegetables. When they say organic vegetables tastes better, they are right.

These are the "Huang Ti Miao" I blogged about before at "Recycling Vegetables." By the way, it was pointed out by Adeline Tan (when she left a comment) that this vege is called Ceylon Spinach. Some of you mentioned that you were going to give it a try. How has it been? Or have you procrastinated your vegetable garden planting? These vegetables are one of the easiest kinds to grow and if you're looking to start a vegetable garden, I would recommend starting with these.

Here are just a few pictures of them growing in the garden. (Oh yeah, in case you don't have a garden, you can grow them in pots too).

This is just one patch of our vegetable garden. There's more at the back of the house.

Nice and fresh. Thanks to my DH's efforts. Hahahahah.
Just snip off the leaves and let it keep growing.

Mamas Parenting Tip
  • Involve your children in your gardening work. Let them pull out weeds, dig a little, water the plants, or kill the snails. It's great quality time together as a family and they learn science first hand.
  • Grow your own vegetables and you don't have to pay more for organic foods.
  • Growing your own vegetables isn't only about saving money. Most of us in the city don't have enough land to grow a vegetable garden to sustain our family. But that doesn't mean we should shove the idea altogether. It's a wholesome activity and the skills you gain is priceless. With the state of the world today -- natural disasters, political unrests, war, and so many more uncertainties -- you never know. Maybe one day you really need to grow your own food. Would you have enough gardening knowledge then to survive?
  • If you can help it, don't cement up the compound around your house. Cultivating a garden is more beneficial than that extra parking space. Really!
Lian recommends:
If you want to start but don't know how, just read what Julie Villani has to share. She studied horticulture at TAFE, completing certificate III in Horticulture. She went from growing straggly plants to raising enough veges to feed her family. In this book she'll teach you how to prepare good soil, create an easy, 'no-dig' veggie plot, 5 easy ways to keep your garden weed free, secrets to composting, naturally protect your plants from pests, how to grow your food in limited spaces and many more.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Easy Kid's Craft: Bookmark

This was what I was busy doing yesterday: homemade bookmarks.

My daughter was rummaging through my table looking for one and I thought it would be a good idea to make one ourselves. Afterall, she has been bugging me to spend more time with her.

Since I'm not a crafty person, I searched the net for ideas. Came across a felt and ribbon bookmark. Seemed pretty easy plus I have some felt that I've been storing for years. There's also a lacy cloth in my "junk box". I used that instead of ribbon. It's about time I took these things out and put them to good use.

I didn't let the kids do the cutting. I let them do the designing and gluing instead. At first I used white glue but then decided that the glue gun is a better choice. End up we did a whole bunch because the kids wanted to give away to their friends and aunties at church. So here I am cutting away.

This is really a craft that only takes a few minutes to do (unless you decide to do tons of them).

I know I should do more craft work with my children. It really is a good way to have some bonding time. Not to mention encourage their creativity and develop their fine motor skills. It keeps them busy: away from trouble and away from the television. My problem is, I like hassle-free crafts. I will only consider doing it if they are really easy and if I already have the materials. That's why my craft sessions with my kids are sorely limited. Poor kids!

  • Designate a craft box and stock up on some art stuff like felt, glitter, googley eyes, buttons, different kinds of colored and patterned paper, crepe paper, ribbons, stamps, glue gun, lace, glitter pens, pattern scissors, embellishments etc....
Anyway, I came across this ebook called "FUN KIDS CRAFTS". Really fun and easy kids craft ideas - all 700 of them. I'm sure you'll find some that suit your liking. There are mother's day crafts, toilet roll crafts, preschool crafts, christmas crafts, bible crafts, holiday crafts and many more.

If you really want to see how easy it is, just click the following to see some sample pages. Also check out the bonus e-books that come with it.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Darn Those Stretch Marks!

Stretch marksImage via Wikipedia While spending time with my son, I decided to show him my stretch marks. Sort of an attempt to say "see what you kids have done to me!". Well, this is what he suggested:

"I think we need to cut it off. We should cut off the skin and then put a looooooong, loooooooong plaster that stretch until the back (pretending to put on the plaster, or some of you call it band-aid, and wrapping his hands across my tummy to my back). Cut off the skin so new skin can grow.
Oh, but what about the belly button? Mommy, how to cut the belly button? Aiyah, never mind-lah, cut it out also so you can have a new one, don't want this old looking one anymore."

I tell you, I was laughing my head off.

On the other hand, I was kinda impressed too because he actually incorporated what he had learned before to come up with a solution. You see, he sort of has this corn like infection on his finger and after putting some medication, some of the skin started to come off. So I explained to him that it's a good thing coz' then new skin will grow. I guess that's how he came to think of skinning my belly so new skin will grow. Hahahaha. But his comment on my belly button cracked me up.

Anyway, back to the topic of stretch marks -- how many of you mommies were able to get rid of stretch marks? I've tried the Palmer's coco butter and all it did was made my stomach itch. Apart from that, I guess I haven't been too diligent in trying to get rid of it. But lately I have been doing a little reading about stretch mark creams and thought I'd share the knowledge here.

So here are some tips if you are also wondering about stretch mark removal:

  • First thing is, don't just choose any moisturizing product from off the shelf. You will need a product that can go deeper, past the skin's top layer (epidermis). Highly recommended are products that have high amounts of vitamin A, vitamin E, collagen, elastin, glycolic acid, and emu oil, liposomes and aloe vera gel. These ingredients are able to penetrate into your second layer of skin called the dermis. The dermis is where the stretch marks occur. They help to replace damaged skin cells and also activate the renewal of healthy cells.
  • Eat foods that promote skin health such as those rich in vitamins A, C, D, E, zinc, silica and protein. These would include nuts, fish, carrots, citrus fruits, milk, eggs and leafy greens. The right kind of nutrition will help your skin stretch better and also to bounce back quicker after birth. Avoid coffee, caffeinated drinks, tea and smoking, as they are not good for your skin's health.
  • Whether you get stretch marks or not are influenced by many factors such as:
    - Genetics. If your mother or sister had them during pregnancy, the chances of you getting them are higher.
    - Skin condition. Dry skin will be less elastic and makes you more prone to stretch marks.
    - Amount of physical stretching. If you are carrying a very large baby or more than one baby, you are more likely to develop stretch marks.
    - Ethnicity and skin tone. If you have fair skin, the probability of having them increases.
So, care to share your stretch mark experiences?

Here are some stretch mark cream reviews:
  • Trilastin SR (Results in about 3-4 months, 1 tube can last up to 45 days)
  • Revitol (active ingredients include squalene oil, aloe vera, Vitamin E, DL-Penthenol, and Vitamin A Palmitate)
  • Purely Shea (100% organic, unrefined, unscented)

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Tips of Positive Parenting Skills

Find Time Mama

Are you in need of some parenting booster? Feel that you could benefit from some tips of positive parenting skills?

Well, I sure do. Every morning for the past week, I tell myself that I'm NOT going to shout at the kids. I find that the home environment has not been too good lately. Too much negative energy -- us parents shouting at kids, kids shouting at each other. Aiyoh, really feel like running away sometimes. But I've come to realize that for the kids to change, I have to change first. That's why, before starting the day, I have to tell myself "I'm going to be a better mother today. I will be more calm." It does help a tiny bit to keep that statement in my mind the whole day. However, bad habits are hard to break.

Motherhood does seem tougher on certain days don't you agree? Anyway, just wanted to introduce this FREE parenting guide called BE A GREAT MAMA. It's wonderful to have these occasional reminders. I don't know about you but I always feel a little strengthen after reading such things.

It's a 29 page guide with the following parenting topics:
  • Being a Role Model
  • Showing Unconditional Love
  • Being Consistent
  • Protecting Our Kids
  • Giving Them Choices
  • Playing with Your Children
  • Giving them Praise
  • Avoiding Bribery
  • Controlling Your Anger
  • Listening to Your Kids
Get your copy now. Click the image below.

Find Time Mama

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Fried Ikan Bilis

Actually, I don't really know the name of this dish. Plus, it's modified a bit from the one I used to eat. I remember when I was really young, my family would sometimes order this ikan bilis (anchovies) snack at the golf club, especially during bingo nights. Ahhh... memories.

Anyway, I decided that I should try to recreate the dish. My first attempt wasn't very good. The ikan bilis wasn't crispy enough. Second attempt my FIL helped out. I volunteered to bring this ikan bilis dish to a friend's farewell gathering. As I was kinda busy that day, I just described to him what the dish was suppose to be. Getting ready to cook, I realized that I had very little ikan bilis left; definitely not enough to feed many people. So, FIL suggested to add potatoes. He did a wonderful job with the dish. Very well modified. Watching how he cooked, I learned to do it the right way. Today, DH modified it further by adding tomatoes.

Usually for our meals, I have 3 dishes: 1 meat, 1 vege and 1 "whatever". This fried ikan bilis is a delicious "whatever" dish. So, here is the recipe:

Ikan bilis
Potatoes - strips
Onions - sliced into rings
Red chilli
Cili padi (if you want it even more hot)
Tomato (optional) - cubes

How to cook:
Add enough oil for frying. Get it boiling hot.
Fry the ikan bilis until crispy brown. Put aside.
Fry potatoes until like french fry or crispier. Put aside.
Reduce the oil. Just leave a little bit to saute the onions.
Add in the chilli and tomato. Stir around for a few minutes.
Mix in the fried ikan bilis and fried potatoes.
Little bit of soy sauce.
Add sugar to taste (depends on how sweet you want it).
Dish it out, serve to eat.
Cut the lime in half. Squeeze over the dish before eating.

Hope you enjoy this salty, sweet and little bit of sour fried ikan bilis dish.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Striving To Make the Perfect Playdoh

I realized the other day that it's been ages since I made playdoh. I checked my blog and the last playdoh time was October 2006. Yikes! Well, since baby D have yet to be introduced to playdoh, I made some again. This time, I decided to use the recipe that required the dough to be cooked.

I made 4 different colored balls. Each time I did one, I strived to make the perfect playdoh.

1. First attempt, I used this recipe provided by EJBABY when she left a comment on that last playdoh post.

World's Best Playdough Recipe
1 c. flour
1/4 c. salt
2 t. cream of tartar
1 c. water
1 T. oil
2 t. food colouring
Mix dry ingredients in medium pot. Add water, oil and food colouring. Cook and stir over medium heat. When the mixture forms a ball in the pot, turn out and knead on a lightly floured surface.

Problem: I learned that you shouldn't cook the flour mixture over the fire. It burns really fast. Thank goodness the burnt smell didn't stay on the playdoh. Yes, it turned out okay in the end. But it really was not a good thing for the bottom of my pot. And I think I used 2 tbsp of cream of tartar instead of 2 tsp.

2. Next batch, I decided to use another recipe from a book called "The Preschooler's Busy Book" by Trish Kuffner.

Colored Playdough Recipe
1 cup water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup salt
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
Food coloring
1 cup flour
Combine water, oil, salt, cream of tartar, and food coloring in a saucepan and heat until warm. Remove from heat and add flour. Stir, then knead until smooth.

Problem: I didn't read properly and mixed the salt and cream of tartar to the flour first. I was suppose to put those two ingredients with the liquid and keep the flour aside to be added later. Well, I pinched away what I could. I didn't mix it in with the flour yet so they were kinda still sitting at the top. In the end, playdoh turned out okay.

3. Batch #3 I decided maybe doing the cooked version of playdoh didn't suit me. I went back to the uncooked playdoh recipe.

Uncooked Playdough
1 cup cold water
1 cup salt
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Food coloring
3 cups flour
2 tablespoons cornstach
Mix water, salt, oil and food coloring to make a bright color. Gradually add flour and cornstarch until the mixture reaches the consistency of bread dough.

Problem: I halved the recipe. I didn't need 3 cups of flour. The texture is not as nice as the cooked version. It was very hard to knead. This was very noticeable coz' I just did 2 batches of the cooked one and that was nice and soft.

4. Last batch, I decided to give the cooked version another try. I think I got it right this time. By then, I was already exhausted and decided that the kids have sufficient playdoh. Plus, I've had enough with mess already.

Mamas Parenting Tip
  • If you want to make some homemade playdoh, try the cooked version. It is very much softer and the texture is smoother.
  • The cream of tartar is suppose to make the playdoh long lasting, even up to 6 months. But it must be kept in an airtight container of ziploc bag.
  • DON'T cook the flour over the fire. Cook the "liquid" part over the fire. Add the flour only after you've removed the "liquid" from the fire. If not, get ready for a black bottom and lots of scrubbing.
  • When you start kneading the flour, it's going to be hot! Of course-lah, you just cooked the "liquid" right? Use a spoon, spatula or something first and stir around.
  • If the playdoh is a bit sticky, sprinkle with flour. At first I had the children play on newspapers laid on the ground but they said when they pressed down, some of the playdoh would stick to the paper. In the end, I gave them my cutting boards and dusted it with some flour.
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