Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Power of Rewards

Steacie Science and Engineering Library at Yor...Image via Wikipedia

Last Sunday, when we wanted to return the library books, one book was missing. It was a Magic Treehouse book that K borrowed. We did the usual "interrogation":
  • When was the last time you read it?
  • Did you read it upstairs or downstairs?
  • Did you read it in the car?
  • Did you leave it at church?
  • Did you take it to school?
  • Is it on your bed?
  • Have you checked under the sofa cushions?
  • What about under the chairs, tv, trampoline etc....
  • Did you loan it to any of your friends?
  • Is it with all our books on the bookshelves?
  • Try to remember where you put it.
  • KokoD1, KokoD2, did you guys take it? Have you seen it?
  • Are you sure you looked properly or not?
Then there was the scolding too:
  • That's why lah, you always leave your things everywhere.
  • Why didn't you just put it back after reading?
  • Why are you sitting down again, keep looking lah!
  • You have to be more responsible.
  • Why didn't you look for it yesterday? Why must you wait until we are leaving the house before you start searching for it?
  • Stop whining and giving excuses. Just look for it.
Let's not forget the threats too:
  • I'm not going to tell the lady at the library the book is lost. You go tell her yourself.
  • If you don't find the book, they are going to ban your library card.
Daddy was very kind NOT to report the lost book that day. He told K that she has 1 week to look for the book. If still cannot be found, then only will he let the library know about it. Unfortunately, kids being kids, this girl of mine don't really appreciate the "life line" that has been thrown to her. There still is no urgency to look for the book. She goes on like it's no big deal. Not much effort given to looking for the book.

It has been quite baffling where that book has gone. I know it is in the house. How come we can't find it? Well, I had an idea. While K was in school, I announced to my 2 boys that I would buy a Cornetto or Slurpee to the person who finds the book. Guess what? THE BOOK WAS FOUND WITHIN 10 MINUTES. Where was it? In my girl's bedroom, on one of the bookshelves, between some of the books.

I then asked KokoD1, "What would you like? The Cornetto or Slurpee?"
You know what he said? "Mommy, what is a Cornetto?"
Hahahah, see the power of rewards? He didn't even know what it was. He just knew it was something good and he wanted it.

The moral of this story and Mama's Parenting Tip for today:
Rewards work better than interrogation and threats!
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Be Smart When Shopping Online

Today, I bought online a baby gym for babyK. I've been trying to make up my mind for a few days now, wondering whether to buy one or not. Spent a few hours this morning, checking out who else sells the item and if it is worth buying at all.

Do you take a long time before you decide to buy something online too? Me, I'm just trying to be as prudent as I can with my spending. In today's economic situation, we must try to save where and when we can right?

If you're going to buy something, it would be helpful to look around for the best deal. What makes good deals?
  • Discounted prices
  • Rewards/Redemption program
  • Free Shipping
  • Free Gifts or Bonuses
  • Coupons
Coupons is something we don't think much about but it is a good way to save some money. Some merchants have you type in a coupon code when you buy their stuff online. Some merchants have you print out the coupon.

Valentine's Day is coming. Why not lessen the damage on your pocket with Savings Valentine's Day coupons? Love shopping at the Gap? Then use some GAP coupons. A 10% savings is better than nothing. If you're lucky, you may even save up to 50%-80%. So, search out those coupons the next time you wanna purchase something.

Happy shopping and savings everyone!

*This message was brought to you by your friends at Savings.com

I Don't Dare

Every day when I send my children to school, I see a few kids their age cycling to school. Now, the school is not too far from my house. So, if I wanted the kids to cycle to school, it wouldn't be too far for them; probably a 10-15 minutes ride.

BUT I don't dare ask such a thing of them. I would get a heart attack every time I think of a car that might knock them down. Then there is also the worry that someone might kidnap them. And what if they accidentally fell down and hurt themselves that they couldn't walk back home. Or what if it rains?

I asked kokoD1 hypothetically, "Would you cycle to school if I asked you to?" He answered, "No, I don't know where to park my bicycle at school?" (*slaps forehead*). Obviously we are not worried about the same things :)

Anyway, if you had the option of allowing your child to cycle to school, would you? Dare or don't dare?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Do You Have A Special Valentine's Day Memory?

A tiny 2-inch pop-up Valentine, circa 1920Image via Wikipedia

What has been your most memorable Valentine's Day? For me, I'm still waiting for my DH to give me a romantic surprise. Maybe I'm thinking all wrong. Instead of waiting for him to give me a surprise, maybe I should be the one to give him a surprise.

Anyway, Valentine's Day is coming up fast and I know there are a lot of guys out there thinking "what can I do to make Valentine's Day special for my girlfriend/wife?" Well, let me give you some ideas on what would make any girl happy (these would serve as hints for my DH too).

A Day At The Spa
We ladies like the thought of having a good massage and being pampered. A treat at the spa doesn't have to be for one person. Make it a date and go together.

Romantic Weekend Getaway
Book yourselves a place in a nice hotel. If you are married with kids, arrange to leave the kids with someone you can trust. Enjoy some down time together.

Fresh Flowers With Balloons
I know flowers are such a traditional gift. So what? Doesn't mean we ladies don't like it. How often do we get a bunch of sweet smelling flowers. It doesn't always have to be roses. If you know what her favorite flower is, get those. You can top it off with balloons. Make it more special by writing your love messages on the balloons. Fill her bedroom with all the balloons.

Special Dinner
If your wife is like me who cooks everyday, give her a break. Treat her to a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant. You'll make her more happy if you also bought her a new dress to wear to the dinner. Alternatively, you can cook the special dinner yourself. Just make sure you are a good cook first.

A Scrapbook
These days it is so easy to make a digital scrapbook. Why not create one to highlight all the things you love about her. Journal how you feel for her, why she makes you happy, what were your thoughts the first time you met her, why is she special to you and what are your wishes for her. You can make the scrapbook into a slide show and even add her favorite music. If not, print it out into a photobook.

I believe that we should go through life creating special memories. This Valentine's Day is an opportunity for you to create a wonderful memory for your loved one. Unfortunately, the downturn in the economy may make it difficult for you to do certain things. So, you either have to be creative with your tight budget or you could opt for a cash advance.

Message for husbands:
Don't let your wife end up like me. I have no special memory of Valentine's Day... yet. Create a special memory for her; One that she will remember when she's old. Just imagine her sitting down on a rocking chair one day, telling her grandchildren about the day grandpa....
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Friday, January 22, 2010

What's More Important?

Conversation between KokoD and myself today:

Me: I would like you to do some work before you start playing on the computer. Because if you play first, then you will be too tired to do any work.
KokoD: I think I better play first. If I do work first, then I will be too tired to play computer.

Obviously, this mother and son has different ideas of what is important. Which makes me wonder too, when did I stop thinking that play was more important than work? Hmmm.....


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

When Bad Things Become Good

Cover of "It Could Have Been Worse"Cover of It Could Have Been Worse

I was reading about the Dragon Boat tragedy in the papers the other day and one of the victim's father made a comment that got me pondering. He mentioned how he would scold his son for spending too much time playing computer games and that prompted the son to sign up for the dragon boat activity. He said he wished he had left his son to play computer games. That way, his son would still be alive.

I guess it struck me because I am one of those parents who dislike the idea of my children gazing hypnotically at the computer screen for hours on end. I don't mind them playing for about 1 hour. However, I would also encourage them to do other "better" things like reading books, activities that require some imagination and creativity, help me clean up the house (their least favorite thing to do of course) and physical activities.

Well, this father's comment got me thinking that maybe, playing computer games is not too bad afterall:
  • You know where they are. Having them at home is better than not knowing where they are or having them engage in dangerous or inappropriate activities.
  • They can't get injured playing computer games. Their eye sight may deteriorate a little and they may suffer from carpal tunnel later on, but nothing that will have them end up in the hospital.
  • Some computer games can aid their spacial abilities and hand-eye coordination (I think).
My heart goes out to the families that lost their children in this tragedy. I cannot fathom what it is like to lose a child. I hope I never know. As parents, we try to bring up our children the best we can. We try to guide them in the right way. It's just that we cannot see the future and therefore cannot predict when bad things may actually be good things (and vice versa).

It reminds me of a children's book I once read. It's called It Could Have Been Worse. The story is about a little mouse who experiences a whole bunch of mishaps like falling into a hole, tripping etc.... But all those "bad" things that happened to him were actually "good" things coz' they saved him from being eaten by predators.

Anyway, my point is, we never know when the "bad" things could turn out to be "good" things. I think I shall take it as a lesson to be less harsh on my kids.

p.s. For those of you who don't know, the Dragon Boat tragedy refers to the recent death of 5 students and 1 teacher as their dragon boat capsized while they were training for the Penang International Dragon Boat Race.
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Photobook Your Memories

Last Sunday as I was updating my family journal, I told my daughter that I should get it bound into a book, especially the photos and scrapbooks. Rather than keep everything on my harddisk, I was thinking a Photobook would be appropriate. I'd have to save money and target to do that at the end of the year.

Photobooks seem to be the trend these days. Some people create Photobooks as their wedding album . Definitely more appealing than those bulky and heavy traditional wedding albums. They are also great for other special occasions such as anniversaries, barmitzvah, christening, holidays etc....

There are many photobook services online. For example, if you are in UK, Photo Productions designs and prints Premium Photobooks. They are not like the many design-it-yourself photobooks services that give you cheap prints. They have a team that will professionally design your book using your uploaded photos. Their quality is also exceptional. After you approve of the design, the book goes through a 23 stage digital printing and hand-binding process. In other words, not only are the images vibrant but the book is durable as well.

The service they provide is usually available through a photographer. However, that makes it more expensive. They are the first UK based company to offer such services to the general public. Their website is user friendly. You'll find it no hassle at all. You also get full online proofing of the Photobook designs when they are done. They will ship to anywhere but if you are in UK, shipping is free.

If you are a professional photographer, you can apply for a trade discount. This means more savings for you. Their tagline is 'Premium Photobooks, Not Premium Prices'.

*Disclaimer: I'm getting some pocket-money from this post.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Teriyaki Noodles

Decided to do some cooking experimenting the other day and it came out quite alright. The dish: TERIYAKI MACARONI and TERIYAKI SPAGHETTI.

This was lunch. Tried a recipe I found on the internet and it turned out too sweet. The recipe called for 3 tbsp of brown sugar to 2 cups of water. That's really toooo sweet. Threw in some chicken nuggets and black pepper sausages that were lying in my freezer. I believe most people would use chicken breasts for this type of dish. I guess you can use whatever suits your fancy. Me, I was just trying to finish up whatever food I had in the fridge :)

My Teriyaki Macaroni creation.


Modified the teriyaki sauce for dinner. Used spaghetti this time round. DH gave this a thumbs up. Much better and less sweet. No more chicken nuggets and sausages, so fried up some luncheon meat. Garnished with spring onions.

Here is the recipe for the sauce:

HOW TO COOK

  • 1 clove garlic and 1-2 inches ginger. Crush or mince it.
  • Stir fry the garlic and ginger in oil until fragrant.
  • Pour in 2 tbsp sesame oil and stir fry a little more.
  • Add 3 cups of water
  • Add 6 tbsp of soy sauce
  • Add 3 tbsp of BBQ sauce
  • Add 1 tbsp of hoisin sauce
  • Add 4 tbsp of teriyaki sauce
  • Add 1 1/2 tbsp of brown sugar
  • Optional: Add 1 tbsp of honey
  • Taste to see if it is savory enough for your taste. If not, add some salt.
  • To thicken the sauce, add 3 tbsp of cornstarch.
If you cook 1 packet of spaghetti, this recipe will be enough. You may even have more than you need. Enjoy!

p.s. If you need help planning what to cook each week, click on my affiliate link below:
Dine Without Whine - A Weekly Menu Plan & Grocery List Delivered To Your E-mail Box

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Baby is 4 Months Old

*This scrap was done with Polaroid My Memories Suite. If you want an easy way to digital scrapbook, click here to learn more about this software: Software For Scrapbooking

BabyK now weighs 6.7kg. She's my first baby who likes to suck her thumb. If she's not sucking her thumb, she's sucking our fingers, arm, shoulders etc.... She has started to laugh out loud. But not everyone can make her do that. So far, only 3 people have succeeded: Daddy, jie-jie Merille and Sis. Lhudy. I guess it depends on her mood too. Jie-jieK is trying very hard everyday to make baby laugh. Unfortunately no success.

She's not sleeping as much as we want her to during the daytime. Sometimes she only naps for 15 minutes. Imagine trying to put her to sleep for 1 hour and then she only sleeps for 15 minutes. She sleeps longer if I sleep with her. So you can imagine how productive I've been. Yes, I guess I should be grateful that I can nap every afternoon :) Unfortunately that means a bit of neglect for my other 2 sons.

Well babyK, mommy is impatiently waiting for you to be able to sit up. This way you can sit on the trolley when we go shopping and I don't have to carry you for 2 hours (or more).

Thursday, January 14, 2010

More TV, Good or Bad?

When I was young, there were only 3 channels on TV; RTM1, RTM2 and TV3. When TV3 was first introduced, my house could not receive its transmission. I remember being so bummed out because they had great shows like Smurfs. Yea, back then I felt very deprived because I felt like the only one in school who couldn't watch Smurfs.

These days our children have the luxury of cable and satellite TV. Is that a good thing? Well, in my home we don't subscribe to any extra channels. Even then, the TV is on almost the whole day. Don't be alarmed; it's not the kids watching but their grandfather.

I cannot imagine what would happen if I subscribe to Astro (satellite TV here in Malaysia). It'll be so difficult not to be glued to the TV. I know I will have to be more vigilant in making the kids adhere to TV rules. In spite of that I can think of one good thing it'll do for me... no more never-ending Taiwanese shows. My FIL watches them everyday and boy, the series seems to go on forever. I guess in a way it's our fault; he doesn't have much choice on TV.

So, in your home, do you (or would you) opt for satellite TV? What rules (if any) have you made for your kids and yourself regarding watching TV?

Friday, January 08, 2010

Car Games For Kids

Are your children good travelers? My kids are not too bad. Leaving the house for us is like going on a road trip. It takes us about 40 minutes to get to PJ. And because it's not economical for us to be driving into town so often, we try to do as much as we can when we're out. So, driving here, driving there, doing this and doing that usually takes a few hours.

Sometimes the kids will sleep. But when they're awake, they need something to keep them occupied or else World War III will break out. You'll hear stuff like:
  • "why are you taking up so much space?"
  • "don't cross this line, ok?"
  • "Mommy, he stepped on my feet again."
  • "Why you always get to sit in the middle?"
  • "Can you stop singing, or I'll ask Mommy to turn off the radio."
  • "Mommy, he punched me so hard."
The kids will usually bring stuff to do like books, doodling paper or a mini white board. But that doesn't guarantee peace in the car. They'll end up fighting too e.g. "But I want to use it", "It's my turn, you've used it for so long already" or "Mommy, he snatched it from me."

Car games is a good way to keep them in good spirits. Here are some ideas:
  • How many diggers can you find? This one works for my little one coz' he looooves diggers. Plus, there's plenty of construction going on in this little part of the world to supply him with diggers to spot.
  • Guessing game. You think of an object or animal and then give clues for others to guess what it is. This is really good for their language skills. It'll help them learn how to use adjectives.
  • What word starts with the letter... To make this game more interesting, we ask the children to give words that are related to the gospel. For example, words that begin with the letter "A" could be atonement, Aaron, Almighty or apostle.
  • Rhyming game. Give a word and find what other words rhyme with it. If you can, make up a silly poem with the words given.
  • Road trip Bingo. Make up a bingo card like the one below. Use items that your children will see along the road. If they spot an item, give them a sticker to place on their card. The winner would be the first person to complete a row either horizontal, vertical or across. This is more fun then the usual Eye Spy game.

Chinese New Year is coming up. That means "balik kampung" (traveling back to hometown). I better get ready my list of car activities if I want a pleasant journey. So, what sort of car games do you play on your road trips?

Early Reading Lessons

One of my New Year resolutions this year is to be more diligent in teaching my children. BabyD is no more a baby. He is turning 3 years old in a few days. His status has been upgraded to become KokoD2. Just in case you didn't know, "koko" means "big brother" in chinese.

Anyway, I've been feeling a bit bad coz' he learns really quickly and my slack means he can't progress as quickly. At this young age, he already knows the sounds of all the alphabets. He can also identify all the letters - small and capital. His counting is excellent. He loves numbers. He will sometimes count beyond 20. His pencil control is also quite good. He colors very well for his age -- tries to keep it inside the lines. He can write the numbers 1-4. Don't get me wrong, I'm not telling you this to show that he is a genius or anything. Just to demonstrate that with proper guidance, really young children can learn quickly.

Well, I've decided to start him reading. I'm starting him on recognizing whole words. I'll still continue with phonics such as identifying initial sounds. But at this age, he can't blend sounds yet. So, we'll do memorizing whole words first. I've written down on cards two very simple and common words: "the" and "is". I've put them on the wall where he can see them. I print out text from his favorite books and nursery rhymes that contain those words and have him search for those words. When he finds those words on the paper, I have him color them. Also when we read books, I have him point out those words.

He gets so excited when he finds those words he can read. Take a look at the video below.

video

Mama's Parenting Tip

Thursday, January 07, 2010

I Have To Cut My What?

KokoD just started Std.1 this year. First day of school was no problem. Afterall, he has been attending preschool there. So, he is familiar with the environment and no problem with the language too. BUT there are still Bahasa Malaysia words that he doesn't know. Here is an account of a hilarious misunderstanding:

KokoD: Mommy, my friends at school say they have to cut their "kuku".
Mommy: (Thinking he was referring to circumcision because at home, we call the thing between boys legs "kuku". My children also know it's called a penis but we are used to using the hokkien term for it). Ya, the Malays do that.
KokoD: My teacher say if your "kuku" is too long, she will cut it.
Mommy: (Huh? What in the world? After some thinking... finally dawned on me that she was talking about fingernails. Bahasa Malaysia "kuku" = fingernails) OooOooh, "kuku" means your fingernails dear.

I believed I saw a sigh of relief from KokoD.


Another kid starting school. 2 down, 2 to go.

Kids Photos

When there's a new baby in the house, the camera seems to gravitate that way. I realize I haven't given much "blog attention" to the other kids.So, here's some picture updates on the kids.


One day KokoD1 went to hold babyK and said "Mommy, take my picture with baby". Here he is, giving me his sweet smile. One thing you have to know about KokoD1, it is difficult to get him to smile nicely when taking pictures. He will usually make funny faces or has his eyes shut. But here he willingly looks "normal" for me.




This was taken during a wedding dinner. Baby was looking happy and cute and so I took out my camera. KokoD1 quickly jumped in. He loves babyK a lot. He really is a good koko to her. When I'm busy, he will happily try to entertain her. Sometimes I put her in the car seat cum rocking chair (see my post on Online Shop Malaysia) and he will rock her to sleep while I cook. He will then announce to me his "success" with pride and satisfaction in his voice.


These two are like cats and dogs. They provide the "fireworks" at home. But I must say that JiejieK is very helpful at home (when she wants to be or when she sees me super angry). She un-grudgingly helps me get the vegetables ready for cooking. She also cooks the rice these days. Yeap, upgraded from washing rice to actually cooking it. These two kids also sweep and mop the upstairs once a week. One will sweep and the other mops. Good kids but still have plenty of bad habits to weed out. Guess that's why I still have a job as a "mommy". Hahahahah.


This little fella is still very lovable. Unfortunately he is picking up some bad habits from his siblings like disturbing/annoying them on purpose. This, of course, leads to fights with his siblings. His speech is getting a little better but there are still times I don't know what he is saying. He seems to have problems pronouncing certain sounds properly. The /ai/ sounds are either pronounced as /ah/ or /ayer/. So, "I want to eat rice" becomes "I want to eat wah". He loves numbers and alphabets. He can even count beyond 20. He can write the numbers 1-3. I didn't really teach him that. He did that on his own. Today I taught him to spell his name. I used the B-I-N-G-O song. He learned quickly and now he can spell his name. He also loves music. On the piano, he knows where is "do" and will play and sing "do-re-me-fa-so-la-ti-do". He will try to sing backwards too but gets it all wrong. Hahahah. You won't believe what one of his favorite song is... Love Story by Taylor Swift. Influenced by JiejieK nonetheless. Everytime I turn on my computer, he will ask me to play that song over and over and over and over....


So here they all are. My 1-2-3-4 kids.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Baby K is Going To Be 4 Months Old


Thanks to Shabby Princess for the free digital scrapbook kit.

BabyK's hair is getting longer and standing up higher. Her daytime naps are getting shorter and that just means more busy time for us. Her gums have been really itchy lately. She keeps wanting to bite and suck. The teething process has probably started but I know we won't be seeing any teeth for a few months. We have teething rings for her but she's more interested in our fingers. She'll also suck her own hand. We say she's "eating her drumstick". She likes to hold our hand. We like her to hold our hand so she has plenty of willing hands to hold :) Besides holding our hand, she has also started to grab things like hair (her own and also other people's) and her shirt.

She gets very cranky just before she sleeps. I don't remember the others crying so much. Maybe my memory is compromised. Oh, I know my memory is bad. In some ways I count that as a blessing. Anyway, she's really good at night. But she sometimes tends to wait for me to sleep along with her, and that can be quite late. She's really good when we go out. She sleeps when we're out and stays awake when we're home.

Her last weigh in was a few weeks ago and she was at 6.3kg. Next check-up is next Monday. Wonder if she is up another kg. Carrying her around is not doing any wonders for our back.
Parenting Tip: That's why you musn't wait until you're too old to have a baby. You need youth and vibrancy to raise these young ones. Also, important not to neglect fitness. You need to stay strong and have endurance. Also good to get a good baby sling.

She likes to be carried upright, either over the shoulder or sitting facing forward. She doesn't like to be carried in a lying down position. Looks like I have another active one on hand. When they don't like to lie down, that's a sign! It's like she's already complaining "Mommy, stop asking me to go to sleep!"

I heard her laugh for the first time the other day. I was niggling her neck and she gave the cutest laugh. Haven't been able to make her laugh again since then. Baby's laughs are the cutest. No one can imitate a baby's laugh. I need to get that on video.

Ok, that's all the baby news we have for now.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Questions For Mama

My son is sure making my job as a mother very tough. He loves to ask questions that I cannot answer. Here are some of his latest questions:
  • How come the top of the fridge (freezer) is colder than the bottom?
  • How come when I feel the outside of the fridge it is hot but the inside is cold?
  • Who is the one who gave things their names? (Meaning, who said this is called a tree, table, car, house, sun etc....)
  • Who made God?
What are some tough questions you've had from your children?