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March 2013

Family life as we know it Re: learning and child training

The long March

March 31, 2013

March has been a month of madness, and I am quite glad it’s over.

I began the SAHM gig on 1 March with three kids who clocked their last day in full-day childcare and infantcare on 28 February. There would be no more alternative caregivers from that day henceforth. The caregiver was to be me. The alternative option now, well, would still be me.

I spent the first 24 days of March being mother, teacher and trainer. The first few weeks were spent getting used to seeing each other every waking minute and unlearning some very bad habits that’s not been corrected by a full-time working mum who at times chose to indulge her daycare-going children. Habits such as not responding immediately when a parent calls, sleeping too little, bargaining too much and mucking around too often at mealtimes.

The first few weeks were also spent trying to find the groove of things and learning not to fly into a rage every time a child misbehaves. This I have MUCH to learn. The kids have figured how to press my buttons – and what buttons to press – and I’m still trying to figure out how not to react.

Amidst the getting used to, we had some fun times. There were more stories told, more artwork done, more outdoor trips made and more values taught. More than I ever did in all the years as a FTWM.

Funnily, the kids became clingier, and stuck stickier than glutinous rice balls. They barge into the shower, interrupt my meals, and demand to see me the first thing they wake and the last thing before they sleep. I’m not too sure if this is a good or bad thing, but it’s practically left me with no space to breathe. Someone please tell me that the feeling of suffocation may eventually lead to ecstasy, yes? no?

On 25 March, we made some adjustments and started a new routine. I can no longer call myself a homeschooling mum now, because we have decided that the kids would go to the church kindergarten 20-minute away from our place by bus for a three-hour daily programme, just so that they can socialize, and just so that I can have my sanity break.

Initially, I wanted to keep them at home without the option of school or enrichment. I wanted to stay home and homeschool them. This soon became not too dandy an idea because they started to miss having friends around to play with and I started morphing into a monster mum who is frazzled and snappy.

So I worked out a new routine every day whereby they would have blocks of 15-minute learning with me before they go to kindy and when they returned, which I call “lesson block”; I do my homeschooling curriculum with them and pack each lesson block with a quick activity in tracing, reading, colouring, flashcards, Logico, counting, exploration and teaching a readiness skill. Apart from needing to settle into their new environment and getting used to not having me around for three hours, the children are much happier with this new routine. They look forward to taking the public bus with me daily, and making that slow long walk from the bus stop to kindy. We take time to chat, sing and look at the little things around us on our way to school, something we never really did rushing every day when they were sent to daycare.

Best of all, they look forward to learning with me, because every day I hear them say, “Can we please have some lessons now?”

It’s going to be a crazy month in April, I know it. But I’m sure it’s also going to be excitingly fun!

March madness: Lots of bubble play

March madness: Lots of bubble play

March madness: Go-karting fun

March madness: Go-karting fun

March madness: Sandplay at Bishan Park

March madness: Sandplay at Bishan Park

 

Getting all sentimental now Milestones and growing up The darndest kid quotes and antics

Letter to my littlest #5

March 27, 2013

Dearest honey bun,

13 is such a wonderful number, because every day with you at 13 is a day filled with laughter. You’re so funny you crack us up every single day with your antics and babbling. Oh, how I wish you would stay 13 months forever.

You love anything round and you’re totally obsessed with balloons. You snatch little children’s balloon-on-a-stick whenever you see a kid with one when we’re out. It’s becoming embarassing; I have to apologise to older little children on your behalf. In your first gym lesson you made an older girl cry because you grabbed her rubber ball. I still can’t believe you did that.

Obsessed with balls

Because of your obsession, we’ve started to blow balloons in the house and now the house looks like one of those Singkids Play System playgrounds with balloons and balls everywhere. You say “ball” the first thing you wake, and “ball” even in your sleep. Oh, but now there’s also “up-ple” (apple)  and “bb-berd” (bird) that you say non-stop every day. You  love to crunch apples and chase the birds and dogs when we’re downstairs.

You have zero sense of fear, we’ve come to the point we are scared to bring you to the playground. Have you seen the way you climb up slides and stairs not meant for your age? You do it so well the neighbours are awed and tell me they cannot believe you just turned one. Yes, we’ve all seen you go down the slide at the playground downstairs all by yourself. I was thrilled and flabbergasted at the same time. You, my son, are the only one capable of letting me experience this. I’m not sure I should say ‘thanks’ or ‘no, thanks’, but you’re definitely one gungho fella!

Gliding Nat

The Kao Kids at the playground

Speaking of gungho, there was this time you saw your older siblings jump from the sofa onto the playmat, and you decided you would do the same. Once again, I experienced that feeling of  being flabbergasted, watching you jump off the sofa, laughing and squealing at the top of your voice. You didn’t care if anyone was waiting to catch you, you didn’t mind if no one did, you just JUMPED. Gawd, are you 13 months or 30 months?

At 13, you do the funniest things. You blow raspberries on my thighs, you laugh (in such an exaggerated way) when we laugh, you imitate people around you, you do what we tell you to do – sit down, lie down, stand up, throw away the rubbish please, change diaper, go and bathe – it’s totally amazing you understand so much. You snuggle up with kor kor and jie jie when they are fast asleep, and you say “WOOOOOOOO” in all kinds of pitch and volume when its time to sit on your trike / glide on kor kor’s Y-Bike / wear your shoes / play ball / read a book.

It’s been so fun with you every day. Stay this way, ok? I love you to the moon and back, Nat, please stay at 13. Please?

Little Tiger Nat

With all my love, and then some more,

Mama

Becks Kao Mommy guilt

Saved, and forever grateful (A story of a girl who still has happy feet)

March 26, 2013

I thought this would only happen to irresponsible mothers and badly behaved children. I’d never imagine this would happen to me.

I had just released her right hand from my grip for three seconds. I was carrying the baby on my hip and needed to adjust the 10-kg weight.

Then it happened. I heard a blood-curdling scream and the next thing I knew, Becks was without her right shoe. When we arrived at the 3rd floor of the mall, Ben picked up her right shoe from the escalator, and this was what we saw.

Shoe caught in escalator

Shoe caught in escalator - side view

Becks’ right shoe got caught in the escalator and I was expecting a gash and profuse bleeding when I checked my little girl’s sole. The babe was still wailing from the shock and I was almost prepared to call the ambulance. I was with three kids and the helper and without the hubs, and the mall was all quiet at 9.30am. We had gone to the basement for breakfast and was going to check out the enrichment centres on the top floor when the incident happened, and I might as well be on my way to crucify myself for being a negligent, terrible mother.

But because the angels of the Lord encamp around those who fear His name, and because the Lord Himself is our Protector and Help, Becks suffered no injury at all.

I don’t believe in luck, and never will. This isn’t because I am lucky. It is a miracle she was unhurt. God was taking care of my children, and He protected my little girl. Thank you, thank you, Jesus.

Product Reviews

Happy, funky feet [Product review & giveaway]

March 25, 2013

Two little kittens arrived in the mail for Baby Nat, and boy, was the little one happy!

Funky Feet Footwear

These soft, flat, cute little Funky Feet Footwear (which looked more like mice than cats to me!) were handmade in the UK and features anti-slip suede soles that are flexible, allowing my little toddling munchkin to move freely, which is crucial for developing his foot strength. What’s best is that the shoes are also machine washable and are designed to provide maximum comfort for those growing feet with 100% cotton linings and soft fleece insoles.

Nat and his new shoes

The 12-18m shoes things fit the littlest perfectly, and he’s been wearing them everywhere since he got them – to the mall, to the playground, to the supermarket – and playing with those stringy whiskers whenever he gets the chance.

Nat playing with new shoes

Nat walking in new shoes

And just so you can see how pretty and comfy these shoes can be, the Baby’s Breath Team, the sole Singapore distributor of Funky Feet Footwear, is giving out a $50 voucher to one lucky reader. To browse Funky Feet Footwear’s cute selection, you can check out Baby Breath’s website here. Here’s a sneak peek:

Funky Feet Footwear Selection

Images from www.babysbreath.com.sg

*Giveaway* This is what you can do to take part:

1) Leave me a comment here telling me what is the one most important thing you look out for when buying shoes for your toddler. Don’t forget to leave your email so you can be contacted if you win!

2) [Optional] Like Motherkao’s Facebook Page

3) [Optional] Like Funky Feet Fashions Singapore’s Facebook Page

Giveaway ends 1 April 2013.

UPDATE: We picked a winner! Congrats, Mabel! You win $50 from Baby’s Breath to get some funk for your toddler’s feet!

Disclosure: Nat received a pair of Funky Feet Fashions footwear, courtesy of Baby’s Breath. All opinions here are Motherkao’s own.

Homelearning fun

Now I know my A B Cs

March 22, 2013

The kids have been homelearning for a while now, and I have revisited the basics with them through tracing, drawing, singing, counting and colouring.

We learned the letter A through counting and eating lots of apples. I bought this learning and counting tool from The Mind Store called Attribute Apples, and taught the kids to sort the apples and their different attributes (by colour, by worms, by stalk, by size). The kids also traced the letter A with the materials from Hands on Homeschooling and printables from Kids Learning Station and went stalking ants downstairs with their magnifying glass, looking at aeroplanes at the airport and watching Chip and Dale pick acorns in a classic Disney cartoon.

Apples galore

Becks counting apples

Ben counting apples

The Traceable Letter A Worksheet that I used from Kids Learning Station can be downloaded here.

We learned the letter B through playing with balls and in boxes. The printable worksheet for the Letter B can be downloaded here.

Balls everywhere

Playing in a box

We just finished learning all about the letter C. I told them about the story of the Cross, and why Jesus was crucified to it. Ben learned how to spell some simple words like ‘car’ and ‘cake’, and we traced some candles and coloured them. We also coloured corals and made them as colourful as we could, in preparation for a mini aquarium project to come.

Colouring corals

The printables for the corals can be found here. Here is another useful worksheet with illustrations for the Letter C.

It has been fun learning our A B Cs! Now to move on to the other letters.

Reading fun

Good reads #3: Grace Based Parenting

March 19, 2013

If you’re overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of parenting books out there, and don’t know where to start choosing one to read and learn from, I urge you to read only Dr Tim Kimmel’s Grace Based Parenting. Of all the books I’ve read and devoured, this is the book that matters, the book that I read and reread, the book I flip frequently, randomly for insight, the parenting book I seek advice from, and the devotional I use to study together with the Bible. I believe this is one author and literature that’s inspired by the Lord Himself – because we worship a God of grace, we can be grace-based parents.

Grace Based Parenting Book CoverThe book deals with the heart of grace-based parenting, and provides help in which we can develop a grace-based style of parenting on a day-to-day basis. Grace-based parenting processess all actions towards the child through the filter of meeting his three driving inner needs. A child’s three driving inner needs are:

1. A need for security

2. A need for significance

3. A need for strength

Our role as parents is to provide our children with a love that is secure, a purpose that is significant and a hope that is strong through our everyday interaction with them, and understand – above all else – that this is how God raises His children. One thing the author said struck me and resonated deep within; he mentioned that our children’s needs will NOT be met as a result of reading his book but “meeting these needs will be the result of your putting what you learned into practice in your life first”. In other words, we need to know that we are loved by God, we have a purpose and we have hope, and that we are secure, significant and strong in Him – knowing this and living this will enable us to meet our own children’s inner needs.

Here are some key takeaways from the book:

1) All children are born with a need to love and be loved, a need to live lives that have a meaning, and a need to believe that tomorrow is worth getting up for: God designed the home, a grace-based home, for our children to find that fulfillment in Him who created these needs.

2) You can’t have grace when you have rules and little relationship: rules without relationship is the ideal formula for raising rebellious kids. On the other hand, relationships without rules will result in resentful kids too.

3) Grace-based parents enjoy the child just the way he is. They create homes of honour. Homes of honour see the other person’s time, gifts, uniqueness and dreams as gifts to be cherished and stewarded. They are generous with affection, and as parents, understand that God loves them more than they can ever know.

4) Grace-based parents worship the God of purpose and help build significant purpose into their child. They regularly affirm them, give them their attention and admonish them gracefully with guidelines and consequences. Grace-based parents train their children and groom them for greatness (Hebrews 12:7, 9, 11) and grow the “peaceful fruit of righteouness” by planting the seed with consistent and graceful discipline.

5) If our children want to have any hope as adults, they’ve got to harness their potential, discipline their desires, regiment their strengths and face their weakness with courage. And they’ve got to follow our lead.

6) Grace-based parenting works from the inside out; fear-based parenting works from the outside in.

7) Grace-based families are homes where children are given the freedom to be different, the freedom to be vulnerable, the freedom to be candid, and the freedom to make mistakes.

God knows we need security in our hearts, significance in our lives and strength for the future, and this is how he parents us. This is how we can respond to our children, as the recipients of His undeserving mercy and love towards us in our every day. Reading this book opened my eyes, and reminded me of God’s unconditional and personal love for me. I encourage you to get it and read it, and make grace-based parenting your lifestyle and your way of raising kids.

Learning fun! Nat Kao The Kao Kids

The day the baby ate paint

March 18, 2013

We were all ready to some painting. I moved the table out of the house (to minimise my cleaning up, hur hur hur) and prepared the Crayola finger paint, some brushes and drawing paper. I told my little Picassos to let their imagination wild and fill the paper with whatever they liked. I gave them little styrofoam bits that came with the laser printer we bought a while ago, and the kids were very excited.

Ben & Becks painting

Becks painting

I got things ready for Nat as well, who was anticipating eagerly on the high chair. He’s not new to painting; he’s done it a couple of times at infantcare and his teachers said he was a focused learner who enjoyed the activity a lot. They say he’s never put anything in his mouth while painting. So they say.

Was he interested? Certainly. For a grand total of five seconds. He then spent the next few minutes licking the paintbrush, smearing paint on his tongue and teeth, and frightening me silly eating red ink and making slurping sounds.

Nat painting

The next time Nat paints, he is painting with food colours.

Food, glorious food! Motherkao loves...

Our dinner at Beanstro

March 15, 2013

After one week of being cooped up at home, eating semi-solids and drinking soups for practically every meal, the kids, hubs and I are ready to feast again. We were invited to Beanstro at Ngee Ann City for a food tasting session on Wednesday, and we couldn’t wait to finally go eat something nice.

Beanstro opened a few weeks ago at Ngee Ann City, and is the second casual dining restaurant by The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf®, following its success of its first outlet at Marina Bay Sands. We arrived there at 6.30pm and was greeted by the restaurant manager, Steven, who came and made sure we were seated comfortably. Baby chairs were prepared for Nat and Becks, child-friendly utensils were provided, and warm water was served. Thankfully, we were seated outside the main dining area, and there was ample space to fold and park our twin stroller. I also had the pleasure of sitting next to three food bloggers, whose mouthwatering food trails (SG Food on Foot, Celestial Delish and GNineThree) never fail to amaze me, and had the opportunity to chat with them.

Beanstro

The menu at Beanstro is extensive I was warned by Steven that the portions they serve will be huge. There’s a selection of all-day breakfast, fresh salads, open-faced sandwiches, pastas, mains, dessert and hand-crafted beverages, and we were certainly spoilt for choice. I ordered their Breakfast Platter and roast chicken for the kids, and for starters, fatherkao and I ordered the soup of the day and the Seafood Velvet. Fatherkao also wanted some greens and coffee, so he got the garden salad and a cappuccino as well.

The Breakfast Platter arrived first, and the kids were quite excited to dig into some scrambled eggs. It also came with two grilled chipotle sausages, turkey bacon, mushroom ragout, buttered baguette and marinated cherry tomatoes. The turkey bacon and tomatoes were finished, the mushroom ragout was untouched, and the baguette was quickly chomped down by the baby. Ben said he didn’t like the eggs cos’ they were tasteless, and that he preferred mc-dees anytime. I tried what he had, and well, it was honestly not that impressive. To be fair, I would say it was decent; mc-dees’ scrambled in Big Breakfast tastes more processed. The one at Beanstro is nicely cooked but a little bland.

Breakfast platter

Breakfast platter ($18)

The soups arrived shortly after and the hubs had mushroom soup while I had a creamy seafood soup with scallops, cheese toast and a peach compote. We both found the soups a tad salty for our tastebuds, although I must say the peach compote in my Seafood Velvet was refreshing and reduced the saltiness quite a bit.

Seafood velvet

Seafood Velvet ($9.50)

Mushroom soup

Mushroom soup ($8)

The garden salad came next, and the portion was generous indeed. The salad tasted like, well, a salad, and it was a little odd to have edamame in the bowl.

Garden salad

Garden salad ($10)

The mains arrived after we finished our starters. The kids’ roast chicken that’s marinated in hickory came highly recommended by Steven. He even instructed the chef to separate the Cajun-infused mirepoix (a thick tomato-based sauce that tasted of bell peppers, onions and celery) in case the kids found it spicy. The tender roasted chicken came with sauteed vegetables and fries, which the children were glad to chomp on.

Roast chicken

Roast chicken

The hubs ordered cod fish and it came with sauteed vegetables and mashed potatoes in seafood broth underneath. He loved the freshness and aroma of the pan-seared Chilean cod, although he found the sauteed vegetables really salty.

Cod fish

Cod fish ($26)

My seafood wrapped in cartoccio featured some really fresh lobster skillets, mussels and scallops. I was a little disappointed that the fettuccine was hard and the chilli padi overwhelmed the taste a little.

Seafood wrapped in cartoccio

Seafood wrapped in cartoccio ($26)

Which made me look forward to dessert. Steven recommended that I try the Cherry Clafouti and Bread and Butter Pudding. I ordered the Classic Affogato for fatherkao who loves coffee in his dessert and the Berry d’treasure yogurt swirl for the kids.

Classic affogato & yogurt swirl

Classic affogato ($6.50) & yogurt swirl ($6.50)

And indeed, dessert was the best part of our meal. They were done to perfection – my pudding and clafouti – the sweetness was just nice for me. Both fatherkao and I enjoyed these two best.

Bread and Butter Pudding

Bread and Butter Pudding ($9)

Cherry Clafouti

Cherry Clafouti ($10)

The kids loved their yogurt and slurped it beaming. The affogato wowed the coffee dessert lover too.

Kids loving the yogurt

Happy kids! (priceless)

All in all, there were some hits and misses but Beanstro is great if you’d like a hearty meal, complete with value-for-money tantalising dessert and good coffee. The service is prompt and ever-willing to go the extra mile (more serviettes, more clean plates, more water, oops, dropped the cutlery again – you know what’s it like with kids!) and it’s a good place to chill out after getting some shopping done.

More details:
  • Beanstro Takashimaya is located at 391 Orchard Road #B1-37 Ngee Ann City Singapore 238872. Operating hours: Monday to Sunday 8am to 11pm.

Disclosure: We were invited for a complimentary food tasting session by Beanstro. All opinions here are Motherkao’s own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Product Reviews Reviews

Welcoming Philips AVENT’s first design breakthrough

March 14, 2013

My family and I were invited to a Baby Shower last month.

The occasion? To celebrate Philips AVENT’s first design breakthrough in 29 years of its breastpumps, bottles and accessories. The ‘bundles of joy’ that have arrived are the Philips AVENT Natural range of milk bottles and Comfort range of manual and electric breastpumps.

Baby shower

And as with any party to celebrate a baby, there was good food, great company and lots of mommy chatter.

Great food at the Baby Shower

Glorious food and Pink / Blue AVENT cupcakes!

Kids talk and mom talk

Chit-chatting with Mummy Ed about breastfeeding while our little ones had some flashcard fun

There was even free babysitting. The kids got to colour, play ball and bounce on inflatable animal hoppers.

Ben & Becks

Ben & Becks showing off what they coloured

While the children were entertained, I got a chance to chit-chat with other moms about breastfeeding and parenting, as well as walk around to check out the latest range of products launched by Philips AVENT, a brand well-known for its commitment and continuous innovation to provide us, mothers, with solutions that give our babies the best start in life. This first redesign of its products was done with the aim to enable mothers to effortlessly combine breast and bottle feeding so we can breastfeed longer.

The folks at Philips AVENT Singapore also shared with us how baby feeding and milk bottles evolved, and how AVENT revolutionised bottle-feeding by being the first in the world to design the wideneck bottle and teat with proven anti-colic properties. Its new Natural bottle now comes with a unique ergonomic design for easier grip; and its Comfort electric breastpumps now offers – well, you guessed it – more comfort with its new velvety texture to help mothers relax and express milk, without having to lean forward.

Philips AVENT Natural & Comfort range of products

Philips AVENT Natural & Comfort range of products

Philips AVENT Comfort dual electric breastpump

Philips AVENT Comfort dual electric breastpump

Philips AVENT Natural milk bottles

Philips AVENT Natural milk bottles

I’ll be reviewing the Natural range of milk bottles and the Comfort range of electric breastpump soon, so do watch this space. Thank you, Philips AVENT Singapore, for inviting me to one of the best baby showers I’ve attended!

This story was brought to you by Philips AVENT.

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Becks Kao The darndest kid quotes and antics

Knock knock, who’s there? Amos, Amos who? A mosquito bite me

March 13, 2013

The mosquito kissed her thrice. Twice on her left and once on her right. She ended that silly love affair at the playground promptly, and came to Mama crying.

She told Mama she was in pain. Mama kissed her boo boo, tousled her hair, and told her to go on and play.

The day went on and she kept complaining she was in pain. She whined the whole evening and refused to have her dinner.

Before bed time, she sobbed at a corner of the house. When no one paid her attention, her whimpering turned to wailing. She hollered in tears, “The mosquito bite me. It’s painful.”

Hot baths, hugs and kisses from everyone and antiseptic cream didn’t work. “It’s only a mosquito bite,” we said to ourselves. “Our daughter is overreacting.” We took the opportunity to teach her the difference between pain and itch.

The next day, the swelling did not subside. It appeared distended.

She remembered the pain intermittently, and wept intermittently. Finally, in the afternoon, when hot tears rolled down her cheeks again, Mama left the other two at home, called a cab and rushed her to the pediatrician.

“She’s allergic to the mosquito bite,” Dr Chan said.

“I want the biscuits,” she whimpered, pointing to Dr Chan’s cookie jar.

“Here you go. Are you still in pain?”

“No,” she smiled.

My drama queen

Somebody please give Becks an Oscar. I have just birthed a drama queen.

The mosquito bite me