10/25/2012

Celebrating our children - Rediscovering the world through their little eyes

My dear 'A's

You have made the world so colourful for me and you are constantly teaching me, every day, that even the simplest things in life can be special in your little eyes. Putting in and taking things out of a container can bring you great satisfaction, a silly old box can transform to a million things in your imagination and just so you know, I'll willingly be bandaged here and there every day while you pretend to be Dr. Ng.

I love to watch the two of you play, whether you are playing together or alone, there is always that look of wonder and curiosity in your eyes and your faces. Where does the cup go when you throw it off the high chair? You look inquisitively around the floor for the hundredth time while I wonder how the cup survives all your torture while you discover gravity.

You have taught me that squatting down and watching ants haul their food back to their nest can be such joy, though watching you in deep thought as you wonder about the ants is more fascinating to me. And you have made me realise that it is possible for the heart to almost burst from contentment overload while picking seashells with you by the beach. You have taught me to slow down my pace and take in the simplest sights and find happiness in that simplicity.

I love that innocent love you have for people, for me. My heart melted the instant when I asked you what you'd do when you grow taller and stronger and you answered without hesitation, you'd wash the dishes, for me. What else will you do, I probe. And you think for just a moment and answer, you will cook... and iron the clothes for me. Apparently, you have noticed all that I have been doing for you and I think you must have equated that with love. It touches my heart to know that despite your young age, you have it in you to want to help your dear mummy out with the mundane stuff, some day when you grow bigger. I hope you keep your promise.

You know, watching how your hair moves when the wind blows, no matter how short or little hair you both have, can bring me a sense of contentment, just knowing that you both are here, with me. And I love to smell your little heads too, no matter how smelly your hair is (by the way, I love smelling those smelly toes too!), though I really prefer to smell your heads after a good bath when I'm reading you your story. Who would have thought that such smells can evoke strong feelings of love? You don't know of course that I'm secretly enjoying myself sniffing at your head in between reading the story for you. I often wonder how many more years of such pleasure I will have, of you sitting in my lap while I sniff your hair and read you a good book. But let's put that thought aside, I just want to enjoy that moment for now.

Most of all, thank you both for showing me that simplicity is happiness and that is the way we should live our lives. I realise now that I made the right choice when I made 'rediscovering the world through their little eyes' as my tag line when I created this blog, because that is the way it has been thus far with you two little imps showing me the world I thought I knew, through your untainted lenses of pure innocence and love.

You are the love of my life!
What have your children taught you about life?


Linking up with:

www.ajugglingmom.com SANses.com's Talkative Thursdays

10/24/2012

A father's role

Having their nightly fun with daddy!

Does your man play with the kids too, every day?


Linking up with:

            My Little Drummer Boys 
       new button

10/22/2012

My top 10 favourite fine motor skill activities for toddlers


1. sorting activities - you could sort anything basically from beans to pegs to duplo pieces and according to sizes, colour, texture etc. and even do sorting during bath time! :)
Here are some ideas:



2. stringing beads

3. lacing - I made my own, but you could easily get these from shops as well.

4. tonging
http://www.simplymommie.com/2010/11/tonging-part-i.html
http://www.simplymommie.com/2010/11/tonging-part-ii.html

5. scooping water

6. transferring rice grains/ alphabet pasta or even water!

7. shelling eggs

8. slotting coins

9. pegging

10. juicing - this will be one of the kids' favourites! There's even a reward after the activity!


Linked up with:

Tuesday Tots

NTUC U family Mega Dance tickets giveaway

Picture source

Good news on a Monday from me again! 

This time NTUC U Family is giving away TWO Mega Dance tickets* (each ticket worth $30) to the event!
Each ticket admits a total of five people (of any adult/children combination).





Are you ready to groove to the latest Dance, R&B, Hip Hop and Pop music with your kids?

It doesn't matter that you can't dance. Let me tell you a secret.... shhh... I can't dance either. 

But I'm going to get some family night fun anyway! There's no prerequisite that you need to prove that you can dance or even that you need to be able to do the Gangnam style to get past the entrance.

Still thinking about your two left feet? Don't worry! There will be friendly professional instructors who will guide you through simple and yet enjoyable steps, choreographed to the music. I'm not sure about how this would be like, though I'm thinking we may just re-live our young moments doing mass dance in school during orientation! :P


The event details: 
Date:  24 November 2012, Saturday
Time: 7.00pm to 10.00pm (Registration & pre-event activities start at 6pm) 
Venue: The Coliseum™, Hard Rock Hotel® Singapore
            Level 2, 8 Sentosa Gateway
            Singapore 098269
More event details here.
Still thinking about it? Why not leave it to chance then? Just participate in the giveaway and see if you win a ticket!

Here's how to win a ticket!:

  1. Like Simply Mommie's facebook page (if you have not already done so) AND share this post (there's a row of social media icons at the bottom of the post, click on the facebook icon or simply copy the URL of this blog post and paste it in your status update box in Facebook).
  2. Sign-up for U Family membership if you have not done so. Existing U family members are entitled to take part in this giveaway as well.
  3. Answer this question: Where is the event held?
  4. Leave me your email address (do this if you want to be contacted if you win!) on this blog post or email me at simplymommie@gmail.com if you do not have a google account.

Terms and conditions:

  1. Giveaway ends 26th October 2012, 2359hrs.
  2. Results will be announced on 31 October on Simply Mommie's facebook page.




*Note: Ticket does not include admission into Sentosa and dinner will not be provided.
Free Shuttle Bus service will be provided to and from the Vivocity / Habourfront area and Resorts World Sentosa for participants of Family Night Out Mega Dance. Details will be available soon.


10/19/2012

Chicken Stew II

This post is a week late! Sorry to those who have been requested and have been waiting so patiently for this recipe! :)

I hope you like it as much as my family does! 

P.S. The chicken stock base is awesome and the best part is that there's probably enough to store some for quick fixes for lunch or the kids' food! 

Chicken Stew II


Ingredients:

  • 2 packets of chicken fillet (I bought mine from NTUC) - remove the tendons and cut into bite sizes
  • 3 large potatoes, peel and cut into chunks
  • 2 carrots, peel and cut into chunks
  • 3 sticks of celery, remove the fibers and slice
  • 1 pack of white button mushrooms, remove stalk, clean and slice
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2-3 small chicken carcasses 
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, wash and leave peel on
  • plain flour or cornflour
  • 1 tablespoon butter 
  • 1 litre water


Marinade for chicken (quantity is estimated only, go with your instincts):

  • 2 tablespoons chicken marinade
  • a few dashes of black pepper
  • a few dashes of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • dash of sesame oil


Method:

  1. Place the chicken carcasses in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Remove the chicken carcasses and place them in a soup bag together with the garlic cloves.
  2. Place the soup bag into a slow cooker together with the potatoes, carrots, celery, bay leaves and water. Cook on high for 3-4 hours. Do the following steps only after this stock is done.
  3. Add butter to a pot and melt it. Add diced onions and sweat them. 
  4. Add the mushrooms when the onions have softened more or less. If you need to, add just a little stock to prevent the mushrooms and onions from burning.
  5. Add the chicken fillet and stirfry with the mushrooms and onion for a minute.
  6. Add the potatoes, carrots and celery from the slow cooker into the pot and pour in just enough chicken stock to cover the ingredients. Store the rest of the stock for future use. 
  7. Bring to a boil then simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Add flour to thicken the consistency of the gravy if necessary and add more seasoning if it's not salty enough.
  9. Serve with crusty bread or rice.


Cooking note: You may substitute the butter with oil but it will affect the taste of the stew.

Linking up with:


10/18/2012

Breastfeeding - the lil man's first year

Dear Alex,

You are the sucker. Yes, you. You were a proficient sucker the moment you were born. After you emerged and got kissed, weighed and all the what-nots, you were presented with the life-giving boobies you are all too familiar with now. Though it was your first meeting with them, you knew what you had to do instinctively. Men and mammary glands have that sort of connection perhaps. Ok, ok, you have stronger survival instincts compared to your sister who couldn't latch properly till she was a month old.

But there you were. Barely an hour old, with mummy still recuperating at the recovery room after the c-section. You were doing so well the mid-wife and other nurses came to watch your marvellous performance, all lauding your ability to "suck so well". Apparently, very few people want to latch their babies that early after delivery - you are a lucky little fella you know? :)

You had no qualms sharing your milk supply with your sis. That is good because you know, the-one-who-bullies-you-every-day-now is the reason why you had milk to drink the moment you were born - your sis continued to take mummy's milk all the time that you were taking your time to grow inside.

You started off really well, sleeping through a stretch of 5-6 hours in the second month and gave mommy some peace and uninterrupted sleep for a few months. And then we shifted and you decided that you would start growing teeth all at the same time and you just had to get mommy's boobs to keep you company at night when you couldn't sleep properly. Trudging over to pick you up and put you back in your cot a few times a night is just too much for mommy, and you know it. That must have been your ploy - to get to co-sleep with us every night after your first middle-of-the-night summon to pick you up. I know that Sealy Posturepedic is much more comfortable than your foam mattress, and that is why you cry every night an hour or two into your sleep in your cot. Who can fault you, the discerning one? But try not to get too used to it, ok?

On and off, you didn't do your job properly and caused blocked ducts, which is really very painful by the way. And I really think that I'd rather eat cabbage the way that normal people do rather than have them on my body. But there was this once I just couldn't blame you because you were so ill with bronchiolitis and you had difficulty latching on to drink. Not blaming you didn't solve the problem of blocked ducts of course. Fortunately, your sister came to the rescue though she had already given up the privilege of drinking from mommy.

You know, I just have to tell you that I love to watch you while you drink milk, that innocent but cheeky little face waving your hands around - that's before you drift off to lala-land - and how you would try to trap my hand between your armpit and body just to make sure that I stay next to you on the bed after you fall asleep. You do have rather sweaty armpits sometimes, though I'm glad they don't smell half as bad as *ahem*, mine. I escape of course from your 'clutches' eventually, but I do love that feeling of being wanted and needed by your tiny little soul.

I know you hate the milk bottle and formula milk. Your daddy said that you might grow stronger if you took a little of formula but you flatly refuse, clamping down firmly on the teat. Nothing could change your heart and mind about it, even until now, after you have turned one.

How long are you going to continue to want mommy's milk? Your sister went on for four years and it has been more than five years of booby-duty for me. But take your time to think about it, son. Mommy will be here for you till you decide that you have had enough milk - from me. Just try to cut me some slack at night, yah?

Love,
Mommy




A timely reminder - a poem for busy parents


Sharing a poem I read that really tugged at my heartstrings... 
How many of us are guilty of telling our children, '"I'll do that later with you" or "I don't have time for that now"? 
Personally, I just need reminders like this every once a while to get back to the reality of being a mother, learn to slow down the pace of life and simply connect with the children wholeheartedly. How many more years do I have left with them that they will look up to me as the centre of their universe? I gather, not that many left seeing how fast children grow up these days, so I'd better enjoy the moments when they invite me to be part of their lives before the exciting world takes over and it's their turn to say, 
"Sorry, Mom, not today."

“To My Grown-Up Son”
My hands were busy through the day,
I didn’t have much time to play
The little games you asked me to,
I didn’t have much time for you.
I’d wash your clothes; I’d sew and cook,
But when you’d bring your picture book
And ask me, please, to share your fun,
I’d say, “A little later, son.”
I’d tuck you in all safe at night,
And hear your prayers, turn out the light,
Then tiptoe softly to the door,
I wish I’d stayed a minute more.
For life is short, and years rush past,
A little boy grows up so fast,
No longer is he at your side,
His precious secrets to confide.
The picture books are put away,
There are no children’s games to play,
No goodnight kiss, no prayers to hear,
That all belongs to yesteryear.
My hands once busy, now lie still,
The days are long and hard to fill,
I wish I might go back and do,
The little things you asked me to.

by Alice E. Chase (March 8, 1986)

Activities to go with The Perfect Square by Michael Hall

The Perfect Square tells the story of a square who made the best of whatever happened to him and eventually found great contentment being the square that he was. A wonderful read for not just children, but adults as well, a reminder that no matter what happens to us, we make the best of the situation and find our own happiness as the square did eventually at the end of the story.



Now here's what we did for this interesting book - not as comprehensive as my other posts on literature-based learning though! :)


We tried to replicate the story to see if we could re-create the square in those ways in the book.
We did this activity over a few days as it requires quite a bit of time and stamina.

Using a piece of drawing block, I cut out 6 squares and got her to paint them in the colours the square appeared on the book.

We used water colours so that we could get a softer feel and blend of colours
For younger children, this would be a good time to teach colours apart from just doing the painting.

Completed squares in the process of drying

The squarish book and our paintings


Using the hole puncher for the first time

Arranging her shapes she cut out from her square to form the picture in the book

Done!

More fine motor skills involved - tearing the square into pieces

drawing in the details found in the book

Fill in the missing words with the stickers provided
Pasting in the missing words
Our completed version


Vocabulary

These are the words/ phrases I found that needed some explaining/ revision:

'shattered', 'babbled', 'torn into scraps' vs 'shredded in strips', 'ripped', 'crumpled', 'wrinkled', 'confining', 'rigid', 'cramped'


Extension activity:
Piet Mondrian-inspired art:


I pasted black tape on half a sheet of drawing block, set up the colours that Piet Mondrian used in his famous work, and got her to view examples of Piet Mondrian art on the tablet, leaving a sample next to her so that she could focus on her task.

Painting squares and rectangles

The completed piece of art which is now the cover of her A4-sized scrapbook where I stick the pictures and paintings she does in school and at home.

Other ideas that you can tap on after reading the book (for younger children):
  • Days of the week - you can re-read The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle as well for reinforcement
  • Colours 
  • Shapes 
  • Story sequencing - ask the child what happened to the square on the various days and what the square became as a result.
Hope you have fun!



10/15/2012

Save a child today - support Global Handwashing Day

Clean hands save lives.

No, I'm not just talking about deadly strains of the dreaded Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) or the pain the disease inflicts on both children and adult alike.

One of the notices I received this year from my girl's preschool

Nor am I exaggerating the importance of washing hands.

For me, washing hands has always been a matter of hygiene and my hope to keep germs away so that my children remain healthy.

Lifebuoy handwash kills 99.9% of germs in just 10 seconds

Washing hands after a night cycling practice

I have never thought that such a simple action of handwashing can save lives, until I chanced upon this:

UNICEF estimates that diarrhoea kills 1.1 million children every year, and pneumonia-related illnesses take another 1.2 million child lives. Handwashing with soap prevents disease in a more straightforward and cost-effective way than any single vaccine. (Source: UNICEF, italics mine)

We are blessed to be in Singapore, where we have clean sanitation and we live in a clean and green environment. We are in a situation where it is difficult to even fathom that handwashing can have such a huge impact on lives, and yet there are more than 2 million children - over 80% of these deaths occur in South Asia and Africa - who do not live to celebrate their 5th birthday, many of which could be saved by a simple act of washing hands with soap.

Every year, Global Handwashing Day (GHD) - an initiative by Lifebuoy - is celebrated on 15 October in over 100 countries around the world. This is done to raise awareness about the benefits of handwashing in a bid to save children's lives and promote a global culture of handwashing with soap.

For five consecutive years now, Unilever, through its Lifebuoy brand, has sought to bring hygiene education through school programmes to children across 10 countries in Africa (together with Millennium Villages Initiative) in the hope to save young children from potentially fatal diseases caused by poor hand hygiene.

This year's GHD message is - Help a child reach 5, by pledging on Lifebuoy's Facebook page.
With every pledge, Lifebuoy will commit to teach a child hygiene education through PSI, a Unilever Foundation Partner.

One at a time, we will help these children reach their 5th birthdays.

We have all heard of the starfish story:



Let us try to help make a difference to a child's life today. The difference you can make is not just improving their lives because by pledging today, you are giving them the best gift in life - life itself.

The pledge will not cost you a single cent, but it would mean so much to a child out there. Do you have time to spare to save a child's life today?




Let's celebrate the 5th birthday of every child who wins this fight.

Click HERE to take the pledge.


NTUC U Family (and $30 NTUC vouchers giveaway!)

Earlier in one of my posts, I mentioned that I have the honour of being a NTUC U Family Blog Champion this year to promote the building of strong and happy families in Singapore.
As a U family member, you can look forward to family bonding events, networking lunches for like-minded working parents and interest group get-togethers. U Family makes networking accessible, parenting information available and most importantly, family activities affordable. After all, what binds the family together best is an activity that the whole family can take part in.
Now I know you're thinking that you hate crowds and don't need to attend events to bond as a family?
Well, I'd say you are half right (and by the way, I used to think just like you!).
It's true that you don't need to attend mega events to bond as a family. But if you are usually strapped for time and don't have time to think of fun activities to do as a family or you are simply tired of bringing your children to the same old playground - going to the shopping centre together hardly counts as a bonding activity by the way, you may want to re-think how you feel about attending mega events.
My hubby and I are hardly crowd-lovers and we were apprehensive about having to attend a mega event but NTUC U Family's U Picnic at the Marina Barrage has changed our impression of such events. Not only did we have the usual fun of a picnic, we managed to soak in the wonderful atmosphere of family warmth that evening, watching many other families enjoying themselves too at the event. And the event venue was so well chosen, we hardly felt that there was a crowd despite the fact that there were thousands of people there that day!

My lil boss at the U Picnic
We had so much fun at the picnic that we'll be attending the U family's Mega Dance too!


Date : 24 Nov 2012
Time : 7:00 PM
Venue : The Coliseum™, Hard Rock Hotel® Singapore

So you say you are still not convinced. I say, why not just sign up as a U family member first? After all sign up's free (and it even comes with a free gift till 31/12/12, yippee!) and you can just wait for an event that interests you!
And now here's the deal that you've been waiting for!
Win yourself a $30 NTUC voucher today!

Here's how:
1. Like Simply Mommie's Facebook page (if you haven't already done so).
2. Share this post on Facebook and tag Simply Mommie (for those unsure how to share the post: there's a row of social media icons at the bottom of the post, click the facebook icon. Still lost? Simply copy this blog post's url and paste it in your Facebook status update box!)
3. Join U Family for free, and receive updates on latest events and promotions for families. A welcome gift awaits all sign-ups till 31 December 2012. (Edited 17/10/12: If you are currently a U Family member but would like to take part in this giveaway, please use a family member's name for the registration instead as this is only for new sign-ups.)
4. Leave a comment on this blog post with your email address (do this if you want to be contacted should you win!). Those without any Google accounts may email me at simplymommie@gmail.com. Please use the same email address used for registration for U Family for verification.

More good news!
If there are more than 20 participating entries, ONE more $30 NTUC voucher will be given out! That makes a total of TWO vouchers to be won! Share the good news with your friends today!


Terms and Conditions
  1. This giveaway runs from 15 October - 21 October (2359hrs) and is open to readers of Simply Mommie who are residing in Singapore only.
  2. This is sponsored and managed by U Family and its representing agency Dice Studio LLP.
  3. Winners will be announced on 24 October on Simply Mommie's Facebook page and contacted via email.
  4. All decisions made are final.
  5. U Family and Dice Studio LLP reserve the right to change the contents and the terms & conditions of the giveaway without prior notice.









10/14/2012

U Picnic @ Marina Barrage

We haven't gone for a picnic since I was pregnant with Alex - yes, and you know that's more than a year ago! Hubby was apprehensive about how picnics would turn out with a baby in tow, so we never really got down to going for one until NTUC U Family's U Picnic last Saturday (6 Oct 2012).

With two fussy and troublesome kids and eaters, I decided to stick to the safe options:


Fruits

And

Hard-boiled eggs
I knew we were going to receive a goodie bag of some food etc. so I hoped that with the healthy additions of egg and fruits, the kids could somehow still get a healthy meal. Feeding porridge there was totally out of the question since Alex and Alicia would never be able to concentrate on eating the boring stuff porridge at such an exciting event.

The goodie bag which came with a kite! The best item in the bag I thought!
After we set up the picnic mat, we laid the lil man down - his first time on the grass, well erm, ok, ground.

Like a boss!
You can tell that he felt really weird but my little girl was all smiles!



A picnic basket filled with food!

Trying to fly a kite for the first time

ready to be a satay man...

Alicia brought her own fan! We didn't know there were two little fans included in the goodie bag! :) Another thoughtful item!

Kite-flying while there was still some breeze

We got a good place for our picnic even though we reached at 5.40pm.

There was a huge crowd but the venue was perfect because everyone still had plenty of space


The distracted one - well, who wouldn't be with such breathtaking views?

Officially the hoarder - the baby bites and eggs are MINE! :P

Still trying to fly the kite - but without much success

And so we pose for a photo instead

while Mummy snaps more pictures of the sunset

And Daddy captures a spontaneous shot

The beautiful skyline


It was our first picnic at Marina Barrage and it is a perfect venue for picnics - not sweltering hot in our weather and comes with a perfect view!


Pardon the blur photo - point-and-shoot camera fails me at night and I was carrying Alex with the other hand as we made our way to the carpark
In the goodie bags, we received coupons for various activities and food but as you can see, there was quite a crowd and we're really not into queuing since it is so inconvenient with a baby around.



There were also food stalls and a stage where fun games were played (which we took a backseat of course since we were already thankful that lil man didn't start fussing big time during the 2 hours that we were there). There was also story-telling on the stage later in the evening - that's about when we left because it was getting really dark and the noise was a little loud for the lil one.

We had a wonderful time at the picnic and this is the first time we attended an event as a family! We are not crowd-lovers so we usually don't attend mega events but this event has shown us that mega events can be fun and we are looking forward to the next mega event organised by U Family:

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