Book Review: Birthday theme stories

Turning 2 is a major life-changing event when you are a toddler. Henceforth, I’m dedicating the next few blog posts to his Almost 2 celebration!

A couple of weeks ago, we went to the library to check out some books that’s in line with birthday celebration. There are many titles out there but a couple caught my attention. Here’s 2 interesting books that you may wish to check out with your LOs.

Title: Dinosaur Zoom

Author: Penny Dale

At a glance, this book seems to have nothing to do with birthdays! That’s why I love this book. In fact, while reading this book to Ez for the first time, I actually went back to check out the first couple of pages again just to see how I could have missed it!

Different dinosaurs in different vehicles. You can point out that the headlights were switched on during inclement weather. A ribbon tied to the load on the truck to warn others not to get too close to the protruding load. But did you notice the 🎁🎁🎁 beside each dinosaur?!

Taking a closer look, you will realize that the dinosaur is bringing the decorations and plates, etc.

See the space above the helmet? The illustrator included all the vehicles from the previous pages! Ez was the one who noticed them. Also he pointed out that this dinosaur had candles.

In this picture, we can probably point out how they helped each other out. This puts emphasis on how teamwork and cooperation make it easier and faster to complete a task. Very difficult concepts to grasp but at least it’s a tiny step towards acquiring some SEL skills.

Remember the box on the tractor?! And you will soon realize that the box contained a nice surprise. But check out the dinosaur on the tree! Yes!!! Ez found it hilarious that the bunch of balloons had flown away! He would say, “Oh no! Oh no! Come back, come back balloons!” 🤦🏻‍♀️ Very drama this boy.

I love the attention to details on this page! There’s even a picture of the yellow Jeep (or whatever it’s called) and look at all the dinosaurs hiding with their presents! Get your LOs to search for them!

We love this page too! The opening of the presents! Obviously a highlight in any parties! Ez loves the bulldozer. You can also get your LOs to identify the different food that’s in the background.

So while reading this to your LOs, do spend some time to point out the details in the beautiful illustrations. We absolutely adore this book and hope you like it too!

Title: Happy Birthday, Hugless Douglas!

Author: David Melling

This is another interesting book because of the opportunity to discuss how one feels when things don’t go the way we expected. As toddlers, they are still struggling to manage their big feelings. So do spend more time working on managing emotions while you read the story. By the way, there’s many other interesting titles in the series to check out.

This requires making inference to the text. Not too easy for children to read between the lines

See the escalation here! A good point to stop for discussion!

Super love this page! It’s great to introduce vocabulary words related to Birthdays and parties

This book is definitely more advanced than the previous one but it’s still a joy to read this to Ez. He was sad when the bear got hurt and he laughed when he saw the animals all wrapped up in bandages. I will definitely check out the other titles!

PS: There’s a book on construction and fire trucks. Both are things Ez love at the moment.

Review: Happy Fish Swim School

Water confidence and later being able to swim to save himself is something we wanted for Ez. At his age, we are very concerned about the pool temperature and the effect of undesirable chemicals in the water. We are glad that we started him relatively early but unfortunately, we won’t that early and he had pretty much lost his instinct to thrive in water.

The facilities:

Happy Fish (Chai Chee) fits our bill. Its proximity means we save on petrol. The pool is heated. There’s ample shower cubicles for the very shy people and the tub sinks (which we much preferred cuz it’s at waist level and we don’t need to break our backs showering the fidgety boy) for those who don’t mind showering in public. They even have plastic tubs which you can bring into the cubicles if you don’t mind squatting (We do so we never tried it out). There are also quite a few diaper changing tables for us to dress our kids. Though on Saturdays, there’s a surge in demand for them after the 10am class. This ain’t really a problem cuz we will usually let the boy laze in the practice pool to let the crowd clear out. The school also splurges on toys and equipment which are incorporated into the lessons.

Though every kid has to wear swim diapers, accidents do happen. In the event of poop leak, the school will do a clean up. We were lucky enough never to encounter this but classes do get cancelled and rescheduled for the staff to do the clean up. As much as it’s an inconvenience, we are really glad that hygiene ain’t compromised.

However, with any profit-maximizing enterprise in land-scarce Singapore, space has to be optimally utilized. Since classes are kept small (max of 6 per coach), the pool which was initially segregated into 5 areas (4 for classes and 1 for free practice before/after the swim lesson) is now portioned out into 7 areas. Though the kids take up very little space, factor in the coach and parents (1 per child), it can get really crowded during the peak periods. The hands of the management are tied but as consumers, we surely hope that we get more pool space so that the incidence of an accident is kept at 0.

The staff:

We love the friendly admins who greet each kid by name at the door for the health check. Once the girl took Lè meimei’s temperature at her second lesson and said “You are good to go!” Stunned, I asked her, “I didn’t tell you her name!” And she actually said they know! What?!?! Soooo many kids go in and out every day and they can tell us apart?! This is good service! In addition, they are always ready to answer my numerous queries. And trust me, I have a lot of questions for them. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Ez’s coach is great with kids. Coach Lee, though not the most handsome, has my admiration. Like all coaches, his job is not an easy one. He has to be able to establish good rapport with all the kids (he has a lot of classes yet he can still match names to faces), make the lessons fun, engaging and also grab the attention of wandering minds. Being submerged in water for such extended periods is also no joke. There’s definitely lots of dedication and passion.

The lessons:

Each lesson is crafted in such a way that it builds on from what had been previously taught. No kid is forced to do anything they ain’t comfortable with. It’s important to remember that every kid should have the opportunity to learn at their own pace. Some loves water and some are terrified of it. Coach Lee doesn’t force the kids to do what they do not wish to do. Instead, he patiently guides and encourages them. Ez has a mate who cries every time her head touches water but after 1.5 term, she was confident enough to participate in whatever the others were doing.

We are glad to sign up with Happy Fish. We started late for Ez but we secured a place for Lè meimei even before she was born. So Lè meimei had since attended 4 classes since she was 4 months old. Though she has yet to be the mermaid that I envisioned, I’m glad she’s gaining confidence when in the water. More on her coach, Fern, when we have completed a term. But so far, I like Coach Fern and her teaching style a lot. She does the same stuff as Coach Lee but in a different way. Let me run through a term with her first before I write more.

If my post has motivated you to sign up, please do so soon to secure a spot BUT not the Saturday 10am class kie cuz we can do with less competition for space. Cheers!

Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden

We attended a wedding at Raffles Town Club yesterday and decided to bring the kids to check out The Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden since it’s just a stone’s throw away.

Do you know that this is the first garden in Asia that is dedicated to children? You can read more about it here. We arrived at the park around 4pm and it was still really hot and sunny. Both hub and I had visited this place years ago but not since the expansion.

Here’s some tips on surviving the JBCG.

1. Sunblock

Sigh! I anticipated lots of mosquitoes but not the sunburn. There’s hardly any shade as you move from point to point so please remember to bring and apply sunblock!

2. Mosquito repellent

We were either pretty lucky that it’s too hot for the mosquitoes to venture out or it’s because every one of us applied mosquito repellent while at the car park. I recommend the Babyganics version as it’s safe for babies. I wouldn’t have to pack a different one for Lè meimei. We got it off iherb at less than $7.

3. Toys for sand / water play

Don’t underestimate the power of toys. Ez who’s extremely wary of strangers and very shy with people he doesn’t know, tried many times to befriend those with toys. Unfortunately, no one was willing to share with him. The nicer kids removed themselves and their toys without a word when Ez stood beside them. The ones who didnt like to share went, “No touching” or simply pushed Ez away. So please pack a couple of stuff for your kids. It can even be a teachable moment where we teach the kids to share and take turns.

4. Extra set of clothes

We changed Ez into his swim wear and brought a small towel and an extra set of clothings for him. Don’t forget to pack a diaper as well if your LO ain’t toilet trained. Lè meimei changed out of her tutu dress into a more comfy romper though she was mostly asleep.

Just woke up and not too impressed with the flora and fauna

5. Light snacks and a drink

Ez was famished after all the running and playing. He finished his fruit pouch in record time. I recommend this kind of mess-free pouches when you are on the go as you just need to twist off the cap and the kid can slurp it all up. Don’t even need to worry about washing hands. Yupz. Even though Ez is almost 2, he’s still a baby at heart and loves such fruit pouches. Happy Squeeze is at 10% off on iherb this week. Alternatively, you can pack some other finger food or a small pack of milk.

A couple of points to note, there’s a nice and spacious nursing room at the entrance of the garden. It’s equipped with changing table, hot-cold water dispenser and even a sink. No weird smell and it’s clean.

The garden itself is for children. So this means that adults need to be accompanied by children! You will need to pass through the gantry to get in and out of the garden. It’s not linked to the Botanic Garden.

There’s a cafe, Food for Tots, near the entrance. It’s kids friendly in terms of the menu and there’s a nice and cosy play area for the little ones. You can check it out here.

A couple of areas were cordoned off when we were there (26th Aug 2018). One of the slides at the Tree House, the Suspension Bridge and the display about photosynthesis.

Nonetheless, Ez had fun and he was so tired that he slept really early. So we will be back. Here’s a few photos of what he did.

Overcame (temporarily) his extreme dislike of sand because of this digger

Not brave enough for the slide @ The treehouse

Lots of open space to run around

His first response when his dad put him down, “So dirty”

Visit to Tampines Fire Station

We have been waiting till forever for this day to happen! Because of our swim classes at Happy Fish, we will never make it to the open house which runs from 9am to 11am. However, the stars aligned today and swim class got cancelled for both kids and so off we went to the Tampines Fire Station!

Shirt with lots of fire trucks and socks with fire truck

We left Lè meimei with my parents because she was still under the weather after her immunization and arrived at the fire station at 8.40am. There, we had to wait for a long long time. The demonstration started late. We were still waiting at the lobby at 9.20am. Ez got really restless and bored with each passing minute. Finally, I went to ask the guard at the security post and only then were we ushered inside.

The fire fighters quickly distributed the hard hats and all the kids wore them proudly! The excitement on their faces were priceless.

An excited Ez who loves his helmet

Our first stop was the ambulance. Unfortunately, the paramedic who was giving the talk was muttering to himself. We couldn’t hear him and he soon lost the attention of half the kiddy audience. Guess the tone and the topic of introducing the items in their packs are just too boring. They only began to pay attention again when it was time to climb up the ambulance. Maybe they should have demonstrated how to do CPR rather than show the kids packs of bandages and a pair of scissors. The kids would have been more impressive.

Checking out the stretcher

Catwalk in progress

Later on, we were introduced to the different types of fire trucks. The emergency response timing for fire engines is 8 minutes. Upon receiving the information, they have 1 minute to move out. 8 minutes to reach the scene of fire and 2 minutes to get the first spray into the fire. Pretty impressive statistics. The kids got to touch the nozzles, the hoses and fire extinguishers. They love to climb up the trucks and sit inside the cab. Though it was pretty crowded today, everyone was nice and orderly. All the kids took turns and it was very pleasant.

Demonstration of the CPL

Unfortunately, they no longer demonstrate the water hoses anymore as there was public outcry over water wastage. So Ez will never know how the water hoses work unless he witness a real fire.

All in all, it was an interesting visit but the toddlers will certainly have a more enjoyable visit if there’s more hands on activities.

Suggestion:

Prior to the visit, you can introduce some vocabulary words relating to emergency vehicles. You can even let them have a listen to the different sirens sonthst they can distinguish between the two. For older kids, it’s a Science test question to why the word Ambulance is inverted (mirror image in side mirrors) and also emphasize on the importance of giving way to emergency vehicles.

You may wish to check out the following books which Ez loves. We were reading these on repeat.

Nature versus Nurture

Is a person’s character shaped by one’s genetic pool or influenced by the environment? Dwelling on the nature versus nurture debate is like opening a can of worms. Personally, I don’t believe that a newborn is a blank slate. As the primary caregiver to an infant Ez, I often looked on in amazement at how alike in temperament he is to me. Definitely not a good thing, if you know me well. Lè meimei, on the other hand, perhaps inherited more of the hub’s genes and so far ain’t exactly like Ez and me. That said, the influence of one’s environment will also play a part in shaping a person’s character. So yeah, I’m kinda sitting on the fence here.

The hub bought new toys (a truck with an excavator) for Ez to satisfy his immense interest in all things related to a construction site. Ez’s favourite sentence for the past couple of months is “Excavator scoops the rubble on the dump truck.” And he utters that on repeat each time he sees an excavator or a dump truck which in Singapore translates to every kilometer or so. Really! You can hardly drive anywhere without seeing either one of them. So Ez only got to open and play with his new toys on Monday evening and he went to bed with the excavator beside his pillow. It took him a lot of will power to set it aside for bedtime.

Just this morning, I witnessed an interesting interaction between the siblings. Ez woke Lè meimei up (as usual) at 6ish to show off his new toys. She was naturally intrigued by the flashing lights and loud sound. She tried grabbing the toys but Ez pushed her hands away while shouting “Mine! Mine! Mine!”. I commented that she looked so sad. Ez didn’t immediately react. But I could see that he was thinking. The mental struggles were all written on his face. After a while, he gave her one of his little truck that had fallen out of favor in view of the new toys. Not exactly sharing his new toys but still he parted with one of his stuff.

Showing off his new toys to a very attentive audience

“Excavators must be yummy!” thinks Lè meimei to herself

I’m pretty sure she wanted the bigger trucks

Bestowed with a truck

We all know that it’s really hard to share. It’s a concept not many little kids can handle. Futhermore, we seldom emphasize on sharing which might have made it harder for him to part with his possession. Afterall, he’s been an only child for a long while and he has no one to share his stuff with, until his sister comes along. For now, we are happy that Ez had taken the first step in attempting to share. If we hadn’t been actively role-modeling the concept of sharing, then perhaps he had inherited some positive traits (from me) in his genes to be kind and empathetic. Yeah. Right.

Recipe: Wong bok and soy bean soup

Decided to make a pot of soup but alas! Too poor to buy pork bones. 🤪🤪🤪 Yet, surprisingly, today’s soup doesn’t taste too shabby. I could smell the aromatic soup even from my bedroom. Try it if you are pressed for time, craving for some soup and yet forget to defrost the meat bones. Here’s the ingredient list. But no one really follows such thingy one. Just use your gut feeling kie. Introducing the lazy woman’s pot of yummy soup!

Ingredients:

A small fistful of soy beans (they expand in water)

6 flower mushrooms (sliced)

8 red dates

10 small dried scallops

800ml of water

Some Ikan bilis (put in those Daiso tea bag sachets for easy disposal)

Several leaves of wong bok (ideally nicely sliced but cuz Lè meimei was crying, I hand-ripped them just in case I lose my fingers while distracted)

Directions:

Wash and cut everything that needs cutting.

Put everything into the pot and boil for 30minutes.

Add in some noodles and a meal is ready to be served.

Notice that I didn’t put in any salt? The soup is flavorful enough. Trust me!

The atas milk booster

For about a week, I had been fretting over my milk supply. After recovering from my bout of illness, I barely had enough to feed Lè meimei. Ez went back on formula cuz I had to conserve whatever I had for Lè meimei. It got so bad that I had to use my emergency frozen stash last Wednesday.

Nothing worked! And I had really whacked all my boosters. Even took double dosage of fenugreek and Domperidone, to no avail. Luckily, my very nice mummy friend told me that she could spare me some of her stash. That’s my back up plan. I told her that I would ask for help when I finished my meager stash. You wouldn’t know how relieved I was to know that someone has got my back if I really need help to feed Lè meimei. Thank you, Grace!!!

The Brands Superior Bird’s Nest with Rock Sugar is like a knight in a shiny armor. My shining beacon of hope! Okie, a tad too drama! But you get the gist right?! I consumed a bottle and within hours, my boobs were heavy. Really engorged. Lè meimei wouldn’t need to starve liao and I could stop worrying about putting together the next meal for her. My heart almost broke as I put together several bottles 30-40ml (whatever I could pump) just to make a feed.

Bird’s nest is really an atas booster. A bottle does not come cheap. But this is premium stuff made from carefully selected Sumatran bird’s nest. The quality of bird’s nest is way better than the other bottled varieties. It ain’t too sweet and it doesn’t have the usual stringy like texture of bird’s nest. In fact, every sip is accompanied by soft and tender goodness.

So the boobs got heavier but the wallet got lighter. 😭😭😭 I don’t even like bird’s nest in the first place but I’m gonna hoard a few boxes for emergency. If bird’s nest is your thingy, you might wish to try it out too. Even if it ain’t your milk booster, take heart that your complexion is at least a teeny weeny bit better after a 68ml bottle of miracle. Afterall, bird’s nest is touted by TCM to maintain youthfulness and to improve complexion.

#brands_sg #wholesomegoodness #authenticstuff #premiumbirdsnest #goodcomplexion #milkbooster #yolo

The Most Dreaded Seat

Think! Tell me about your most dreaded seat! For me, it’s none other than the dentist chair! Omg! I really really don’t like dentists! It used to be a traumatizing experience to get the chit that summoned me to the dental clinic in primary school. I literally dragged my feet to get there, shaky teeth or not. Now that we are all grown up, we make the appointment ourselves just to go through all the trauma and drama.

Just now, the dentist asked me if scaling and polishing ranks higher in pain than labour. I told him undoubtedly so. Is it unanimous then? Do you think so too? Ok. Maybe it’s because I had epidural done by the great Yvonne Lim so I wasn’t in any pain when I pushed the kids out. Plus, no one uses the drill on you during labour. Shudders! My teeth are probably still shaking in fear.

Each time any given dentist quizzed me on how long since my last visit, I will be quivering in my seat, wondering why so much time had elapsed since I last got into said seat. But I really just couldn’t bring myself to make that appointment unless circumstances make it inevitable to do so. Like today. Must utilize my dental benefits before I go on unpaid leave. So hurray for having survived this visit and thank god the next appointment is in 6 months.

The bill: Got the membership just so I would be inspired to do this again

My dentist today was a quite cute guy with such strong accent that I could hardly understand him. I guess this ain’t too bad because when in such a vulnerable position, while at the mercy of strange probing instruments in your mouth, you wouldn’t be trying very hard to strike up a conversation.

It’s Weds today but he’s still at work

Not all old is gold

Recently, I read a friend’s FB post about not wanting unsolicited advices. I read and totally understood but still couldn’t resist commenting on her post. She’s a new Mum and probably had enough advices to last a long time. Especially, advices she didn’t seek. But it’s human nature to be kaypoh and try to dispense advices in the name of being helpful. Even after 2 kids, I still can’t master the arts of the one ear in, one ear out strategy. In comparison, the hub fared better than me at receiving unsolicited advices. Maybe it’s a gender thingy.

My parents and MIL love their very first grandson and now their very first granddaughter to bits. Saying that they were thrilled when they knew I was pregnant was an understatement. So it went without saying that they had a lot of advices for me. From the time I was pregnant with Ez till Lè meimei was born and now a thriving 4 month old. 虽然说不听老人言 吃亏在眼前 but really, times had changed. Some of these stuff just don’t make sense now.

Here’s a few of my pet peeves.

Keeping Warm

To cover up during confinement by wearing long sleeves and pants when home. Seriously! SG weather is sweltering hot. Because of the food we eat during confinement, lots of ginger and herbs, I was sweating so much even in singlets and shorts. Coupled with the fact that I couldn’t just jump into the showers as frequently as I liked, it’s a torture to be clothed. I might just faint in long sleeves and pants.

No bathing

I did not adhere to this rule too. But I did relent by only showering with the herbal water that the CL prepared. I also kept a small container of the water to wipe myself after dinner. After the second kid, I’m actually proficient enough at showering with just a pail of herbal water! Goodness! This is an achievement by my standards because all my life (before kids), I take very long and luxurious showers. I washed my hair daily too. But it’s important to use a hair dryer immediately rather than leave them to air dry, lest we catch a cold. Showering is basic hygiene! Please! Especially if you are breastfeeding! Plus, it’s important to keep our wound clean.

Formula VS Breastmilk

Granted that the mummies themselves had never successfully breastfed in their times, so to them, formula is a better option. But it was really demoralizing for me when they made insensitive comments on my supply. They especially liked to know how much I yielded while commenting on how much so and so produced. Milk supply takes time to build up. It doesn’t come immediately for some people (like me) and I have to work very hard to ensure I have enough milk for Lè meimei and Ez. Even my parents can get on my nerves when they make comments like “You prepared so little milk for us to bring back” whenever they babysit Lè meimei. Sigh! I feed 2 kids. Whatever that I pumped are excess. It’s very difficult to fully latch 2 kids and still have an excess stash for a just enough Mum.

Hiccups and water debate

Hiccups used to drive my parents into a frenzy. They didn’t understand why breastfed babies couldn’t drink water. Actually, babies ain’t bothered by hiccups which they did even when residing in our womb. It’s just part and parcel of lungs development. If they didn’t need water while having hiccups in our womb, they wouldn’t need water now. Breastmilk is mainly water. Therefore, there’s no need to feed more water. Water intoxication is real and feeding babies below 6 months water may overload their kidneys.

Medication after immunization

You know, the nurse at the Polyclinic will always check if you have a bottle of paracetamol at home on standby after each immunization? Yes. That bottle is just a precautionary measure for when our little one develops a temperature of above 37.5°. The older generation believes that we should immediately offer paracetamol after the jab to prevent the onset of fever. Offering paracetamol could limit how the immune system responses to the vaccine, thus reducing its effectiveness. So when it comes to medication, always ensure that the caregivers administer the right dose at the right time.

Pacifier VS The Thumb

What’s your stance on this? Which is a greater evil, the thumb or the pacifier? For my parents and MIL, they sided with pacifiers. Simply because pacifiers can be thrown away and thus the habit can be kicked. But being able to suckle one’s thumb is a form of self soothing. Babies suckle on their thumb as early as in utero. We offered Ez a pacifier just because everyone told us to pop it into his mouth whenever he cried. Luckily, he liked his thumb better and we stopped offering. We didn’t even give Lè meimei the opportunity to try it out. She’s great at self soothing and could fall asleep on her own before the 3rd month. Anyway, being able to put one’s fingers into their mouth will be an added advantage if you intend to do BLW later on. As of now, at 4.5 month, Lè meimei had found her toes and she loves them as much as her thumbs. This, I shall reserve my comments for later. 🤷‍♀️

Babywearing

Once an aunty approached me on the train and she told me that my baby (Ez when he was tinier) looked like he’s suffocating. I told her that he’s sleeping quite snugly and that seemed to piss her off. She said I shouldn’t cover him with the hood cuz he wouldn’t be able to breathe. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, another random aunty commented on the sleeping Lè meimei. Well, babywearing, when done right, provides a safe haven for our little ones. They feel warm and secure due to their close proximity to us.

I’m quite certain that our differences in parenting styles wouldn’t end here and that there will be more clashes in opinions on how best to raise our children in future. Yes, I know it takes a village to raise a kid and that there are sound advices that we can adapt as well. But for now, it’s best to just let the sleeping dogs lie.

Highlights of Singapore Garden Festival 2018

This is a throwback post! Because the past couple of weeks flew by so quickly, I just couldn’t catch up with the writing. This is going to be a photo intensive post.

The hub won a pair of opening ceremony tickets when he took part in a contest. It came with a pair of the Singapore Garden Festival tickets, a $20 dining voucher and complimentary parking. So off we went on the 29th of July (probably the hottest day that month) to Gardens by the Bay.

Breakfast was prata at our favorite place. And our poster boy gets to pose with his prata and slurp up iced milo.

By the time we finally arrived at our destination, it was already noon! Too hot to venture outdoors, we seek refuge in the Flower Dome for the Orchids display.

The Festival Map

We discovered a way to make Ez at least looked at the flowers! Give him handphone and get him to take photos! This cheeky little one went “1, 2, 3, smile!” to every flower / plant that caught his eye. He is still lacking in the phototaking department but he did manage to amuse quite a few passers-by with his very serious attempts.

Photography is serious business

Check out his phototaking stance

Mandatory photo spot

There were numerous tentage displays at The Meadows and the most interesting display for me is the Community Garden Edibles Competition. If you are an aspiring farmer, take note of your competitor’s harvest this year and better their records in 2019!

Such a cutie!

All in all, it was a wonderful learning experience for all of us. We even ended our trip with a great bang! I was back carrying Ez when we decided to get on the complimentary buggy ride. Unfortunately, I ducked my head and forgot all about the boy. So he had a great cry on his first buggy ride and came home with a bump on his forehead. Till now, I asked him about the bump, he would reply “Buggy kissed me”. Oops. Parenting fail. Poor poor kid.