December 28, 2008

Change? Bring it on!

Heraclitus, a greek philosopher once said, "Nothing endures but change." This statement is so true, change in life will happen, regardless of whether we will like it or not. What matters is how we handle it. We need to learn to count our blessings and enjoy life apart from circumstances. Stop thinking about the 'what if-s' and the 'if only-s'.

I once came across a little prayer on a card many years ago that said; God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Words that still resonate with me in this process of change.

Just 3 more days to the new year and how has the past one year been for me? 2008 has been a whirlwind of a ride. Life has been an adventure; with major shifts in life priorities and new experiences.

Nonetheless, there are constantly so much to be thankful for. Here I count some of my many blessings :
1. A supportive spouse who will always put up with my eccentriciticies and neurotism and will be my pillar of strength
2. An endearing and healthy little boy who brings so much joy to the family
3. My extended family. Loved-ones who are constantly there for me, providing warm and delicious meals that I can always go home to
4. Quality time spent with my family and loved ones
5. Wonderful friends such as K, L, HL and G. Who make whinge-ing sessions together so much fun and therapeutic
5. A heavenly father who loves me and has promised that he will never leave me or forsake me till the end of time. He is one guy that I know that I can always trust to meet all of my needs.

So what are my resolutions for this year? Actually I should just forget about resolutions as I never ever keep them. Rather I should just say, what can I to forward to this year?
1. More quality time with dh and K
2. A little more time to be spent in my kitchen
2. More new beginnings, one which include a new business
3. Breakthroughs in many areas

Despite all the hullabaloo out there about the economy. I just wish to drop a bible verse here to remind Christian friends and myself to look forward to a good year ahead. As well as for non-christian friends who don't mind a bit of godly wisdom.
Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.


Here's wishing all friends a Happy New Year and may this year brings lots of pleasant surprises!


December 26, 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Christmas is indeed the most wonderful time of the year.
"There'll be much mistletoeing and hearts will be glowing, when loved ones are near. It's the most wonderful time of the year."

Did I also mention that it is also a time for major over-eating? With such talented cooks in my family, it is really hard not to at the dinner table on Christmas eve.

We always will have the quintessential turkey. It is a must-have at our family's Christmas eve dinners, although it is not the most popular dish. We always end up with turkey porridge and turkey sandwiches for the next few days after Christmas.

Christmas for me and my family is more than just feasting, merry-making, giving and receiving presents. The true meaning of Christmas is expounded from this bible verse. John 3:16-17; "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

Christmas is the celebration of this incredible act of love.

K does not quite understand the meaning of Christmas yet, however he had the most fun at on Christmas eve.

1. He had a whale of a time hogging digital camera (he now goes crazy when he sees the camera and has learn how to take pictures).
2. Gets to drink with the guys,
3. Be the official candle blower for Nana's birthday cake,
4. Gets to open the most presents,
5) Be the first to use his presents,



6) Even gets to perform for an audience,


The fun does not end there as he gets to sleep way past his bedtime. And then wakes up to some more presents the next morning.

The Christmas season can be a wonderful time of family togetherness and goodwill, but the spirit of Christmas often gets lost in the midst of all these excitement.

From next year, K will be taught the true meaning of Christmas and goodwill. For a start, learn to look beyond his Christmas desires by maybe choosing a toy to donate to a children's charity or helping to choose groceries and deliver them the Boy's brigade sharity gift box.

December 21, 2008

Some spontaneity once in a while

Dh has always been full of spontaneity. Probably only when he met me that I started to mute that spontaniety in him. I am a creature of habit, often needs structure, loves schedules and I function like clockwork. In other words, not an exciting person at all, but probably good for bringing up a child.

It's hard to tell at this point if K is like dad or he is like me. But as a toddler, he mostly thrives on routine. So it usually takes like a day like this with Dad that I will allow anything out of the ordinary.

It started this morning with skipping church, as K woke up late. We ended up having brunch at Jones the Grocer. A place which I wanted to try after reading fairly good reviews on yum.sg.

The review? Dh and I were sorely disappointed with the food, the breakfast set was overpriced and the sausages included in the set were barely edible. Service was bad, dh did not get his vanilla milkshake even when we finished the meal. K hardly ate anything. If he does not like the food in the cafe/restaurant, it is usually below par. As he enjoys most food, as long as it is not cooked at home.

We went on to borders and dh got some last minute christmas presents, then proceeded to Vivo City. Ended up having tea at sushi tei. K refused to sit at the table, insisted of looking at the ships at the harbour. Hb brought him outside the restaurant and toddler stated his preference that he wanted to stay outside. Thanks to hb's spontaneity, he promised K a ride on the cable car if he returned to his seat and finished his meal.

K relented to hb's request, ate so well and even asked for seconds. It seemed like hb's promise of the cable car ride was really effective. Afterwards, I tried to convince K that he was tired and needed to go home to nap, but all he had in his mind was 'Car' (i.e., cable car). Hb was sure that if he did not fulfil his promise, he will lose some of his credibility with K. Although I wasn't too certain that K understood that concept.

So we went ahead with dh's spontaneous suggestion and took that risk of ending up with a cranky tot, who only managed a 1/2 hour nap in the car.

K was elated with the ride. I assumed he has been looking forward to a cable car ride, since he always exclaims loudly and excitedly points to the cable cars whenever we are at Vivo.

The view from the cable car was not at all scenic, with all that construction that is going on the Sentosa island lately. Nonetheless, K had an enjoyable time looking at the view.

He was especially thrilled to bits when he saw this...

So thanks to hb spontaneity, K was rewarded with the rare view of seeing an assembly of 16 mixer trucks, the most number of the same kind of trucks that he has ever seen at one go. For a toddler that is so fond of trucks, I think this was probably the main highlight of K's day.

December 20, 2008

I am in the mood for christmas...finally

I discovered on saturday that one of the best way to jumpstart the Christmas mood is to invite good friends over for dinner.

It was a simple pot-luck. As the host, I made beef stew and potato cassarole. Mom chipped in with bee hoon and cheese cake. I put on some Christmas music, tealight candles and christmas lights to set the mood. L made caesar salad, K did her usual; konnyaku jelly (will expect something more advanced from K next year), HL brought fruits.


K was absolutely thrilled to have Alex share his cardboard playhouse,

ride on his dump truck together,

and entertain the adults by tickling the ivories.

Despite Alex being a little tired after a busy afternoon, K really enjoyed her company. We will definitely need to arrange for more playdates for the tots.

Before the evening ended, we exchanged christmas presents. We could not wait till boxing day and unwrapped them on the spot. It was truly a lovely evening with great company. Thanks ladies, tots and dads for the pressies and a fabulous evening.

After this dinner, I am actually inspired by my not-so-perfect attempt at potato cassarole to make better food next year. I refuse to believe that with 2 gifted cooks in my family; my Mum and Nick, I do not even have a miniscule of a cooking gene in me.

December 19, 2008

Meltdown central

The first meltdown this morning started like this.
"K, let's go and take your bath."
"No, no...no".
Then he threw himself on the couch, started crying, kicking legs and flailing arms in protest.


I whipped out the camera, took this video of K. K stopped when he saw the camera. Watch his face in this clip.

Taming temper tantrums from Rachel T on Vimeo.

Looks like someone is pretty good at shedding crocodile tears, yet his natural response to pose for the camera gave him away.

The 2nd meltdown happened an hour later when K insisted on washing his hands.
"Wait, let mommy do this first."
"Wash hands, wash..."
He sat on the floor and then started to cry like it was the end of the world.

Unfortunately, this time round, I gave in to the tantrum. And K was quite happy relishing in the success of being able to get his way.

After 2 mins at the sink, I decided it was quite enough. I carried him down and told him no more of washing hands. Then the 3rd meltdown happened.

This time I ignored the tantrum and made sure I practiced the old reinforcement theory. Left him alone but told him that I will be waiting outside the hall where he is finished. K continued the next minutes crying for the helper. The helper came over to help him, I raised my voice and told her to leave him there. I told K that no one is going to help him to as he had to stop crying.

Eventually he stopped, then I went over to him and gave him a hug and explained that crying is not acceptable and it does not help him to get what he wants.

3 temper tantrums in 2 hours. I guess this may be a prelude to the terrible twos. I am beginning see the 'Hyde' in K making its brief, yet repetitive appearance these couple of weeks. So, to tame K's temper tantrums, I will need to maintain my composure and be consistent with my response to tantrums.

No one should get in the way when I am dealing with K's tantrums , not doting grandparents, father or helper. This toddler will have to learn that he is not going to get anywhere with his tantrums.

December 16, 2008

Countdown to Christmas

Countdown another 9 more days to Christmas, and I am in a pensive mood.

Getting presents for everyone just becomes more challenging each year. Guess its time to start blasting the cheesy christmas songs at home and get myself in the mood for Christmas.





December 15, 2008

Decisions

An inkling of something that has recently surfaced in my life.

Brimming with anticipation with the new things to come.
In the midst of darkness, admid the glum
He opens the door revealing a glimmer of light.
After going through full circle, there is no reason to feel contrite
For I know He will not test me beyond what I can bear.
And will always get me out of any warfare

I have been thrown a line back to my first love
Could it be something that I will fit me like a glove?

I have been told that I am a romantic and a classic.
That I will not deny, even for skeptic
It will not change even moving from 4 to a 6
Taste will always determine any season's picks
Does not matter that I have no more excuses not to deck out
Can't think of another reason why I should not take this route

December 12, 2008

That lil' bit of Disney Magic

Our trip to HK disneyland has been quite a magical experience for K. According to dh words, "...Disneyland to kids is akin to their version of a holy pilgrimage".

Despite spending a short 4 and a half days away, Dh and I have made some new discoveries about our little boy along the way.

1. K is a great traveller

He was so full of anticipation from the moment we woke him up at 6a.m on Monday morning and drove to the airport. K could relate to almost every moment of our experience at the airport; from the time we checked in the luggage, went through immigration and to the departure area. He refused to seat in his stroller and wanted me to carry him to "see...see".

When we got on the plane, he peered excitedly out of the window, made airplane noises while moving his toy plane around and kept asking for "chik" (his sound he uses for putting on the seat belt). When the flight attendant came to us with the seat belt, he grinned widely, took it from her and attempted to put it around his body. The flight attendent commented "He is the first child I have encountered who is so excited about putting on the seat belt."

When the plane took off, he did not experience any discomfort with the change in air pressure, hardly took any sips of water and told me "pop, pop", when he place both palms on his ears.
The only items I got to use from the "aeroplane survival kit" were the block puzzles and stickers, since he slept through 50% of the flight to HK.


2. He is a Mickey and Pluto Fan


And a crazed one at that. I knew that he like watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on TV and didn't mind his Mickey soft toy once in a while. Now here is the magic of Disney, in one of the restaurants in the hotel, Mickey and friends came by the tables to greet the diners. When any of the characters come into view, K will lose all reason, clamour out of his seat, emit whines of "hur hur hur Mi-Mi" (translated from toddler speak is "I want to go over there to Mickey.")

He was not satisfied till the characters came over to the table, shoke their paws, gave him high fives and had a picture taken with them. Dh and I were quite surprised by his enthusiasm, as we were expecting that he will be afraid of the characters. It was an enjoyable experience for tot but not so pleasant for dh and I, since most of the time during the dinner we had to get K to sit still on the chair and get him to swallow his food.


And for someone that refuses to wear anything on his head, K is happy to prance and dance with the Mickey Mouse ears headband on his head.


3. He consistently flashes this look when asked to smile for the camera


Which looks more like a grimace than a smile. More than 80% of the 200 odd pictures that I took during our trip has K displaying this smile.



4. He can be extremely bossy...

Especially when he interacts with his friend Rae-anne, whom he calls "mei-mei". Rae-anne is an endearing and affectionate 16 month old toddler who is very generous with her hugs.

When the two toddlers get together, they will be screaming and chasing one another all around. Most of the other times, K will be saying "No, no...back," and tries to lead her back to near the adults by tapping her shoulders or pulling her arms, when Rae-anne wanders off to explore other things.


5. He finally slept through the night...hurray!

For 3 consecutive nights. The longest stretch was a total of 9 hours. He must have been exhausted from the day's activities and did not even wake up for feed. He managed to sleep through yesterday night when we got home, hopefully, this will be a new milestone I can rave about. I have been waiting a long time for this moment, since I was starting to lose hope that he will ever sleep through the night.

Despite our family returning with a flu and a cough, we all had a fabulous time. As for K, he may not remember this trip after a couple of months, but I suppose that lil' bit of Disney magic has managed to captivate him for that brief, but memorable moment in time.

December 7, 2008

How to get your toddler to eat veggies...

Actually, I don't have the answer to that. Somehow, in these recent weeks K started asking for vegetables on his own accord, without any attempt on my part to offer him any.

I started introducing him veggies when he started on solids; through carrots, brocolli and spinach. He has no problems with sweet veggies like carrots, but forget about anything that is green, leafy and comes with a stalk. Even when I try to disguise the veggies and hide it in the dishes or rice, his taste buds have this ability to pick them out. He spits it out, then vomits whatever else he swallowed before. After that, I just stopped cooking any green leafy veggies for K's meals.

Since K now eats almost what our family eats during mealtime, he has a penchant for green leafy veggies and will always ask for the 'veg-table' to be placed in his bowl.

Some things that I have realised when it comes to getting a toddler to eat. If a certain food is refused, don't make a battle over it and try to offer it at another meal, in my case, I gave up after a while.

I managed not to turn K off from veggies when I did not make any further attempts to nag or force if he did not want to take a bite. I just thought that I should let nature take its course. Maybe it helps when K sits on his high chair at the family table during meal time. That way, he is encouraged to eat vegetables when he sees us eating them.

I suppose being a positive role model for your child also helps when it comes to food. K also enjoys eating all kinds of fruits, since I am a fruit-lover. And I make sure that dh hides in the room when he eats his junk food, as potato chips and sweets are forbidden food for K.

To see K eating his veggies is almost akin to milestones such as, when he first crawled or flipped over. Dh gets equally thrilled when he sees K relishes every bit of veggie given to him during his meals. He had to take this video when he saw how K happily "shovelled the greens into his mouth."

Excuse me, while I gloat in this 'veggie milestone', although, I am hoping this is not just one of those healthy "food jags".





P.S. I will be taking a short blog break for the next 1 week for our first family holiday with K.

December 3, 2008

My "aeroplane survival kit"

I have been reading this book to K for the last one month to prep him up for his first plane ride.

Through this book, he now understands the concept of the baggage counter, the waiting lounge at the airport, where the pilot's cockpit is located on the plane, getting seated on the plane and passengers putting on the seat belts. In fact, everyone around him has been prepping him up for his upcoming trip next week.

I have even resorted to using this during K's meal times when he refuses his food, "You need to eat, so that you will grow tall and get to sit in the aeroplane to go to Disneyland." And when I get desperate, I will say, "If you don't eat, you cannot grow tall and sit in the plane." Yes, I have been quite a terrible mommy to have resorted to such threats just to get him to eat. Well, it has not really worked anyhow.

This topic of fussy toddler at meal time is another long-drawn-out issue, so I will not further digress from the topic of travel.

For our upcoming trip next week, I have put together a "aeroplane survival kit" for dh and myself, so as to ensure that the 4 hour plane ride to HK with our 20 month old toddler will be as painless as possible.

K is still in his machines/vehicles/trucks phase, so these should be able to keep him occupied for most of the plane ride. I also added some open-ended materials such as crayons, coloured pencils and a sketch pad, since K enjoys scribbling on paper. I have not shown K any of these things yet, so hopefully, his interest will be enhanced by its novelty.

Hope these will work...(fingers and toes crossed)

November 30, 2008

Of birthdays and presents

K is the resident candle blower for all the family birthday celebrations. The little boy has acquired the skill of blowing lighted candles (without any spittle from his breath), after numerous afternoons spent bubble-blowing with Mummy.

We celebrated dh's birthday on Friday and Saturday. Initially dh mentioned that he was not keen to have any cake for his birthday, but ended up buying himself a cake, so that he could get K to show off his candle blowing skill at his mom's place on Saturday.

Dh and I spent some couple-time on Friday night celebrating his birthday over dinner at The Prime Society, a cosy steak place at Dempsey Road. Pretty pricey at $100 per head, but great ambience, relatively good food and good service.


Loved the candelier-like lights and the wall art, which gave the establishment an art-deco feel.


Dh and I shared a brownie which the service staff presented to him with a lighted candle, given to us on the house. It was nice for them to take note when I mentioned to them that 'it will be birthday celebration' when I called to make reservations. So for the great service, we will be back...since dh is a major steak-eater.


So what is dh's birthday present this year? I planned to give dh his birthday present at the end of the night, however, I just could not resist when K wore his b/w car t-shirt in the afternoon. When K saw the pic, he look at his t-shirt, then glanced back at the painting and started to cry. He was not consoled until dh explained to him that it was a painting of 'Dada and Kyle.' Probably he was confused to see this painting of a kid looking like him and wearing his t-shirt.

Of course dh loved the painting, although the first question he asked was, "Why does K's lips looks like that?" My answer to him was "Haven't you noticed how K's lips look like? The artiste Paul Koh who created this piece of painting was quite accurate in depicting K's pink and luscious lips :P

Dh remarked that this is the best present he has received from me. Well, I guess I outdid myself this time, it is going to be tough to think about what to buy for him next year. Maybe another painting from Paul, this time of the three of us? What can I say, I am not exactly the most creative when it comes to birthday presents.

November 28, 2008

No frills playhouse

I got a refrigerator box 3 weeks ago, and the fridge does not come with it.

I have no plans to become a karung guni part time. Although, I suppose some people in the mall who saw me carrying the box probably thought that I was just a cheap housewife trying to earn some extra change from the karung guni, besides giving him my old newspapers.



Thanks to my advanced estimation skills, I had this great plan to load the refrigerator box into my car and then drive the car below to my apartment block. However, never did I expect that the box could barely fit into the car. I tried for like 2 mins turning the box vertically, then horizontally. Then I had this mild epiphany, that the refrigerator box is longer than my car and the width is too broad to fit in the car door...truly my Mr.Bean moment...

I carried the box back to the first floor of the mall, while stopping for a few minutes to rest my arms and to catch my breath. Along the way, got stared at by many people in the mall. Although the box was made of corrugated cardboard, it was not light and walking 500 meters home from the mall with a huge box was quite strenuous. On the way home, I told myself that it will be the last time I will be carrying a refrigerator box home. Well, there is always dh who can help the next time...

I spent about 1 and a half hours cutting out the roof, doors and windows and made a recyclable playhouse for K.


Inside the house, I pasted 2 tap lights and hung a clipped-on fan on the roof as it can rather stuffy when K closes the 'door'. The playhouse can be easily folded and kept for easy storage, much more space saving than the $300+ plastic playhouse that are sold at Toys R Us.

I was thinking of pasting some wallpaper over the exterior to make it look brighter, although it seems K does not seem to mind how it looks now.

November 25, 2008

20 months

K turned 20 months last week. He is starting to express himself more efficiently, often surprising me with new words every other day. He loves to be read to every night before bed time, his recent favorite is 'The Ear Book' by Al Perkins, that has alot of sound effects.

K always makes sure that his toy Mickey is seated in front of the book and he will attempt to read the book Mickey. He will make relevant sounds effects on cue from each page.
He gets absolutely thrilled by his ability to blow off lighted candles from the birthday cake, which he recently demonstrated at Uncle Nick's and dh's birthday celebration.

The fussy eater surfaces once in a while, usually during meal times at home or Nana's house. He never seems to have any problem finishing all his food when we are out eating. I am still rather puzzled by that.

He chooses to sign to indicate that he prefers to be carried than walk by himself. I often get arm-aches after carrying him for a few minutes, as this toddler is getting really heavy.

He will rather be carried,walk or run but not sit in the stroller, the stroller has been relegated to being a push trolley for bags and other stuff.

Once in a blue moon, he turns into a cranky and difficult toddler. I am starting to see little glimpses of the terrible two's behaviour...still keeping my fingers tightly crossed that terrific two's will show himself most of the other times.