Chinese New Year Play Dough

Happy Lunar New Year!! Chinese New Year is usually a quiet affair for us as we camp at two main venues and get all the visiting done on the first day. So I decided to assemble a CNY theme play dough for some entertainment for the kiddos since we are spending quite a significant amount of time at each place. I really love the play dough sets Jen puts together with her daughter so I followed her no cook play dough recipe (excluded the glycerin) and also bought the same container from IKEA for storage.

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For this CNY set, we have a rose, an orange and a pineapple scented doughs, matched with the bright colors of spring. We also gathered items that are symbolic to the CNY (of some sort): flowers related to CNY (camellia, daffodil, peach blossom and peony), silicon moulds, assorted red buttons, some straws and ice cream sticks, and red and yellow cookie cutters.

It is a very extensive set of play dough set but it provides endless possibilities each time she plays with it.  There are occasions she focuses on cutting with the cookie cutter, others she prefers to decorate with the flowers. This would probably last her for the entire 15 days of CNY and the month of February!


  

Sharing

I have heard many stories on sharing. Some mummies mentioned that their oldest child didnt start to share until the younger sibling came along. Some said that it took their kid so long to learn to share. Some also believed that children eventually will learn to share when they go to school. For my husband and I, we believe in teaching and modeling sharing, and the idea of sharing should be instilled from young. At 18months, our little friend generally enjoys sharing her food with the family and friends. You need to understand that she has a passion for food and sharing was quite a great deal. She would gladly offer her food when requested, and at times voluntarily. She still needs a little more practice with sharing toys and I believe we will get there one day. So how did we teach our little friend to share? No fancy methods but 3 practical tips that worked for us for our first child:

1. Demonstrate sharing
It is important especially at the beginning when you are introducing the idea of sharing. Demonstration helps children to visualize what sharing is about and model after you. E.g. Mummy is sharing the biscuit with daddy.

2. When you ask your child to share (or to practice sharing) you need to actually receive the item that he/she is sharing
The child needs to understand that when he/she shares, a portion of the item will be taken away.  Some adults tend to pretend to receive or reciprocate by “oh it’s okay you can have it” after they themselves requested the child to share. The child might be confused and eventually do not want to share. The adult should also receive with thanks, joyfully so that the child understands that it is good to share and sharing can make others happy.

3. Reinforce the idea of sharing by giving the portions to others first
The husband read an article somewhere that one way of teaching a child to share is to teach him/her that he/she don’t always get the first or the best portion. E.g when sharing a cake or biscuits, demonstrate sharing by giving the first portions to others, before giving the child his/her portion. This also teaches the child to wait and they don’t always get it first. It is very common for parents or grandparents to treat the child like a child-king, where everything else centers around the child. The child gets the best share and always gets it first. Reasons? Because the child is still young and they can’t wait. If you think they can’t and don’t teach them to, they will not learn to wait and share. The husband and I believe that children do learn and we make it a point to teach our little friend. Be amazed by what the brain of an 18month old can absorb! We started off with giving daddy and/or mummy first, followed by the extended family. I have a huge family and our little friend enjoys sharing with her grandparents, uncles and parents first before getting her share. It might also be a good opportunity to “test” the child if he/she recognizes who is who in the family.

Of course, children being children, it may take them some time to grasp the concept of sharing. They will also test you at times. As parents, if sharing is a concept that you value in your child, it is essential to be consistent and firm when teaching on sharing.

Happy sharing!

Traveling with a 16-Month-Old Toddler: On Itinerary

Since we came back from our Japan trip, we have been itching to go on another family holiday, especially after seeing how our little friend enjoys herself outdoors and such. So for the end of year trip, we decided on Perth and a road trip in South Western Australia.

Why SW Australia?
Because it is simply perthfect! Alrights jokes aside, we chose Perth because of the distance and affordability. Aussie dollar dropped in favour to SGD so it was a good time to visit. We wanted somewhere cooler than SG but not winter, which geographically suggests the Southern Hemisphere in December. Perth is only 5hours away, which I think is a manageable time to be spent on the plane with a super inquisitive toddler. There is also no time difference between Perth and Singapore. The pace is slow so you don’t have to be pressured to keep up with the business of the city life. Most attractions don’t open till 10am which gives you ample time in the morning to get the things done. There is also an abundance of good food everywhere!

Good simple fare everywhere!

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Lots of fresh produce to cook like a masterchef too!

Not forgetting the large amount of space that our little friend can run free!

On itinerary
Western Australia has so so so much to offer and we finally decided to focus on the south west area. It is important to know what you want for the trip and then shortlist the places to visit. While being distracted by all the beauty of Western Australia, we knew we wanted a trip that allows us to spend some time to interact with animals (preferbly meeting some Australian animals and to visit a farm), reconnect with nature, and if possible some play time at the beach. These naturally draws us southwards to Margaret River and Albany. Besides planning what to see and do, we also factor in time to rest and recuperate, especially at our airbnb accomodation to enjoy what we paid for! Basically take things slow.

A rough 13-day itinerary is as such:
Day 1: Midnight international flight to Perth, drive to Fremantle
Day 2: Penguin Island
Day 3 Drive to Margaret River, pitstop at Bunbury
Day 4: Margaret River and surrounds
Day 5: Margaret River and surrounds
Day 6: Drive to Denmark, pitstop at Pemberton
Day 7: Denmark and surrounds
Day 8: Albany and surrounds
Day 9: Drive to Balingup, pitstop at Pemberton
Day 10: Balingup and surrounds
Day 11: Drive back to Perth, pitstop at Donnybrook/Bunbury
Day 12: Perth
Day 13: Perth and Home Sweet Home

It was a really good 13 days spent as a family. We have seen how much our little friend learns and grows during the trip, and how much she enjoyed herself and the good food.

Let me know what you would like to know about the trip. I’ll be sharing on road tripping with a toddler next!

An Australian Animals Sensory Bin


This week we reminisce our trip to Australia with a sensory bin. We used the animal figures that we bought from Australia and some random items we collected during the trip, with a very aromatic base of lavender.


While the animal figures are sold at most souvenir shops at the various attractions, we got this at the Denmark Visitor Center. There is also a rather wide collection at the Caversham Wildlife Park. It doesn’t matter if you can’t recognize the animals, their names are printed underneath each figures. Lavender was from whatever that I have at home, which were bought from the local Chinese medical hall.

Besides scooping and getting reacquainted with the Australian animals, she also particular enjoyed the lavender rain. I made an effort to keep the pail and scoops out of sight and see how our little friend responds to play with her hands.



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Very serious in creating her own lavender rain

 

A Kimono Outerwear

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I am thankful that while I was planning to sew some quick projects for last year’s holidays, that the baby was cooperative (she sleeps so early these days! hurray!) They have to be really simple projects that can be done in a couple of hours. Since MeMadeMay’15, I have been wanting to make an outerwear of some sort. I decided to try this 30min Kimono project. I followed the instructions provided but made a few changes.

1. The fabric I used is 1.5m by 60″

2. I also neaten the non-selvage sides (which is where the opening of the sleeves are), by folding in about 1.5cm and sew with a zig-zag stitch.

It could be because of my small(er) built, a piece of 60″ fabric is a tad long for me. A piece of 55″ might work better. The husband commented that it looked like some ancient China drama outfit. Ha! However, I am enjoying the slack of such an extremely loose fit outerwear.

Fabric is a Copacabana Stretch Crochet Chevron Lace Teal (name copied from the website) from fabric.com which I purchased about a year ago. This is my first time sewing with a knit material of any sort and it isn’t as scary as it sounds. All I did was to change the needle to a ballpoint one. I also used zig-zag stitches throughout.

Well this project did take me a little longer than 30minutes because I had to figure certain things out along the way. But who cares! I made something in one night, no, less than an hour’s time!

KidsFest 2016: Room on The Broom

I went on a date with our little friend to watch Room on The Broom which was featured in KidsFest 2016. Truth to be told, I was a little *scaredscared* (in our little friend’s language). It is the first time that I am out alone with her since being pregnant with number 2 and I just wasn’t sure if she can last through the entire 50 minutes performance. Afterall, the shows are best suited for ages 3 and up. She is not even 2! The entire experience gave me newfound mom-fidence because our little friend enjoyed herself tremendously!

We entered the theatre when the doors were opened. She ‘wah-ed’ at the staging and was kept entertained by some stickers offered by the Australian International School. Soon after, the show started on time at 5pm. Though she was shocked by the sudden appearance of the dragon in the story, I sat her on my lap and her eyes never left the stage since. It was great seeing a cat, dog, bird and frog on stage as they are some of the animals she could recognize. She also danced to the music and clapped her hands in excitement.

Our first theatrical experience isn’t too bad and we definitely look forward to our next show at the KidsFest (Alien Love Underpants)! For those interested, there are still 3 more stories to catch.

To more concerts and beyond!

A Winter Solstice Sensory Play


It was the winter solstice on 22nd December and Chinese have the tradition of eating rice dumplings on that day, which symbolizes reunion.

I love and prefer to make my own, though it has no filling. While prepping the dough, our little friend came into the kitchen and “wanted to help”. Initially I thought hey we could make the dumplings together. But she ended throwing some of the dough on the floor. I gave her the entire bowl and made another batch in the evening.


  
It was her first time playing with dough and I really love this made from glutinous rice flour because it is a lot cleaner than those made from plain flour. I got her to pick up whatever bits she can from the floor and I swept the rest.

We also ended the night with some dumplings that I made. I used rose and chamomile tea as the base so that it wouldn’t be overly sweet for her.

Mango Sago Smoothie

I bought some mango a week ago and completely forgot about them until I was looking for something in the fridge. So I decided to whip up a mango sago smoothie to make staying back in school a little better. You know sometimes you just need something shiok to perk you up in the afternoons. To make the mango sago smoothie,  you will need:

(Serves 2.5)
1 ripped mango
1 cup coconut water
1 teaspoon virgin coconut oil
7 ice cubes (if you prefer it cold and are not chilling before serving)

1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 cup of hot water

How to:
1. Pour the boiling hot water into a bowl of chia seeds. This is to ‘expand’ the chia seeds and make them jelly-like.

2. Blend all the other ingredients.

3. Add in the chia seeds to the smoothie mixture when it has become jelly-like.


This is definitely a way cleaner version of the mango sago dessert. You can even top it up with pomelo if they are in season!

Maternity Pencil Skirt

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While the month of January is traditionally used to sew a new cheongsam for CNY, I got distracted by my lack of maternity clothes and this amazing tutorial that I found. Quite out of point from the target o set at the beginning of the year (I blame the hormones) but at least the workshop is still very much functioning!

I have been reading cottonandcurls for a while and she is totally amazing. She has quite a number of tutorials on sewing DIY that doesn’t even require a pattern! I took the idea from one of her tutorials and made my own maternity skirt!

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A few things I learned:

1. I read online that I should change to a ballpoint needle when sewing jersey knit. I didn’t and it turned out okay.

2. I also used my pencil skirt pattern for this project instead of tracing it out from an existing one. Not sure if it’s a maternity wear (can’t differentiate between baby and fats. Ha!) or I’m using jersey knit which sits nicely on the belly, I end up taking in a couple of inches at the waist for a better fit. Still working on the ideal ease allowance.

3. Jersey knit curls! It is best to cut and sew immediately.

I forsee that this skirt would be a staple for now until I decide to do something to the post partum body. It might even be a good non-maternity pencil skirt because it helps to keep the tummy in place!

Wait

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Our little friend is an energizer bunny. She is active, loves to walk, climb up and down, and simply to explore. She can go on and on and on and on, and the husband thought, “okay she needs a break!” So he taught her on the concept of waiting.

We started with counting down from 5 to 1. This also applies to waiting for us to open biscuit packaging, put down whatever we have on hand before we can carry her etc. We taught her to sign “wait” too. Then it progressed to 1 minute wait time, using the iPhone timer function. Each time she wanted to move away, we caught her back and told her that she needed to wait for 1 minute and the alarm to ring. Now at 18 months, she can do with the 1 minute wait time and moves only after the alarm has sounded. As the timer count down, you can also recite the number and use this as a teaching opportunity (like number flash card).

It works pretty well for now and we are progressing to a 2-minute break, so that the adults can also take a longer breather!