Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Thankful Tuesday: Time with the Baby

This morning I looked at our calendar and saw the word "Orientation". My heart skipped a little beat. I've been accepting the fact that my firstborn will be going to Primary 1 in a couple of months in tiny tentative steps (are you a parent sending your kid to Primary 1? I think we all fall into two groups - which are you?), but this school orientation in particular was for my second child, who will start pre-Nursery next year.

But but but.... SHE'S JUST A BABY!!!!!

She still snuggles up to me for a cuddle. She still climbs on me to sit on my lap whenever I'm cross-legged on the floor. She still asks me to carry her. She still makes really funny mistakes when she speaks. She still sits whenever and wherever she's tired, not bothering about whatever's around her.

She's still wearing one-piece pajamas! Doesn't that all mean that she's still a baby?

Perhaps it was the realisation that she will soon be shipped off to school (well it's really only 3 hours a day, but still), that I went into Super Mama mode today. Today I sat with her and played with her the whole time. Today I was more patient with her. Today I smiled at her more. Today I hugged her more and asked for more kisses. Today was all about her, and everything - housework, cooking, social media - took a backseat.

The thing about the second child is that you tend to have to keep them away from their older siblings when you're trying to do something constructive with them, and after months or years of brushing them aside, you suddenly realise that hey, they're TWO YEARS OLD! And then you feel guilty about not having stared at them enough or smelled them enough.

Today I am very very very thankful for the opportunity I've had to spend one-on-one time with Calla. Every morning when Poppy is in school, it's just us. It's special. We do things at our own pace. We do things that are catered to her as opposed to simply following what her sister wants to do. We go out. We explore. We do the same things that I used to do with Poppy when Poppy was a baby.

For this, I am grateful. And for the remaining months I have with her at home with me until school replaces me for 3 hours a day. From now till then, I will remember to watch my child in wonder instead of rushing her when she does things she enjoys like like going up and down stairs. I will prepare more sensory bins for her since she likes them so much. I will remember to bring a bottle of bubbles out with me everywhere we go even if it means dirty, soapy hands.

I will remember to use this precious time to the fullest with my Calla Lily, my baby who will soon not be a baby anymore.

Excuse me while I shed a few tears.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Poppy's Pirate Party

Like every other year, my main aim (apart from hoping that the birthday girl has a good time) was to keep the party simple and within a tiny budget. This year was no different. Poppy requested for a pirate themed party for her 6th, and I thought a poolside party might be fun for a group of 6-year olds.

Shiver me timbers, we be pirates! Arrr!


We asked all her friends to show up in their pirate gear and boy oh boy, did they ever! The plan was to give the best dressed pirate tickets to the Port of Lost Wonder (piratey piratey!!) but I err forgot!


The biggest difference is that this year, Poppy played a very active part in setting up for the party. In previous years, I kept everything secret, and she basically attended her own party as a guest in a way, where she would play the games and follow my lead. This year, I kept most things secret until the day, and then she helped to set up, and when her friends arrived, together, we ran the show, she and I.

Thing is, I wanted her to enjoy the party as well, and not be bogged down about the planning and logistics. So I kind of gave her a rough idea of what was going to happen, but when it came to the games, I didn't share any info at all!

She helped put up the party favours, which were drawings I made of the kids, and Poppy wrote piratey phrases on each of them, and I laminated the sheets so they can be used as a writing base with erasable white board markers

The first thing we did was to let everyone know their names. Their pirate names. Earlier Poppy had pasted all her friends' names around the party area, and when each of them arrived, she brought them to look for their names. For the duration of the party, they were called by those names. Poppy chose to be Captain Poppy Small Bones, Calla was Captain Calla Sea Slug, I was Captain Squid Lips and Max was Captain Black Beard. 

Then we had to make sure everyone got familiar with pirate lingo so we brought them around to where we'd pasted some common pirate phrases and made everyone repeat stuff like Avast! and Shiver me timbers! There were a few confused faces yes, but generally everyone got the hang of it :D

Next we taught everyone the pirate song.

Oh jolly pirates we
We sail the deep blue sea
In search of buried treasure
Come sail ahoy with me

It's from Peppa Pig :)

And then we were ready for the games! We played two games - "What be the time, Captain Squid Lips?" is the pirate version of "What's the time, Mr Wolf?", and Poppy and I took turns calling out the time. Then it was "Pirate and the Sword" which essentially was Dog at the Bone.

And finally, the treasure hunt! What's a pirate party without a treasure hunt!

I had so many plans with regards to the treasure hunt, like giving clues and drawing maps. But due to lack of time, we had to simply bury the treasure chest in a little sandy pit and give the instruction "Dig!". In fact, I was so short of time that I asked the lovely Nadia from Itchy Fingers Blog (who so kindly offered to take photos of the party for us!) to hide the treasure chest!

Then the kids were given instructions to get dressed in their swim gear, which got them all excited because they'd been told earlier that they'd be made to walk the plank.

While they got dressed, I had the time to draw 'the plank' at the side of the pool, in chalk, and throw gold doubloons and marbles into the baby pool - it worked out perfectly because the gold coins floated and the marbles sank, so the kids were really kept busy! If they were disappointed with my sorry excuse of a plank, they sure didn't show it.

So they were each given a plastic cup, and told to walk the plank, and look for treasure under the sea.

And then the party kinda kicked back into relack-jack mode from there with the kids splashing around and coming up for food periodically. We called them up for cake at one point, and back into the water they went.

Speaking of cake. It was sponsored by The Domestic Goddess Wannabe, and everyone but everyone could not stop raving about it.

Did not come with figurines

It is my humble opinion that at some point in any child's life, she should have a birthday cake cutting by the pool and in her swim gear!

Did the birthday girl enjoy her party?  She said "Thank you Mama! This was the best day of my life!". I took that as a big fat yes :) And there we have it. Our very low budget pirate party!

Special thanks to Nadia for the photos and Diana for the cake; thanks for taking those two heavy loads off me!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mums with a Bad Rep

It's our own fault you know - we choose to put ourselves out in the line of fire.

Everyone else keeps their work tucked away nicely within their offices but we, we choose to flaunt the things we do out in public. So it's no wonder that strangers feel inclined to judge everything we do. Sometimes they even feel the need to come up to us and tell us off. You know, just because our way of parenting just gets on their nerves and it just seems that we have absolutely no idea what we're doing.

In any case. Here are some types of mums who seem to be targetted a lot. Introducing the "mums who have a bad rep" series! I start with the one who pushes a stroller that's the size of the tank. Never mind her reason, people see the tank and immediately, she's the enemy. 

(We've got a little stroller that we hardly use but it works really well as a hat hanger at home. When out, we tend to keep clear of these tank-like strollers)

It doesn't matter if she has battled with herself about whether or not giving her kids a fun spontaneous playtime might result in them catching a cold. Go ahead and click your tongue at the mum who lets her kids jump in puddles and play at water fountains.

(Guilty! Some water fountains are really fun. But we draw the line at those without spraying jets and those that look yucky)

Doesn't matter if it's an isolated case, or if she's had a long night of kids throwing up on sheets followed by a big Murphy's Law kind of day. If a mum yells at her kid, oh it's so wrong that every stranger on the street must do his/her public duty by virtually tsk-ing about her on Facebook. No no, everyone else has a reason to yell but not the mum who spends all day and night with the most frustrating and unpredictable of people.  

Guilty! Do I roar sometimes? Yes. Do I scream all the time, everyday? No. I am capable of speaking in low tones and in gentle words as well)

She's on the phone when her kid is at the sandpit. Gasp! That's not allowed! Sure, every other person in every other occupation is allowed to scroll a little in Facebook or upload their lunch in Instagram, but no, not the mum at the playground. And heavens forbid if her kid calls out for her and she doesn't hear him. Because we all know that surely everyone jumps up and runs to their bosses the moment they call.

(Guilty at times! Mostly it's to take pictures of them or to answer an important message. Hardly random scrolling on Facebook. I'm usually smiling and nodding at them a lot, and sitting on the park bench? Haha. That'll be the day)
There you are minding your own business and there she is, sitting on a bench, breastfeeding her baby! In public! What has the world come to! Feel free to gawk and point and give comments like "Can't you do that in a nursing room that's either smelly or used by someone who's not meant to be there?" or "Please train your baby to ask for milk only at home", because that will only make her feel less uncomfortably and awkward. 

(Guilty! I've breastfed my baby at the Istana, on park benches, in restaurants, at the beach and on public transport. I've always used a nursing cover though. Sometimes it's out of necessity. Sometimes it's just because the nursing room's too dirty or taken up by people who work around and simply want to fill up their bottles at the dispensers, or occupied by folks taking a nap or making important calls. I get it, it's nice and comfortable and quiet. The perfect place to you know, nurse a baby)

How absurd that someone would choose to sling her newborn and keep her hands free to do other things. When you see one, it is your right as a random stranger to go up to such a mum and ask "Are you sure your baby can breathe in there?", because what does she know - she's only the baby's mother and can't be trusted to make well-informed, researched upon decisions, be it on baby slings or anything else concerning her baby's safety and well-being
(Guilty! 6 years and 2 kids and I've only ever raised my voice at one unsolicited comment - a lady on the bus gave me the stink eye when I boarded with my baby in one of those cloth slings. Then, when she didn't get a response from me, proceeded to tell everyone on the bus about what a horrible mother I was to put my baby in that because clearly, the child is not able to breathe in there. And she went on and on about it. So I snapped and told her off across the rows of seats separating us. In Mandarin too.)

Guilty of anything yourself?

And if you've enjoyed these drawings, here are more!

If you're wondering about the drawings: I've so been inspired by this mum. Her writing is hilarious and her drawings sometimes make me pee in my pants. But before you go all copycat-kiss-the-rat on me, you may like to read her FAQ page where she states that she 'is not the first ever human to draw pictures', and that she too was inspired by and accused of copying someone else. 

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