Lil’ Miss Mischief

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Ever since Raeann started walking and has grown tall enough to reach stuff, she has been on a rummaging and ransacking rampage, leaving a trail of mischief in her wake.

Remote Control Junkie

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G & I have started hiding the TV remote control from her… but as you can tell, she’s quite persistent.

Drawer Explorer

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She tries to fit into any nook and cranny that she chances upon.

Private Investigator

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Rummage, rummage, rummage.

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But.. that’s not all!

Artist

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Installation art piece: Shoe on Bed

Snack Theft

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This happened early this morning when I was still in a semi-conscious state.. She dragged the bag down from the bench and helped herself to the snack. I wouldn’t have known if she hadn’t strolled into the room with the incriminating snack in hand.

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With all the mischief that she gets into, she’s lucky that she’s adorable..

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How do you keep your 1-year-old entertained during road trips?

We recently went on a spur-of-the-moment road trip to Malacca.

Raeann’s first road trip was to Kuala Lumpur last year. It was a breeze because she was only three to four months old then so she slept almost throughout the entire journey.

This time round, it was a bit more challenging! Our worse road trip nightmare would be if Raeann started crying or fussing uncontrollably during the drive up because that would probably have sucked all the joy and fun out of the trip for her and for us too. I tried to plan how I would keep her occupied for the two to three hour long journey both ways.

Behold, my friends, the Portable Road Trip Entertainment System!

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Just a nondescript tote bag it is not… within it lies a full suite of features and gadgets to keep your child captivated for the duration of your journey. 🙂 Like Doraemon’s magical pocket!

Hahaha.. dramatics aside, I tried to prevent her from looking inside the bag so that I could take out something new to surprise her whenever she started to get bored or restless.

Here’s what I packed:

Hand Puppets

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Raeann was delighted when Mr. Snowy suddenly popped up beside her and told her stories, sang songs and played peek-a-boo with her.

Small Toys

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I packed a few small toys which I made sure to let her play with one at time to stretch out her playing time and keep her occupied longer. These included a slinky, a Duplo door and figurine and a castanet.

Straws

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I like to cut a bunch of bubble tea straws and normal drinking straws in half (snip of the pointed edge too), store them in a ziploc bag and chuck them into my handbag whenever we go out. They keep her occupied for a much longer than regular toys. She likes to stick her finger tips into the two sides of the straw, blow through them, put a drinking straw through a bubble tea straw and watch it fall through and most of all to chew on them.

Lots and Lots of Snacks

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A hungry kid is a cranky kid so I made sure to pack lots of different kinds of snacks. Some of the things Raeann ate include a chicken pie, biscuits, cereal puffs and cake. I packed a lot of water too.

Tip: On the way back to Singapore, we always like to go for a drive-in car wash and get them to vacuum the inside of the car.

Peek-a-Boo!

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You can play peek-a-boo with pretty much anything but in our case, we used an old muslin nappy. This is a surefire way to get Raeann to squeal in delight.

Her Favourite Music

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If you are anything like me, you do not want to spend three whole hours listening and singing along to ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ and ‘If you’re happy and you know it’. Hence, the CD with your child’s favourite songs should only to be played when you’re almost reaching your destination. Raeann is fond of songs with actions.

Reading Material 

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I love reading so it always gives me a buzz to see Raeann enjoying a book. For the road trip, I picked a few lift-the-flap books because they are more interactive and also books with pictures of things she likes (pets and other babies!). I used the term ‘reading material’ above because Raeann spent a really long time looking at a pamphlet from our recent visit to the Jurong Bird Park.

Her Favourite Plush Toy

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This was the ace up my sleeve, in case all else failed. I tried to bring it out with as much fanfare as I could muster, covering it with a cloth and whipping it off with dramatic flourish and a loud, “Ta Daa!”

We have never brought her dog out before, so Raeann was really surprised and happy to see it and cuddle it and bite its nose.

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I’m glad to report that we enjoyed ourselves on the road trip and managed to get through it without any major outbursts. I didn’t pack anything out of the ordinary but I hope that it gives you some ideas for your next family road trip.

When Raeann is older, I intend to pack drawing/colouring materials as well as some puzzles for our road trips.

Do let me know if you have any good ideas for keeping the kiddies busy on road trips!

Baby Labour

While I was hanging out the clothes, Raeann decided to pitch in with the chores. She grabbed a mop from nearby and walked all around the house with it, swinging it back and forth with both hands.

Here’s mama’s little helper at work:

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She handles the mop with finesse, doesn’t she?

Her father and I sincerely hope that her enthusiasm for chores will last.

What I wish for my daughter…

I’m currently reading this parenting book called ‘Making the “Terrible” Twos Terrific!’ by John Rosemond. In the introduction, the author poses a question which I thought was worth a think: What do you want your child to be at thirty years old? He proposes that parents should come up with a description of their child’s character at age thirty to serve as a character-based goal for the child.

This idea resonated with me because as a new parent, I would like to raise my child in a conscious and informed manner. I don’t want to bumble my way through it haphazardly and constantly have to fire-fight as issues arise along the way. Of course, my parenting will be far from perfect but I think that it would be really useful and helpful to have this kind of a road-map that I can rely on to guide my decisions when parenting Raeann.

Should I or should I not … ? Is it in line with the values that I wish to inculcate in her?

After giving it some thought and discussing with G, we came up with our ‘wish-list’ for Raeann. I thought that I would share it here.. to serve as a reminder to ourselves and perhaps also as an inspiration for you, if you choose to come up with a ‘wish-list’ of your own. It’s something like the list of ‘gifts’ that Sleeping Beauty’s fairy godmothers bestowed upon her. Just without the magical powers. 😉

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Here’s what we came up with, in no particular order..

Healthy

Like all parents, we wish that our child will be blessed with good health. Unforeseen and unavoidable illnesses aside, we hope that we can help to set her on the path to a healthy lifestyle. I’m kinda off-track for this one right now but we feel that good health will keep her both physically and mentally fit which will go a long way in helping her achieve her goals in life.

Resilient

While we hope that there won’t be too many difficulties and hardship in her life, we know that obstacles in life are inevitable. Hence, we desire for her to have the resilience to plod on and see herself through whatever challenges and unpleasantness that might beset her in her life journey.

Self-assured

This one I think is very important for girls. To not look to others for validation but rather to allow her inner voice and compass to steer her when she is plagued with self-doubt. So that as far as possible, she will not question whether she is intelligent, pretty, slim, capable or good enough and will know with conviction that she is inherently worthy.

Inner Strength

This is inspired by a phrase ‘柔中带钢’ that I learnt from one of my best friends. A close equivalent for it in English is ‘steel magnolia‘. We used to be in the dragon boat team in university and dragon boat is a sport that calls for a lot of physical endurance and gruelling training in order to row competitively. Hence, some people might be misled to think that most female dragon-boaters are tomboys and masculine.

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What my friend told me was that you can be physically and mentally strong and still retain your femininity. Your strength does not have to be at the expense of your femininity. In fact, there is a certain strength in being a woman.

This is what I wish for my daughter. For her femininity to be a source of inner strength for her. For her to be gentle yet possess a core of steel.

Empathy

While advancing and looking out for herself, we hope that Raeann will be able to empathise, to put herself in others’ shoes and think from their perspective. In this way, the decisions that she makes for herself will be also be based on treating others with compassion and kindness.

Simplicity

This value is inspired by NYGH’s school motto. While I was a student in Nanyang, I used to think that our school motto 勤, 慎, 端, 朴 (Diligence, Prudence, Respectability, Simplicity) was very “Cheena” and preachy. Now that I am older, I have come to appreciate these values more and I think that these are indeed admirable values for a student to strive towards. I particularly like “Simplicity” because as Raeann grows older, there will be more and more distractions, especially material ones, that might cloud her vision and prevent her from seeing clearly the truly important things in life. Therefore, I hope that she will be able to achieve contentment with the simple things in life.

What do you want your child to be at 30?

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Many of the values here are inspired by the women in my life, particularly my best friends, who exhibit values that I hope my daughter will also develop.

p.s. I hope that you do not see these values/characteristics that I have listed above as expectations that we are imposing on our daughter. They are not our expectations but rather a way for us to make more sound parenting decisions in raising our daughter. 🙂

Bubbly Fun Upsized!

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When I found out about giant bubble solution, I knew that I HAD TO make some.

Raeann loves bubbles! She hasn’t reached the stage where she can blow bubbles yet but she loves chasing after them. Whenever I bring her to the playground, I often bring a bottle of bubble solution so she can chase after bubbles to her heart’s content.

I love bubbles too.. There’s something really whimsical and magical about a bubble. The colours swirl playfully on its surface as it floats merrily in the breeze…

till the moment it pops…

and vanishes.

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Giant Bubble Solution

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Materials needed:

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Giant Bubble Solution

– 1.5 litres water

– 125 ml dishwashing liquid

– 2 tablespoons glycerine (I got mine from Phoon Huat)

Instructions: Mix water, dishwashing liquid and glycerine in a large container.

Your giant bubble solution is done!

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Bubble Frame

– 2 bubble tea straws

– string

Intructions: Thread a long string through the two straws. Tie a dead knot. Finito.

The length of the string depends on how big you want your frame to be. Take note that the bigger the frame, the more cumbersome and difficult it is for little hands to hold. So not too long, not too short ya.

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Once you’re done, head to the playground/park for bubble fun time!

Warning: Little hands will get really soapy, so bring a bottle of water along to rinse their hands when they’re done.

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In case you are wondering, that’s G and our niece. 🙂 He was on his way for a run but couldn’t resist some bubble fun first!

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Raeann kept making a mad dash towards the solution and trying to dip her hands in it, so in the end she had to settle for admiring the bubbles while being carried!

I initially thought that there would be some solution left over to keep for the next time we felt like having some bubble fun, but in the end, we used up all one and a half litres of bubble solution!

Can’t wait to make some again next weekend!

Exploring Baby’s Sense of Touch with Sensory Boards

I’ve noticed that like most babies, Raeann is quite tactile. She enjoys exploring different textures beneath her fingers. For instance, we’ll be walking along a paved walkway when she’ll suddenly bend down and touch the ground because she noticed that there was a change in the paving material from concrete to pebble wash.

The first time we brought her to Marina Barrage, she kept running her fingers through the grass to feel it tickling her fingers.

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When we brought her to West Coast Park, she was also more interested in playing with the sand than on the structures in the playground.

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Hence, when I stumbled upon a post about DIY Sensory Boards from Fun At Home With Kids, I was inspired to make one of my own.

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Preparation time: 30 minutes

I assembled some of the bits and bobs which I had lying around from previous craft projects. As you can see, I tried to use a variety of textures such as corrugated paper, velcro and felt.

Yes, that is a light switch! I thought it would be fun for her to press to help build up her finger strength. I later added stickers to the light switch (see above) to help her pinpoint which part of the switch to press.

I also included a flip-up mirror because she likes smiling at her own reflection and it helps to promote focus and awareness of her facial features and appearance.

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For the backing, I used a corrugated plastic board which I covered with wrapping paper. To bear the weight of the board and to make it easier to remove the board without damaging the paint on the wall, I used 3M Picture hanging strips to affix the board to the wall at her sitting eye-level.

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Here’s a video of Raeann in action!

This particular video doesn’t show her playing with everything on the board but I had a “My child is a genius!” proud mama moment when I watched her touching the tassel on the mandarin knot then walking over to touch the tassel on our curtains. She made the association that both tassels were similar! How cool and fascinating is that!

Have fun making your own unique sensory board for your child! 🙂

Getting Crafty: Tangram & Starry Sky Art

As a mummy, I like to comb though the web in search of fun activities that are not only age appropriate for my one-year-old but also easy to set up and clear up.

This activity is an adaptation of the contact paper activity I saw on Wildflower Ramblings as well as on Gingerbread Mum.

Tangram Art

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Materials needed:

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– self-adhesive film (I walked into the ‘Popular’ bookstore looking for something that would work as a huge transparent sticker and this is what I found. It comes in a roll and is supposed to be used for covering books.)

– a piece of drawing block paper (This is for the backing of the artwork. Try to use paper that’s not too flimsy so it won’t crumple easily and you can display your child’s work.)

– a pair of scissors

– coloured paper (I used construction paper but you can also use crepe paper, magazine cutouts, cellophane, pieces of felt or scrap cloth, the possibilities are endless!)

– a small container

– Blu tack

Instructions:

1. Cut the coloured paper into different shapes. If you like, you could cut out triangles, rectangles, squares and other shapes but I didn’t want to spend too much time being precise so I just cut randomly and quickly. The pieces ended up looking like Tangram pieces, hence the name ‘Tangram Art’.

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2. Place the drawing block on the adhesive film and cut around it, leaving a border of around one centimetre. The backing of the adhesive film has grid boxes so you can use those to gauge where to cut.

3. Paste blu tack all around the edges of the adhesive film. It would probably work better if you used sticky tape but because I intended to attach the film to the wall, I didn’t want to risk having pieces of paint coming off with the tape.

4. Attach the adhesive film to an empty wall at your child’s eye level, with the grid paper side facing outwards. I initially envisioned having Raeann sitting in front of the wall to do the artwork but she preferred to stand instead, so I shifted it upwards to her eye level when she’s standing.

5. Peel off the grid paper.

6. Reinforce the droopy edges of the film with more blu tack.

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7. Demonstrate to your child how to play and let her have fun!

To help with her colour recognition, as I passed her each shape, I would tell her the colour of the shape. e.g. “Here’s a blue shape.”

You could also use this activity for shape recognition by using different shapes. First, you could identify the different shapes for your child and later get her to pick out the shapes to use. e.g. “Can you paste a green triangle now, please?”

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8. Carefully paste a piece of drawing block paper on the adhesive film on the wall, leaving a border of around one centimetre all around the paper.

9. Remove the art piece from the wall and remove the blu tack. Write the date in the corner (optional), fold down the border and stick it to the back of the paper.

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10. Paste it on the wall for all to admire. 🙂

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A couple of days later, I found a box of cut-out stars while looking through my art & craft materials.

Ting ting ting! If this were a cartoon, a light bulb would have flashed above my head! I could use the stars to do a variation of the Tangram Art piece! To make it look like a starry sky, I would use black/dark blue construction paper as the backing instead.

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During the actual execution of my idea, I realised that the back of the stars were not coloured. Hence, for the coloured stars to appear on the eventual art piece, Raeann would need to paste the stars with the coloured side facing inwards. I decided to go ahead with the activity and she still had fun but I suppose it would have been more enjoyable for her if she had been able to see the different colour stars as she pasted them. So if you decide to try this activity, do use shapes where both sides are coloured ya.

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Ta daa!

My First Memories of Raeann

I thought that it would be fitting to share the first memories I have of my baby girl, Raeann, for my first blog post.

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It was approaching 10 p.m. and the drama serial that we were watching on the TV in the delivery suite was drawing to a close. In strode my gynae, casually dressed in a T-shirt and bermudas.

“Is this one of those “love-love” kind of dramas?” He asked, gesturing towards the TV screen.

Within 10 to 15 minutes after he uttered those words, he was passing G the scissors to cut the umbilical cord. To my surprise, G, who had previously insisted that he did not want to cut the umbilical cord, took the scissors  from him without protest and gamely completed his rite of passage to becoming a papa.

The doctor then unceremoniously plopped my baby onto my chest and she let out her first cry.

“Hello, my little Raeann. Mama loves you,” I whispered as I cuddled her and wondered who she got her pouty lips from.

The nurse whisked her out of my arms to take her measurements and the moment she was placed under the warmer, she stopped crying.

For the next half an hour or so, as the nursing staff cleared up and prepared to transfer me to the ward, she lay there quietly, observing the surroundings and activity around her with her eyes wide open. Now that I think about it, I imagine that coming into this world must be quite an onslaught to the senses for a baby. I remember feeling really proud that my baby was so unflappable and inquisitive when approaching her new environment.

That was my first impression of Raeann, wide-eyed and curious; and as she grows, she continues to approach the world, new experiences and new environments with the same wide-eyed wonder and curiosity.

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Later on, when the nurse brought Raeann to me for her first feed, without needing much coaching or prompting, she zeroed in on her target and started nursing with ferocity. Midway through her feed, she suddenly stopped, arched her head backwards and looked straight at me as though saying,

“Hi, mama!”.

Heart-melting.