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One Of Those Moments

On the way to dinner today, there was some problem with the car. Hubby dropped the kids and me off at the dinner place and went off to look for a service workshop. (But he managed to solve the problem by himself in the end! Yay!)

So, there I was, alone with three kids… and without my trusty Ergo. The Ergo is great because it allows me to be handsfree while carrying Meimei, which actually means I am not handsfree cos I will be holding the two boys’ hands. And if when Meimei gets unreasonable, I can just trap imprison secure her in the carrier. The scariest part to me was that it was unexpected and unplanned for… we had already told the boys that we would be going for sushi (their favorite) and they might kick up a fuss if I were to make a last-minute change.

(Not that I haven’t eaten out with three kids before. But I wouldn’t have chosen a place where there were no proper baby chairs, as most conveyor belt sushi restaurants only have booster seats.)

Meimei didn’t disappoint. She was like a monkey, couldn’t sit still, wriggling her way out of the booster seat belt, climbing onto the back of the booster seat, grabbing whatever she could… Argh! Usually Hubby or I would take the food from the serving dish to the boys’ plates and cut into smaller pieces for them. But I couldn’t cope and told the boys to help themselves to the food. My food had not even arrived then, and I was already very busy taking care of her, and I was wondering HOW could I possibly eat..?!? I started to feel upset, argh, one person taking care of three kids… %&$£@!!

Then the moment came. I looked at my two sons sitting across me, eating quietly by themselves. You know those photos with the background all blurred? Ya, that was how I saw the boys then. Just the two of them, in a moment of clarity. They were so very well-behaved…!

(I really wish I have a photo of that moment.. but thanks to Meimei, juggling a handphone or a camera was impossible. I didn’t even try.)

As I continue to bask in this blissful feeling now, I know that it isn’t so much what we have taught them. It’s just our way of life. Because everyday it’s the three of them versus one of me. They know it’s impossible for me to do it without their help. I guess it’s natural for them to be more independent. They had no problems with using their training chopsticks to take the sushi or kakiaage onto their own plates, and with biting small pieces off instead of me cutting the food for them.

This is how it happens – from now on, no more cutting their food for them!

Image source

Image source

 

 

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1

The City (Indoor Playground)

We finally visited The City at Liang Court. Heard about it very long ago, but it’s not cheap, and it’s located in the same mall as Kor Kor’s favourite playground (Royce Kids, which he refers to as ‘Thomas playground). Made one attempt to go to The City a few months back, but it was closed, and I had no idea why – nothing mentioned on the entrance or on their Facebook page. Oh well.

Frankly speaking I am rather disappointed with the playground. The focus is on pretend play, and the place is separated into a few different themes. The kids’ (and my) favorite is definitely the supermarket.

Complete with trolleys and shopping lists

Meimei is very serious about her grocery shopping

We have the same cash register at home!

The Clinic really leaves much to be desired. It is a combined area with the Nursery and I find this to be neither here nor there… Nursery is a few baby dolls, toy strollers, and…. nothing much… The dolls look old and not very clean.

Clinic + Nursery

Dr Didi

Clinic + Nursery

Clinic + Nursery

Not much doctor toys...

Not much doctor toys…

The girl is very excited about the stroller. Finally she gets to push instead of being pushed!

The girl is very excited about the stroller. Finally she gets to push instead of being pushed!

Next, the Post Office. I think there are supposed to be crayons and blank cards available for the kids to write ‘postcards’. But we only found one blank card in the stack of used cards and one broken crayon. I got Didi to ask the staff for blank cards and she only gave him one… I had expected her to top up the supplies at the play area… Abundance of ‘stamps’ (The City stickers) though.

I feel there is nothing much to this area, but surprisingly, the boys are very engaged. I’m getting an idea…

One mailbox and a.. letter sorter?

One mailbox and a.. letter sorter?

The School… Nice concept, quite well equipped, but somehow it doesn’t really interest any of the kids at the playground 😛

Big 'wasted' area..?

Big ‘wasted’ area..?

Not surprisingly, my boys show no interest in The Salon. (Though mummy here would really love to have some hair pampering. But only real one please.)

More fake heads on the other side of the room

More mannequinn heads on the other side of the room

A ‘Superheroes’ room? Not sure what the theme actually is, but the boys have a good time building and destroying with the blocks. I have seen such blocks online many times before, thought they were light foam pieces, but they are weighted and feel very sturdy. I love! But I already have so many types of big and small blocks at home. Blah.

This amazing structure.... is built by the kids playing here before us la :P

This amazing structure…. is built by the kids playing here before us la 😛

There are also a Police Station and a Fire Station, which I didn’t bother to take photos of as I was already feeling quite let down by then. The Cafeteria and Restaurant are cool, but they are almost constantly overcrowded and my kids didn’t get to play there.

I feel that the staff could have been friendlier too, since it caters to children after all. I visit indoor playgrounds quite often, and usually the staff are more cheerful and smiley… but the three we encountered at The City didn’t seem very approachable. I witnessed one ‘threatening’ a boy who kept pouring out the pretend food onto the floor, to put him in a corner if he were to keep doing it. Aiyo.

We were there on a weekday from about 11am to 1pm, and there were two school groups (preschoolers). Which made the place very rowdy and crowded. For once, I think it might be a better idea to visit this particular playground on a weekend. When there is a group of ten classmates playing at the Restaurant, outsiders pretty much remain outsiders. But if it’s ten kids from a few families, I think it will be easier for them to play together.

You probably have guessed it by now – I won’t be returning to The City. But every cloud has a silver lining… I have been inspired to do up more pretend play areas at home! Shall share here when I have figured it out.
*brain gears turning turning turning*

 

 

2

Elephant Toothpaste!

Been seeing this on kids’ activities blogs but I had no idea what hydrogen peroxide was or where to get it. Then one day, I happened to notice an innocent bottle of hydrogen peroxide in the pharmacy! (I was buying rubbing alcohol for another experiment.) But that bottle was only 3%, and elephant toothpaste requires a minimum of 6% according to Preschool Powol Packets (please click on this link for the method). I started to keep a lookout whenever I passed by any pharmacy, and finally I got lucky during a family outing to Johor Bahru! OK, anyway, this long intro is just to warn you that it might not be that easy to find 6% hydrogen peroxide in Singapore. If you do, please let me know!

What's needed: hydrogen peroxide, dishwashing liquid, food colouring, instant yeast, measuring spoons, empty bottles, warm water

What’s needed: hydrogen peroxide, dishwashing liquid, food colouring, instant yeast, measuring spoons, empty bottles, warm water

 

Love his amazement : )

Love his amazement : )

 

Actually it took some waiting for the 'toothpaste' to reach the top of the bottle. Didi decided to pour out the solution and start playing now!

Actually it takes some waiting for the ‘toothpaste’ to reach the top of the bottle. Didi decides to pour out the solution and start playing now!

 

Mummy says it's toothpaste.. so of course must SQUEEZE!

Mummy says it’s toothpaste.. so of course must SQUEEZE!

 

Time to mix and experiment

Time to mix and experiment

 

Lovely colours

Lovely colours

Preschool Powol Packets explains the chemical reaction, and the product is just water, oxygen and soap so it’s safe for kids to play with. I gave Meimei her own bottle of ‘toothpaste’ too, but she was not very interested. Can you spot her in the photos above? Hee hee :p

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SAHM Survival Tips: Voice-Controlled Kids And More!

I had thought that I depended mostly on having a routine and sleep-trained kids to survive taking care of three young kids by myself. Then when Gingerbreadmum initiated a blog train on SAHM survival tips, I started observing the kids and myself more closely, and I realised I actually do have a few more tricks up my sleeve to share! Without these, routine and sleep training also cannot save me ah…

Voice-Controlled Kids

Despite their tantrums, I guess I do have well-behaved and obedient kids. (But I never say they are perfect hor.) I know this for a fact, because if they are not, I would not be able to do this. OK, so other than the usual parenting advice to be firm and consistent and fierce (personally, I say this is very important. Mummy is no pushover. Don’t even try me.), what else???

From very young, I used my voice to control the kids. Like, once they could actually control their own movements. ‘No, don’t touch that.’ ‘No, no bite bite.’ Don’t underestimate the babies, they can understand very well! (they just acting blur.) When Meimei started climbing up the stairs at the grandparents’ double-storeyed house, I remained on my chair (about 2 metres away) and told her sternly ‘No. Come down.’ She would turn to look at me (to see whether I mean business?), and I would repeat the instruction if she tries to continue climbing. If she took no heed, I would then walk over to remove her to the bottom of the stairs and repeat in a harsher tone.

It might not always work now that she is only 13 months old, but this is training in progress, and I do see it working most of the time. It might seem dangerous to leave her on the stairs, but actually she is only one or two steps up. Not likely to sustain any serious injuries if she were to fall down from that height, and I think the potential gains outweigh the risks.

A Safe Environment

In order to cook and do housework in peace (ok, strike that, it’s to do any housework at all, peace or no peace), and also because of my personal adversion toward always hovering over the kids, I choose to work on the environment. When Meimei started to climb onto the sofa, I barred her from the living room by setting up the playyard as a fence (the boys climbed over instead. The stool is to help Didi get over.)

No entry!

No entry!

When Meimei got older and more competent at climbing (sigh), I removed the playyard and put out more playmats instead. So far, she has only fallen down once, which is pretty good considering I am rarely free to sit around with the kids and guide/guard her. And hey, kids need to fall to learn how not to fall again!

The two brown playmats were from other parts of the house.

The two brown playmats were from other parts of the house. And see the legs on the arm of the sofa??? With this kind of role model for Meimei… !!!

 

The boys like to look outside, so I make sure they have sturdy (wooden) chairs at the windows.

The boys like to look outside, so I make sure they have sturdy (wooden) chairs at the windows.

Allowing Independence

Most parents say they want their child to be independent, and the key is providing accessibility to what the child needs to exercise his independence and emerging skills. For example, if you would like your child to use drawing/painting as a way to keep himself occupied while you are busy, you might need to place the materials where he can reach, without needing your help.

When I realised Kor Kor was capable of pouring drinks for himself, I cleared a bottom drawer for the kids’ utensils. Previously, I had to pass the cup to him even though he took the carton from the fridge himself. Now, he just takes the cup himself and even helps to pour for Didi!

But Meimei helps herself often to these 'toys', oops

But Meimei helps herself often to these ‘toys’, oops

 

With safe stools, the boys can wash their hands safely without any help from me. I even bought a stool for my mum's house so that they can also go to the toilet on their own there, hee hee.

With safe stools, the boys can wash their hands safely without any help from me. I even bought a stool for my mum’s house so that they can also go to the toilet on their own there, hee hee.

Impose Rules For The Older Kids

The boys often zoom around the house on their ride-on cars, which might seem rather dangerous for a toddling baby. But I have always told the boys that as the drivers, it’s their responsibility to be careful of the pedestrians. And to date, they have never bumped into Meimei.

Sometimes, while the boys are playing with something, they call for me to ‘take Meimei away’ as they do not want her to disrupt their play (or destroy their block tower or Lego building). I remind them that Meimei is still small and instead of removing her, they should play at the dining table or the study table where she can’t reach. Now they are used to it and do not bother me ask me to help carry Meimei away anymore : )

– – –

There are many variables in every situation. And since I do not wish to engage a maid or rely too much on extended family, I have to work on the other factors like the environment and the kids themselves. I have to say a big THANK YOU here to my three children, because I really cannot do this without them being well-behaved and forgiving kids.. Special mention to my eldest.. because the younger siblings take his lead and fortunately for me, he is a good role model. Mummy loves you all and Daddy deep deep!

The next mom on Survival Tips for SAHM blog train is Michelle. She is a former fashion model turned mompreneur to Lauren and another baby girl due in July this year. She sold her food business to spend more time with her daughter because she doesn’t want to miss any precious moments and milestones in her child’s life. She is currently writing an ebook, blogs at The Chill Mom and runs a maternity concierge business to help new mom cope with pregnancy and beyond. In tomorrow’s blog post, she has turned to Lauren to guest post for her. Check out what sort of tips her 19 months old toddler has to share!

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This post is part of a blog train hosted by Gingerbreadmum where 31 stay-at-home mums share their survival tips. We hope that you’ll find our tips useful and remember that you’re not alone!

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Our Cardboard Kitchen

When I saw the cardboard kitchen and fridge at Mum In The Making, I was inspired! I had come across such cardboard furniture before, but back then, there was no real incentive as we already have a Little Tikes kitchen. But now that there are three kids, one burner is no longer enough. To buy a toy kitchen big enough for three kids would be seriously big money. DIY it shall be!

Other than Mum In The Making, I only referred to one other blog for ideas. I did view many cardboard kitchens on Google Images and tried to find one which would meet all my needs so that I could just copy exactly. But it was a futile attempt, because we all have cardboard boxes of varying sizes in our treasure chest storeroom, and also because I did not want to have to buy anything extra.

Fridge with freezer compartment

Fridge with freezer compartment

 

I didn't make any shelves in the main body of the fridge as who knows what the kids might put.. just in case too heavy

I didn’t make any shelves in the main body of the fridge as who knows what the kids might put.. just in case too heavy

 

Stove with shelf and oven.. Four burners!

Stove with shelf and oven.. Four burners! More than my real stove, haha

 

Very proud of the see-through oven door!

Very proud of the see-through oven door!

 

Sink

Sink

 

100% my invention!

100% my invention!

 

Tata!

Tata!

I wish I took photos during the DIY process so that I could share in detail how I made this (I am handicapped in crafts, by the way), but I was too excited and didn’t want to pause. So here are just a few points:

1) Don’t try to find or wait for perfect boxes. For example, my freezer box isn’t the same as the fridge box, but it’s ok la.

2) I use self-adhesive velcro to keep the doors closed.

3) For the see-through oven door, I cut a hole and pasted one cover of a folder on the inside. I am a genius, right? Hee hee.

4) I use plastic bags as the door handles – easy to push through the holes, easy to tie, easy to replace if they come to any mishap. (Tried pipecleaners for two of the doors too, no problems either)

5) Pasted majong paper over some faces of the boxes. I chose to leave some sides uncovered, so that the completed items have a I-can-make-anything-out-of-any-random-box feel. Oh well, just the whims of an artist :p OK, seriously, this might mean the kitchen doesn’t look as neat, it depends on your preferences.

6) I made the tap like that cos I want it to look like the one we have in our kitchen, with a long spout and an up-down lever. The transparent spout is a water hose.

7) The sink is just a food storage container. The two blogs I referred to both did something quite similar, and it seems to be a very common method. Fabulous idea!

Most importantly, just get started! Gather the boxes, penknife, masking tape, velcro, scissors, and create according to the materials on hand!

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Revised Routine 4.0

Seriously, this type of post is boring. Don’t read it unless you are looking for ideas to implement or change your routine.

6.20am My alarm clock goes off.Snooze. Snooze. Snooze.

7am I MUST drag myself out of bed and get ready for the day by this time. (Because I realise the boys behave better when they see me once they open their door. Otherwise they are cranky and noisy and create a din which usually wakes Meimei up. Ever since I started waking up before them, Meimei has been sleeping almost an hour more every morning. Worth it!)

7.20am The boys are only allowed to leave their bedroom at this time. If they wake up earlier, they remain in their bedrooms. (If Kor Kor needs to use the toilet, he returns to his room after that.) Tbey drink their morning milk, then play or read.

8am We usually have breakfast around this time, depending on how hungry they are (they ask for breakfast) or when I finish my morning chores (I ask them to come and eat).

8.30am or thereabouts They are allowed to watch their daily dose of DVD after breakfast. I don’t really mind if they want to watch at a later time instead, and I am definitely happiest if they forget about it, but Kor Kor loves it too much and I find it’s easier to get it over with earlier in the day. I do my chores.

9.30am or thereabouts For a few days after we stopped going to the playground, we just bummed around at home. (It’s unfathomable why I felt just as busy and was still rushing around like a headless chicken despite having an extra hour at home!) At first, I was at a loss what to replace the playground hour with… until I thought of our very own frontyard, complete with mud kitchen and sandpit! Hee hee. Now, I just let the kids loose while I sit back and relax with a cup of coffee…. in my dreams!

10.30am or thereabouts Either a quick shower or water play for the kids, depending on what time they come in and how much time I need to prepare the day’s dishes for lunch.

11am Lunch (The early lunchtime is to accommodate Meimei’s naptime, so that she can go for nap on a full tummy.)

12nn Breastfeed Meimei and she goes for nap. (The little girl is down to just one nap now!)

12.30pm Activity time for the boys, if any. Usually we only do something once a week. Cos most of the time, mummy needs a break after the long morning.

1.30pm Snack for the boys while I do dinner prep and get the soup going.

2pm Kor Kor’s quiet time in his room. He falls asleep about 30% of the time. Otherwise, he has to remain quietly on his bed with no toys or books. (I really don’t understand how he can lie on his bed for an hour doing nothing and still not fall asleep!! I don’t think I can last five minutes.) Meimei is usually up by then too.

2.30pm Didi’s naptime. I purposely stagger the boys’ naptimes and let Kor Kor go in earlier so that Didi has some one-to-one time with Meimei. If not, since Kor Kor spends less time napping, Didi rarely gets any time alone with Meimei.

3pm Kor Kor resurfaces. Solo big-boy activity time for him, if any. Usually only once a week. When there’s no activity, we do our ten minutes of seatwork now. After that, it’s a good time for me to collapse on the sofa or playmat for 15 minutes or so while Kor Kor plays with Meimei.

4.30pm I start to cook dinner.

5pm Dinner. We eat very early so that I have time to do all three kids’ bedtime routine and still get them to bed at a decent time.

5.30pm or thereabouts Wash up after dinner, boys drink their milk and eat fruits, I bathe Meimei.

6.45pm Breastfeed Meimei and send her to bed. Heave a sign of relief.

7.15pm or thereabouts Supervise the boys keeping the toys. Bathe the boys. Bedtime stories.

8.30pm Good night, boys!

Am liking the current routine very much, cos I have a block of about four hours relatively free between lunch and dinner after rushing through most of my chores in the morning. I use the time to recharge as well as to really be with the kids. But it’s rather tiring cos I don’t have any kid-free time at all until they go to bed at night. But it’s ok, it will get better when Meimei’s naptime gets later to her brothers’. Soon, soon : )