Sunday, September 30, 2012

It's just love

'Hi! I'm C. I love all of you.'

Yes, that's the crazy, nonsensical, 'what are you trying to prove' message that my hubby wrote on my campfire programme booklet, way back in 1989.

Yikes! The dreaded number '8'. Now you know which era I grew up in. Hubby and I - teens of the 80s, when Bananarama, Johnny Hates Jazz and Rick Astley reigned. But the songs that played when we met were not these.

Before a glowing campfire, with our schools just seated next to each other, we swayed to the tunes of Silvery Moon, Ging Gang Gooli, Gako the Frog, Thousand Legged Worm, Pass It On... the list goes on. We had no sun, but we had fun. 

It was coincidental that we met - his friend liked my senior, and left a number on my programme booklet. Daring me called this friend, who led me to C. A very indirect way of meeting, I agree.

C and I became fast friends, a platonic sort of friendship, and we treated each other like siblings. Yup, no sparks few then. I still can't understand why, though it was clear to me then already, that he was a soulmate whom I can depend on, and share my happiness and sadness with.

We remained best of friends. I went to Perth and he who rarely writes wrote to me, which was extra meaningful for me. We each had our relationships and we lost contact for a while.

Fast forward to 2005 and our paths crossed again. It was as though the years of absence did not exist. We were still as close as before, sharing everything with each other. Except now, with more life experience, including surviving failed relationships, we were more matured and had a much better idea of what to look for in a life partner.

Naturally, the laws of gravity came into play, and we soon got together, knowing full well that this was it. We were stuck with each other. There was no doubt about that.

So in February 2009, we sealed our fate with more than a kiss, in a simple church wedding, witnessed by our family, relatives and close friends. Neither of us had a smooth-sailing love life, so to finally find each other and make the decision to remain committed to each other meant a lot to us, and many around us knew it. To have my father walk me down the aisle and give me away... awesome! And of course, to my parents, especially my mother: She's FINALLY married! She was so happy, she cried tears of joy. 

So there, my love story, of how a boy and a girl, a scout and a guide, found a lifetime soulmate in each other after twenty years of friendship. This year marks the twenty-third year since we met, fourth year as a wedded couple and third year as parents, and we are still discovering lots about each other. This is such an adventure!

I had often wondered how we have maintained our relationship for so long, but it really doesn't matter. It may have been in different forms, but at the end of it all...

It's just love.

Linking up with Mama Wear Papa's Shirt's lovely linky:


Monday, September 24, 2012

{Guest Post} My Favourite Children's Author: Enid Blyton - Oh... for the Love of Reading

The Magic Faraway Tree. Famous Five. Secret Seven. Noddy. The Wishing Chair. What do they have in common? Their author, Enid Blyton. 

I grew up loving her books, especially The Magic Faraway Tree and The Wishing Chair series, both of which evoke such imaginative imagination. Imagine, an enchanted forest where an enormous magical tree grows, and where unforgettable characters like Dame Washalot and The Saucepan Man resides. Or a wishing chair with the power to grow wings and fly and go to the strangest lands one can imagine. 

It is also interesting to note that though many critics claim her stories are of no 'literary value', her books remain loved by so many children around the world, for so many years.

It is also interesting to see how certain characters have 'grown' with the time. Such as Dame Slap, who is now known as Dame Snap.

So I am really glad to introduce Regina-Soejanto Moo of MummyMoo, who will share about this wonderful and talented author. In her blog, Regina documents her little family as they grow as one, charting everyday mundane events to milestones that will chart the shape of their future. She is enjoying being a wife and mother, two personae that she has never thought of becoming – in the past. She takes pride in being a working class stiff trying to be a first class Mum!


My earliest recollections of growing up in Singapore are filled with memories of Enid Blyton.

I would say that she helped cultivate my love for the English Language, and eased the transition for an 8 year old kid, totally unfamiliar with the English Language apart from a smattering of colloquial terms - into an English as a First Language society.

I thank my teachers back then, for introducing English to me through the 'right' books which made me love to read, and thus, fuelled my interest in the language. The more I read, the more I was propelled to learn more. There were many words which I didn't understand in the beginning, but I was encouraged to highlight these words and use the physical Oxford English dictionary (no Google or back then!) to find out the meaning. I was then taught to figure out the meaning of a word through reading the entire sentence, and this actually helped me to also exercise reading 'between the lines'.

These 'right' books were written by Enid Blyton.

Here are some of the stories which accompanied me on my first steps toward life. They have made such an impact in my formative years, and will continue to be some of my fondest memories of growing up.

Enid Mary Blyton (11 August 1897 – 28 November 1968)  

Malory Towers
This is a series of 6 stories which take place in a fictional boarding school in Cornwall. It chronicles the (mis)adventures and experiences of the main protagonist and short tempered heroine, Darrell Rivers, throughout her six years at Malory Towers. She is joined in the stories by Sally Hope (her best friend, and the voice of reason), Alicia Johns (intelligent and sharp tongued), Mary Lou (kind hearted and timid), and Gwendoline Lacey (the spoiled girl of the class), amongst many others.

The stories deal with real issues of bullying, performance and competitiveness, and attempts to engage as well as educate the reader at the same time. I loved these stories, and actually wished fervently to attend Malory Towers, perhaps not understanding at that age how to really separate fiction and reality.

The exact print and edition which I (used to) have.
St Clare's
A spin off from the highly successful Malory Towers series, with a similar set up and stories built around the twins, Patricia and Isabel O'Sullivan, and their antics in school.

St Clare's. Not the copy which I used to have, but I think it's gone through thousands of reprints in 20 years!
The Magic Faraway Tree
I read this, and never looked at huge, rainforest trees the same way again. I imagined different lands at the top of trees, and the adults are never to be privy to these observations, because these lands only exist for kids.

Jo, Bessie and Fanny, along with their cousin, Dick (don't you just love their names?!) go on adventures with Silky, Saucepan Man, Moonface and their other friends up on the Magic Faraway Tree.

The Land of Dreams
Sandman throws sand in their eyes to make them sleep, and they end up in the land of dreams, where everything happens in dream state. Unnatural, and surreal.

The Land of Topsy Turvy
Here is where everybody walks on their hands and everything is upside down.

The Land of Spells
Be careful where you go or what you do in this land... one wrong move might get a witch or wizard to cast a spell on you!

The Land of Do-as-you-please
In this land, anybody can do what they want. I think some adults would really enjoy themselves here, too!

The Land of Toys
Toys for the picking - everywhere in this land!

The Land of Goodies
Who wouldn't love chocolates, pudding and desserts? Everything in this land can be eaten, but woe betide anyone who eats a door knocker or a piece of window!

The Land of the Old Woman who Lives in a Shoe
The old woman who lives in a shoe is Dame Washalot's friend. She comes down the faraway tree to live in Moonface's house because she needed a break from her kids!

The Land of Magic Medicines
The children's mother is ill, so the children visit this land to get her medicine.

The Land of Tempers
In this land, everyone has a bad temper. If one loses his or her temper in this land, then they will have to stay in the land forever.

The Land of Presents
Gifts for everyone! What's not to love?

Old print and copy - in hard cover.
Famous Five
These novels feature a series of adventures experienced by Julian, Dick, Anne, Georgina and their dog, Timothy. They stay at a seaside town (Kirrin) during their holidays, and here is where they get to all sorts of mischief and adventures. Blyton only initially wanted to publish six in the Famous Five series, but due to overwhelming readership, she went on to publish 21 novels in this series, plus a spin off involving seven children, aptly named: Secret Seven.

New editions and prints

This is the cover of the copy which I had back then!
Mr. Meddle's Muddles
I first read this when I was 8 years old, and these books became my bedside companion. I remember reading about Mr. Meddle's antics under the covers after lights out. These were the days before the ubiquitous mobile phones and internet age.

Come to think of it - parents now have more to worry about when it comes to the kids than compromising their eyesight by reading under the covers using a torchlight!

Memories are made of these
When I went to have a look at the Enid Blyton section at the bookstore recently, I found some newer titles, which I really am not too familiar with! I was so tempted to purchase them... but I think I'd wait till BabyMoo is slightly older so I have a more valid reason to.

Newer books under the Enid Blyton name.


There are now a multitude of children's authors, and if only our children know how fortunate they are! Back then, there was only a smattering of authors worthy of mention, but these authors have actually proven their worth since their books have survived multiple generations. Of course, I suppose the appeal is not as strong now as compared to back in my time, perhaps because the reader(s) are now exposed to a different age and era. Children question things now, and I believe a great many of them cannot be easily led on adventures and stories which leave too much to the imagination or have no factual basics.

For example - in the Famous Five series, I can just imagine them posing these questions:

"Why is it that these children can go everywhere without any adults for company, and you wouldn't allow me to? They go out the entire day... wouldn't their parents wonder where they are?"

It's like opening up a can of worms.
Makes me wonder if I had asked these questions back then.

I still love dear old Enid, though - and I know I always will.
She took me on adventures. Over land, over sea, and across a magical dream scape.

Monday, September 17, 2012

{Guest Post} My Favourite Children's Author: Leo Lionni

I love Leo Lionni's meaningful fables too, and I'm very happy to have fun and creative Adora Tan of The Gingerbread Mum guest post and tell us all about him.

She is mum to Poppy, 4, Calla, 5 months. She tackles mealtime mayhem, kitchen disasters and playground politics on a daily basis. In between breaths, she writes for parenting magazines on a freelance basis and runs a crafts-for-kids business. She enjoys cheap chocolates, smelling her baby's head, and would really like a good night's sleep.

She's even offering a giveaway. Read on to find out more!


Some time ago, we chanced upon Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni and feel in love with it and the simple but adorable story. I loved how he shared at the end of the book that he got the idea from babysitting his grandkids, and decided to tell them a made-up story one day.

We used it to learn about mixing colours and even made a craft out of it; you can read about it here. Since then, I’ve been on the look out for Lionni’s books each time we visit the library. So far we have read quite a few, and some are great and well loved in our household, but some are rather hit and miss. But what you can be sure of is absolutely gorgeous illustrations.

Now here’s the thing about illustrations: I really don’t like ‘cheapy drawings’, neither do I like the overly classy kinds. These are kids’ books, and I think the illustrations should reflect as such, and should appeal to kids. Keen to pick up a Lionni book? Here's what we think of some of them we've read:

A Colour of Its Own is a beautiful book that talks about chameleons and how they change colours to fit the environments they are in. One chameleon was fed up about having to change colour all the time but realized it’s actually not too bad if he had a companion. So there’s a little bit about friendship in there too. Too lazy to read the book? This is a fun video of the story you could watch.

Swimmy is a story about a group of fish ganging up against a bigger fish that was taunting them. It was actually a bit too long and draggy for Poppy. She got bored of it quickly. But it should be interesting for an older child.

Fish is Fish is one that we loved so much that we actually bought the book. It’s great because the pictures show the tadpole in its growing stages and ultimately becoming a frog. Tadpole and Fish are good friends, but when Tadpole grows into Frog, he leaves the pond and hops off to explore the world. One day he returns to tell Fish all about the world. But Fish cannot really picture what people look like or what these strange animals with milk bags attached on them look like. I especially love the drawings of the fish’s imagination. A great story to teach life cycle of frog.

Geraldine and the Music Mouse is a lovely one. We enjoyed it a lot, and weeks after it’s been returned to the library, I can still tell it from memory. This has the potential to start exploring different kinds of music with your child, but I’m not very musical, so Max brought Poppy for the Singapore Symphony Orchestra’s Casual Concert.

Tillie and the Wall was promising throughout but disappointing at the end. A bit anti-climatic, if you ask me. Too much build up for a “Huh?” kind of ending. Bummer.

Cornelius is one that I believe could have been developed further. But it was a fun read nonetheless. A cute story about how a croc didn't fit in with his family and went off to learn cool tricks from a monkey and when he returned to show off to his family, they were all like "Yeah whatever". But then soon as he's out of sight, they try out all the tricks he showed them. I suppose one could extend the story to explain about acceptance and peer pressure.

Tico and the Golden Wings reminds me a lot of the typical old fashioned Chinese virtuous tales. All about caring and sharing, the world before I and such. A tad bit slow and predictable. Not one of our favourites. We didn't even realise Max had returned it to the library.

It’s Mine! is an easy read with an easy to explain moral. It’s captivating. I urge every mum with an under 8 year-old to read this. It’s so easy to say when on a playdate, “Remember to share, just like in It’s Mine!”

Frederick is cute. Poppy first heard the story in her old playschool but I’m guessing they didn’t go too much into it. So we got it from the library and read it MANY times. It’s fun to talk about the different seasons and stocking up for the Winter, and about the power of imagination. Now if she asks me “Can we go somewhere?”, I can say “Sure! Let’s go in our minds, shall we?”. Sometimes we just lie down and close our eyes and I ask her to describe what she sees.

Among all the books it is Alexander and the Wind Up Mouse that is our absolute favourite. It’s rekindled her love for a little windup ladybird she has. Now she makes me tell her this story again and again. If I tell her other stories and include the part about the magical lizard, her eyes light up the moment she recognizes it as a character from this book.

So since there were so many mousey books in the series, we did lots of mousey activities as well:

Mouse Race!
She’s back to asking me for surprises when she gets back from school, so today I did this very quickly (like in 3 minutes): cut up triangles for mouse, added circles for ears, drew on the eyes, nose and whiskers, and then used bluetag to stick them on her wooden trains. When she got home from school, we had a race :) The funny thing is that because the trains are magnetic, they kept getting stuck on our dining table’s legs!

Feelings and expressions
I drew 6 mice with different expressions, and asked her to paint them, using appropriate colours to depict their feelings. She decided on yellow for happy, red for angry, blue for sad, white for sleepy, purple for deep in thought, and grey for impatient.

Play Cat and Mouse!
The game is called Viva Topo but the words bear no meaning to us so we simply call it Cat and Mouse. It’s an all time favourite in our household. We also wrote a review on the game; if you're interested, you can read about it here. Alternatively you can simply play hide and seek - mice hide and cat seeks :)

Mouse Puppets
Made with brown paper bags, these are easy and quick to make, and are lots of fun. We use them to tell our stories too :)

Minnie Mouse Colouring
Poppy got an amazing colouring book from her grandmother at Christmas – it’s got magic markers which only work on the magic paper of the colouring book and she loves it! It’s her quiet activity if she wants to be in the room with me when I’m putting the baby to bed.

So you've listened to me drone on and on about Lionni and mice, and now you're itching to get your hands on one? Well whoopdy doo, here's the best news of all! I have a brand new copy of Alexander and the Wind Up Mouse up for grabs so that you too can enjoy it as much as we do!

Here's what you have to do to participate:

All 3 points must be fulfilled. Incomplete entries will be disqualified! 
(it's bolded and underlined and in a different font colour and all, so "But I didn't know!" is not an acceptable excuse)

1. Like The Gingerbreadmum's FB page (if you have not already done so!)

2. Email me at with the subject: "I'm loony for Lionni!", and let me know why you'd like to have that book.

3. Leave your name and email address. Well, only if you want to be contacted if you win :)

Giveaway will close on 1 October 2012, at 11.59pm.

This giveaway is only open to readers in Singapore.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Around the World in 18 Days: Hong Kong

What a wonderful way to travel around the world, all within the comfort of the home. Who doesn’t love a good travel story and it is delightful to feast eyes on breathtaking scenarios of exotic places, some of which I have never heard before, like the Amalfi Coast (I need to search for its location on Google now).

Though I could have shared about my travels to Korea and Ho Chi Minh City while the hubs and I were dating, or even Xian where we went for our honeymoon. I can just hear gasps – why oh why did we go to China (a place known for a tyrant king’s mausoleum and clay warriors) instead of more romantic places like Japan? This warrants another post. So till then, I will be sharing about a neighbouring city that is just three and a half hours flight away. A bustling city that many would have visited before – Hong Kong.

Hong Kong takes a soft spot in my heart. It is my second home. Since as long as I can remember, I have visited almost every year, except when I was pregnant. My grandmummy, uncles, aunties and cousins live there. And though I can’t say I know Hong Kong inside out, like a true-blue resident, I know enough to get me around. 

Life is extremely fast paced in Hong Kong, and it is alive twenty four hours of the day. Even my grandmummy, being the tiny old woman she is, walks extremely fast, faster than a younger person. Anyone from Singapore who has met her are impressed with how nimble she is, as she swerves in between the crowd. So when in Hong Kong, I get into what I call my ‘Hong Kong’ mode - one where I adapt myself to the fast living pace. However, this mode does not get in the way of my holiday mood, as you can see.

The last time that I was in Hong Kong was in 2010, when Becky was about nine months old. It was the first time she met her great grandmummy, and our first trip together as a family, so it was extra meaningful for us. 

The highlights of the trip were the visit to Peak and the big Buddha on Lantau Island. We took the tram from Central to the Peak, and throughout the ride, little Becky was comfortably sleeping. The Peak has changed a lot since the days when my grandparents took us there for afternoon walks and tea. The only landmark was the Peak Lookout restaurant, which was famous for its Baked Alaska, the playground and the car park. Now, there is a shopping mall, as well as the hour-glass shaped station building. 

I was happy to see the Peak Lookout restaurant again, and we had lunch there, after taking a short walk on the Central jogging trail, which leads to Aberdeen. We sat out in the al fresco area, enjoying the cool breeze and scenery. 

It was a cosy lunch of seafood bisque, pear salad, burger and escargots that all three of us enjoyed immensely.

The other highlight was the visit to the big Buddha on Lantau island. We took the Ngong Ping 360 cable car ride from the Tung Chung Cable Car Terminal. We took the MTR train to Tung Chung station from Hong Kong City. You can find out about other transport options here. Though we were arrived relatively early, there was already a long queue. So we decided to take a mini tour package which included a ride on the see-through 'crystal' cable car, entry to see the Buddha, visit to a fishing village Tai O, as well as entry to view the Qing Ming Shang He Tu, an animation based on the epic Song Dynasty painting by Chinese imperial court artist Zhang Ze Duan. Originally painted on a 5.28 metro long scroll, this painting gives an in depth view of the lifestyle and society in the capital of Banjing (now known as Kaifeng) during the 12th century. It was also a hit in the China Pavilion at the World Expo 2010 Shanghai, and was on display in Singapore early this year.

It was a good choice. We had priority entry for the ride, and breezed through without any stress of having to line up. Here's little Becky enjoying the clear view of the cable car's bottom.

And here is the hubs with Becky at the village street just beside the Buddha, as we were waiting for the bus to bring us on the village tour.

It was Becky's first visit to a fishing village. Tai O is known for their dried seafood, and Becky didn't quite like the smell of it.

This is absolutely one of my favourite shots from the trip - Becky in front of the Buddha.

Another must-go location whenever I return is Mun Kee, a dessert shop. They have a few branches, but I particularly like the one at Western Market (nearest MTR is Sheung Wan). My favourite dessert? Mango Pomelo. We now have Mun Kee in Singapore, but to me, the ones in that branch in Hong Kong is still the best.

Here we are with my grandmummy. We are planning a visit again end this year, so Ron Ron can meet her for the first time. I'm really looking forward to that.

This post is part of a Blog Train hosted by Madeline at MadPsychMum. Continue your journey around the world through the eyes of Singapore Mom Bloggers!

Tomorrow, Geraldine from Little Chuck's Story will bring you Amsterdam as she shares memories of tulips, tilted buildings and a town of windmills from her honeymoon!

About Geraldine
Geraldine is a first time mother to X'mas eve baby Little Chuck, and wife to Big Daddy Chuck. She loves to take photos and documents her family's adventures through her blog, where she pens her daily musings and frames favourite pictures of her family, food and fun! While she's grappling with the joys and challenges of motherhood, Geraldine also believes nights out with her hubby should not stop with babies!

Monday, September 10, 2012

{Guest Post} My Favourite Children's Author: James Mayhew

I'm very happy to introduce a fellow mum blogger who will be sharing all about her favourite children's author - James Mayhew.

Lyn is a mum to two sweet little girls, aged almost 4 and 1.5 years respectively.  She blogs because she has all these little thoughts knocking about in her head that need an outlet.  Lyn loves writing, loves chronicling memories for posterity, and loves the key subjects of her blog - hubby and kids!


One of our favourite authors is James Mayhew, and we came across his books by chance, at the British Museum when I was there with hubby and K (at 18 months).  I usually don't buy stuff at museum shops, but ended up buying two titles by him that day.

I was pleased to later find that our libraries also stock his books! The books comprise all the elements of a good children's book to me - lovely illustrations, captivating imaginative story lines that blur the line between fiction and fantasy and themes that appeal to young children, all written in a language that is simple yet not childish.

I also liked the fact that so many of his books were art-focused, which makes it a great way to introduce young ones to the slightly more abstract concept of great art.

Reading-level wise, there are about three to five sentences at the bottom of each page (that contains huge illustrations), and the books are suitable for reading aloud to children from 2.5 to 5 years old.  Perhaps around 4 years of age, kids will be interested in reading some words or sentences themselves. But it's not really a "I can read" or 'Peter and Jane' type book (which to me has no/very thin plot!), not until the children are 5 or 6 I think.

Today, I am reviewing "Katie and the WaterLily Pond", a delightful book about Katie's adventures at a Monet Exhibition, whilst her grandma naps in the gallery (a very common premise of the books).

This is proof that our glorious NLB stocks this - though the tag usually annoys me cos it obscures a good part of most book covers. Argh!

I realised that I had acquired this print during my student days too!  Can't remember from which museum, but I was very pleased to unearth it to feature in this blog activity and post.

The story features Katie wandering in and out of five Monet Masterpieces, and trying to paint one to enter into the museum's competition for children.  (spoiler ahead) After various botched attempts, she decides that nothing could go wrong in a peaceful waterlily pond, and tries to enter that painting to capture what she can see. Alas!  A little green frog in the pond snatches her painting and drops it into the pond! When she fishes it out, the colours have all smudged together.

Voila! The judges decide that the watery painting is most Monet, and Katie wins the competition.

So our craft task (simple one) was to reproduce this painting.  I toyed with the idea of watercolours, but didn't think I had the right ones. So I figured we could try making an impressionist crayon drawing instead!

With my favourite $2 soft crayon set from Daiso. I held K's hand and guided her in the drawing of the bridge, then drew a few waterlily pads and asked her to go over them with white to get a more blurry smudged effect.

Then I realised I could just shade in the vague shades of light and green, where they were supposed to appear, and go over those with light green or white to get the right effect!  K enjoyed dotting in the pink waterlily flowers - no surprise, that!

Ta-DAH - our Monet Waterlily Pond

It was a fun exercise, and an interesting activity for bonding, that I wouldn't have thought of if not for this review.

As promised earlier, here's more about the titles I bought.  Katie in London is about how one of the huge stone lions of Trafalgar's Square bring Katie and her little brother Jack, traipsing all over the key sights in London.

So all in all, I'd really recommend James Mayhew's books, and do grab a copy from your local library.


Saturday, September 08, 2012

Why I blog

When I started blogging years ago, I wanted to try owning a digital diary where I could 'pen' my thoughts and claim a small part of the digital space as mine. In those days, I would blog about life in general and even include a poem or two.

Then motherhood came. I was so enthusiastic about this new journey I wanted to blog everyday, to chronicle the amazing moments and share them with everyone in the enormous worldwide web. Of course in reality, that was not possible.

The idea that mothers have a lot of free time because of our long maternity leave is a farce. Whatever free time a mother has is dedicated to the baby. Add to the equation a breastfeeding baby who needs to be fed on average every two to three hours, each time taking between thirty minutes to an hour, there really isn't much time to do anything else. It is even more difficult when you have two kids and have to spread your love and attention.

So all you people out there who think having an extended maternity leave is a jolly holiday for us mums, think again.

So why do I blog?

My blog is a representation of my life in words and visuals, and is filled with my stories as a daughter, sister, daughter-in-law, wife and mother of two.

It is a space where I share my children's adventures through life and document their growing up years. I am constantly inspired by them. Every moment with them is fun and filled with surprises and challenges. I want to share them with my grandmother in Hong Kong, so she can see and laugh at the funny antics of her great grandchildren. I want to share them with the whole world and proclaim just how amazing my kids are - they really are simply AMAZING!!

My blog is my expressive outlet. It is my digital diary where I pen the ups and downs I am facing in life and as a mummy. It is a very restorative experience, sometimes soothing and calming when I am troubled, other times stirring and stimulative, inspiring me even more. It may sometimes even be emotional. Much like in the past when I would keep my very own hard copy diary. Just that now, it is on the internet.

When I read through my blog again from time to time, I see how I have progressed, matured as a person and as a mummy. My blogging journey becomes a reflection of my journey in life.

Blogging used to be a one-woman show for me, but not any more. I am now connected with other blogging mums. We chat online, we meet and chat some more other lunch. Being a blogging mum is so much more fun and meaningful now.

So how long will I be blogging for? There's no expiry date to this blogging journey. I will blog for as long as I have the energy. Perhaps years down the road, when I am old, toothless with wrinkled skin and white hair, I will still be typing away (in mid-air perhaps?), chronicling my life and sharing with my grandchildren the life story that is their grandmother's.

This is my story.

My post is just one of 14 stories from 14 Singapore Blogging Moms on why we blog.

Next on the ‘Why Moms Blog’ blog train -

Jiahui from Mum’s the word is a 7 year old mummy who realised that it was close to impossible to remember every experience she had with her three kids. Since she couldn’t keep mum any longer, she stepped into the blogging world to journal down bits of what happens in her life.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

What to do when a toddler has diarrhea

It all started on a Saturday afternoon. Becky started passing soft stools. That was the first sign something was not quite right. By mid-evening, she had passed motion eight times. Alarm bells more than just rang. they screamed. By the next morning, she had passed nothing eleven times. I brought her to the family doctor that I had seen for so many years, first because his clinic was open on a Sunday morning and secondly, my hubby's company medical insurance could be used there. Becky was so keen on seeing the doc you'd think she was feigning illness. But of course, she was not. During the whole check up, she was really still and attentive and obediently followed instructions. The doc assured me that it was not serious, and gave some medicine for Becky's diarrhea, abdominal pains and stomach gas. I had to monitor her the next few days to see her progress.

Her stools continued to be soft, but she needed to pass motion fewer times, which was a positive sign. She was still eating, though understandbly less. I also made her drink lots of water. On Monday night, Becky came down with a fever, and it shot to 39 degrees.

You can imagine my fright. I quickly gave her fever medicine and stuck a cooling gel pad on her forehead. Fortunately, her fever went down and stayed below 37.5 degrees, before returning to normal.

After almost three days of diarrhea, Becky is noticeably more tired and has no appetite. She only ate a bit of porridge, some luncheon meat, a sausage bun and some milk yesterday. I know she's not supposed to have milk, but she HAS to have her milk, so I ended up diluting it.

She didn't have any fever last night. Phew! But she's still having runny stools. So I and the whole family will continue to be on high alert.

Throughout her ordeal, Becky has been really brave, stoically bearing the pan and the discomfort. After the first day, she learnt to give us warnings and tell us she needed to pass motion. So we always managed to rush her to the potty in time. Other than the more occasional tantrums, the extreme stickiness and the more emotional mood swings, Becky has been quite bubbly. Still my curious, ah-siao little Becky.

So what have I learnt about handling a toddler with diarrhea? Here's my tip sheet.

1. Be prepared to change diapers extremely often, up to once an hour, on the first, even second day.

2. Be constantly vigilant, and be on the lookout for any facial or behavourial changes that tell you your toddler might need the potty.

3. Have nimble hands and legs. Once you know your toddler has to pass motion, you need to rush to the toilet, remove the bottoms, double time.

4. Be extremely patient. Toddlers will be very emotional and cranky, and they might only want to stick to you and only you during this time.

5. Have lots of toys and activities to divert the toddler's attention away from the pain and discomfort.

6. Assure, assure and reassure your toddler that it is alright, that it's ok to have abdominal pains, that it's ok to have diarrhea, that it will get better. Especially if it is the first time, they will feel frightened, so the reassurance will help to set their little minds at ease.

7. Your toddler will have less appetite, or even refuse to eat. So let him or her eat anything he or she wants to, even if it is unhealthy. The important thing is your toddler is eating and getting some food into the tummy. Whatever restrictions can come again once he or she gets well.

8. Have 'yu yi' oil handy. This is the brown coloured Chinese medicinal oil that helps to dispel gas. Rub the oil between your palms to warm it, then apply. Becky loves this as it soothes her tummy.

9. Constantly monitor for fever.

10. Let your toddler drink lots of water, as lots is being lost.

11. Try the BRAT diet. Feed your toddler banana, rice, apple and toast. These foods help to reduce diarrhea as they are relatively bland and low in fibre. Low fibre foods are recommended as those high in fibre can cause gas and possibly worsen gastrointestinal upset.

12. Be prepared to lose sleep for up to a week.

There. My tip sheet for handling a toddler with diarrhea. If you have any other advice to add on, let me know. It is always good to know what else we can do for the young ones when they are unwell.

Now let me now go tuck Becky in and make sure my little darling is comfortable.

Monday, September 03, 2012

My Favourite Children's Author: Eric Carle

As parents, we all read books to our children. With an endless trove of books to choose from, and so many wonderful authors, there is bound to be some authors that we as parents love and share with our children.

It is for this reason that the My Favourite Children's Author Guest Post series was created. For the next two months, you will discover some of my fellow SMB bloggers' favourite authors, as well as related activities that they have done with their children.

First, I will share with you my favourite children's author. This gentleman is well loved for his beautiful and innovative picture books for very young children, with many titles inspired by his love for nature, a love which is equally appealing to his young audience too. Subjects of his tales include a hungry caterpillar, a grouchy ladybug, a brown bear and even a busy little spider. Guessed who he is? Yes, it's none other than the talented Eric Carle.
Born in Syracase, New York in 1929, Carle grew up in Germany and was a graduate of the prestigious art school, the Akademie der bildenden Kunste in Stuttgart. He returned to America in 1952 and found work as a graphic designer with The New York Times.

One of Carle's creations for an advertisement while he was art director at an advertising agency caught the attention of Bill Martin Jr, a respected educator and author. Thanks to this picture of a red lobster, Bill Martin and Carle collaborated on the classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?, with Carle doing the illustrations. It is still a favourite with children everywhere today.

And the rest is history. Soon, Carle started writing his own stories too. His first wholly original book was 1,2,3 to the Zoo, followed soon by the celebrated classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Published in 1969, this book has been translated into more than 50 languages and sold over 33 million copies.

An illustrator of more than seventy books, most of which he also wrote, Carle's art is iconic and instantly recognisable. In fact, he credits fellow author Leo Lionni as an inspiration for his work. Indeed, the similarities between the two artists are extremely striking, with pictures inspired by animals, nature and their own childhood experiences. And all because of a chance meeting in 1952.

Besides the collage technique using hand-painted papers, which Carle cuts and layers to form bright and cheerful images, many of his books also have added features such as die-cut pages, even holes in the pages like in The Hungry Caterpillar. All these are aimed at giving the books a playful quality, something that can be touched and experienced, not just read.

More than just brilliant illustrations that are captivating, distinctive and instantly recognisable, Carle's stories usually have learning points to tell young readers about the world around them. And this is what I really like about his books. Like the tales by Leo Lionni, Carle's stories always have morales within the plot. Such as the benefits of eating greens in The Hungry Caterpillar, or the importance of being nice and polite in The Grouchy Ladybug, or the journey of self discovery in The Foolish Tortoise.

Eric Carle's books are indeed timeless. No matter what age a child is, his stories are easily understandable, even if the child just looks at the pictures. That's the beauty of the books' simplicity.

Becky has been enjoying his books since she was 10 months old, and today, at two and a half years old, she is still enjoying them. Though now she is able to appreciate the stories even more, and have also attended a recent puppet show based on his stories The Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear Brown Bear and Papa Please Get The Moon For Me. It was a real joy for her to see the story being brought to life.

We have almost 15 Eric Carle books and here are some of Becky's favourite titles.

We even have two of the titles in Chinese.

Becky loves getting her hands active, so we like to do activities based on his books. These two, especially, I think she enjoyed herself doing, since Ten Rubber Ducks and The Hungry Caterpillar are at the top of her favourite list.

They are really easy to do.

For Ten Rubber Ducks, I got Becky to paint the background blue to resemble the sea, then I teared bits of yellow and orange paper for her to crumble and paste to make the duck. It is a great motor skills exercise too!

For The Hungry Caterpillar, I cut out circles for Becky to paste together to make a caterpillar, after which I drew in the background, with some help from her. It was also an exercise on shapes.

We also used poms poms to make a caterpillar.

And if you happen to be in Amherst, Massachusetts, United States, visit The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. Founded by Eric and Barbara Carle in November 2002, the museum aims to inspire a love of art and reading in young children through picture books, and owns more than 10,000 picture book illustrations.

So there, my favourite children's author. If you have not had a chance to read his books, I say, get your hands on them! His books are such a joy to read, even grown ups will enjoy immersing into Eric Carle's wonderful whimsical world!