Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: EV's blast to the past

Up close and personal with the media medium of the 80s - cassette tapes.
Location: Esplanade Basement 2

Friday, May 25, 2012

Review: Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks

Let me share my stretch mark journey with you.

When I was expecting EV and on a 'What do we need for the new baby' research/shopping trip with the hubby, one of the items I took the opportunity of hunting down too was a cream or lotion for stretch marks. My tummy was growing day by day, and hey, I'm a lady. And a lady needs to look after herself, even if she's going to be out of shape for a few months. 

Though confusing because there were so many different types of such lotions, I finally decided on the Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks. It's an all over body lotion, which is ideal for me as I'm such a lazy person when it comes to skincare. I used it for about six months in total, three months before I popped, and three months after. Every day, I would diligently use it, each time slapping a large quantity over the tummy (oh yes, especially the tummy), bums and thighs. Stretch marks, away you go!

I like to think myself as being lucky, as EV treated me very well when I was carrying her. I gained only 10kg, and stretch marks were not that obvious, or so I hoped. I was secretly wishing that because it was my first pregnancy, the stretch marks would go away more naturally. But who was I kidding? I needed help and the Palmer's Stretch Mark lotion did help in achieving my goal more easily, and definitely extremely conveniently. I thoroughly enjoyed using the lotion, especially its light cocoa butter fragrance, though at first I was rather put off by the smell. Really made me feel pampered after a tired day. 

Fast forward to two years later, and I had just given birth to my second child. While pregnant with AA, I was really concerned with stretch marks. After all, it was my second pregnancy and I have already been 'stretched' before, so I know it would be easier for stretch marks to remain, even if they didn't the first time. 

So, time to get a stretch mark lotion and naturally, I thought of the Palmer's Stretch Mark lotion. I totally loved using it again, love the cocoa butter aroma (it grows on you), love the way it works on me. 

I'm a realistic person, and after two pregnancies, I do not expect completely no stretch marks on a fuller body that now fits mostly into size Ms. My skin was more stretched this time, and the cocoa butter concoction worked beautifully to reduce the marks. It also kept the skin moisturized when it got flaky and minimized the itchiness, thanks to the Shea Butter and Vitamin E ingredients. 

Now, if only the new reformulation was available when I was still carrying AA. Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks now comes with the proprietary Bio C-Elaste complex, which combines key stretch mark ingredients. They are:
- Argan Oil, which is rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants and helps to maintain skin's moisture levels and reduce scarring
- Centella Asiatica, a natural leaf extract known to protect and revitalize collagen and elastin fibres, helping to combat stretch marks
- Sweet Almond Oil, which is rich in vitamins, and works together with Omega-6 and Omega-9 fatty acids to reduce the appearance of marks and scars

There are also Collagen and Elastin to improve skin elasticity and suppleness during and after pregnancy. Even those who gain or lose weight easily and are prone to stretch marks will also find this lightweight, non-greasy lotion extremely useful.

I'm also glad to know that the new formulation is now paraben free, is hypoallergenic and dermatologist tested. Parabens are preservatives that are commonly found in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products, such as shampoos, moisturizers and make up. Their use has been very controversial, as they have been found in breast cancer tumours and can slightly mimic estrogen (a hormone known to play a role in breast cancer development). While no direct links between paragons and cancer has been established, it is really heartening to know that they have taken parabens off the ingredient list. (Read more about parabens here.)

I hate stretch marks. I really really do (who doesn't?). Palmer's Stretch Mark lotion has accompanied me in this journey, and the battle continues. Fighting!!!

PS: Come win for yourself a pair of movie tickets to the comedy 'What To Expect When You Are Expecting'. Click here for the fun details.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Missing her musical mobile

It was one of those moments when you realise your little one is slowly discovering her emotional ability, and the need to manage such a situation. And, you find out that a toddler's memory can be amazing too! EV played with this musical mobile when she was younger, and we removed it when she was about one year old or so. Recently, we took it out again for AA. The first time EV saw it and listened to the music yesterday, she teared. Later in the day, she teared again. I had to step in, gave her a hug and talked to her, asked her if she missed her mobile, and explained to her that it is alright to feel this way. That after the crying, it is time to put on a big bright smile and continue on.

I hoped I managed this situation adequately. And I know there will be lots more of such emotional episodes in future. When that happens, I'll be there for you darling, arms wide open for a great big hug.

Writer's Workshop: 10 things for my husband this Father's Day

Father's Day is coming up real soon, and here is my list of 10 things I would love to give my darling husband. In no particular order, here goes:

1. Daddy me-time to watch as much TV as he wants for a day... oh ok... a whole weekend.

2. At least one diaper change (he loves delegating this duty to everyone else but himself, so this Father's Day, he shall enjoy the honour at least once).

3. A date with the wife.

4. Breakfast in bed cooked by EV and myself.

5. Relieve him of his usual driving duties and attempt to chauffeur the family to one destination when there are very few cars on the road (our car is manual, and I detest driving manual cars. Heck! I detest driving. I'm a better navigator).

6. Give him as manny kisses and hugs as he can take, just because it is his day.

7. Personal time, with each of the kids, because it is Father's Day, not Husband's Day.

8. Write him a love card to show him how much I love him as father of our kids.

9. Buy him a sunflower, because he is our knight in shining armor when things go crazy with the kids.

10. Hold each other to sleep (after the kids sleep) because without each other, he will never be a father, nor I a mother.

So, what will you give your husband or Dad this Father's Day?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Adventures: Kids Art Village @ Singapore Arts Festival

Yesterday, EV and I braved the humid heat and made our way to the Kids' Art Village at Esplanade, and made it just in time for the 5pm session of Tangle, a 'messy, chaotic, evolving art installation made by children with balls of elastic set to a live soundtrack' created by Polyglot Theatre from Australia. (I checked out their website. They really have done some impressive stuff, and has quite exciting things coming up.)

That's right, a 'live soundtrack', by the participating kids' very own live DJ. The whole session started off with the DJ making the sounds himself. It's amazing how the sounds immediately attracted all the children's attention; they were looking around finding the source of the sound and wondering what was happening. EV's eyes just went still, and starting looking around. After a while, five actors, if we may call them that, came out, moving their bodies freely to the music.

After their little performance, it was time for the kids to go in. There was a special area for babies and toddlers like EV, though I wished it was bigger. EV was a bit unsure at first. It was all so new to her; you can see she was wondering what the criss-crossing elastic strips were all about. But she later headed to the main area by herself, where all the bigger kids were, going over and under the low strips.

EV loves cleanliness, so once she discovered she had sand on her hands (Tangle is constructed on sandy ground), she made a funny face. 

Just next to Tangle were two art and craft stations. We went to the painting station first, where EV did her 'picasso' using glow-in-the-dark paint on a recycled sheet of paper (the Kids Art Village had a 'green' theme to it). Then we went into a big darkened container, her painting was reproduced on to the black cloth, and EV marveled at all the art works that were already there. We were both wearing white, and she pointed to how our clothes were glowing too. The next station also used recycled materials - printed cards, sticky tapes from the event and elastic cloth strips from Tangle. (She was very kaypo, and kept looking at the other kids around us.) We made a crown, and mummy wrote 'Elizabeth loves mummy'. 

Overall, EV and mummy had a rather fun time at Tangle. The arts and craft area were not overly impressive, and the young helpers there were not engaging enough. Still it was nice to be painting and crafting in the outdoors (we usually do it in our front porch), and since it was EV's first glow-in-the-dark experience, it was extra special for her.

On the way back, we discovered another very interesting interactive arts showcase, which is part of Flip Side: The Lighter Side of the Arts, presented by Esplanade. It was the Beasties display by Kinetic Theatre from Australia. It is a petting zoo, filled with out-of-this-world creatures, self-moving robots that move and make sounds, all overseen by a pair of ordinary-looking zookeepers. Tired EV had a ball here, while sitting in her stroller. For some of them, she kept clapping, because she thought that was what made them move.

EV and mummy had a great time being out in the very hot sun. We will probably return to see the Beasties. This time, I think I will let us enjoy some nice afternoon tea first, just EV and me.

If you are thinking of bringing a stroller and traveling alone, do note that CityLink Mall is undergoing upgrading works, so the wheelchair lifts are not working. At some places, only one escalator is working and it is set in the upward direction. So if you need to go down, you either have to push your stroller step by step down the stairs, or call the mall management and get them to send people to help you carry the stroller down. 

Here are the details in a nutshell.
Tangle, Kids Art Village @ Esplanade Park
18 May - 2 Jun 2012
Daily: 4pm, 5pm, 6.30pm

Beasties @ Esplanade Courtyard
18 May - 3 Jun 2012
Tue-Thu: 5.30 - 7pm & 7.30 - 9pm
Fri-Sun: 5 - 6pm, 6.30 - 7.30pm & 8.30 - 9.30pm

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Giveaway: 'What To Expect When You Are Expecting' movie tickets

Itching for a good laugh? How about a pair of movie tickets to 'What To Expect When You're Expecting', starring Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez and Dennis Quaid? Here's what you must do, by 31 May:

1. Like my Facebook page.
2. Post a comment on this thread and tell me: What did you expect when you were expecting? Remember to include your name and email address!

The first 11 postees will each receive a pair of tickets.

Thanks to the nice folks at Palmer's, for making this fun giveaway possible!

Stay tuned for my upcoming review of the newly formulated Palmer's Cocoa Butter Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks.

Wordless Wednesday: Sand Play

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Words by EV: I sing my own little song

I walk around the rooms,
I do a little trot.
I sing aloud in.... BOOM!
I'm seldom very soft.

I often leave you wondering,
What gibberish am I singing.
But, mind you, they do mean something,
To me and me alone.

I may sometimes give you a treat,
And sing rhymes you already know - what a bore!
I still prefer to make up words,
To sing my own little song - it's fun!

I sing out loud, at the top of my voice.
I think it sounds heavenly, you must agree?
Don't worry, it's not a ploy,
To get you stomping and flee.

I'm in my little world,
I'm singing, a humming hummingbird as happy as can be.
And when I'm done exercising my vocals, 
Yes, it's time, you can snuggle with me.

This is part of the 'Words by EV' series, where I will pen down words spoken by EV herself. Sometimes, I will imagine myself as EV and pen her thoughts of the world, as seen through her eyes. Just for fun. :)

Breastfeeding guilt... or not?

Breastfeeding has been quite a hot topic recently, thanks to a TIME magazine cover depicting a mother with model-life figure breastfeeding her three-year-old boy standing on a stool. While this sensational cover is really talking about attachment parenting, which is about extended nursing and co-sleeping, it has somehow directed attention to breastfeeding. From those who support the idea of breastfeeding beyond the toddler years to naysayers who feel that the cover was, well, done in very bad taste, there are opinions coming from every direction.

Even our local media has their own views, with two responses dedicated to this topic.

As a breastfeeding mother, how does all these affect me? For starters, I admire the mother and son for appearing on the TIME cover and 'exposing' themselves to the whole wide world. I don't think I would be able to do that. There are mothers who bare the whole breastfeeding session to all, and there are those who do it behind nursing covers. I belong to the latter. I firmly believe that the bonding between me and my baby is just that, between the two of us. I don't need everyone around me staring at my baby suckling at my boobs. We may be in a room full of people, but for that moment under the nursing cover, it's just me and my baby. I don't need to make a statement and shout 'hey! I'm breastfeeding!'. A humble nursing cover will do. Thank you very much.

With a sensational cover comes the sensitive question: how long should one breastfeed? Reading the articles, I can't help but be struck by a sense of guilt. Oh look, this mother breastfed her child till he was five; this breastfed till she was eleven. 

I stopped breastfeeding EV when two months after she turned one. I could have continued, but she was biting me, and I felt that it was time to let go though I really did enjoy the bonding. Did I fail as a mummy for not breastfeeding her for longer, even though I was still lactating? 

Now with AA, do I intend to breastfeed him for longer. What if I don't? Will I fail as a mummy again? If I do feed him for longer, will EV feel jealous in future if she knows? If I stop lactating before reaching one year, will AA feel jealous that he didn't get as much bonding with me?

Are these 'experts' suggesting that if I stop breastfeeding, then I wouldn't be bonding with my child just as well?

No. What matters is not how long I breastfeed my child. Whether it is three years, or even three months, what matters is that as a mother, I give my child the best nutrition I can give, for as long as I can give, and treasure the unique and special bonding that only a mother and child can have.

And after breastfeeding is over, it is the kisses and hugs, a gentle hold of the hand, the fun times doing activities or nothing at all together and a listening ear that will keep the bond strong.

I proudly admit, I do miss breastfeeding EV. The sight of her in my arms and the closeness is something I will remember always. I am enjoying the same closeness with AA now, and I intend to continue giving him the best I can give, for as long as I can. And in future when I do stop, I will feel proud, like I did with EV.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Simple Sunday: Missing you G!!

My nephew GG has spent the last two months with us in Singapore, and tonight, he flew back to Melbourne. I know not when I will see him again. I hope it's really soon. The next time we meet, he and AA may even be walking already, and together with EV, we parents will be having a stressful time chasing them around. But it'll be so much fun!! :)

My dearest GG xiao man tou!! I'm missing you so much already! 

Friday, May 18, 2012

G for Grapes

EV loves grapes, so I was really looking forward to this session. She knows the letter g quite well, so while she was a bit distracted here and there, so was extremely excited, especially when we did glued some 'grapey' crafts. More on that later in the post.

First, we sang our greeting song to the tune of 'Good Morning' from the movie Singing in the Rain, but we changed the lyrics to:

Good afternoon, good afternoon
It's fun to learn and play
Good afternoon, good afternoon to you.

It sort of got her in the mood, with her big smile and clapping hands. (I hope this means she's beginning to love movie musicals, classics like Singing in the Rain, Sound of Music and Mary Poppins. I admit, I've been singing to her songs from Sound of Music, and I love to think she loves it).

I digressed... back to the topic. So, with her happily anticipating the next activity, we sang 'Greedy Goat', from Julia Gabriel's Alphabet Zoo. Then we traced the letters and pasted our images - grapes, gate, gift, giraffe, goose and guitar. Then we wrote the words for each of the images, as you can see here.

To go through the spelling of 'grapes' with her, I used a set of colourful wooden alphabets. I spread all 26 letters on the table, and got her to search for the letters as I called them out one by one. 

EV then decided to do some numbers from the same wooden set. This time, we each reached into the container and, without looking, took out a number, and said it out loud. A quick impromptu game that I came up with, but it worked really well. Here, it was EV's turn and she picked the number 8.

Then we did a letter craft from Totally Tots. EV traced the letter, with some help from mummy. We didn't use any feathers and missed out the eye (as usual... I really must remember in future), and instead pasted it on a sheet of blue paper as backing, just so it will stand out more when we place it on our wall display.

Next, we did a Guitar Math activity, inspired by No Time For Flashcards. EV pasted the pre-cut guitars, then I got her to draw different numbers of lines on each guitar. So this not only tested her numbers again, but is also good for motor skills (pasting) and handwriting)

Big & Small
A quick review of this concept, using a gorilla printout from Spell Out Loud.

We did finger painting today! And learned about colour mixing again. I had wanted to show EV what happens when blue is mixed with yellow, but she requested for red again. So we mixed purple again, a very dark shade of purple.

We sang 'A Groovy Green Grape', which is sung to the tune of 'If You're Happy and You Know It'. The lyrics are:

Oh, I wish I was a groovy green grape
Oh, I wish I was a groovy green grape
Oh, I think it would be fine
To grow upon a vine
Oh, I wish I was a groovy green grape

We have been reading 'Giraffes Can't Dance'. Read my review of it here.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Adventures: At Changi City Point

I was home. EV got up early from her afternoon nap, and her loud voice is threatening to disturb AA from his slumber. Where can we go to kill three hours? I have not been to Changi City Point, so decided to make a trip there.

Quite a quiet place on a weekday afternoon. Lots of space for EV to run around. We had an afternoon snack at Mcdonald's, where EV had her corn cup and I tried the new Strawberry Banana smoothie. Not too bad. Here are some photos of our adventure.

EV excited by the Mickey logos and being engrossed in the fountains.

EV kept starring at the workers and saying 'So high'. She must be wondering 'What are they  doing?'. I explained that they were fixing the air-con.

A nice indoor garden with a pond. EV had fun chasing the fish.

Till our next adventure......

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Craft fun: Hand print giraffe & egg carton grapes

The G crafts we did this week - hand print giraffe and egg carton grapes - were inspired by Craft Crated (here and here)

As usual, EV was excited about hand painting. She kept doing it over and over again, and didn't seem tired of it. Eventually though, she wanted to wash her hands herself, after which we gave the hand print giraffes some spots and manes.

Here is her masterpiece.

We also converted egg cartons into yummy, juicy grapes. I had already pre-cut the egg carton cups to save time. Here you see EV painting the cups all by herself. Mummy did some touch ups, and the cups were left to dry.

Once dry, we pasted them on to a sheet of paper. EV played with the felt leaves that I had pre-cut before we pasted them on too. For the stalk, a brown crayon was used.

And here is the result of our art partnership.

Wordless Wednesday: Making tea

Captured while EV was having her masak masak moment, and making tea for everyone.

This photo is part of the From My Babies' Eyes photography series.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Books: Dr Seuss's ABC, Bubble Trouble, Lenny Long-legs & Mouse Paint

EV has been devouring quite a number of books this week. Here are some recommendations.

This is without saying, one of the best loved ABC books around. It has colourful illustrations, with great rhymes for each letter. It is a fun read even for a parent. A must-have for a home library.

By Margaret Mahy & Polly Dunbar
EV loves bubbles, so I thought this would be a fun book to read to her. A fun book indeed, it also tested my skill at tongue-twisters. That's right. Using a simple story of little Mabel blowing a bubble, the authors created tongue twisting lines of rhyme about the bubble bringing little Baby away, traveling through the garden, to the streets where the neighbours mingle, up a chapel steeple, and how everyone pitched in to help save Baby. Lines like 'The baby didn't quibble. He began to smile and dribble, for he liked the wibble-wobble of the bubble in the air', and 'At the shops, a busy rabble met to gossip and to gabble, started gibbering and goggling as the bubble bobbled by' often left mummy tongue-tied. But that is the fun of it. To add to the fun, I also read the book at different speeds, sometimes loud, sometimes soft, to dramatise the story even more. A tip: it is good to have a cup of water standing by, for when 'the end' comes, it'll take more than a sigh of relief to calm the tongue-twisted nerves down.

By Sam Lloyd
A puppetry book with furry blue legs to help in dramatising opposites. The story is about Lenny Long-legs, who can't keep his legs still and loves to do things one way, and then the other way. So he will lift his legs up and down, or run fast then slow, or do a small jump, then a big jump. This book will definitely grip the attention of any kid.

By Ellen Stoll Walsh
A wonderful book about primary colours and the shades they made when mixed together. Three white mice find red, yellow and blue jars of paint, and ended up painting themselves in those colours. As they play and leave puddles of paint around, they discover that shades of orange, green and purple are magically created when mixed. A simple storyline that is playful, fun yet informative.

Our first date... again

What a wonderful weekend! Dearest hubby and I had our first date since I gave birth to AA, and it was just glorious! We caught The Avengers at 112 Katong, and went mall strolling every level, since we were here the first time. Every restaurant that we liked were packed, so we had a simple dinner at Soup Spoon. 

Couple time well spent. We'll definitely do this again. It's summer blockbuster season, so lots of good movies to look forward to. Men In Black, GI Joe.... hmmm.. can't wait!