Day out at Eat Play Love cafe

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Cafes are the current in thing in Singapore. If you can find a nook, you will probably find a cafe. Not all of them serve nice coffee and food but their ambiance does give our little tiny dot of a country an up on our chic factor. Recently, the hubs and I were particularly excited to explore one of the cafes that had rave reviews, accompanied with brilliant and bright photos. Unfortunately we left with a semi hole in our pockets (prices were exorbitant for a cafe!) and hungry unfulfilled tummies. The saving grace was a corner seat and some space for the children to sit, eat and explore alittle. It really left us wondering how do the many youngsters in the cafe afford to pay such crazy prices for food and drinks. Errm, wasn’t Macs considered kinda expensive when we were younger?

Maybe we are old foggies. Actually, scratch that. We are NOT old foggies, we are young and hip. Some cafes are just not very friendly to our pockets, tummies and children.

On the very same day we visited Eat Play Love cafe. While their Thai-Western cuisine menu wasn’t all that impressive, their prices are pretty reasonable. We were unable to order savoury items as the kitchen was preparing for dinner, but the local dessert we decided on was refreshing for a warm humid afternoon (it’s also alittle hard to go wrong with grass jelly and nata de coco).

Their weekends are normally crowded so it’s wise to call ahead to book or check if there are seats available. Better still, go on a weekday afternoon where children are either sleeping or in school. You just risk having a grumpy pants doing craft.

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Eat Play Love cafe boasts of a unique experience where adults get to eat and children get crafty and dirty the place with glue, macaroni, feathers and the likes. Every child gets a piece of activity sheet free of charge. For $5, you get an activity pack (the one that S is crafting with above) with some paper, foam stickers, feathers and glitter. Markers and other craft essentials are free for use everywhere in the craft corner.

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If the basic pack may seem alittle kiddy for older children, you can pay extra to purchase other craft activities. The prices for these crafts are not exactly cheap and i’m pretty sure i’ll find the same item with much a lower price elsewhere.

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The current craze in the cafe is shrinky dink plastic where you purchase a piece of shrinky dink plastic for $5, draw on it and pop it into the oven where it will shrink and harden up. We thought $5 was too much to pay for a piece of plastic so we played with some scraps that were left on the tables and wowed at how the plastic really shrank and well, hardened up. Hehe. It is waaaay more fun and entertaining than how i described it.

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Will i return back to the cafe again? Well, probably, if I’m in the vicinity with time to spare or if my girlfriends organise a play date there. But I don’t think i will make a deliberate trip down unless the cafe offers a greater variety of crafts and materials. Personally, $5 isn’t a reasonable sum to pay for some paper, stickers and glitter when such materials are easily found in greater quantity and lower prices in the stationary stores. Similarly, i don’t agree with paying high prices for the alternative activities that they provide for older children.

Given that it is a craft cafe, i guess i would like to see a greater variety of crafts available for children of all ages. I wouldn’t mind paying alittle more for better craft ideas, more materials and maybe even a member of the staff there to guide the children into creating their little wonders.

Would i recommend the cafe? Well, yes, especially if you are not into cleaning up the mess at home. And if the little ones are driving you up the wall with their insane amount of energy.. this would be a good place for the adults to chill and the children to have some fun. Even Noah enjoyed himself watching the older ones and taking in the mad explosion of colours in this happy place!

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How a Beginner Sewed a Tutu Skirt

If anyone is interested in sewing a tulle skirt, you can find a really simple and do-able tutorial at these 2 ladies’ websites!  They are fairly simple to follow and with the help of Google, I REALLY sewed a tutu skirt for K!  

The Ballet Dress

Simple Child’s Tutu

 

I went to Spotlight to choose some material and spent some money on fabric and sewing supplies.  On hindsight, I really could have just bought the darn tutu from any shop and it would still cost less!  Okay, never mind… It’s really all part of sewing my own clothes for my own beloved daughter right?  So after a week of tinkering with the machine, practicing stitching (whoa… the first few stitches were horrendous!), I finally can sew straight lines and gathering stitches (chey… even know the term now), though it made me relive Sec 2 Home Econs nightmare. 

 

Tada… My masterpiece!   (Sorry, didn’t trim the hemlines, hence so uneven, which is another story for another day)

A tutu skirt is really forgiving of uneven hemlines, imprecise measurements and terrible cloth-cutting (a shearing scissors cost $30!  I used any cheapo art and craft scissors instead, which wasn’t a good idea). 

 

I had to cajole and bribe her to put it on because K said flatly, “I don’t like it.”  …  

  What do u mean you don’t like it?!?!  It’s got polka dots, it’s a dancing skirt!  

 

So I told her, “Sweetie, no no… You don’t understand!  If you want to be a prima ballerina, you have to wear the skirt!” (We’ve been reading Angelina Ballerina books).  Finally I got her to wear it long enough to snap a photo before she stripped it off very roughly. (Almost had a heart attack fearing my fragile threads would tear.) 

 

This was the look I was going for. 

      NAILED IT!!  

 

Dinner time:  “Why don’t you like your skirt?  See, you can look like Elsa if you wear the skirt.  It’s the same!”  Showed her this.    Quite similar right???

 

K says, “Because it’s scratchy.”  Sigh… Fair ’nuff. 

 

So, if this skirt never gets to see the light of day anymore, you know why! 

 

Note to self and other novice seamstresses who care to read:

  1. Precise measurements are very important!  I actually did 2 versions of the skirt.  The first was based on agaration (which was so bad), it looked like a spotted, diseased, hideous tent which sent K scuttling out of the room when I said “Let’s try it on.”  I had to strip the skirt and cut it down to size.  
  2. Sewing clothes is not easy!  Needs a lot of concentration. Do not watch “My Love from Another Star (or any other random Kdrama)” while sewing.  Will save me a lot of pain and anguish. 
  3. Get a more willing model – not someone who says “I don’t like it”.  Z Z darling… Come here! 

Home Learning: Freebies

 

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Source: Mr Printables

Look at these, can you believe that they are made of paper? More importantly, can you believe it’s free? I had to triple check to make sure there were no strings attached. And then i fought the urge to whatsapp everyone i know about this site.

I love planning for home learning and other projects. There are a million things i want to do and non of it has to do with a magic clean mop.. or a stove.  Pinterest gets me started and then the ideas keep coming in. Unfortunately, that’s where it often stops. To be honest, i find it pretty hard juggling chores, spending time with the children, making time for the hubs and my family and then finding more time to do me stuff or fiddle with the computer (in that unfortunate priority). And I’ll go a week or two psycho-ing myself (getting pretty good at this, now i know why i majored in that!) that it’s ok before my next im-so-pathetic outburst. Please tell me i’m not alone.

Anyway, sob story aside, i have been thinking of a few ways to find more time to get my projects ongoing. And one of them is to finally admit that I don’t have the time to design everything myself. The web is a myriad of information and i’m often surprised by the goodies that are available for free! Here’s some of my favourite for starters.


Source: No Time For Flashcards


Source: The Artful Parent


Source: Education.com

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Living in the Now

I caught myself thinking that day, “I can’t wait for Zach to wean so I don’t have to be chained to him.  I just hope Kyra can go to school for longer next year then I’ll have so much more time to myself.  After my assignment submission next week, I’ll get to spend more time with the kids.”  Through these thoughts, I was essentially telling myself, just wait and tahan a bit more.  Life will surely get better.  But will it really?  This attitude of waiting to live life scared me a little because what if we don’t have a next time?  Life is the now, the present, this breath, this activity.

Life is also the sum of small things – bathing, feeding, cleaning, enforcing naptime.  They are repetitive, mundane, never-ending.   All of these can be outsourced but how much poorer the relationship will be if not for the accumulation of shared experiences through these seemingly meaningless activities?  Isn’t the bond of love built bit by bit, moment by moment, touch by touch, experience on experience?  With this realization, I’m trying to live moment by moment, enjoying each of Zach’s gummy smile, running my fingers over his dimpled hands and feet, feeling smug that his eyes track me across the room like I’m the only woman in his life (not for long, I know!).  Kyra’s nuggets of simple childlike understanding buried amidst her verbal diarrhoea, her literal understanding of words which gets us in stitches, her tight squeeze as she wraps her hands around my neck.  Even during the crazy meltdowns and wee hour wakings, I breathe in their smells and tell myself, yes, I’d rather do this than not at all.  I know full well that all these are going to pass and soon, the kids won’t need me as often, as earnestly, as crazily, and I’m going to miss being so indispensable.

However, this season will pass and I sincerely hope there will be other good seasons.  Many say nothing will ever beat this but I still hope to be able to live life moment by moment, earnestly seeking newfound purpose instead of always looking back at the past.  Even so, I guess if I were to pick a favourite season, being a mother to small children will probably still rank quite highly, because we have never before and will never again give of ourselves so unconditionally and unreservedly.  It is indeed more blessed to give than to receive and in giving, I have received so much more.

So now, when the meltdowns and terrible days come (about 4 out of 7 days a week), I try to remind myself to Keep Calm and Mother On…

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Reflection and Resolutions 2014

My little baby is going to school!!!  I think I’m having more separation anxiety than Kyra.  It’s sad but my anxiety stems from a few reasons.  I’ll no longer be her only teacher – she’s going to adore and worship these other women coming into her life.  Also, I’m sad to let her go at this juncture because our relationship has been pretty rocky.

I end 2013 with some regrets and heartache.  One question I often get is, “How is Kyra adjusting to Zach?” I’d say that she’s adjusting quite well and she really loves her little brother, showering him with hugs and kisses.  But I think with the arrival of Zach, my relationship with Kyra has gotten quite strained.  Since the pregnancy, well-meaning family members have tried to “relieve” Kyra off me – carrying her when she demanded to be carried, attending to her needs and wants, and I can just relax in a corner.  Not that I didn’t enjoy this treatment, but I now think that maybe starting from then, she has felt that I no longer love her as much or at least, no longer available for her.  Added to that, I’m still the disciplinarian.  This situation has prompted some very heartbreaking comments from her lately, like “Mummy, don’t love me” (ie. I don’t want Mama to love me) and “Mama loves Zach, Papa loves Kyra”.

So anyway, it’s the time of the year again where we reflect upon the past year and promise to do better for the next.  I want to start 2014 with a few resolutions and I’m excited to reclaim lost ground with my baby.

  1. Start and end each day with a hug and kiss.
  2. Bend down to her level and have eye contact.
  3. Carry her as much as she still wants me to, before it becomes physically impossible.
  4. Put away my handphone and ipad (or books and magazines) when I’m with her and just be with her.
  5. Focus on building character.
  6. Play with her.

While surfing around, I found some pretty nice ideas that I want to try this year!  I want to start a Blessings/Thanksgiving jar where we will write things that we are grateful for everyday (or as often as we can remember).

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There’s also a New Year’s interview sheet where we can fill it up over some years and see how we’ve grown.  Image

[Click on the pictures to go to the original sites]

I hope 2014 will be a better year for all of us!  We are all good Mamas and can only get better.  :)

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Dear Kyra, 

No matter how old you are, Mama loves you very much and you’ll always be my baby.  I will do better to show love in a way that you understand but I’ll still discipline you (firmly but not harshly) because that’s part of love.  I know you’ll enjoy school very much and I hope you grow up secure and confident, knowing that you are God’s prized possession and Mama and Papa’s pride and joy, always.  

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Festive Greetings!

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Merry Christmas everyone! The little ones are going alittle crazy opening presents and enjoying themselves… and we are really glad that they are finally learning how to enjoy the season. We are taking time to teach them that the season really is about Jesus and not all about presents🙂 Have fun ya all, and may the rest of 2013 be a blast!

Coping with a new born: Getting some ZZZs (Part 2)

Ok, I’m back from my meditation mountain of studying for my course exams! Back to the unfinished business of Sleep Training Part 2! Part 1 was about the eat-play-sleep cycle in Babywise and how it helped small J sleep through the night. Part 2 is about how to get your kid to sleep on his or her own, according to Babywise.

The Babywise solution is essentially the Cry It Out (CIO) method and also having your kid sleep in his or her own room. Hold your horses! Don’t pelt me with stones! Don’t write hate mails to me! Remember, no judgment?! CIO method has received a lot of flak and is almost a taboo word these days but I’ve got to say it works wonders if applied correctly and consistently for a week. The results? Good sleep for yourself and the baby in 7 days! And a baby in a good mood during the daytime. Sounds suspiciously like a slimming ad? The small print is the same: results may vary and it really depends on your baby and your effort.

The CIO method in the book writes that during the sleep phase, you should  say a firm goodnight and leave the room so that the baby can learn to self soothe and sleep on his own. If he or she starts crying, allow him or her to cry – most babies will cry to sleep within 45 minutes. The assumption is that the baby sleeps in another room, which is what I practiced since I am so light a sleeper that I can’t sleep with the baby cot next to me even when my head is buried under pillows.

So that’s what I did! Almost really, but I made up my own rules and cheated.

  1. Firstly, as expounded by Babywise, observation is the key. We are not supposed to twiddle the thumbs or whistle when sleep training. (Reality: just like every mother, I feel like cringing at the corner and die when I hear my baby cry). So, a good way for me to cope was to record the type of cries and the length of time as well as whether the kid was well-fed and received enough stimulation before that. When I had something constructive to do like plotting trends, I felt less emotional. If the baby is well fed and stimulated at playtime, he should fall asleep quite quickly.
  2. Secondly, our rule is not to let the baby cry over 35 minutes. Why such a random time? Because by observation, small J usually doesn’t cry beyond this time to go to sleep.
  3. I face the baby’s bed such that the eyes of the baby faces 180 degrees away from the door, so I could effectively peep in and observe him without him seeing me. When I was able to see him and check on him, it was comforting.
  4. I noticed that if I consistently sleep train him for a week, he will cry for 5 minutes or less after that before falling asleep and after a few weeks there’ll be no more crying. For small J, consistency is key. I have to psycho myself that if I decide to sleep train, I cannot give up halfway; if not it’ll all be in vain and it’s better not to start in the first place. My secondary school discipline teacher used to tell us to raise our right fist into the air and shout ‘SHORT TERM SACRIFICE, LONG TERM GAIN!’ like a communist to rah-rah us for the exams. This was also my motto during sleep-training week.
  5. I cheated and he had a sleep prop – the pacifier that the confinement nanny used, despite my protests. I found it to be a necessary evil until I weaned him off cold turkey when he was 7 months old (another dramatic experience). I also used the sarong for 2 weeks to get him to switch from being a night baby (one that is awake most of the night and sleeps in the day) to a day baby in his 2nd month before starting sleep training.

Sidetrack: When I was preggie and idealistic, I vow never to do some things…

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I have not looked back since and am grateful that small J could sleep on his own without crying or waking up at night for most nights since about 3 months old and that was the most important factor for giving me some way to function normally at work and in life. As with fighting the flab, sleep training is a constant fight. It has to be done again and again and again (sigh!) after every transition since there’ll be sleep disruptions during transitions and I’ll try to be more understanding e.g. When I weaned him off the pacifier, when he transited schools, when he was ill…

However, I have regressed much. recently, after he transited schools, I was much less successful in sleep training him. When he changed schools, he felt insecure for two weeks, so I accompanied him to bed. And I found out that I enjoyed the experience now that he is older and can speak. Even though I will pretend to be asleep to dissuade him from playing in bed (like slapping his bear around), he will talk to me about his day e.g. friends in school, why mummy was angry, or that grandma came over. Sometimes he will sing too and accompanying him to bed is a really heartwarming experience. Who knows? I may give up sleep training after all since life is certainly more manageable at 30 months old as compared to 3 months old. It can only get better.

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