For Mom, With Love (plus a FREE downloadable cookbook! ❤)

I’m on Year 2½ of what is, arguably, one of the toughest roles I’ve EVER had, i.e. being Mommy.

Some days it goes really well and I feel like I GOT THIS FAM, I’m the best mama everrr. Naps are taken on time, bowls of food are wiped clean (walang tira! yay!), toys are put away in their proper places.

BB and Me aka Flower-Head. He made it at school for Mother’s Day (aww)

On other days, I want to curl up in a ball and growl at everyone to leave me alone. Bucketfuls of guilt over everything — from being a working mom to not giving my son more leafy greens at the table.

Guess what I realized, mama? We don’t have to enjoy every moment of motherhood. We don’t have to be the Insta-perfect mama 100% of the time.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay to have those ups and downs. It’s okay to need alone time one minute, then need the MAXIMUM amount of hugs the next. We don’t have to sweat the small stuff. More often than not, we are our own worst critics.

Remember, taking time out to de-stress is important, not just for yourself, but for your little ones too. 👌

If one of your favorite things to do to wind down is whipping up something in the kitchen, you’re in luck. ShopBack teamed up with RedMart to release its first cookbook, “For Mum, With Love,” which you can download here for free

It has 18 tried-and-tested recipes with varying levels of difficulty, from delicious meals like Sardines and Pineapples in Tangy and Spicy Coconut Sauce (sardinas with a twist!) to feel-good classic desserts like Chocolate Chip Cookies and the Singaporean coconutty favorite Ondeh Ondeh. 

So download away! Here’s to good food and to us “good enough” mamas! 😘

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Disney On Ice: Everyone’s Story @ Singapore Indoor Stadium

Image from SportsHub

We managed to score free tickets to Disney on Ice at SportsHub this weekend. Hubby and I had seen the show a few years ago (pre-BB) and we thought BB might enjoy it, especially since he had already started to remember Disney characters and enjoyed singing along to the YouTube videos of the songs. BB especially likes the Moana and Coco (technically Pixar) soundtracks, ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen, and ‘I See The Light’ from Tangled (he calls that last song the “lantern song”).

The program started with “pre-show” shenanigans from Goofy and Donald Duck, as both conspired to switch off the lights in the stadium. Zootopia’s Judy the bunny and Nick the fox encouraged the audience to use their mobile phone’s flashlight app to “shine” light on the stage to help them fix the problem. Quite cute as all the kids (and parents) were game.

Then after a short song from Pinocchio (with a muted reaction I thought — no wonder since that Disney film screened in the 1940s — even these kids’ grandparents wouldn’t have watched it! 😛), condensed versions of Finding Dory and Beauty and the Beast followed. BB was momentarily scared during the fight scene with Beast and Gaston (he insisted “Alis na tayo”, Filipino for “Let’s leave”) and we had to assure him it would all end happily and the Beast would live and turn to a prince. BB was actually following the story!

Finding Dory

A lineup of all the major Disney princesses and princes followed. It was good to see even Tiana and Prince Naveen from The Princess and the Frog in the lineup, along with the classics.

Then the big event: a condensed version of the entire Frozen movie. I thought it was quite well done, the set was complete with a working fountain, frozen castle, and a snowmaker machine. Even Olaf’s “In Summer” song got the full treatment, complete with his summer drink. I did an informal headcount of the number of little Elsas in the audience: there were too many. It was clear this was the part most of the kids were waiting for — and BB enjoyed it the most as well. He recognized the songs, and kept asking “Where Elsa go?” after she exited the rink.

An intermission followed. BB was still very engaged during break because a small ice resurfacer came out and started cleaning the rink — he knew all about the truck from watching Truck Tunes (video below) and stayed glued to his seat. 🙂 BB and his trucks!

The second half flew by quickly, with a song each from Aladdin (interesting that they picked the Genie’s “Friend Like Me”) and Toy Story (“You’ve Got a Friend in Me”).

They also showed highlights from Mulan (including a cool dragon dance). It was good to see an Asian princess on the ice (representation is key, especially for the many young girls in the audience), although her beau Captain Shang was a Caucasian in a wig 😂. Small steps!

The program ended with The Lion King’s “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” — a lot of wicked skating and spinning for this routine, but I was most impressed with the fellow playing Pumbaa, because he was skating on all fours! All the characters came out for an encore.

By the end of the show, BB seemed ready for more. He even asked, “Where’s Moana?” Will definitely catch the show again next time it’s back in town.

BB’s favorite part of the show

What Baby Learned at the Baby Gym

When BB was around 1½ years old we thought he wasn’t getting enough interaction with other little bubs his age. There were older kids at the condo playground, but BB was mostly stuck with yaya at home all day. (Back in the Philippines, BB would probably have no shortage of ninangs / ninongs / titos / titas / lolos / lolas + little cousins dropping by, but given where we were, we had to think of alternatives.)

There was a baby gym near our place so we thought to give it a try.

Baby gyms — popular chains include My Gym, The Little Gym, and Gymboree — offer gym programs that allow kids as young as 19 months to engage in physical play in a safe environment (read: foam padded floors and equipment, colorful toys, friendly and helpful instructors, etc). Some also offer school-based programs like a preschool.

The baby gym we enrolled BB in, on a 10 x 1-hour session course plus unlimited free play during weekdays, was gym-based. (We weren’t keen on “school” programs as he was so young.) The course also required parent interaction, so one of us, either Hubby or me, joined BB on the gym floor during class time.

Class would start with the same song and actions (“Smash, banana, smash smash banana!”). I think the repetition allowed the kids to gain confidence joining the singing and the actions as the weeks went by.

One of the main focus areas was on developing the kids’ “gymnastic” skills. BB wasn’t turning cartwheels, but as the sessions progressed he was hanging on monkey bars, tumbling on the mat, balancing on padded beams, and diving into the ball pits.

There was plenty of music (a mix of popular kids’ songs, some were Barney songs I think) and dancing, with both kids and parents encouraged to actively participate. The good thing is, the teachers don’t force your kid back in the circle if he/she suddenly stands up to run and play elsewhere, but they do try and coax the child gently back.

There were games, races, and puppets at the end of each class, and a sweet send-off song with all kids getting their arm stamped with a cute cartoon. We noticed BB got increasingly confident with heights, speeding up the ladder to the slides with just one hand for balance.

I appreciated that parents were encouraged to sing and dance along with the children, because we could do the songs back home and it delighted BB to recognize the familiar tunes.

By the end of the program BB never actually got 100% comfortable with playing with his peers (it was a class of kids from 19 months to 3 years old, so there was a bit of disparity in ages).

But a lasting legacy from BB’s time in baby gym is his I-can-do-it attitude when faced with physical challenges — be it climbing and rolling off the sofas at home, scaling the kiddie climbing wall at the mall, or facing slides tummy-down.

Overall — thumbs up baby gyms! Highly recommended for active little ones.

No Order Here

I read this essay on Scary Mommy and I find myself guilty, a little bit. The thing with writing a mommy blog is it has the tendency of making it seem like you have the mommy shit together, and the household runs like clockwork, floors are always polished, children sweet-smelling and well-fed.

Well, I just wanted to clarify that that’s certainly not the case, and it’s not my intention to make it seem so. There are dirty clothes in the hamper, work stuff I brought home and hadn’t looked at, unnecessary screaming in the playroom. We are all in the same boat, mama. Chin up.

A Toddler’s Toothbrush

A toothbrush.

What my toddler thinks it is:

  • Interesting chew toy
  • Toothpaste-flavored ice candy?
  • Lollipop (with bristles)

What he definitely does not think it is:

  • Something to clean his teeth with

As soon as BB had a decent row of baby teeth we started to think about how to introduce toothbrushing into his routine.

We bought Pigeon’s training toothbrush set because it had three brushes we could use to progress BB through all the toothbrushing “stages”: getting comfortable with having a toothbrush in his mouth all the way to actually practicing how to brush teeth. We didn’t use the Level 1 brush very long since we started BB well after he turned 6 months.

As for toothpaste, we’re still using brands that are safe to swallow. BB isn’t too good at spitting yet. Brands that carry safe-to-swallow formulas include Aquafresh and the Jack N’ Jill kids’ toothpaste line. In Singapore, the Aquafresh brand is widely available in groceries and pharmacies, while Mothercare stocks Jack N’ Jill.

It was another challenge to actually get BB to sit down for two full minutes for us to brush his teeth. We eventually settled into a routine of toothbrushing after dinner, while BB was still strapped to his baby chair.

BB knew what was coming next as soon as we put on Blippi’s Tooth Brushing song. We chanced upon it on YouTube. It lasts for about the same time as a proper brush would, it was easy to follow the lyrics, the melody was kind of catchy, and the animation was cute. It did the trick of keeping BB in his seat.

(We don’t use the video these days, though we do keep BB strapped in the baby chair. 😁)

How about you? How do you brush your little one’s teeth? Share in the comments below!

Storytime Bedtime

I blink and it’s February!

Our major milestone last month: BB (officially) joined a playgroup. The first week was marked with teary drop-offs, but about two weeks in, BB willingly sat on the tiny stool for the quick temperature check and squirt of hand sanitizer — and bounded off to his classroom with barely a ‘bye’. He has also begun giving us short recaps of what happened at school (“I ate noodles”) and singing snippets of songs he picked up from music class (“The square is like a box!”). I am so relieved it’s working out.

Now that BB’s in preschool, sticking to his routine has become even more important. If we put him to bed too late, he risks waking late or getting sleepy before school ends at noon. I wanted to share with you all our bedtime routine since mid-last year, which (to date!) has worked in getting BB in bed with his bottle of milk at a decent time. We call it “Storytime Bedtime.”

Before we started “Storytime Bedtime” we had a difficult time signaling to BB it was time to go to sleep. BB is a spirited kid — if he has energy to spare he goes off like a little rocket — and somehow Hubby’s and my presence seemed to scream “PLAY” to him, even at night. We tried dimming the lights, humming lullabies, and soothing pre-bedtime baths, but they weren’t working. If his energy was a volume knob on a radio, we had no idea how to turn it down.

Then we started reading him a book before bed. The first book we read was “Goodnight Moon” — one I chose on purpose as the story slowly wound down to the bit when the bunny falls asleep. To our delight it worked. Once the book was finished, he took his bottle without any fuss and kissed us good night.

Eureka!

“Storytime Bedtime” is exactly as it sounds; all you need is a book, preferably one that ends with a nap/sleep. Favourite books with sleepy endings include:

  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (a book I read aloud so often, I can now recite it in my sleep)
  • The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood
  • Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
  • I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt
  • Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

(These days, BB is so used to the routine any book works fine. When we’re tired we tend to choose short ones, haha.)

We start off by shouting “Storytime bedtime!” in a sing-songy voice, and BB knows it’s time to go to bed.

It’s a great way to bond with your bub, sneak in some reading time, AND prime him for sleep!

If your little one is as energetic as BB, do try it out! Let me know if it works for you. 😊

Happy New Year y’all!

That Time of the Year

I truly love December. It’s like the equivalent of the year’s weekend — everyone seems more relaxed. This year we put up a small tree, even if we’re flying back to the Philippines for Christmas. BB was taken by it the first few days it was up. He referred to it as “Mommy’s plant.”

I also find myself looking back on the past twelve months this time of the year. If January feels like a fresh start (“Let’s draw up a list of New Year resolutions that look suspiciously similar to last year’s list!”), December is more for reflection.

2017 was, for me, a year of the same, a year of difference, and a year of in between. I am grateful — to reach the (almost) year-end with a growing, talkative and rowdy toddler, a roof over my head, Hubby next to me maximizing our new-ish Netflix subscription, and the prospect of lechon and our traditional baked chicken in a week’s time, shared with family, intact.

What have I done this year? How have I moved forward, how have I changed? What will I remember most about 2017? Drop me a note in the comments!