A Ducky Day Out

I think it’s fun to act like tourists in our home city once in a while. It helps me avoid taking in the city’s beauty for granted.

Hubby and I passed by Marina Square the other week and saw a Duck Tour bus drive by. Why not take BB on a little tour of the Singapore sights? we thought. In case you don’t know what a Duck Tour bus is, it’s like any other tour bus except for the vehicle itself — the bus can drive on land and float on water (hence the name “duck”). Apparently these amphibious buses originated in World War II. According to The Atlantic: “The name DUKW derived from military equipment coding: D stood for the year of production (1942); U denoted its amphibious quality; K indicated front-wheel drive capability; W rear-wheel drive. Unsurprisingly, they just became known as ‘ducks.'”

A DUKW tour splashing in the water

We booked our Captain Explorer DUKW tour online through City Tours. Toddlers are charged S$2 (paid in person when you collect your tickets). The collection and meet-up point is at Marina Square Shopping Mall, with some conveniently placed kiddie rides opposite in case your little bub gets bored waiting to board.

The week leading up to our tour, BB couldn’t stop talking about it. “Sakay duck toi” (“Ride duck tour”) he declared at every opportunity — which made it ironic that as soon as we got on the bus, he started agitating to get off. 😅 I thought I had to forgo our S$28/person ticket fee, but he thankfully relaxed when the bus started moving (and the sights started to get interesting).

While the noise of the engine revving up may have had something to do with his initial fear, I think the tour guide’s crappy sound system (the constant microphone feedback was painful to hear!) and insistence on playing the PPAP song on loop was much, much worse. We had to endure her most of the ride. 😒

Thankfully — the sights more than made up for the sounds.

We had seen these landmarks before, but it was ours and BB’s first time to see them from a boat in the bay. (Hubby and I had taken a river cruise on a bum boat a few years ago, but only got as far as the Merlion.)

I had never seen the underside of the Helix Bridge before…

BB also got to see my office from afar…

He was delightfully engaged for most of the ride, pointing out the buildings, the Ferris wheel, the dragon boats, and even the taxis we spotted when we were still a little close to land. He loved the big wet splash the bus made when we entered the water.

We saw the following landmarks on the tour:

1. Marina Bay
2. Marina Barrage
3. Marina Bay Sands
4. Gardens on the Bay
5. Merlion
6. Helix Bridge
7. Floating Stadium
8. Marina Bay Financial Centre
9. Singapore Flyer
10. Fullerton Hotel

I suppose a positive for travelers taking the bus alone is that the noisy tour guide is more than happy to take photos. She also does the tour in both English and Chinese.

Before going back to Marina Square the DUKW tour bus also drove by The National Museum, St. Andrew’s Cathedral, and The Cenotaph, a war memorial honoring the WWI and WWII dead.

While it was an experience riding a DUKW tour bus I’ll probably recommend the Singapore River Cruise bum boats as a better option for cruising with toddlers — it’s quieter too!

That said, we got off at Marina Square hungry for some Wee Nam Kee chicken rice, fully satisfied with the little slice of Singapore we got to see that day.

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#SGLovesKusama

Like the rest of Singapore (it seems), we tried to catch Yayoi Kusama’s Life is the Heart of a Rainbow exhibit on its last weekend at the National Gallery. The queues were legion, but BB enjoyed it, so — worth it!

Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese artist most famous for her distinctive art made up of intricate dots, nets and pumpkin motifs. She’s also known for her dazzling room-sized installations, unique performances, and sparkling mirrored infinity rooms. This was the first time her art would be exhibited in Southeast Asia so it was definitely a must-see, in my view.

I thought it would be cool to bring BB along for his first art exhibit. Instill a sense of culture and love of all things creative, and all that. O, how naive I was. 😂

I first got a sense I wouldn’t be lingering around admiring the art when we entered the Narcissus Garden room. BB immediately wanted to be put down. He was eyeing the stainless steel balls and I could sense he was itching to touch/kick/lick one. The gallery attendant was shooting evil looks at our little group, and we (i.e. me, Hubby, and Yaya C) passed BB around in a joint effort to keep his little arms and legs from touching the whole thing.

Lesson #1: my son has a pretty solid kick.

The next hall housed the installation The Spirits of the Pumpkins Descended Into the Heavens, in Kusama’s distinctive yellow-and-black spotted theme. This was a slightly easier hall to navigate, but we still had a heck of a time keeping BB away from the hanging frames.

BB loved the room where the pumpkin installation was. “Circles!” he said, and proceeded to sing a few lines from that Blippi tootbrushing song we play to him every night to encourage him to brush. (♫ “Circles, circles, on the sides of your teeth…” ♫)

We definitely failed our Let’s-Keep-BB’s-Hands-Off-the-Artwork challenge in The Tulip Room. He loved the colorful dotted tulips — I have several shots of him leaning against the giant flower pots with a “Do Not Touch” sign clearly seen from the back. *sigh*

In BB’s defense, Kusama herself encouraged an interaction between the viewer and her art. So maybe BB is appreciating Kusama’s work properly after all.

Lesson #2: Toddlers be toddlers.

The longest queue was for the immersive infinity room experience, Gleaming Lights of the Souls. While the mirrored room was meant to “invite contemplation in an infinitely repeating, expanding space”, because of the crowds each group was only allowed around 12 seconds to “contemplate.” Still worth the queue, I think.

Finally, we visited The Obliteration Room, a room and its furniture painted white. The room was filled with thousands of colorful round stickers. Visitors could donate S$2 to the gallery which comes with a sheet of stickers — go wild and stick it anywhere, everywhere.

I think I spot an Ikea Malm dresser
According to The National Gallery, the inspiration for the room comes from when Kusama was a little girl. “She started seeing the world through a screen of tiny dots. They covered everything she saw—the walls, ceilings, and even her own body. For 40 years she has made paintings, sculptures and photographs using dots to cover surfaces and fill rooms. Kusama calls this process ‘obliteration,’ which means the complete destruction of every trace of something.”

As it was a space meant to be fully immersive, BB definitely loved it. He had a blast pretend-drinking out of the cups scattered in the area, climbing some shelves, and checking out a bicycle. (I think I spotted a few Ikea pieces in there.)

Kusama’s art is truly a treat to see in person. But my key takeaway from this day is you haven’t truly lived life on the edge until you bring a rowdy toddler within hair’s breadth of artwork worth millions of dollars. Bow.

Phrase on repeat today: “DO NOT” 🙂

To My BB

In the middle of moving house (again!), nonstop work stuff, your mama trying to study for a certification exam, and just general busy-ness one can’t seem to get rid off, you’re growing big, our little one. Not so Squishy anymore. So I’m hereby christening you BB, a.k.a. Big Boy.

Over the past month you’ve somehow developed the ability to string together short phrases: “Ayoko ‘yan ayoko ‘yan” (“I don’t like I don’t like”, reacting to your chicken lugaw)“BB sakay car!” (“BB ride car” — thereafter proceeding to declare you want to ride all modes of transportation and then some. Your list includes random ones like “trailer truck,” “street sweeper,” and “cement mixer” thanks to your Usborne ‘Things That Go’ book), “Hi FRIENDS!!!” (to the kids / “BATA” who’re swimming in the baby pool at the condo — who promptly ignore your sweet face haha), making “MmMMmm” yum-yum sounds whenever you see pictures of food or see ones that you like (a short list that has Jollibee sweet spaghetti at the top), and so on. Your daddy and I honestly cannot keep track of New Things BB Does anymore.

I am floored by all the words you manage to remember. You parrot everything we say when you’re in the mood, and you sometimes say random lines from your favorite books at spot-on times (“OH YES” you once said to me after I asked you if you wanted to go out, while nodding — it cracked me up).

You now recognize some cartoon characters — we’ve relaxed the TV rule a little a bit so you’ve seen part of the first Cars movie (“Mc-KEEN!” “MATER!”) and the Minions. You get bored of the TV after a while though. (Yay.)

But boy, do you love your JAMS. You have a funny little dance when we put your favorite YouTube music videos on the speaker (belly thrust forward and back, jiggle shoulders up and down). Wheels on the Bus is still your #1 song, but you’re starting to branch out to the Hokey Pokey and Head Shoulders Knees & Toes. You know all the words to Johnny Johnny Yes Papa (down to your breathy HA HA HA at the end), Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and have your own version of Bahay Kubo and Ako Ay May Lobo (thanks to yaya Aca).

Your mama and daddy try to keep your days (at least the weekends!) and your heart full, BB. We took you to the Palawan Pirate Ship down in Sentosa one weekend and you loved the free sprinklers — though you fell victim to a cold right after. 😦

You had your third-ever boat ride to attend your Ninang‘s wedding in Bohol. You had the chance to play with your “BUCKET!” and get sand all over your bum. You met your “TITO BAYAN!” and now promptly remember him every time you see someone dark (LOL).

I’m sorry our little playgroup experiment didn’t work out, BB. Mama now knows that she shouldn’t rush you into being a big boy, that all she has to do is to fill your days with hugs and kisses and silly dances and joy — that the rest will happen in its own good time.

On DIY Haircuts

Squishy started bawling the second he sensed we were about to give him a haircut at EC House Kids. His hair had been bothering me for weeks — it was growing past his ears, getting in his eyes. With him starting playgroup soon we thought it best to bite the bullet and get the haircut over with.

Squishy hates haircuts. He hates the buzz of the hair clippers. The last time he had it cut, it was in the Philippines, in Cuts 4 Tots at Glorietta. He was so stressed out he sweated buckets — they didn’t need to spritz his hair with water. He also cried his little heart out. It was agonizing to watch.

So we backed out of EC House, calmed him down with a few rounds of singing “Wheels on the Bus” and headed home. The Hubby thought we could do it ourselves with the help of YouTube instructional videos. (To be fair, the Hubby did learn to swim breast stroke via YouTube, and this kid learned how to drive. For Hubby, it was good enough to get him a beginner’s diving license!)

I watched a few “how to cut your toddler’s hair” videos and marveled at all the kids who looked chill at the sight and sound of clippers/scissors. I found one video that looked promising and, duly inspired, I set off to find the sharpest scissors at home and the baby comb.

Squishy’s “Before” photo. Readying his hair with a brush.

(As an aside, you may be wondering why Squishy’s always in an undershirt a.k.a. sando. I promise you, if you too were dressing a genetically sweaty toddler in hot and humid Singapore, this would be your at-home outfit of choice.)

Taking a cue from YouTube we played a Disney Cars 3 trailer on loop to keep him occupied. I combed his hair down following what I thought/hoped was his natural part.

Squishy is so sensitive to haircuts he kept swatting my hand away and moving side to side. I ended up just trying to trim the longish bits but generally following the shape of his previous cut. It was effing challenging to cut a straight line AND not snip a chunk out of my kid’s ear.

Stay STILL… please

I intend to fix it while he’s sleeping and he kind of looks like Moe from The Three Stooges but at least, AT LEAST, the hair is out of his eyes.

I remember my mom, for a brief time in our childhood, did our haircuts herself by putting a mangkok (bowl) on our head and cutting a straight fringe along the rim of the bowl. So you know, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

My mom got asked “O, where’s your boy?” ALL the time

Weekend Blah

As I was looking for photos for this post I realize I haven’t been taking them lately. What I have are mostly videos — of Squishy playing with his shape sorter, “reading” his books, loving his “colors” (what he calls his crayons).

He’s grown active these past few months and, when it comes to capturing memories, taking photos didn’t seem to cut it anymore. All I have are random shots of things whenever I remembered to bring my camera. Here’s one of him attempting to climb up Cinderella’s dress at Toys R’ Us because he thought it was a slide:

At this age, toddlers understand way more than they can say. Squishy amazes me by how much he can absorb like a big-ass sponge. Out of the blue the other day he said “internet” when he saw me showing Hubby a Facebook page and none of us were sure where he heard the word, much less what it meant.

He has a more nuanced sense of his favorite books now — these days he demands The Paper Bag Princess (“Pin-sess!”), Love You Forever, and Cool Cars (…which I bought for a dollar in the atrium of Lucky Plaza. Now I know where to get his books — and our Mang Tomas fix — next!).

Squishy can communicate in short phrases: “Hugas” (Wash, in Filipino) after he poops, “Hugas! Punas!” (Wash! Wipe!) when he knows we’re about to start his pre-bedtime ritual, “Pess, baba” (Press, go down) when he’s had enough of food, and he wants us to release him from his high chair’s seatbelt and carry him. Here, he’s giving us his “Stinky” face like one of the babies in his Baby Faces book.

I looked at a folder in my drive labeled “Squishy – 3rd month onwards” where I’ve dumped all our photos since early 2016. It’s a mess — I keep telling myself to get my shit together and organize it one weekend, but I haven’t gotten around to doing that yet. It has everything — Squishy’s weekly and monthly celebrations, trips we made last year, we-did-nothing quiet weekend moments, first birthday and baptism photos. Thousands of photos. In one folder. Eep! I will add it to the list “Things I’ll Organize/Do One Weekend…Someday” together with Squishy’s blank baby book.

Anyway, it’s amazing to compare my grubby little toddler in the present to the chub-tub baby he was this time last year. It’s a worn cliché but yes Virginia, they do grow up fast.

Squishy will be attending a formal playgroup soon. All his afternoon mates at the condo playground are gone, plucked off one by one as they all attend playgroup / childcare sessions of their own. It’ll be good for his social skills, he’ll get to interact with other kids his age, we think. (Probably the same thing all the other parents in the condo are thinking, which is kind of ironic in a way.)

I imagine if Squishy were in the Philippines he’d have fellow grubby little toddlers to play with outdoors. Maybe.

When Baby Won’t Eat (and my 2nd mini-giveaway!)

I see these pudgy babies on my friends’ Facebook pages, all cheeks and Michelin man arms, and I imagine these are the babies those Food Network and Tasty Junior and Annabel Karmel recipes were written for.

These are the babies who’ll probably wolf down my homemade baby mac n’ cheese (artfully blended to hide all the vege he’ll surely spit out at first sight) and ask for seconds.

These are probably the babies who’ll eat just about anything.

And then there’s Squishy.

Source: Fowl Language Comics
I remember the grief I had (and insane amount of Googling I did) when all he ate at ten months old were boxed infant cereal and apples.

After a lick of choco ice cream — which he turned down right after. Smart kid, but… but… who turns down chocolate?!
I took the parenting books to heart by keeping him fully on breastmilk for his first six months — but I knew of parents who had started feeding bub purées at four months and they were eating way ahead of Squishy at his age.

I worried. Did we start him too late on solid food?

We tried all the tricks to no avail. I bought a ceramic slow cooker to cook Japanese rice mixed with different ingredients and vegetables to vary the tastes, prepared food with different textures and colors, used funky cutlery and plates to get him interested in eating.

Nothing. He barely ate.

We took our concerns to the pediatrician who told us not to worry. His weight was fine (50th percentile). He was active. He was hitting his milestones.

Parents being parents though, the worry wart never quite goes away and Google is more than happy to fill the void with endless amounts of information: WHO growth charts you can use to plot baby’s height/weight“ideal weight” calculators for those too lazy to plot anything after a full day at work, and countless forums with equally worried parents fretting about weight issues other than their own.

Fast forward to Squishy at 1+ years old.

He’s eating well — a rotation of steamed rice, pasta, meesua, and his favorite bread for carbs; chicken, pork, fish, and (sometimes) beef for protein; broccoli, carrots, and a bit of spinach for his vege. He loves bananas, apples, and mangoes. He’s more adventurous in his diet, eager to give everything a try (but also quick to spit it out if he doesn’t like it too much, like onions).

We think we should feed him more leafy greens and he still gets a bit red when we feed him eggs, but we’re working on expanding his menu.

More food ends up in his tummy these days, but sometimes it ends up in his/our nose
Squishy’s no Michelin baby, but he’s not light to carry either.

He’s active as he can be, thriving, and best of all — he looks happy.

So what changed?

The short answer is: nothing.

Squishy just gradually came around to trying more new things. That’s it. His eating “issue” sorted itself out in time.

Believe me, I know how frustrating it can get to see your bub refuse food. But after our experience with Squishy, I realize babies and kids are smart. They will let you know when they’re hungry (loud and clear). They won’t starve themselves. They’ll gradually come around, on their own, to eating all the healthy food on your table.

Like our pediatrician said, as long as your bub is hitting his or her milestones, is active, playful, and cheerful, don’t get too hung up on the percentiles. Baby will be fine. 🙂

 

Now, for all you parents with easy-to-feed kids! (Jealous *sob*) Do you have time to make them cute bento-style lunch boxes? (Jealous again)

This giveaway is for you! 🙂

The MamaDramaSG Kawaiiii Mini-giveaway 

I picked up the prizes in our last trip to Japan so they’re 100% legit. 🙂 There will be five (5) winners getting one prize each, chosen at random:

– Kawaii bento picks (cute eyes, mini animals) x4

– A sausage mold set x1

So cute hor!
Terms & Conditions (Please read):

– This giveaway is open only to parents resident in Singapore.

– This is not a sponsored promotion. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. I hereby release Facebook of any liability.

– The giveaway starts 14 Mar 2017 and ends 01 Apr 2017. 

– Your personal details are entered through the @GleamApp and I have no access to these. I will only be able to see the details of the winner automatically selected by the @GleamApp.

– There will be five (5) winners getting one (1) prize each (chosen at random). The winners will be contacted by email 24 hours after the giveaway ends. If there is no response within 48 hours, I reserve the right to draw another winner.

– The prize will be mailed to the address specified by the winner. No special requests for delivery requiring additional charges on my part will be entertained.

If you have any additional questions – feel free to send me an email at themamadramasg@gmail.com!

Good luck! 🙂

Enter the giveaway here:
https://gleam.io/f2SV9/the-mamadramasg-kawaiiii-minigiveaway

 

Or enter on Facebook on my Giveaways tab:
https://gleam.io/fb/f2SV9

A Late Hello, 2017

I blink and it’s March. Squishy is not so squishy anymore; he’s definitely crossed over into toddler territory now I think. Maybe I should start calling him LS – Less Squishy – heh. He has also, somehow, accumulated around 60-odd words (yes, the O.C. in me counted) ranging from mangga (mango) to calculator (“Kata-kata!”), enjoys trips to labas (outside), and loves pointing out all the cars, buses, and trucks (“Tuck!”) that pass outside our window.

I realize that the words Squishy knows (and loves) to say are what he sees around him everyday. A city boy, through and through.

Since I last posted we’ve spent days in cold places…

Bundled up – Meiji Shrine, Tokyo

And days in warm ones…

Sand play in Boracay

There were days spent with family…

Inang teaching Squishy how to “bless” (mano)

And days when it was just us.

Lazy day at home trying to chat with Siri from a locked phone.

I’m sorry I haven’t been diligent in posting. I blame work. (Cue the helpless shrug and a big HOLLA to all the working mamas in the room *fist bump*).

Squishy and I are back and we owe you guys a giveaway. Stay tuned!

Rolled mat = instant crawl tunnel = FUN