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

I’m on Year 2¬Ĺ 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.¬†ūüĎĆ

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!¬†ūüėė

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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! ūüėõ),¬†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. ūüôā 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¬†ūüėā. 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 1¬Ĺ 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.

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. ūüėĀ)

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.¬†ūüėä

Happy New Year y’all!

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.¬†ūüėÖ¬†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.¬†ūüėí

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.

Kids Read #9 (Halloween edition!): Ma-Me-Mi-MUMU! ūüéÉ

It was always such a treat to be allowed to stay up late to watch¬†Magandang Gabi, Bayan‘s Halloween specials, with its cheesy floating “white ladies” and powdered cemetery ghosts. To a ’90s kid like me they were the SCARIEST THING EVER (followed closely by the early Shake Rattle & Roll franchise).

Jomike Tejido’s¬†Ma-Me-Mi-MUMU! is a wholesome take on the Philippine supernatural, through the eyes of little Sophia and her¬†Lolo Nanding (Grandpa Nanding).

We begin with a neighborhood boy taunting Sophia, saying,¬†“May mumu sa bahay n’yo!”¬†(“There’s a¬†mumu¬†in your house!”) Sophia is afraid of encountering a¬†mumu¬†(monster) in her house — and imagines one in the kitchen, in the bathroom, or wherever she goes.

Lolo¬†Nanding helps her overcome her fear of monsters by presenting them in a friendlier light. Tejido makes clever use of these creatures’ “real” traits as a way for Sophia to bond with them.

For example,¬†Lolo Nanding encourages her to challenge any¬†manananggal¬†she meets to a sewing contest. In local folklore,¬†manananggals are vampire-like creatures that can separate the upper and lower half of its body to be able to fly at night and prey on pregnant women. (!) But Tejido’s version is cute as a button!

Similarly,¬†Lolo¬†Nanding suggests that Sophia use the¬†tiktik’s¬†long, snaking tongue to paraglide…

… that she teach the¬†tiyanak, a monster baby, his ABCs…

… and give the¬†kapre,¬†a cigar-smoking giant thought to reside in big trees, some¬†pakwan¬†(watermelon) candy so he’d dump his cigar.

For other monsters Tejido doesn’t stray far from folklore. If you pass an unexplained mound on the ground in the province it’s supposedly good practice to say¬†“Tabi tabi po”¬†(“Excuse me”) just in case you disturb these¬†nuno sa punso,¬†or Philippine dwarves.

Ma-Me-Mi-MUMU! is a fun introduction for children to a distinct part of Philippine culture. I personally love that Sophia is introduced to these creatures by her lolo, to whom she gives his favorite tea and fruit at the end, as thanks for rhyming so long.

There’s a gallery at the back of all the monsters in the book…

… and the book is bilingual in English and Filipino, so you can help your little one learn the language too.

A highly recommended, scary-not-so-scary book to read the kids this Halloween!

 

ūüďĖ

Ma-Me-Mi-MUMU! (Tahanan Books)
Written and illustrated by Jomike Tejido

Php 195 at National Bookstore