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Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Show Off's Birthday Celebration

Would you spend $2500 on a birthday cake (even is it is a safari cake complete with edible, handcrafted animals from a Branded Company)? Care to cough up $10 000 for your baby's first birthday bash? If these are not of signs of a show off, I'm not sure what else to call parents who splurge in such ways for their children's birthdays.

I come from a middle class family and the first person to celebrate his birthday was my second eldest brother, Razak for his 21st birthday. It was a simple celebration where family and close relatives and friends were invited and mum cooked scrumptious food.

About 14 years back, we celebrated our eldest son, Deen's first birthday. It was held at my in-laws place as we were living with them at that time. There were no funky themes or catered food. Just family and friends and great food which my mum-in-law cooked up.

As the years go by, there were some changes to the birthday celebrations for my kids. For my second child, Sabrina's forth birthday, we celebrated it in her kindergarten class. I bought for her a delicious cake and goodies bags for her to share with her classmates.

Two years back, when we celebrated my youngest daughter, Janeth's first birthday, there were lots of changes. The food was catered from a restaurant, there were games and prizes and goodies bags for the kids to bring back.

I hope that as we get more stabilised economically, we would be able to celebrate their birthdays with a splash! But there is a limit to how much we would splurge. Birthday celebration are a means to show our kids we love and care for them and a chance for family and friends to get together and have fun. Not a chance to show off!

Now that we are in a new country and have met lots of wonderful people who have become our friends, I hope to celebrate my third son, Mubarak's birthday in march.
The pleasure of a birthday celebration is the preparation where the children get together to make the decorations, invitations and help out with the food too. For those who are not too adventures ( or do not want the kids to mess up), there are lots great shops where you can get birthday party supplies.

For those who choose a middle path, (where you don't want to end up with doing all the stuff for your kid's birthday so that you don't have even a minute of peace before and during the celebration or take the easy way out and just pay up lots of money so that others can handle every little detail about the birthday celebration) you can be involved with your child's birthday celebration to the level that you wish. After you have chosen a theme, you could go to a birthday party supplies store and buy a wide range of products that you need for the celebration.

You can also choose from a variety of online sites such as www.birthdayexpress.com for all your birthday needs.

As my son loves Pokemon, I was searching for interesting favors and toys with that theme in mind. I'm sure my son and his friends will love to play and eat the yummy Pokemon Puzzle Gum.

When it comes to a birthday party, there so much to choose from. What are your kids going to wear for their big day, how are you going to decorate the venue, what is that yummy cake going to be, what are the games and activities for the party, what is going to be the keepsake gifts and favors and toys for the party.

I beleive planning in advance and shopping on line and comparing price on all the above mentioned items will help to minimise cost involved and yet not limit but indeed allow you to choose form a wide variety of products available so that you can have a fun celebration.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

My FIVE Favorite Books for children aged 0 to 11

Ages 0 to 3+

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Eric Carle artwork, created by layered collage of hand painted papers, made this book an instant classic. The holes in the pages are exciting for little people to peek and poke fingers through, and ushered in an era of experimentation in book formats for children.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

2. Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Ever feel angry and frustrated? This classic explores those feelings. It begins with some mischief, then Max, the hero is sent to bed by his mum and he manages to conquer the wild things of his imagination.

Where The Wild Things Are

3. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
When a little mouse takes a walk in the forest he meets an owl, a snake and .... a guffalo. A hugely popular modern classic.

The Gruffalo

4. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish by Dr. Seuss
Is there any more joyful use of the English language than that found in the pages of a Dr. Seuss book? Reading them is such a pleasure, so read them early and often. Experience as many Dr. Seuss books as possible.

One Fish Two Fish Red Fish

5. Window by Jeannie Baker
This is a picture book that defies age categorisation. Kids will get different things out of it at different ages. It shows the changing landscape in a view form a child's window as he grows up, with many layers of meaning about change, time and the world around us.


Ages 3 to 5+

Green Eggs and Ham

1. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
And The Lorax, and There's a Wocket in My Pocket! and The Cat in the Hat. There are so many Dr.Seuss titles with something to offer.

The Little Engine That Could

2. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
This is an enduring story with an inspiring moral about being determined and believing in yourself.

The Muddleheaded Wombat

3. The Muddleheaded Wombat by Ruth Park
He really is a stubborn fellow, and that's something kids of this age can relate to. Filled with humour and muddleheaded spoonerisms.

The Magnificent Nose and Other Marvels

4. The Magnificent Nose and Other Marvels by Anna Flenberg
Fantastic adventure stories set in locations around the world.


5. Winnie-the-Pooh by Emest H. Sherpard
The adventures of young Christopher Robin Milne and his teddy-bear friend Winnie. The characters are a perfect ensemble: Pooh of little brain, piglet with his tizzies, Owl all pedantry, Ravvit Kanga, Roo and poor old Eyeore.

Ages 5 to 7+

1. The Wind in The Willows by Kenneth Grahame
The incorrigible Toad is playing right into the hands of the Weasels, and Ratty, Mole and Badger are doing their best to protect him and their riverside homes. All seen through the eyes of timid little Mole. who is capable or more than he realises when it comes to sticking up for his friends.

2. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
Guess How Much I Love You

How to you quantify the love a child has for a parent or a parent has for their child? Little Nutbrown Hare and his dad try to find the words.

3. Eloise in Paris by Kay Thompson
Eloise in Paris

If there's something going on, Eloise know about it. The spirited young girl shares all sort of semi-scandalous observations. For kids, her autonomy and Independence is a delight, and for parents, the wit and child's eye view is brilliant.

4. The Peasant Prince by Li Cunxin
The Peasant Prince

Stunningly illustrated, this is an amazing autobiographical tale of a Chinese boy who rose from extreme poverty and become a world famous ballet dancer.

5. Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales

The Little Match Girl. The Ugly Ducking, The Red Shoes, The Princess and the Pea, The Emperor's New Clothes: some to these tales are perfect for the very young now, and save others for later.

Ages 7 to 9+

1. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol
Despotic queen bent on decapitating people, odd growing and shrinking experiences, and bad advice from very strange strangers; Alice's experiences as she chases the white rabbit are the essence of a strange dream, but she keeps her head in the end.

2. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
The story of the friendship between the little pig Wilbur, the runt of the little, and Charlotte the spider, who saves his life by spinning words into her web. Its filled with humour, sincerity, sadness and most of all, love. This is a book that will never be forgotten.

3. Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
Tom's Midnight Garden

This is a haunting story about a child who stays with his uncle and aunt in a strange house and meets another lonely child from a different time. It won the Carneige Medal in 1958.

4. The Borrowers by Mary Norton
The Borrowers

An enchanting tale of tiny people who live beneath the floorboards and borrow everything they need from the humans living above them.

5. Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson
Comet in Moominland

In a series of nine books and five picture books, the shy moomins, the Hobgloglin and the Hattifatteners have all sort of creative adventures. These books, originally written in Sweden, have become cult classics throughout the world.

Ages 9 to 11+

The Hobbit

1. The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
The epic fantasy story novel that introduces Bilbo Baggins. Rich with fully realised mythologies precise languages ans dark geopolitical struggles, the story of Bilbo's quest becomes a part of you forever. It opens the door to Tolkien's The Lord of the Ring trilogy, a world to explore with your kids in years to come.

The Little Prince

2. The Little Prince by Anotine de Saint-Exupery
A sweet tale of the little prince, a visitor from Asteriod B612 who meets some characters and finds answers about friendship and love while on an incredible journey. It's a simply told story filled with beautiful sentiment that will become a favourite.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

3. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S.Lewis
The first in the Chronicles of Narnia and one of the top children's bestsellers of all time. Four siblings find a hidden universe in the back of a wardrobe and enter, fulfilling an ancient prophecy to help the lion Aslan in his struggle to restore the land of Narnia.

The Wizard of Oz

4. The Wizard of Oz by L.Frank Baum
This classic book is not widely read. It's a US fairytale with wonderful characters and a great journey - expect many differences between this and the Judy Garland film.

Anne of Green Gables

5. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Reading this book is like sharing Anne's friendship through childhood and early adolescence. Her frustration and her remorse, her developing bonds with her new family and neighbours and her rivalries with schoolmates are wonderful reading for kids to enter high school.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Favourite Holiday Ideas

While my relatives and friends back home in Singapore are preparing to get their kids to school, I have been busy entertaining my kids this holidays. After our move to Adelaide, Australia in late November, we now have Extended Holidays, Yup, all the way until end January.

We are new here and since the school has not started yet my kids have not made any new friends of their age group yet. No relatives and friends to hang around with and lots of free time, so you can imagine the headache and stress I have to make sure they are not tooooo bored.

Here are some ideas and tips that has worked for me. Some of these ideas are from books and magazines that I have read and will like to try it out soon.

1. Arrange a picnic

Since sun set is about 8.30 pm over here , we go out at about about 6.30pm to the play ground nearby to have a picnic. The sea is near and the view is fantastic. Its really lovely to see the sun setting and to feed the sea gulls and look at the pelicans perching on the stands......

The kids usually bring along their scooter and have a race. Then they play lots of games like "Spider web", "Crocodile" and "Catching" in the playground. The youngest who is 2 loves to play the swing and the slides.

2. Books Glorious Books

Fortunately for all of us, the library is virtually next door. Just 5 minutes walk and we can spend hours in fantasy through reading wonderful books.

3. Scenic times

The other day, I brought the kids on the public bus and had a wonderful time looking at the lovely and wonderful scenes of beautiful Adelaide.

More Great Holiday Ideas

4. Entertain your kids when the sun goes down with a little night-time theatre. Make shadow puppets from stiff cardboard glued on sticks.

5. Hold a story writing competition or help younger children write and illustrate a story.

6. Bake yummy muffins with your kids. Encourage them to do as much of the baking process as they can. Then get them to be creative with the decorations too.

7. Get creative with playdough. Guaranteed to give hours of fun - though be prepared to clear up the mess!

8. Throw a themed party mid - holidays to catch up with friends. Think : Hawaiian, with leis and cocktail umbrellas or a safari with passport invitations. Let the kids help out with thinking up ways to decorate the place, creating the cards and games that go with the theme. And of course HAVE FUN!

9. Collect interesting things on walks, such as leaves and flowers and make a project out of it on a piece of cardboard.

10. Make a scrapbook or wonderful cards with those interesting finds. Other ideas for the scrapbook could be about the holidays, the themed party, artwork made by your kids or post cards and greeting cards received etc. Remember to reuse the wrapping paper, bows and ribbons etc to add zest to your scrapbook!

11. Give your kids paper and crayons and show them how to trace textures from surfaces. See how many they can trace around the house.

12. Act out a play. Narrate your kids' favorite book while they invent the actions to go along with it.

13. Explore your local wildlife park or the zoo to see the animals, birds and reptiles.

14. Share a few retro games from your own childhood, such as hopscotch or red rover, so the kids give them a whirl.

15. Teach your kids one or two new card games, even if they're simple as "Go Fish".

16. Build sandcastles at the beach. It's a nice way to spend the early morning or late afternoon.

17. Set up a game of hide and seek. It's lots of fun for the little ones.

18. Book a tennis court and have a hit. Don't worry about being too serious, the exercise and hand-eye skills are invaluable.

19. Go to the local cycleway/bike track and go riding or rollerblading. It's a great way to get out in the fresh air and enjoy the sunshine.

20. Head to the cinema. Watching a movie over the holidays is a guaranteed good time.

21. Design your own personalised calender for the New Year, stick on photos or your kids' drawings. Get input from your kids and make it to a FUN joint project for the whole family.

22. Try ten-pin bowling. It's a fun day out that all ages can enjoy.

23. Make a bowl of popcorn and rent your favorite film from childhood - they've probably never heard of E.T.!

24. Have a tournament with board games. Monopoly, Hungry Hippos, Operation or Ludo make great wet weather FUN.

Hope these 2 dozen ideas are helpful to keep the boredom away and your hour FUN filled :)

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Play date perfection

Fun play dates
Play dates can be more than just fun and games (If you planned it well)!

First, let's look at the advantages of having play dates.

Watch and Learn
As your child observes you portioning out cookies and crayons, he'll pick up important lessons on sharing

Get hands on
First-hand experiences of sharing and interacting with other kids is one of the fastest ways of teaching children social skills.

Happy Kids
Play time helps to improve a child's emotional development as such a loss of such time Can mean an increase in stress and anxiety

Speak Up
Putting kids together is a great way to give verbal skills a boost. Children naturally want to communicate with one another, and play dates allow them to figure out how to get started.

15 Tips to a successful Play Date

1. Make Connections
Get to know the parents of your child's classmates or schoolmates. Volunteer at preschool activities or set up carpools. Once you're on good terms with other parents, chances to arrange play dates will come thick and fast.

2. Plus One
Initially, young children and parents alike might not be comfortable with the idea of solo play dates. Invite the other parent or caregiver along for a cup of tea and a get-to-know-you-better session while the kids are at play.

3. Fun Size
Keep play dates restricted to one or two other children each time. When too many are present, children can get distracted, overwhelmed or withdrawn.

4. Too much, too many
Play dates are great when they're fun for kids. Too many play dates however, can feel like work for children especially since they're encouraged to be on their best behaviour every time. If your child attends preschool, play dates once a week are a good way to start.

5. Time it right
To ensure maximum enjoyment at play dates, avoid scheduling them at meal or nap times. Keep play dates short - one hour each time for first dates or two at the most for regular pals. don't forget to pencil in breaks for snake time or unwinding.

6. Take the lead
Let junior decide who he wants to invite. Suggest his favourite playmates at preschool. Explain that it's important to make his friends feel welcome and ask him which activities he thinks they might enjoy. Boost his sense of importance by letting him answer the door or bring out the snacks. When your child feels that he's in charge, he'll welcome the chance to host play dates.

7. Go low tech
Banning the TV ans the computer might be akin to cutting off kids' life line but don't shy away from doing it. Play dates are all about communication and this won't happen when kids are glued to the screen. Let your child and his guest know about this rule in advance.

8. Stash it
Play dates might be all about nurturing good social skills but kids will be kids, especially when it comes to prized possessions. To prevent potential fall-outs, keep favourite toys out of sight and set out collaborative options such as building blocks, toy soldiers or dolls instead.

9. Bite in
Snack time

Does your child's guest have food allergies or is she picky about certain types of food? Knowing your guest's tastes ahead of time can go a long way towards a seamless snack time.

10. Free Stylin!

Let kids get creative instead of off-the-shelf options, set out crayons and finger paint, plasticine etc. You might just be surprised at how much fun children get out of free-form and open ended activities such as these.

11. Side by side
Don't despair if your preschooler isn't playing with his friend. Younger children often enjoy simply playing in the company of a friend, even in different rooms at times. Known as "parallel play", this form of interaction often blossoms into full blown interaction with time.

12. Be a cheerleader
Kids like to know that they're doing well, even when they're playing with a friend. Make a conscious effort to praise your child (and his friend!) when they do something right and you'll minimise the likelihood of negative behaviour rearing its head during the date.

13. Step in

Don't jump in at every minor disagreement. Allow kids to work things out among themselves. When you have to intervene, do so kindly but firmly. If things are getting too heated, separate the children for a short period of time.

14. Clean-up crew
Let kids know that they are responsible for picking up after themselves and putting play equipment back in its place before calling it a day. Simple reminders with an incentive attached will often do the trick. Such as, "As soon as you guys pick up your toys you can have cupcakes for tea time!", should do the work.

15. Be realistic
As much as play dates are supposed to be about fun, just 15 minutes of harmonious play is a big accomplishment when it comes to preschoolers. Don't beat yourself up if squabbles, spilt milk and crumbled cake arise - Its really part of the fun.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

The Upside of Failure - lesson for kids who don't make the cut

Every child wants to succeed (And every parent would want his/her child to succeed even more!) Ace the quiz, win the playoffs, be the first in class.... the list goes on. However, in reality, whenever we are involved in competitive acitivies, theres always someone who wins and many others who lose.

We can't protect our children from experiencing defeat, but when it happens, we can teach them how to deal with it. Failure may disappoint and hurt a child, but it shouldn't devastate him. (Remember : Don't add salt to the wound by adding your dissapointment onto to your child)

It is important for a parent to put such moments in prespective. Here are some comforting words and enlighteniing lessons to pass along.

1. Its frustrating to lose, but don't beat yourself up about it. - Its Ok to be human. The truth is, nobody is perfect at everything they do.

2. Very successful people fail sometimes - some of them fail alot. Thomas Edison made 3000 attempts before creating a light bulb that worked! Do we call Edison a failure? No way...... He proved to be a brilliant inventor :)

3. Every failure can teach us something important. If you don't make the cut for a team, (Be it soccer, the band, drama etc.) find out what needs to be improved and act on it, instead of sulking or giving up your dream.

4.In every negative there is a positive. Find the positive! Ask yourself, What did I do well? What am I best at in this activity? What skills did I pick up, and how can I use them in the future?

5. Even though you fail at something, you are not a failure. You're still a good person. What do you call a major league baseball player who fails to get a hit seven out of 10 times at bat? Answer: an All-Star. It means that he's a .300 hitter and probably one of the best in baseball.

6. We can succeed only if we're willing to take risks and work hard. If you want to win the race, you have to enter the race and train to be a good runner. Winners don't have a guarantee that they will win every race, but the chance that they will makes it worth it.

7. The only people who never experience failure are those who give up. Star quarterback Tom Brady was a backup player during his first three years of college. He became so frustrated that he almost quit the team. Of course, he didn't, and he eventually become starting quaterback in his last year - and was drafted by New England Patriots after graduation. His team won 3 Super Bowls, and Tom was selected Most Valuable Player in 2 of the games. What would have happened if he had quit?

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Pregnancy massage

During my 4 pregnancies I had experienced different levels of discomfort due to the increased weight, shifting posture and changing hormone levels. I was not fortunate to learn about pregnancy massage techniques available then.

I came across this wonderful site that provides Pregnancy Massage DVD. A massage is always welcome whenever one is tired and during pregnancy such massages allow pregnant moms to unwind during this time. It can also alleviate the resulting discomfort and other pregnancy-related symptoms. And, better yet, nurturing the mother-to-be also nurtures the new life growing within.

Have a quick look at this video for a demo.

Pregnancy Massage Video
< src="http://videoshelf.com/press_release/player/AVS-video-player-Preg2.swf" quality="high" bgcolor="#7c7c7c" width="352" height="325" name="AVS-video-player-Preg2" align="middle" allowScriptAccess="sameDomain" allowFullScreen="false" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" />
Massage Videos   |   Pregnancy Massage

For those who are interested in getting a copy of the DVD, here are the contact details :

Contact Info –Nurturing Pregnancy Massage Techniques I (2 Hrs. 17 Mins.) can be ordered for $54.95, and Nurturing Pregnancy Massage Techniques II (1 Hr. 7 Mins.), can be ordered for 49.95, plus shipping. Order by calling 1-800-414-2434 or visiting www.VideoShelf.com.
The complete set can be purchased for $84.00, at a savings of 20%

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

What can you do about - Burns and Scalds

Burns and scalds are injuries to the tissues of the body caused by heat, electricity, cold, chemicals or radiation. A scald is a burn by 'wet heat' e.g. hot liquids, steam.

The depth of burns can be classified as :

Superficial burns - Only the outer layer of the skin is damaged. The skin feels hot and is red and painful with no blisters. For example, mild sunburn or a scald caused by a splash of hot tea.

Partial - thickness burns- The skin is red and very painful. It is associated with swelling and blisters.

Full - thickness burns - All layers of the skin are damaged. The skin looks pale, leathery or charred. It is painless because the nerves are damaged. Always seek Emergency medical attention immediately for such burns.

What you can do

# Immediately wash the burnt area under cold, running water for about 10 minutes or immerse the burnt area in a bucket of cold water. This is to lower the temperature of the skin and decrease the injury caused by the burn or scald.
Wash with Cold water

# Carefully remove any clothing (unless it is stuck to the burn) or accessories from the burnt area before any swelling develops.

# After cooling the burnt area, pat dry with a clean cloth.

# Cover the area with a clean or sterile dressing which will not stick to the burn such as food-wrap film. There are many appropriate dressing available at the pharmacy.

# Do not break a blister as germs may enter and cause infection. If a blister breaks on its own, do not remove the skin; wipe the fluid off before covering the area with a dry, non-adherent dressing.

When to see your doctor

See your family doctor when:

1. You need help with the dressing

2. The burn gets infected and results in fever, redness, swelling, increasing pain and pus formation

When it is an Emergency

Go to the Emergency Department:

1. It is a full-thickness burn or a large partial-thickness burn

2. The burn is in the mouth or throat, at the eyes, ears or genital area, or involves an entire finger or hand.

3. The burn is caused by a chemical substance

4. The burn is caused by electricity or lightning

5. The burnt area is of a larger area than a person's hand.

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