The Playful Parents

Love at Play

December 17, 2014
by theplayfulparents
0 comments

Sabbatical in the Desert

This is possibly one of the hardest blog post I’ve every written, and it has been in my mental draft box for some months now. Because it is so hard to write, do excuse me if it seems somewhat incoherent.

As 2014 draws to a close, I feel the need to make certain decisions regarding the direction of my life. For far too many months, I’ve felt myself wasting away precious time and opportunities to invest my energies wisely.

Moving forward into 2015, I feel I need to get a grip on my life, my heart and my hands before more time is wasted and opportunities to reach the hearts of my children frittered away. As such, I am making a painful but necessary decision to take a sabbatical from blogging and frontline event organization.

I have thoroughly enjoyed organizing Singapore’s first cardboard festival for the family as well as Organic Play Parties. These community initiatives as well as being part of the Singapore Mom Bloggers have given me new experiences and friends. These experiences and encounters have greatly enriched my life, and I will treasure these for a long time.

However, I need to be truthful with myself about my limitations. I have come to understand that I just do not have the capacity to multitask and juggle the various roles. I also need to be fair to my children. There is also a time and season for everything. Right now, it is my season to focus on my family. Being a work addict, I have a tendency to choose work over family, and I have regrettably done so too often in recent times.

It is hard for me to let go of things and causes I hold dear.
But it would be foolish for me not to choose the dearest people over my personal passions.

The story of ‘Moses’ came to me twice within the last 18 months. I was reminded of it recently as I deliberated over my commitments and reflected on my lifestyle. I find myself drawn to the portion of Moses’ life where he spent 40 years in the desert after he fled Egypt for murdering an Egyptian slavemaster. He entered the desert a disgraced nobleman and murderer, and while there, Moses encountered the Living God and was appointed by God to be the deliverer of His people from slavery. I feel I need to enter a desert season. Perhaps I’m already in the desert and am only just realizing it.

The desert can be harsh and lonely. But it can also be a place of refuge and restoration as Moses found it to be as a fugitive.

I find the desert intimidating but intriguing.
What happened in the desert that changed Moses from a fiery, zealous nobleman into the meekest man on earth?
Why did Jesus spend 40 days in the desert before He began His public ministry?
What will I find in the desert?
And why do I need to enter it now?

I believe the desert proffers me two gifts – the Gift of Solitude, and the Gift of Silence. In embracing these two gifts, I believe I can look forward to leading a more intentional and fruitful life.

As my dearest husband just said to me, water is so scarce in the desert that every single drop becomes precious. The desert is also the only place where you can find an oasis.

Water is life.

So I believe I will learn how to cherish every single drop of water. I will learn to embrace every second and moment of life with contentment as I dwell in the desert for a while.

To the human mind, the desert is hot and arid with dull expanses of nothingness.
But to my soul that is sick of living in futility, I am eager to discover the hidden streams in the desert.

While the desert may see like a lonely place, I know I will not be alone for my Lord Jesus is with me.

So my dearest friend, thank you for your support all these past months. You can still reach me via email or through my blog Facebook page. However, I will not be actively updating this page until further notice. May you and your family have an intentionally fruitful 2015 ahead! May Truth, Virtue and Beauty grace your everyday! Until we meet again somewhere, may the following song touch your heart.

Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace

Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount I’m fixed upon it

Mount of Thy redeeming love.
Here I raise my Ebenezer,
Here by Thy great help I’ve come.
And i hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God.
He to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood (precious blood).

Oh that day when freed from sinning
I shall see Thy lovely face.
Clothe it then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing thy sovereign grace.
Come my Lord no longer tarry
Take my ransom soul away.
Send Thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless days.

Oh to grace how great a debtor
Daily i’m constraint to be!
Let Thy goodness like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander Lord i feel it
Prone to leave the God I love.

Here’s my heart
Oh take and seal it.
Seal it for thy courts above.
Here’s my heart
Oh take and seal it
Seal it for thy courts above.

September 8, 2014
by theplayfulparents
0 comments

Quality Monkey Fun with Paper Monkey Theatre

I shared about this some weeks back on my social media channels.
But then I realized I didn’t blog about it! I didn’t want any of you to miss out on this quality show so here’s my recommendation.

FB mama post

We’re a family that doesn’t spend much on entertainment like the movies.
BUT we have a soft spot for theatre – quality theatre, especially Chinese theatre for children.

So if you’re still looking for something meaningful and enriching to do with your children this September holidays, be sure to check out Paper Monkey Theatre’s upcoming production, Looking for Mama. This is brought back by popular demand since its first run earlier this year was sold out really quickly (and I couldn’t even buy a ticket in time! Boo hoo.)

px-looking-for-mama-rerun2

What’s Looking for Mama about?
Looking for Mama tells the adventure of a brave little tadpole in search for its Mama.

You will follow the journey of one brave little tadpole who musters up the courage to leave his siblings in search of their mother. Along the way, he meets different creatures in the pond. To each creature, he repeats the same refrain,  “Where’s my Mama? Are you my Mama? ” Every creature replies with different answers. Though confused, Little Tadpole also makes new discoveries about himself along the way.

What to Expect?

You and your children will be regaled with storytelling, drama and puppetry in their finest forms.
Yes, even you!
What I love about their work is that they do not condescend or dumb down content for children. And they are always able to also engage the inner children of adults.

Why spend $15 a ticket?
Because it’s not often a quality family theatre performance (and in Mandarin!) comes along.
If you’re appalling at Mandarin like me, don’t worry! Like me , I am certain you will find plenty in the production to enjoy like the delightful puppetry and storyline.

I’m personally very picky about shows ( I’ve watched really bad, overrated and overpriced local ‘family theatre’ programmes and I do not hesitate to caution other parents about those). However, this is one production and one Singapore theatre company I wholeheartedly recommend.

Paper Monkey Theatre is helmed by renowned playwright and puppeteer, Benjamin Ho, and is one of my top favourites theatre companies in Singapore.  And I’m a great fan of Benjamin’s unique creative voice, artistry and finesse in his works. He is also a former trained MOE teacher and hence, he also possesses a strong pedagogical understanding of how children behave and think. This coupled with his experience and understanding intuition has a very strong history of producing entertaining and enthralling theatrical magic.

So yes, I’m really biased and think Benjamin and his theatre company rocks because of my previous wonderful experiences at his shows. And he’s also a personal family friend.

What are you waiting for? Check out the tickets now!
Several friends and followers on my social media network have already purchased tickets about two weeks ago after I shared the news.
There are only 4 public shows this weekend before the school run starts next week.
Tickets might already be gone but you can still call them to try your luck! Perhaps get a group of friend to book a school slot.
You can check out details here.

September 4, 2014
by theplayfulparents
1 Comment

A Crafty Homeschool Festival 2014 {Thanks, 3M!}

me selling kacang puteh

No, I’m not moonlighting as a ‘kacang puteh’ seller. That’s me at our inaugural Homeschool Festival last Saturday.

And in case you were wondering about Voyage of Dreams this year, I’m taking a break from organizing it in favour of establishing more intimate community playspaces. My community intiative, Organic Play Parties, is coming back for the 3rd instalment by popular demand. Registrations have opened so do book your spots for it soon.

Meanwhile, I’ve been laying a little quieter than usual because I’m also busy making preparations to homeschool my firstborn next year. Homeschool? Yeps! That’s right.

So before you shoot me the questions of ‘Why’ and ‘How’ and whatever-else-not, let me take this opportunity to introduce you to my wonderful Homeschool Singapore community. It is founded by a friend – the talented singer-songwriter-parent Dawn Fung.

Our first ever Homeschool Festival was held last Saturday at Bishan Park. There were more than 40 families present. (Thereabouts … no one was really taking attendance. So yes, we homeschoolers are rather chillaxed about numbers like this. Who can come, come. Who cannot.. it’s okay. There’s always another social coming along. Whoever said we homeschoolers had socialization difficulties? )

Though we are just a bunch of homeschoolers, we were extremely blessed by the generosity of individual and corporate sponsors. We were spoiled silly with goodie bags (stuffed full with $300 worth of things!), a veritable feast of hearty homecooking and homebakes, a giveaway corner for families to pass along blessings.

Being the cardboard queen, I was just thrilled that 3M offered to sponsor us lovely tapes from their latest Washi & Expressions range.  (With great thanks to my inspiring and resourceful friend, Justina of Mum in the Making. Do hop over there after you finish here to read more about our HS Festival.)

3m Washi rolls

In my preferred organic play style, I set up the craft corner at the Homeschool Festival with minimal fuss and maximum access to resources.

kids crafting

Because we were outdoors, I didn’t want too much fuss with drippy glue so I did some pre-event prep of sticking googly eyes on tongue depressors and egg cartons (leftovers from VOD 2013). A whole boxful of scissors (NOT the child-friendly but totally real types) was left on the mat for any child who needed them.
But I must say, it was really the 3M tapes with all their glorious colours and prints that inspired all the creativity and an instant pop to all the creations.

washi sticks

washi cartons

washi sample crafts

My two boys love snipping and making (which explains why my home is not a home, but actually a full-scale studio where you can find odds and ends from ‘projects’ in every corner). Lee, almost 6, invented this flying owl out of loo rolls which he taught to his little brother. I brought their little toys along just for my boys to test out their flight-worthiness. To my delight (and surprise), Lee’s creation captured the interest of many children at the station especially the boys.

Here’s a quick snapshot of all the crafty action that went on.

HS Fest Tapes03

kids at work

What is also fabulous about the 3M tapes is how easy it is for even young children to work with them.

helping 4 yo washi

With some help. Or without.

HS Fest Tapes13

Did I mention too that the act of unwinding-and-unwinding-and-unwinding those tapes to stick-and-stick-and-stick on stuff-upon-stuff-upon-stuff works some sort of quiet spell onto even the most active of children?
It’s just marvelous to watch how the children think and dream with their hands.

HS Fest Tapes15

HS Fest Tapes09

Whether it is a sculpture they want to make…

kids with washi

Or just making something new to share with their friends – a story perhaps?

HS Fest Tapes06

Or a new fantastical flying invention they’re making…

Flying owl jed

What’s important is the children are learning to create, and learning how to use what they have to have fun.

And what’s even more important is that we adults can get time to dream up some dreams of our own.

Photography Credits & Copyright:
Many thanks to these wonderful Homeschooling Friends for the photos above – Stanley Eo, Kevin Yan and Justina Tey.

 

May 30, 2014
by theplayfulparents
1 Comment

 

So okay, I’ve been a mother – and a so-called ‘Stay Home’ one – for coming 6 years.
While I cannot and dare not claim I’m a better stay-home mom now than before, I do dare say that I’m getting better at understanding what my role as a mom , stay-home or not, entails.
So I would not even dare say I can give you tips to put you in good stead for having a smooth sail into SAHM-hood ( because I’m still searching for those 100% success-guaranteed tips myself!).

But what I would really like to share with you is some sanity-handles that I’ve found to me of utmost usefulness in my many moments of almost-losing-it, lost-it and can-this-get-any-worse?

And so if you’re up for grappling with the nitty-gritties and a less-than-picture-perfect SAHM life, then read on.

#1. Write a ‘Dear Self’ letter.

A ‘Dear Self’ letter is one that you should write to help you remember why you are choosing this SAHM journey when all other configurations of being Mom are available to you. It’s a letter where you record your motivations and purpose in choosing to be a SAHM. If you can include a few inspirational quotes  or the trigger events that led you to this critical decision, do so. You’ll appreciate these when you read them again in the deepest pits of discouragements. And if you never trip up, then you’ll have a wonderful heritage keepsake to pass on to your children.

A ‘Dear Self’ letter written right before you jump into this new SAHM game is probably the MOST important one you want to spend time writing. If you haven’t done this before, and you’re into your nth year, it’s still a valuable exercise .

Put this letter or letters somewhere you can get to when you ever hit that spot of ‘Bleah’.

So, how do you recognize the Spot of BLEAH?
If your inner thoughts sound anything like:
WHAT am I doing home?!
I cannot stand another minute of being home with the kids!
Why did I choose to do this to myself?

#2. Tell yourself that it is okay to drop all expectations of yourself and everything else.

It’s always great to make a plan lest we fail. But sometimes, we women can set such grand plans and forget that we are ultimately still human. We need our sleep. We need our feel-good foods. We need our ‘Me-Just Me’ times. And we need to be able to look after ourselves without guilt.
Drop all the ‘should haves’ and ‘ought tos’ from your daily thoughts. These often lead to too much unproductive negativity.
Instead, try to focus on counting your blessings and being thankful for some things even when you don’t feel like it.
Take joy in your life and in yourself – no matter how far short you feel you fall.

I find Ann Voskamp an extremely inspiring and encouraging mother to emulate in her spirit of Joy. Check out her Joy Dare here.

#3. Don’t believe everything  you see or what they say.

This will sound ironic since well, you’re reading my blog for my tips on surviving SAHMhood. But hey, I’m telling you – Don’t believe all that you read or see on the web!

I’ve fallen into the trap of measuring my SAHM-worthiness against one too many Pollyanna-Mama, Pinterest-Perfect and Bloggerific moms. And mind, it got pretty downright depressing.

So if you find yourself thinking:  How does she keep it altogether? How does she do so many million things and still look so fab? I cannot! I’m a failure! I’m not cut out to be a SAHM!… then I think you may need to check your internet and media diet, you may want to do some detox and disconnecting. That was what I did end last year. I’m still struggling with my media addictions

I love it when I meet moms who tell me they are just loving it (SAHM life) because their enthusiasm for a life of seemingly relentless laundering and cleaning help put my attitude in check.

But seriously, people don’t always tell us their own battles in entirety. So don’t be too gullible and believe that their lives are rosier than yours. Comparing yourself with others is the surest way to head for discontentment. Discontentment, as we all know, is one unwelcomed leech on our inner joy jars.

#3. Give your hubby decompression time.

Marriages can take a big hit during parenthood.
On bad days, as the parent staying home to deal with the majority of domestic issues, you may sometimes grow resentful of your partner for various reasons such as the ability to take a decent meal without having to clean out regurgitated food from your hair or using the loo without  being hunted down by your child.
I have realized I need to consciously remind myself that my husband is out there working hard to earn money to feed our family.
I very often like to greet my husband with a ‘Finally! You’re home! Boys, Daddy’s home. Now you can get him to play with you!’
When he gets home, it’s like ‘YAY! I can take my break now!’
But I realize he needs time to unwind from a long day at work and having boys bounce all over him as soon as he steps into the house is not a great idea. Two snappy parents do not a happy family make.
So now, I’m slowly learning to give him some time to decompress before handing him the kids.

#4. Map out your sanity support network – include diverse persons and means.

Have different friends you can call when you feel you need a listening ear.
I have different friends I know I can talk to about the various aspects of my life.
I especially love that I have more mature moms I can call when I feel like a mom-failure because they always have a new, and often reassuring, perspective for me to consider.

But my sanity outlets also include non-persons like activities.
Having time by myself just reading a book or staring into blank space while I indulge in a Magnum  is something I relish.

#5.  When all else fails, remember you are NOT a failure.

However terrible a day or week or a situation may seem, remember these things do not determine who you are.

Breathe. Now’s a good time to pull out your ‘Dear Self’ letter.

#6. Now read, Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
Finally, I like to highly recommend this book by Dr. Seuss.

Life is a journey. You don’t stop going places or growing.

With some borrowed words from Dr. Seuss, I’ll like to send you off, or back, into your SAHM journey:

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.
OH! The places you’ll go!

If you would like to find out more practical tips on transiting from working to stay-home mom life, do check out my blog post over here at Maybe Baby.

This post is part of a blog train hosted by Gingerbreadmum where 3o other stay-at-home mums share their survival tips.

Next up on this blog train is Angelia Ang of Growing Hearts.
SAHM for the past 5yrs with 3 kids.Believes in Growing Hearts not just minds of the kids. She will be sharing the activities she does and attitudes she developed along the years. Want to know her best friend that keeps kids contented in their routine? Check it out at her blog tomorrow!

 

May 27, 2014
by theplayfulparents
1 Comment

Organic Play Party #2 [ Now Open for Bookings]

Hello all excited Playful Parents!

With much happiness, I’m pleased to announce that our 2nd session of Organic Play Party is now open for registration.
We’re converting another public estate space in Tampines into a pop-up play party zone on 21 June 2014, Saturday.
Two hours of solid purposeless but meaningful discovery time from 10am – 12pm.

This 2nd instalment will feature artistic and scientific explorations of ‘Sculptures’!

  • Ice sculptures
  • Toothpick sculptures
  • Mystery Bag sculptures
  • Explore Newton’s Laws of Motions

Once again, we’ve limited seats for this awesome messy playdate for families.

5 awesome activities for the very affordable price of $10 for the first child-parent pair, $3 for every subsequent child from the same nuclear family unit.

VERY LIMITED SPACES

So book your spot here and save the date!

For those who missed our Launch party or want to know what Organic Play is about, you may like to:
READ our project brief
VIEW our party video here
OOGLE at snapshots here
DOWNLOAD details of our Organic Play Party Session #2 here.

What are you waiting for? SIGN UP here now.

Combat holiday blues and fiery summer heat with these chillax play fun!

P.S. Admission is by ticket only. You have to make payment before your place is confirmed.

While this is a purely non-profit event, we have decided to charge nominal fees as a result of the turn-out at our launch. We were oversubscribed by 25%, but we had a high-incidence of actual day no-shows. This was in spite of reminder emails.  As this is funded by taxpayer money, we will like to ensure we steward the investment and resources wisely. We hope you understand.

 

March 24, 2014
by theplayfulparents
2 Comments

My Life as Milk Mom: Extended Breastfeeding

Ah. Breastfeeding. One of the perks of being a mother. Or not.
What images of a woman does the word ‘breastfeeding’ evoke?
I guess the answer to the question really depends on who I’m asking.

Now, get this, I’m talking about breastFEEDING i.e. a mother using her breast as a food source for her children.
I’m not talking about breastFEASTING.

It never fails to shock me that our society seems to confuse the two.
Is it because we have become so used and desensitized to the sexual objectification of the female body that we cannot comprehend how Nature has equipped our aesthetically amazing form to also Nurture young human lives?

Judging by the controversy that this Time Magazine cover raised, I would think yes.
Then there was this whole other cyberstorm of protest when Facebook deemed photographs of women breastfeeding as obscene.

Unlike Time Magazine, who obviously needed a controversial headline, I would never go as far to state that breastfeeding is only for the dedicated Mother. Motherhood is really way more than being just providing milky sustenance to a child. Really. I think it is awful for anyone to insinuate that or think less of any mother who does not breastfeed her own child, whether out of volition or condition.
In return for my respect of all mothers, nursing or not, I do ask that you also respect my story.

With that out of the way, let me share with you my experiences as Milkmom.

My Time As MilkMom
If you’ve been following this blogtrain, you would have noted that I’m sharing about a breastfeeding journey that has hit, and still going past, the 48 months mark.

48 months = 4 years.

The reality is, I’ve gone on longer than 48 months.

My eldest is 5.5 years old. He’s almost 100% weaned. He doesn’t need to nurse for sustenance of course. He actually doesn’t nurse at all anymore. And while I cannot recall the exact date he weaned off nursing, I do think he’s nursed well until he was 4, and almost nearing 5.
My second is 3.5 years old. He nurses to nap every few days, and I’m working on weaning him off nap-nursing. He still gets up too often in the night to nurse. We co-sleep most nights. I don’t know when i can succeed weaning him off but I hope it is soon because frankly, I want freedom. Yet, I am not sure how that would feel. I’ve heard stories from friends who cried when they weaned off their last child. And I’m pretty sure right now that I’m not having another.

Some Breastfeeding Lessons I’ve Learnt

#1. Breastfeeding is a personal choice.
This needs very little explanation. Your breasts, your choice. My breasts, my prerogative.

#2. No two mouths are alike.
After nursing my firstborn for 24 months by the time my second was born, I had thought I would have a breeze with the second. Was I wrong. Gravely wrong.

I had the same breasts I used to nurse Lee.
But baby Zee had a different mouth and different suckling abilities.
He had a weak suckle according to the lactation nurse, and then I wondered if it was because I didn’t bond with him enough prenatally.
To compound those post-natal ‘rubbish imaginations’, my presumptuousness about breastfeeding ease, and hence being almost nonchalant about it, my secondborn landed up in hospital in a very critical condition. He had critical jaundice. He was placed under 5 UV lights and had 6 hours to have lower serum biribulin levels. If not, he would have to undergo the blood exchange procedure.
I cried buckets and buckets. Thankfully, after a 3 day stay in hospital, Zee’s jaundice was under control but it would take me 6 weeks before his jaundice finally cleared.

 #3. Breastfeeding is natural, but it doesn’t often come naturally to a mom.

In the hospital, it was taking me 40-60 minutes each feed to latch Babe Zee and he wasn’t suckling well.

How can anything natural be so hard to do?!!

For the first 4 weeks of Zee’s life, I had a challenging time trying to nurse him. He drank mostly breastmilk from the bottle. My firstborn did not take to the bottle. But Zee had no issues.( And that I believe was because I had used NUK instead of Avent. )
However, I really wanted to be able to latch Zee. I just felt that the bond of breastfeeding was different from bottle-feeding and I really wanted to be able to nurse him as I did for his older brother.
My first month with Zee was a very tearful one. I resorted to seeing the lactation nurse at Mt Alvernia. And a dear friend, mother of 3 and breastfeeding advocate, came to my house. When Zee was almost a month old, Serena came and spent TWO hours with me trying to help me latch him.

I was hungry and tired and frustrated. I wanted to cry and scream.  Baby was hungry, tired and frustrated as well. He was shrieking.
But there was no way Serena let me bottle feed him.  So we pressed on.
How can anything natural be so hard to do!

But finally, after 120 minutes of a battle, I latched him on. And for the first time in 4 weeks, Zee and I finally bonded through nursing.
I didn’t think after almost a month of bottles, Zee would be able to nurse. But he did. And he has been since.

 #3. Just as there is nothing wrong with nursing, there’s nothing wrong with nursing for comfort.
I’m not providing any medical opinion save my personal conviction. For what it’s worth, let me tell you I’ve faced my share of ‘criminal’ persecution for choosing to nurse my child.  In the early years of my motherhood, we lived in Macau. And it was just incredible just how many negative comments and stares I got when the locals found out I was nursing.

I will never forget how this museum security guard, in her 50s, looked at my little 3-month-old sitting in my sarong sling and said in Catonese, “You’re such a pitiful thing. Ask your mother to give you formula milk.” She proceeded to tell me how malnourished my son look by pointing to what she said was an oversized forehead. My son then was in the 95 percentile of growth charts.
Of course as my firstborn grew older, I’ve also been made to feel terrible about him nursing for comfort.

By the way, the World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and then “continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond” . Back to my boys, they have gone beyond 2 years of age and I continued nursing them.
The key reason, I guess you can say, I was a weak-willed mom.
Weaning has been a LIVING NIGHTMARE.
So I guess I chose the easy way out, trying to limit my exposure to their shrieks and tears.
I’ve also come to see that breastfeeding is NOT breastfeasting. Children’s minds are innocent.
Young children who still want to latch on to their mommies for comfort are not the same as men burying their faces in bosoms of women.
So really, I would appreciate it if the public gets some education before opening their mouths and making mindless and perverted comments like ‘Eee.. How old are you already? Still drink Mummy’s milk?’

Yes, eventually children who are nursing at 3 or 4 or 5 will wean off. They are not going to develop into sexual perverts. And they are NOT perverts for wanting to nurse for comfort. And their mothers also do not have the Jocasta complex.

#4. Breastfeeding benefits both child and mom.

Often, in our very child-centered world, we forget that not only is breastfeeding beneficial for children. It also holds health benefits for breastfeeding moms. These benefits include being a natural birth control method (98% effective), reduces breast and ovarian cancer risk in later life, weight loss and lowers obesity rates.

I loved that I lost my pregnancy weight pretty quickly, eat and not grow fat while nursing.
Most of all, I loved not having to deal with my monthly periods! I was period-free for 4.5 years ( 5.4 years if you include the months I was pregnant with my firstborn.)

Oh! But it doesn’t work well as a birthcontrol method. I conceived my second boy even though I was still actively nursing, and had no period.

#5. Breastfeeding is intimate.

It’s very hard for me to describe just what it feels like to be able to nurse my children.
But while there have been frustrations and pains, it has also been rewarding. It’s a special bond I’ve shared with each of my children. I just wish I had taken photographs of those moments.

#6. Breastfeeding is personal.
And again, I end off with this. Because it is a personal decision and an intimate experience shared between Father, Mother and Child within a family, it is better for us to reserve our comments and judgements about breastfeeding for our own consumption.
Yes, there is a whole body of medical research out there to show for the benefits of breastfeeding and breastmilk over other forms of milk.
However, let us not forget that everyone is different.
Our choices and values are different.

Finally…
But I do have this to say to any new mother:
Breastfeeding is one of the privileges we are given as a woman and mother.
I really do think it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience every mom ought to try at least once.
While sometimes challenging and just plain difficult, it is worth giving your best shot.
The experience of holding a wee babe in your bosom, the milk flowing out of you into his body and seeing that liquid plump him up – priceless.
But when all nursing attempts seem to fail, do not feel like you’re a failure or are alone.

Seek help from lactation nurses or from the Association for Breastfeeding AdvocacyBreastfeeding Mothers’s Support Group  or from other moms like me.

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March 13, 2014
by theplayfulparents
0 comments

This Thing Called Tape

If you’re one who says ‘I am NOT creative’ or ‘I cannot craft’ or ‘I just cannot stand the mess crafting makes!’, have I got a thing to share with you.

Now, before I tell you more about my latest play tool discovery that I’m adding to my Organic Play Parties {My Home Edition}, let me tell you my lifelong encounter with this wonderful invention called ‘tape’.

Eons back, when I was younger and still just a daughter, I had a mother who would  magic-tape all the wrappings on presents. And I would marvel at just how this magic tape could lift off from about every conceivable surface without leaving a mark or rip.

Years back, when I was still young and just a new mom, I began to realise how a mom’s life – especially a mom to active boys – needed the sticking powers of tape. Once, I was almost about to turn into a fearsome shrieking Momster  over my then-tot ripping his new toy cereal box, my dear Australian mummy-buddy, Nat, jumped in with some of those super sticky tape to bring back peace and joy again.

As she quite rightly put it, “There’s nothing some good old sticky tape can’t fix!

So since my household now has not one but TWO boys, I’ve always got sticky tape handy.

Mama! My book is torn? Where’s the tape?
Mama! I broke my crayon. Where’s the tape?
Mama! Didi broke my cardboard robot arm? Where’s the stape?
Mama! I broke my crayon. Where’s the tape?
MaaaaaMaaaaa….. I cut my own hair! Where’s the tape?!!!

Afterall with tape so cheap and easy to use, it’s really easily our favourite choice of fix-it-all.
Tape-  can really hold a Mummy’s universe together.

Now, with all the progress we’ve made with R&D and technology, is it any wonder now that sticky tape isn’t just sticky tape any more?  Well, as we had the good luck of discovering last weekend, not all tapes are created equal.
What’s more?

 

Tapes Can Colour & Beautify My World!

Yep. You can even use tape to do art, to craft and …. to play!

My boys and I were invited by 3M to a private craft tea party to have some fun with its new line of tapes aptly called ‘Scotch Expressions Tapes’.

It’s tapes! It’s craft! It’s play! It’s tea! It’s mom-kids bonding time! What’s more? It’s 3M – an icon from my childhood days.
Being a great fan of playing with craft stuff, how could I resist?

Needless to say, my boys and I got on a roll. We’ve since spent many hours since Saturday decorating and making things!

We’re a Family That Sticks Together!

My oldest son, Lee, 5.5, was so enamored by the gorgeous colours and prints of the tape that he literally went crazy grabbing at the many different packs of tape on display for us to use. You would have thought he was in a candy shop.

He chose a PINK ( yes, he’s a boy but his fave colour is pink) chair to decorate. Instead of decorating the given cardboard  rocket template to be stuck on the back of the chair as instructed, Lee had to transform it into a ‘Rocket Booster Jetpack’ for wearing on his back.

Lee’s Jetpack with ‘Toilet Roll’ Boosters

Di Di also needed a ‘Rocket Booster Jetpack’ of his own but they ran out of cardboard templates. And fortunately, quick-thinking Mama here transformed the paper plate angel wings into rocket boosters. ( Just had to say that because I’m so darn proud of my surprise crafting-on-my-wit’s-end smart-thinking!)

Zee Man’s Super Power Rocket Booster JetPack!

And so over the course of the afternoon and the many past days of playing with this thing called ‘Tape’. I’ve come to learn that Not All Tapes Are Created Equal.

I’m pretty sure almost every crafty Mom has already some of those washis at home. But ashamedly, I have not really played with real good quality washi. *Ahem* I’ve only started buying these cheap washi versions form Daiso at the start of the year… and those always seem to leave a sticky residue on my scissors! Well, you can’t really blame me for wondering what’s all the fuss over paper tapes, can you?

BUT THEN….
Not All Tapes Are Created Equal.

So after playing with our box of complimentary 3M Expressions Tapes, I’ve learnt some useful facts about Tapes. I’m sharing them here just in case anyone else like me is still *ahem* a little ‘suaku’ a.k.a. clueless about Washis and wah-got-what-other-tapes-there-be.

3M Expression Tape Range
Top Row: Washi Tape in 2 different widths
Bottom: Masking Tape
Right: Expressions Magic Tape

  • 3M Magic Tape is still one of my favourite sort of sticky tape. As its name goes, it is really like magic! Sticky but lifts so easily without stick-marks. It also tears off pretty neatly by hand.
  • Coloured Scotch(R) Expressions Magic Tapes are THE tapes to go for if you want a pearly sheen to your projects. I thought I would hate the plasticky-feel of the tape but after some tries,  I’m so wrong. I LOVE IT! Check out my above photo on how these tapes really put a polished finish to the paper-plate Rocket Booster JetPacks for little Zee!
  • Washis are  paper-based tapes. Works like magic too in how they can stick and peel and re-stick again.
  • Masking tapes work like washis but come in a larger roll. Super handy for decorating projects with a lot of surface to cover!
  • Washis should just be renamed ‘WOW-shis’ because no matter how much you screw up in sticking all sorts of schizophrenic colours and prints together, the end product still seems to make any audience go ‘WOW!’
  • Just Brilliant for Cardboard Projects! You know just how much I love cardboard right? Yep. Love enough to create and host Singapore’s 1st Cardboard Creativity Festival. However even in our cardboard-crazy household, I have truly found painting cardboard to prep it for crafting one of the most detestable things. But now with my discovery of these tapes, I think I’ve found crafting enlightenment! No more messy paint! No more wasted hours waiting for paint to dry or  sulking over soggy cardboard from too-wet paints.
  • You Can Fantasize About Tapes! It’s true. I just cannot stop fantasizing now about how wonderful it would be to be able to get a mountain of these marvellous 3M tapes for families to make cardboard magic at this year’s Voyage of Dreams and Organic Play Parties! Wouldn’t you just love to craft up cardboard magic with some of these trim beauties too? But I digress.
  • I’m now an official TAPE Evangelist!

Tape isn’t just confined for craft projects you know?
You can even dress up gifts, utensils, and even jewellery!
How’s that for being economical?

Need new shoes? Washi-fy them.
Need new accesories? Washi-fy your own?
Need new stationery? Washi-fy the old.
Now, is there anything we cannot washi-fy into something wonderful?

Tape Fashion

There are more ideas found on My Activity Room.
I’m told that 3M Expressions Tapes will be soon sold at selected POPULAR Bookstores and other leading retailers in Mid-March – which is anytime now!  Prices range from $3.90 to $6.90 for individual rolls, depending on type. And economical 3-packs for Magic Tapes retail at $9.90.

I know, they don’t sound very cheap. But I think they’re a pretty good investment considering how a little goes a loooooooong way, and you can do so many things with them!

By the way, there are also two upcoming Make Amazing workshops you can find  too happening during the School Holidays.

  • March 15-16 at POPULAR Northpoint
  • March 21-23 at POPULAR Bras Basah

And for any reason you miss these sessions, and want a good dose of play even after the school holidays, be sure to sign up to be on my Organic Play mailing list!

Meanwhile, we’re still not done washi-fying with our chairs! I’m converting their chairs into dual-function PLAY & STUDY chairs. How so? Can you guess?

Racing Down The Washi Field

Well, stay tuned as I update you on the finished products of our Washifying Project!

Disclaimer: We were invited by 3M to a Make Amazing craft and tea party, and received a set of complimentary products for the purposes of this review. However, all opinions expressed here are 100% my own. And you know, I am always selective about the products and experiences I share on this blog.  

 

OrgPlay Party

February 20, 2014
by theplayfulparents
0 comments

Singapore’s 1st Organic Play Party: Sign Up Now!

Finally! I’m launching Singapore’s First Ever Organic Play Party on March 29, Saturday.
If you’re keen to sign us, please take a few minutes to read the following.

{Edited: 20 Feb 2014, 6pm.}

What’s Organic Play?

Well, this is a term I’ve coined ( I love inventing names!) to describe Play that is Organic in Nature and Spirit.

Organic  in Nature – Connects all participants (a.k.a. Players) to Mother Nature, to ourselves and with each other.
Organic  in Spirit – Encourages Players to lead the course of play, to listen to each other and to be willing to go with the Creative Flow of the play

What’s This Organic Play Party About?

A 2-hour session of Play, Play and More Play for parents with children aged 3 to 8.
But more than just another Free Play event, it’s an Experiment, Exploration and Exchange.

An experiment in how we can transform public spaces into playful places for all.
An exploration to see how we – you and I – can transform everyday spaces and objects to extraordinary experiences using nothing more than our imagination and presence.
An exchange of our stories, our abilities and our dreams with each other. Because everyone has something special to offer in making this world a better place.

In 2014, there are 4 scheduled Play Parties every quarter.
Each quarter, we’ll be exploring different sorts of play.

My Partner & Supporters

To create and deliver these playful experiences, I’m working with Early Childhood lecturers and 1st year trainee teachers from ITE College Central. These young students are very brave to be taking on this challenge of planning and facilitating Singapore’s 1st Organic Play event.

Great thanks must be given to these organizations for their funding that has allowed this to be a FREE entry event for all.
These Supporters are People’s Association, Tampines Central Community Centre and Residents’ Committee.
Tampines Central C.C. is also the main registration agent for the party.

LAUNCH PARTY DETAILS

Date:
March 29 2014, Saturday
Time: 10am – 12pm (Please come by 9.50am to sign-in.)

Where? Stage at Tampines Central Park. See map here.

What to Expect:
Be ready to get creative, messy and imaginative with our literary & nature-inspired play.

Wet Weather Advisory:
Outdoor play will continue in light drizzle. So please have your wet weather gear.
In event of heavy rain or  a thunderstorm at 9am,
the event will then be shifted to Tampines Central CC, MultiPurpose Hall.

Important Notes:
While participation is offered at no cost to the public, we have limited spaces available.
As such, we would appreciate it if you only sign up for your immediate family members.
Being a parent-child activity, we also strongly discourage the presence of domestic helpers.
Should you be unable to attend the event after registration for whatever reason, please do inform us as soon as possible.
This will enable us to offer others the tickets.
We will not hesitate to blacklist registrants from future events if they fail to inform us of their inability to attend.

KEEN TO COME PLAY WITH US?
So of this sounds like an experience you will like to sign up for, do register your interest now.
Click here to register.

For Schools & Organizations:
If you are interested in signing up for this on behalf of families in your community,
or if you’re keen on hosting similar parties for your school community, please drop me an email: party@theplayfulparents.com.

February 10, 2014
by theplayfulparents
4 Comments

Love Notes

If you’ve read my recent Notes on Disobedience and Defiance, you will know I’m on a personal challenge and quest to redirect my tongue towards more profitable uses. You know, like not using it to lash at my kids (and poor hubby). Instead to use my words to build them up especially when they are most trying (my boys, not so my hubby).

In addition to these ones you saw on my previous post, I’ve found up a whole bunch of lovely note templates you can print out for free.
So I thought I would just do a post to share them. In the Western world, it seems such ‘Lunch Notes’ are rather popular!

It’s a wonder we haven’t caught on to it even with the Bento-bug biting. (Oh! I do NOT bento because I have simply neither knack nor patience for it. )

{ via Buttoned Up}

 

{via chiquitamoms}

{ via Fresh Picked Whimsy }


{via My Sun Will Shine}

 And look at a whole other list of what I’ve found!
Bumper list of 25 FREE printable lunch notes.

Here’s a swell idea!
How about throwing in a good dose of humour to these love notes too?

{ via All For The Boys}

Joke Lunch Notes like these:


{ via peoniesandpoppyseeds}

Check out more joke lunch notes here…
capscreations
thegunnysack

School Lunch Joke notes to last a year
kirstendukephotography

Do you write any love notes to your dear ones?
If so, what sort? Any tips?
If you have never tried, why not try doing some today?

 

www.ajugglingmom.com

February 8, 2014
by theplayfulparents
8 Comments

Notes on Disobedience & Defiance

20140208-073801.jpg

Time does fly.
When I watch my children or listen to them speak, I sometimes marvel at the sort of grown-up things they do.
But more often than not, I seem to get more exasperated by what seems to be their constant fights.

Di Di provoking the older one by sticking his butt, literally and figuratively, into whatever his brother is doing.
Then the Kor Kor , in spite of being older at 5.4 yo, retaliates instead of showing restraint. Thereafter, the entire household seems to descend into chaos.
The latter, I admit, is purely my fault since I am the only (expected) mature adult and yet, my response to all the tears and screams and whines are anything BUT mature.

I sent my boys to bed in tears last night but not before I gave the eldest a horrible tongue-lashing.

His face crumbling in tears, but more so, I think his heart crumbled. Then, I was really too mad to care about his little heart. I thought or rather felt, my hurt feelings and frustrations were valid and in need of ‘sulking’ healing time.

I was, and still am, fed up of his whines and feet-stomping and flopping-like-a-dying-fish. I was, and still am, mad that he keeps choosing to show the WORST side of himself in public- hitting me, pulling my bag down and causing me to fall backwards and so on.

And his trying to blame-shift? Completely makes me explode.

Other than having my own self-control blow up in my face, I just feel this gloom and doom that we have just ruined the sweet toddler somehow and now he is just quite an impossible 5-going-on-15.

Doesn’t help that I get comments from folks like my own unmarried brother thinks we are not doing enough to discipline him. And it IS frustrating and discouraging and did I mention, plain exhausting?

To realize my own inadequacies ( I am really one of the last persons you would have expected to be mom, let alone a SAHM. Patience and gentleness tips the list of my weaknesses.) while having to grapple with the enormity of my parenting tasks overwhelms.

So I woke up early this morning at 5.30, feeling frustrated, clueless and perplexed.

I need to reframe the situation so that it will not be merely MUMMY vs BAD KID.

I so badly desire to raise wise and mature boys able to regulate their own behaviors and evaluate their own choices.

And surely, screaming and feeling so angry with my own children is just not healthy in the long term. Neither is my feeling like a Mom-failure.

So I mustered up the courage to confront my own weakness and confess my own crimes to God. And I need to ask forgiveness of my boys later for hurting them with my words and actions.

I went to dig up readings about how to deal with wrong behaviors posted by a dear mom friend last year. Ginger Plowman has quite a compact and handy guide to common childhood misbehaviors.

And as I was digging these up, I chanced upon a set of colorful lunch note templates.

So I decided that perhaps I could use my words to restore, reassure and affirm my children by writing little love notes for them.

It was so hard for me to get the first love note started for my firstborn. That was probably because I was still focused on how he hurt me. But then as I tried my darnest to recall his sweet and wonderful moments, the words flowed. I could see his strengths again.

But don’t misunderstand me, his younger brother is definitely not a more well-behaved child. Di Di actually provokes a lot more fights and quarrels at home. He doesn’t, however, whine as much… And whining really gets to me A LOT FASTER! I know it seems
really unfair. I will be working on this issue too.

Anyhow, I think I will spend some more time writing up love notes to each of my children. I hope to give them a little
Note each day or so. Or perhaps when my mood is the blackest or when I am
maddest, I can use them to tell them that I still love them even when my mouth refuses to say those words.