Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hurry home Papa!

Richard had to make a two-day trip to KL, so I'm left to fend for myself with the children today and tomorrow. Ryan had a tiring day so he's out cold in bed. Babydoll is still very much awake and she's a handful. She's sitting on my lap as I'm typing this and every word takes me triple the usual time because babydoll is also typing on the keyboard and moving and clicking on the mouse! Papa, come home soon!     

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Storytime with Ryan

Remember Episode 1? Episode 2 has been a long time coming, I know. It's a little time-consuming to do sub-titles! Anyhow, it's finally here: Storytime with Ryan - Episode 2: "The Story of Big Al".

Have you read the story of "Big Al"? The book is by Andrew Clements, illustrated by Yoshi. It's a touching tale of a nice, kind-hearted fish who just can't seem to make any friends because he doesn't look so nice. He tries everything to make himself look more approachable, including disguising himself and blending in with the surroundings, to no avail. Until one day, Big Al gets to save the day and all the fishes see his true nature!

Ryan's kindergarten teacher read the book to him on the first day of school and he was so enchanted by it that he chose to retell it to me for our bedtime story session that night.

If you can get your hands on the book, do! The story is so relevant and the illustrations are beautiful! The fishes (save for Big Al) are vibrantly coloured and Big Al's expressions are just perfect. It's a wonderful story of how true friendship is not based on looks but on how devoted you are to one another.

And here's the video of Ryan - enjoy!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Updates on Ryan

Thank you all for your helpful and generous comments on my "Mama, are you there?" dilemma. It looks like there's no other way other than to get Richard on the task, huh? Heh heh - dear hubs, I hope you are reading this! This needs immediate action!

I do feel that this is an issue that needs to be addressed before time robs us of the chance. There are so many moments that I share with my lovelies, which I and only I, remember, and my memory isn't going to last forever. A related issue is - taking photos of the family. We have practically zero presentable photos. On his first day of school, Ryan had to bring a photo of his family. We hunted through our massive database of photos and came up with ... nothing. He ended up going to school with one of our "tourist" photos - the one which I wrote about here, and which I said was NOT going to take pride of place on our shelf. Famous last words.

On that note, I think it's time I arranged a professional photoshoot for the family!

Now that we've gotten that sorted out, let's get back to the lovelies. Updates on Ryan today!

Now that Ryan has gone up to kindergarten, his school day ends at 3 pm. He goes to his nanny after that. He refuses to go down for a nap but he does have his quiet time there. As a result, he's been sleeping quite early at night. Usually we get home close to 9 pm, he gets a bottle of milk, lounges around a bit, and then it's off to bed around 10 plus. Some nights he even falls asleep in the car on the way home and sleeps through till the next day.

On weekends, when we have particularly busy days, there is a risk that he will fall asleep on the way out for dinner. If he does then, depending on where we plan to go, we either turn back or carry on with our dinner plans and let him sleep through.

Look, can you spot a little sleeping boy?

All this means that I haven't a lot of time with Ryan during the week. Even if I do, it won't be a consistent block of time everyday so it's impossible to build a routine of activities with him. Whatever time I do have, I try to spend it being close to him, chatting with him and just letting him relax with me. 

We do more "hard work" on Saturdays as that's the only consistent block of time I have to prepare him for Shichida class on Sundays. So we do linking memory, flash memory, poem recitation, the monthly worksheets, and the drawing homework. When Sunday rolls around, he goes for swimming and Shichida, and we find something physically active to do in the evening.

In relation to school, Ryan has been enjoying his new kindergarten class. He has a new set of teachers and some of his classmates are new to him (they regrouped the nursery classes). Happily, his class is in the same classroom as his ex-nursery class, so that was one less thing to adjust too.

We have signed him up for sports after school with Shaws Little League, once a week. We were actually thinking of dance or drama class. After speaking to his kindergarten teacher, we decided on sports because she told me that he loves his PE sessions - he's always asking for ten minutes more!

Temperament - hmm, let's see. Still an easygoing chap. But boy oh boy, does he have his "OCD" moments! For instance, I presented him with socks for school the other morning and he said, "These socks are dirty!" Richard went, "Huh?" and I rolled my eyes (behind Ryan's back). The socks were perfectly clean, they looked a little tatty because they'd been through the laundry a few times. I told Ryan, "They're clean, they just came out of the laundry." So the next morning, faced with a fresh (but not new) pair of socks, my little man started asking just as skeptically as before, "Are these socks clean? Did they just come out of the laundry?"

Sigh. Maybe he's trying to tell me that he needs new socks.

Here he is, trying on Rachel's fairy accessories, which was a free gift when we bought her sandals from Clarks. As you can see, Ryan enjoys them quite a bit. Last Sunday, after swimming, he put on a baseball cap and on top of the cap, he slipped on the hoodie from the jacket he was wearing, and then, the piece de resistance, the fairy headband. Did I hear you say, "Fashion Forward"?

Something interesting to note - Ryan subscribes to absolutely none of the gender stereotypes. Sometimes he tells me he wants to try on a skirt that he saw. He likes Dora the Explorer just as much as he likes Pocoyo. He has no problem with pink, blue or any colour. He is just as likely to try on one of my hair clips as he is to try on a pair of fairy wings.

Ryan finishes off his catwalk classes next Saturday, after which he will have his Saturdays free. We are still keen on martial arts for him, but also want to keep his music classes going, so we'll see what happens. No hurry. For now, any free time he has is to be treasured. Not forgetting his modelling work - he has a shoot tomorrow!

He needed a hat for his catwalk class, so here he is with his new fedora! He loves it!

Actually, Ryan really loves hoodies, so that's the next thing I want to sew. Plus some shorts and some long pants. He has been wearing the same three pairs of long pants from DKNY for a couple of years now. They are all in size 2 (for 2 year olds) ! The fit is perfect on him and I love the slim look so I always reach for them when dressing Ryan. Now they are getting a little short, so I guess I have to move on... Here he is in one of them.

Ryan does love dressing up, and he loves costumes. His favourite is the superhero capes (of which, his absolute favourite is Super Ryan). The other night, after his bath, he asked for his "Chinese costume". He wore it to sleep and refused to take it off the next day. Off he went to school in it!

We have been doing some math activities for our home learning. I am starting over from (almost) the beginning with him, for reasons I will explain in another post.

Ok, that's it. Till tomorrow!

I haven't much to update really. We brought Rachel to the Telok Kurau playground for the first time on Sunday, which she enjoyed very much. Apart from that, her weekend was pretty much the usual. 

Babydoll received a "progress report" from Heguru. I was not happy about it. Not that I was unhappy about Rachel's progress (the teacher had good things to say about Rachel and I am perfectly fine with Rachel's progress in any case) but... oh, let me collect my thoughts and then I'll share them with you. Suffice to say for now that the format of the report was not what I would have expected. I think the typical parent would appreciate the format but, for better or for worse, I'm not the typical parent.

Richard has been accompanying Rachel for her Heguru classes and he says that she has settled down and sticks close to him. She doesn't wander off in search of adventure anymore. I guess she's explored every corner of the classroom to her satisfaction. 

At home, I continue to offer Rachel opportunities to work with her hands and to improve her fine motor skills. I have also been reading more to her lately. Just simple, very simple books, like a book showing five animals and the puppy says woof and the kitten says meow. In fact, that's her current favourite. I have to read it many, many times in a row before she is willing to move on. 

I try to talk to her more nowadays, and try to name things around her to give her more vocabulary. This girl is pretty chatty so, when she is ready to express herself more verbally, I don't want her to get frustrated because she lacks the necessary vocabulary.

Babydoll's love for music is still as strong as ever, which steers us closer and closer to signing her up for classes at Julia Gabriel. Ryan did a year of PlayClub there (and two terms of Edudrama). He enjoyed himself thoroughly, and we have no doubt that Rachel would too. We haven't made a firm decision about it yet. Another "we'll see" on the list.

Rachel has been working hard on her walking. Every chance she gets, she wants to walk. She still takes the occasional stumble but she always gets up without missing a beat and without making any fuss. Her legs are still a little too short for stairs but she insists on walking up and down them (and not crawling up and down), so I help her (a lot) when we come to stairs.

Food-wise, babydoll never disappoints. She has an adventurous palate and is open-minded about trying new things. It is a joy to eat with her. She does eat a lot and I let her eat as much as she wants to. Rachel is far from fat but, having said that, I do not believe that young children should diet or be restricted in terms of food for fear of getting fat. This seems so obvious yet I have come across many mummies who do this. One mummy restricted the amount of milk her newborn drank and actually felt the need to come to the parenting forums to ask if she should top up - my response was, huh? 

I have been sewing a lot more recently and I thought I'd sneak some words here and there about the pieces I worked on. Today I'm showcasing Rachel's yellow top with pink butterflies! You may recognise it from our trip to Legoland earlier this month. I used the Ice Cream Dress sewing pattern from Oliver + S, which was excellent. I made the top version (instead of the dress version) in the 12-18 months size and without the notch at the neckline. The fabric is a 100% cotton from Spotlight. I had just enough left over after I cut out a circle skirt for Shann's daughter, Rou Ern sometime ago. I think Rachel appreciated the ease of movement and the lightness of the fabric. She looked very comfortable and happy in it.

On a separate note, notice that there are no photos of me with the children on the blog lately. For whatever reason, Richard doesn't take photos of me. He will take photos of the children, but not when I am with them. He will photograph me only if I ask him to (and I rarely do), but if so, it will be a "smile at the camera" kind of shot - the kind of photos you would take with a relative you see twice a year, those that have little memory of the moment other than "we were here". I wish that I had more photos of me and the children just sharing our little moments, doing our things, photojournalist style. I don't often write about myself in terms of what I do with the children and I guess I expect Richard to appreciate the beauty in those moments and shoulder the responsibility for documenting them. I know different people think differently. Not every person reaches for the camera as often as I do and not every person has the same "photographic eye". But still.

It is a real problem. Looking through the blog, I am annoyed that I seem to be missing from my children's lives. I am annoyed that I come across as an observer and a reporter, but not a participant, which is ironic because, as between Richard and I, he is more of an observer/reporter. I am annoyed that I am documenting every memorable moment, yet the ones that involve me are lost to my children. I am annoyed that someone, long ago, assumed that this blog was written by Richard. Yes, I am annoyed with Richard - I've mentioned this to him before and nothing has changed and I hate to repeat myself (because my philosophy is that if I have to repeat myself, it's a sign that you're not bothered). I have to figure this one out because so many moments have been lost already plus if, God forbid, something should happen to part my children from me, they will not remember what I look like! Any ideas?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Some sweetness for the weekend.

Just photos today - babydoll "werking" it! Enjoy and have a good weekend!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Professor Ryan on shapes

To be honest, I haven't got many photos of Ryan to share at the moment, just some stray shots here and there. Having said that, I have lots of videos of him! Ryan has become so expressive now and it's so entertaining!

So today, I'm sharing a video of Ryan. This is a Youtube video and it's about five and a half minutes long. I haven't been sharing the videos because I usually want to subtitle them and the subtitles take forever to do so I keep putting that off. Fortunately, this video doesn't need subtitles, plus I felt that the subtitles would distract the viewer from watching Ryan and it's such a joy to watch him in this video.

Before I show you the video, I want to explain how it came about. It was completely impromptu and was done in our bedroom, during one of our bedtime story sessions. Ryan had been playing with his Montessori blue geometric solids so I asked him to talk about shapes. I told him that he could explain the 2D shapes and then talk about the 3D shapes and I would film him. I helped him to set up the "set", reminded him to introduce himself and got the camera going. That's all I did. He took over from there. I did not give Ryan a script - he came up with everything himself. We did not rehearse this at all, so this is the one and only take.

When I watch this video, I am not looking to see if he knows his shapes. What impresses me, and what the exercise was really about, was how he could script everything himself and take on the role so confidently. He understood what it means to give a presentation and he even built in some audience participation! He actually said, "Have a nice day!" at the end, which I did not capture as I stopped the camera too early.

Okay, enough from me. I'll hand you over to Professor Ryan. Let's learn about shapes!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Rachel at Hokey Pokey, Millenia Walk

As promised, here are some photos from Rachel's day out at Hokey Pokey, Millenia Walk, last Saturday. There's a bonus video at the end, if you read all the way through!

Rachel and I were in a large group of mummies and some daddies. This gathering was supposed to have been held a couple of months back but the intense haze around that time made us change our plans. All's well that ends well, and our group finally made it to Hokey Pokey.

Richard and Ryan went off for Ryan's catwalk class, so we had our Father-Son and Mother-Daughter outings. 

This photo was shot by one of the daddies
It was our first time at Hokey Pokey, and actually it was also Rachel's first time at one of these play areas. She has been to Singkids a few times, but Singkids is more of a gym. Hokey Pokey caters for younger children and there are lots of toys for them to explore and play with.

It was interesting for me to watch babydoll as she made her way through the place, stopping to check out things that caught her eye. She really seemed to consider things carefully and investigate them meaningfully. I was also happy to note that she handled the toys well, picking them up carefully and placing them back in their place after she was done. She didn't throw them about, she didn't bang or pound on them, and she didn't chew on them. I watched her as she came across a basket of pretend food - she took each item out of the basket one by one, examining each one in turn.

Look at these photos! I thought this was pretty amusing - she was stacking balls in the ball pit!

Did you notice that she picked out only the pink balls?

You made it this far - here's the video!

I keep watching this video over and over again because it shows Rachel in her fearless and fun mode. My little 14 month old was diving around the ball pit as if she were in a mosh pit at a rock concert! She's definitely not one to sit in one spot and just throw balls around. She wants to be in the thick of action! I was happy to see her unafraid of the people there as well - she was jiving with the older children without any apprehension. Oh, and again, I noticed that she picked up balls of matching colours - first two white ones and then two yellow ones. Hmm, maybe I should start giving her some colour matching activities at home?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Updates on Rachel

Babydoll had a good weekend. I met up with some mummies on Saturday morning at Hokey Pokey, Millenia Walk, and babydoll had lots of fun. I'll show you some photos (and a video) tomorrow!

Babydoll's personality is really starting to show now and we are loving every bit of it. She is friendly, chatty, gentle, determined, fearless, girly, smart, loves animals and is downright adorable. We keep asking ourselves, was Ryan this adorable? Hahaha, we probably felt the same way about Ryan, actually. We are all suckers for our children, aren't we?

Babydoll skipped her Heguru class last Saturday to go to Hokey Pokey and there was no class the week before, so no updates on that front.

She did go for her Shichida classes, and her sensei is very impressed with her - not so much with her abilities but with her temperament. Babydoll hardly fusses. If she is bored, she will just get off her chair and look for something more interesting, but she won't scream or shout or cry. She doesn't kick up a fuss over the materials and has learned to give them up after each activity. All the other students have been disruptive at times, two of them in particular. She joined an existing class, instead of starting with a fresh batch, so it's nothing to do with how long the children have been in the programme. Her sensei has asked me, on numerous occasions, whether I have any advice for the mummies, as Rachel is so different from the rest.

Anyway, this was her term report for last term, which was her first term:

"Though Rachel joined the programme this term, Rachel adapted very well to the programme. Able to answer questions posed by the instructor. Rachel is a girl who never throw tantrums and barely cries in class. Keep it up."

In other news, we bought Rachel her first pair of walking shoes two weeks ago (the evening before we went to Legoland). Here she was at the shoe department at Isetan. She could only fit into the smallest size for Clarks, so our choices were limited. In the end, I decided on a pair of pink sandals.

Babydoll can walk pretty well now, although she does need help now and then. She is starting to want to walk, instead of crawl, up and down the stairs, so I help her with that. Also, although she can walk on her own, she likes to hold my hand while she walks, and I really like that. Ryan still holds my hand, too. It is such a great feeling.

Apart from the closeness that comes with holding hands, both the littles like to stay close to us when we go walking on the streets or in the busy malls, and they don't feel the need to run amok in such situations. So we've been pretty fortunate in that respect.

Speaking of running, here's a photo of my three favourite people, running around our place. Well, babydoll wasn't quite running, but she was definitely on the move.

Richard had just come back from his bike run and the usual routine is that he will spend some time with Ryan on the kick scooter before everyone jumps into the bath. This time, babydoll joined in the fun. The boys were doing laps around the place and babydoll would meet them in the middle and laugh everytime they passed her.

Love this shot of babydoll. Such girlish delight!

Please forgive the dirty T-shirt. She was touching the cars, including the wheels. And yes, I let her, after checking that the cars were not hot.

Oh yes, if you're curious about what Rachel is munching on in the first two photos - it's a chicken wing! Check out that pincer grasp! We usually toss her the wing tip to chew on and sometimes the mid-wing, after wiping off as much oil as we can. Richard, our resident chicken connoisseur, is very proud.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sunday stroll to the beach

How was your weekend? Ours was pretty good, a bit of this and a bit of that, enough variety to keep things interesting. 

Let me share with you our Sunday evening - we took a walk to the beach! Well, Richard and I walked. The two littles had transport.

Yup, that's babydoll in Ryan's Step 2 Push Around Buggy! She took to it naturally. Climbed in herself, grabbed onto the steering wheel and pointed forward! That way!

We are pretty fortunate to live within walking distance of the beach so we really should be doing this more often. Nothing better than sunshine, fresh air and getting out there with the rest of the world.

To be fair, up till a few months ago, Ryan and I did take regular walks out to the outdoor playground and I enjoyed that very much. A few things put our walks on hold - mainly our travelling and the crazy weather. Recently, we started frequenting the indoor playground at T3 (Singkids) to give Ryan his kicks - mainly because we were spending time at the airport at night waiting for flights (Richard has been travelling quite a bit). Before then, I didn't like indoor playgrounds and we hadn't visited one in about a year, but since then, we've accepted that it's pretty convenient to have the playground, the changing room and the restaurants (and some shops) in one venue, especially if it's night time and the outdoors is not a good idea.

And now that babydoll is walking about, I guess we can bring her to some indoor play areas too. In fact, over the weekend, I met up with some mummies at Hokey Pokey at Millenia Walk, and babydoll had a fantastic time playing with all the toys there.

All right. So we got to the beach safe and sound, after using the pedestrian crossing at a couple of big roads and one overhead bridge. The beach was buzzing with activity. Lots of people and lots to see. We made our way to a fast food restaurant for a quick pick-me-up before heading back.

Ryan was searching high and low for a playground, to no avail. He ended up at one of the fitness spots dotted along the park connector. He tried out each and every apparatus before he was willing to go.

Babydoll hadn't slept much all day so she was falling asleep at the wheel on the way back. Luckily her backup transport was ever ready.

Ryan took the opportunity to climb into the buggy for a bit. He still likes it very much, although he also likes the "big boy" feel of the kick scooter.

A pretty good way to end the weekend.

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