Monday, September 30, 2013

Sewing - a blanket for Ryan

A quick post today. The weekend was excellent and I have been busy with an assortment of things, some of which you'll see on the blog eventually.

We had a fun night with friends last night and the festivities ended pretty late. Ryan was still sound asleep this morning when he should have been awake - I let him sleep a little while more while I attempted to edit some photos and blog. Checked my email and that's when I realised that his school was having his class photo taken today! Panic! My heart dropped and I sprinted upstairs to wake and dress the sleeping beauty and whoosh! out the door we went, grabbing his water bottle on the way out.

Let it be recorded that in Ryan's still-dreaming state of consciousness, he was still able to point out to me, as I hurriedly put his socks on for him, that his right sock was "not right". According to Ryan, socks must be pulled straight up, and the heel and the toe portions must fit PERFECTLY on the heel and the toe. Do it properly, mama.

Thankfully, we made it - FIVE minutes before the photoshoot. Talk about a close call. My heart would not have been able to take it if we'd missed the photoshoot because I was blogging.

And that's why today's post will be short.

Today's post is simply about a blanket. 

I sewed this up for Ryan last week. He chose the fabric - a quilting cotton for the front and a minky chevron for the back. The quilting cotton is designed by Graphic 45 for Wilmington Prints and is from the ABC Primer collection. I bound the two fabrics together with green bias tape.

It was not easy putting this together because of the very narrow borders on the print. I wanted to preserve every bit of the print so a lot of careful sewing was required. I made a mess in several parts but, overall, not too bad an effort, I think. The minky side is very cozy and Ryan loves the alphabet print.

That's all.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Updates on Rachel

We brought Rachel to see Dr Ngiam on Tuesday for her jab and 15-month wellness check. She was a little sleepy so I was expecting her to fuss but she took the jab without issue.

Babydoll is 9.06 kg, which is right on track. Her birthweight was 2.98 kg and the guide is to have it tripled at 12 months. From then, a good weight gain is 2 kg a year. We didn't measure her height.

We asked about food and Dr Ngiam said she should be on three meals a day of soft solids. That's pretty much what she has at the moment, so all well and good.

We asked about some marks on her legs and Dr Ngiam said that they were from mosquito bites. He said that's how their skin reacts at this stage and the reaction will become less severe as the skin "learns". The marks will stay for quite a while but will eventually disappear. There has been quite a lot of construction around her nanny's place recently hence the mosquito bites.

Nothing much else. It was a quick consultation - the best kind.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Celebrating Kate's 1st birthday

Last Saturday evening, Florinda invited our family to her daughter's 1st birthday celebration. As you can see, the children had the party in the pool! Florinda told everyone to come prepared to go straight into the water, and that's exactly what we did. There was a wading pool for the non-swimmers and a larger swimming pool for the more adventurous ones. Florinda also got an inflatable slide which the kids thoroughly enjoyed.

These next three photos are from Florinda. Ryan had a fabulous time in the water with Brayden - the two boys were absolutely thrilled to be playing and swimming in the water. Chris (Brayden's dad) looked after the two of them when they were swimming in the deeper pool - thanks Chris! Ryan adores "Uncle Chris" and listens to him.

After the water fun, the children continued the party with bubble wands. Ryan is terrible with these - when the bubbles appear, he gets so excited and, in the course of going "wow" at the bubbles, he forgets that he's holding the tube of bubble solution in the other hand and he will invariably turn the tube and spill everything! No photos of that - because the whole thing was over before the camera could appear, haha.

After dinner, there was the cake-cutting and the cake-eating. Then the children went to burn off more calories at the playground, no matter that it was already pretty dark by then. The adults sat around and chatted and it was great to meet some new friends.

You can read about the party on Florinda's blog - click here! Little Kate is growing up so lovely - happy birthday little one!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mid-Autumn festival 2013

Mid-Autumn festival was on Thursday but we didn't bust out our lanterns till Sunday night. We took the littles to Resorts World Sentosa for dinner and a lantern walkabout. Of course, by that time, there wasn't a single other lantern-toting person around, but the littles were still quite intrigued and amused at the experience so I'd count that as a successful outing.

We stayed to watch the Crane Dance at the waterfront. We went right down to the front and the littles, especially Ryan, entertained themselves by dancing with their shadows on the boardwalk. The audience was quite amused to watch them dancing and I saw a couple of people taking videos of them dancing away!

The Crane Dance was quite interesting and the littles were entranced. Unfortunately, ten minutes into the performance, the show stopped because of "continuing technical difficulties". I guess we'll have to go back and try again!

Babydoll was so funny - everytime she heard the music from the lanterns, she would stop and sway from side to side to the beat!

So, a simple and casual Mid-Autumn festival for us. Barely qualified as a celebration but no worries, it was a good and happy night.

That's the advertisement that appeared in The Sunday Times yesterday! We were so excited to see it! What do you think? We think it looks great!

The shoot for the print advertisement was done at the studio (Joel Low's studio) on a separate day from the TV commercial. When Ryan struck that pose that you see in the advertisement, everyone went - "That's the golden shot!" It was the perfect pose and the perfect happy expression, and everyone was especially happy with the sparkling eyes - no photoshop required!

As always, big thanks to all the people involved, especially the photographer, Joel, and Rina from the advertising agency. Again, the clients' representatives (ie. the ladies from Lion) were so supportive of Ryan. They even gave him a goodie bag with Lion products and a Lion soft toy which Ryan named Tinybub (Ryan insists that it must be pronounced as 'Teenybub' despite him spelling it as Tinybub.).

To end off, here are some shots I took with my phone during the shoot that day.

I finally got to see Ryan's commercial, but I didn't catch it on TV - I saw it on Youtube! The advertising agency uploaded a copy so I managed to see it there. We are still looking out for it on TV though!

Here's the Youtube video of the Mandarin version which is playing now on Channel 8 during primetime (which is anywhere from 7 to 11 pm). According to the advertising agency, the English version will be airing on Channel 5 in another week's time.

What do you think? I think it's a cute commercial! Ryan did a great job, don't you think?

Something funny to share - check out the scene where you see him with his hands on his hips, shaking his head while Mama Lemon scans the scene for bacteria. I'm actually hiding behind the counter, sitting on the floor, whispering to Ryan to change poses and try different expressions! We went through a few poses and they chose one for the final cut.

The man in the commercial is Pornsak. I was not familiar with him (as we don't watch TV) but he is a popular Mediacorp artiste and the spokesperson for this product. He was a friendly and amiable chap, very patient with Ryan. The lady who played the mother in the shoot was also very good with Ryan, and she managed to get him to work well with her for the final scene where he is clapping his hands.

The production team was from Veer Motion Graphics, which is the same production house that produced Ryan's Super Coffee TV advertisement. Most of the team members were the same as the team for Super Coffee so Ryan was familiar with them, especially the director, Jake. As always, my deepest gratitude to the team - they treated Ryan like a superstar and kept him happy throughout the full-day shoot.

In fact, everyone gave Ryan the star treatment - especially the advertising agency and the clients' representatives, who even played with Ryan when he was resting between takes. I'm truly grateful for that because the most important thing for me is that Ryan enjoys the experience. Coincidentally, the person in charge from the advertising agency (and basically the person who called the shots) was the mummy of one of Ryan's classmates in Shichida! What a small world!

This weekend, do look out for Ryan in the newspapers! There is going to be an advertisement for this product and Ryan will be in it! Hopefully I will see it too, and if so, I'll pop in and share it here.

Have a good weekend all!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Drawing nets of 3D shapes

I'm over at HappyPlayWonder today, posting about an activity that Ryan did recently.

We've been exploring 3-dimensional shapes (you might remember this video of Ryan lecturing on shapes). In this activity, we drew nets. The net of a 3d shape is its shape when it is unfolded. Ryan had a lot of fun with this, figuring out the different nets. Click on over there to check out the post!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Updates on Rachel

Rachel is 15 months today and I thought it would be perfect for an update to show you some old photos of her. These were taken back in March this year, about six months back. You can see the same cheeky girl, with shorter hair - already the babydoll. She's a little taller now of course, but not by much.

At that stage, babydoll was putting everything into her mouth and it was not often that I managed to get photos of her without a mouth accessory. These days she still tries, off and on, to taste stuff with her mouth, but in general, she only does it if the item looks (or feels) edible. Another hobby that she has put aside is rummaging through drawers - there isn't much rummaging action nowadays.

At that time in March also, babydoll was not yet walking. Now she brings her shoes to us when she wants to go out and bangs on the door so that we'll hurry up and open it. She enjoys being on her feet and she loves the independence that walking brings.

Babydoll was not quite sleeping through the night at that time in March because she was still night-latching. Now she no longer latches at night and we have had many nights of rest. The training was tough - on both Richard and babydoll. Richard used to carry her in the Beco Gemini carrier till she fell asleep. She would be crying her guts out sometimes so Richard really had his work cut out for him. I asked him to lay her down once she got sleepy enough and let her fall asleep on the bed but he preferred to keep carrying her until she was in deep slumber and, sometimes, that could take a very, very long time.

Well, Richard persevered. He did manage to change his methods here and there, as babydoll got more and more used to going to bed without me. Now, he just has to switch the lights off and babydoll knows that it's bedtime. She will lay down herself and go to sleep. There were a couple of times, she was still playing after lights out and, after waiting for her to settle down without success, Richard snapped the Beco on and came over to get her. She immediately threw herself down on the pillow and pretended to be asleep! Richard picked her up anyway and put her in the carrier. Within a few minutes (accompanied by a lot of crying in protest), she was fast asleep.

Babydoll is quite the feisty one - her nanny keeps warning her older brother that he'd better be nice to her because when babydoll grows up a little more, he won't stand a chance if he wants to pick a fight with her. What she lacks in might and muscle, she more than makes up in determination and fearlessness.

Her nanny also joked that, in the future, while Ryan will be ever the perfectionist, labouring lovingly over his school homework, Rachel will rush through her homework and get it over with, because she has a lot of other adventures to get to. That's a nod to how inquisitive and fearless Rachel is - she always wants to be part of the action, no matter what it is.

Ok, that's it for this update. All is well and we are grateful for all blessings upon babydoll.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I still will not teach violence - a follow-up

This is a follow-up to the post on no spanking that I did on Friday last week, which was spurred by Teacher Tom's post on the same topic. Yesterday, Teacher Tom shared one of his readers' responses to his post and I wanted to share it with you too. Please click here to go to his blog for the full post and do read the comments as well (I'm sure the comments will keep coming in over there).

This is the part of the reader's response which Teacher Tom shared with us:

". . . (Y)our post on spanking seemed to spark something. It did for me. You see, I think I'm a good mother . . . at least I did until I read your post. I have spanked. I have threatened to spank. It was the way I was raised, but worse, with a belt and welts. But this is absolutely no excuse for my parenting . . . or lack of. After reading the post, I sat down with my boys. We talked.  I have made them a promise that I will never spank again. I apologized.

Here's the kicker . . . I'm a really good teacher. I am great with the kids and their families. I would never think of putting a hand on a child. I have talked parents out of using their hands to get their children to "abide" by their rules . . . found ways to help them use their words or sense of humor or other forms of encouragement towards better behavior. But when it comes to my children, everything I do in the classroom goes right out the window. Why is that?! I have all the patience in the world for other children but my own.

Your post helped me realize that I need to stop. The threats are even worse than the actual spankings. I put myself in their place. How awful to have someone they love and trust threaten them with something so degrading and painful. I didn't think. I am so ashamed. I just fell back on what was easy . . . what my parents had taught me. I pride myself on being thoughtful and kind to others. Why not the same for my boys?

There is simply no excuse for my behavior.

I am glad that your post caused such controversy. I can see it from both sides. But the side I chose isn't necessarily the part about the spankings causing cells to die. It was more about a teacher . . . a really good teacher . . . who read something online from another fabulous teacher, that helped open her eyes to her world outside of the classroom. I have been on autopilot as a depressed wife and mother, and then later, as a single mother, for so long that I forgot that my own children need me to give them the same kind of respect and love that I would give my preschool children.

I really don't know why I thought that it was OK to treat my boys like that. No . . . I knew it was not OK. I know there was guilt there after each threat and spanking. I always followed it up with a talk about why it happened . . . Which makes me cringe now that I have put so much thought into this. Really? Trying to justify hitting? Makes me sick to my stomach.

Like I said earlier, I have sat down with both boys, individually, and talked it out with them. They have told me how awful it felt. Sadly, they also said they understood why. That makes it worse! But I did give them my promise that I will never raise my hand ever again . . .

Thank you for every post you have written. I have read just about every one of them. But this one is the one that I will never forget, because this is the one that has been the turning point for me and my boys."

Monday, September 16, 2013

Weekend update

We had a pretty mellow weekend. We spent Sunday afternoon watching TV from 7 to 10.30 pm! What is even more amazing is that we were watching the Chinese language channel (Channel 8)! Haha!

We were actually looking out for Ryan's latest TV commercial. We received news that it started airing this weekend on Channel 8 during the primetime slot (which is from 7 to 11 pm) so we parked ourselves in front of the TV and endured the drama serials - but we didn't see the commercial! If you saw Ryan on TV, let us know!

The English version will be showing on Channel 5 in about two weeks' time and the print ad will be out in the papers this weekend... we are so looking forward to seeing the ads! In the meantime, I guess we will be brushing up on our Chinese...

In other weekend news, we attended a birthday party on Saturday. Ryan's classmate turned 5 and invited everyone to celebrate with a BBQ by the pool. There was a magic show for the children by Immanuel Children's Entertainment (very funny magician - the kids loved him!), followed by some games including a treasure hunt around the pool and a bash the pinata session. We had lunch at the party, which was simple BBQ-ed hotdogs, fruit kebabs and birthday cake. Some of the children had a frolic in the pool as well.

After the party, we popped by the supermarket because Richard wanted to cook dinner for us! The rest of Saturday was spent at home, with Richard slaving away in the kitchen to make coq au vin blanc, with appropriate child-friendly side dishes.

In case you're wondering, this was an overdue celebration for our 12th wedding anniversary which was on the previous weekend. We exchanged gifts and I also got some extra large roses - the blooms were so big that they drooped like tulips on the third day!

Anyway that was our simple and mellow weekend.

Friday, September 13, 2013

I still will not teach violence

I was at Hokey Pokey a few weeks ago with Rachel, with some mummies and their little ones around Rachel's age. I was sitting on the floor and one of the little girls came up to me and hit me in the face with the plastic toy that she was holding.

It didn't hurt but it was a deliberate and intentional act, so I was a little concerned about the reasons behind it. At her age, children aren't naturally mean or hurtful. She was trying to socialise and engage with me and she thought that hitting me was how to do it. I wanted to see if I could help her understand that it wasn't, and to show her that she could express herself in a different way. So I rubbed my head, looked pained and asked her, "Why did you do that?" I didn't expect an answer - it was simply to kickstart an interaction that I hoped would lead to something meaningful and, in fact, her daughter was looking at me, already engaged by what I was saying.

The mother, who had her back turned before, then came over and asked what happened. I told her that her daughter hit me. I was not trying to complain; I wanted to explain why I was interacting with her daughter and what I was doing, and of course, to hand over the situation to her mother, expecting that the mother would talk to her daughter, explain things and show her how people should interact.

The mother was very apologetic and embarrassed. She immediately grabbed her daughter's hands and smacked them a couple of times. She didn't say anything to her daughter. Instead, she talked to me, apologising, telling me that her daughter "does this all the time".

And so I understood why the little girl hit me in the face.

To complete the story - as the mother was smacking the girl's hands and talking to me, the little girl was still looking at me. She never wavered from me. To her, we were supposed to be interacting, socialising. Her hitting me in the face was just part of that. To reinforce my view, the little girl was completely unfazed and unaffected by her mother smacking her hands. To her, I was more "unusual" and interesting, than getting her hands smacked. Obviously, she sees hitting and smacking often enough in her day-to-day life to accept it as no big deal. Children learn what they live, don't they?

That concerned me in another way as well - it just gets worse from there, doesn't it? When the child becomes immune to light smacking and hitting, the parent becomes more frustrated and angry and hits harder. It's not effective until the rulers and the canes come out, until the red welts appear on the child. Until the child cries out to acknowledge the pain. Then, and only then, is it a big deal.

But what did the little girl learn here? Assuming that she even understood that she was getting smacked because she smacked me (unlikely because we were already past that and her mother didn't connect the dots for her), what seemed to me to be happening was that she was learning to refrain from socialising with people. Hitting was socialising so don't hit means don't socialise. To add to that, her mother led her away immediately after smacking her.

I've written about spanking before. Please click here to read my post. I am completely against and totally abhor any form of hitting, smacking, spanking, or beating. Not matter what you call it, it's an bullying act of violence and battery against a helpless child. I do not believe that spanking or smacking your child yields the right lesson, and whatever lesson you intend to teach can be taught in countless other, better ways. Conversely, the lessons that spanking imparts are far more damaging. In the case of the girl at Hokey Pokey, she had obviously learned that bonking someone in the face is how people interact.

I have been wanting to re-post my post again on the blog for sometime now, but I guess I didn't want to simply present it as it is, without adding some (more) value. Yesterday, I read this post from Teacher Tom which presented the opportunity. Teacher Tom has written a couple of posts on his blog about this topic and he recently made a video for Kids in the House on this topic, which you can also see in his post. Do read the full post and check the links there. Here, I wanted to extract just this paragraph from the post:

"Spanking damages the brain. It literally reduces grey matter and therefore intelligence, learning, sensory perception, speech, muscular control, emotions and memory. Research consistently links corporal punishment with aggression in children, poor academic performance, depression, and anti-social tendencies."

Please read this post from Psychology Today (also linked in Teacher Tom's post) and bear in mind that this is not an isolated finding. There is overwhelming data that supports the conclusions set out in that post. Overwhelming data. Hundreds of scientific studies and surveys show the negative outcomes that are associated with physical punishment. "The research is clear and well understood: corporal punishment has overwhelmingly negative effects on children's development, and there is now almost total unanimity amongst scholars and child development experts that the effects of corporal punishment are undesirable at least and extremely harmful (sometimes fatal) at worst." (I'm quoting Alec at Child's Play Music, from a comment he made on Teacher Tom's Facebook post).

So, I'm writing about this today in the hope that a parent, especially in Singapore, may be persuaded not to spank a child for the simple reason that it literally makes him/her less intelligent and it negatively affects his/her memory. Even if the parent does not believe, despite the overwhelming evidence in support, that hurting a child has long-term negative effects and no educational value, perhaps this little fact will save the poor child from another episode.

Spanking is banned in about 30 countries in the world. Let me say that again - it is actually banned in about 30 countries. Shocks me that people can make all that flurry over BPA being in their children's plastics but still spank their children with rulers. Perspective, people. Get some perspective.

So, back to the mother and the child at Hokey Pokey. Did I say anything to the mother? No. A long time ago, she had told me that, when she has a view on something, she will not change her mind no matter all contrary opinions and the scientific facts you show her. She wasn't talking about spanking - she was talking about her approach to everything. A nice way to look at it would be to say that she has a mind of her own. But minds can be educated or not educated, and what she was (unintentionally) saying was that, if you wanted to educate her, she would have nothing of it, she preferred to remain uneducated, she didn't want to know better. So she wasn't about to take my advice on anything, least of all smacking her child.

There are many, many people who refuse to stop hitting their own children and find all sorts of reasons to keep doing it. As Teacher Tom wrote in his post, "It's shocking to me that there are so many who are so wed to their "right" to hit children that they are immune to the facts about the harm they do, not only to their own children, but to society at large." It's just crazy.

And to all those people who say, "I was spanked as a child, I turned out fine", I say this quote from Maya Angelou - "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."

So, a bit of seriousness heading into the weekend. I do hope that it provides some food for thought and hopefully, build more awareness of why we should stop hurting our children.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A man and a boy

A simple post today. Just photos. I'm sure you can figure out what the common thread is! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Updates on Rachel

Babydoll is increasingly showing that she understands what's happening even though she doesn't speak many words. I ask her, while nursing, if she would like some yoghurt and she nods her head and de-latches. I tell her we're going out and she gets her sandals and pounds on the front door until we open it. I ask her to bring her storybook over to the mat and we'll read it together, and she does.

The other night, we were all lying in bed trying to sleep and she was sitting up playing in the dark next to me. When Richard came around to get her, fast as lightning she plonked herself on me and pretended to be asleep!

Babydoll does express herself verbally quite a lot - she sings in the car seat, she makes exclamations of joy when we come to fetch her from her nanny, she scolds her brother when he scolds her, she coos lovingly at the animals in her favourite book, and sometimes she just launches into an expressive soliloquy of babytalk. It's very adorable, and Richard and I always smile at each other when we hear her go on like that.

Babydoll's nanny and her nanny's family are all in love with her. Her nanny takes a lot of joy in dressing her up and playing with her hair and her nanny's daughter has taken to giving her pedicures. Every other day, babydoll has a new outfit - the dress she is wearing in this post is one of many outfits that her nanny bought for her on a recent trip to Bangkok.

Her nanny keeps telling me how fun she is to be with. Once her nanny told her that babydoll needed to go into the playpen for a while. Babydoll went inside and staged a silent protest - she threw all her toys out of the playpen, one by one. Heh heh.

Her nanny's husband is her partner in crime - babydoll will tug at his t-shirt on the chair to tell him to "put it on and take me out for a walk!" - he obediently follows her orders and proudly relays to me how smart she is.

Babydoll will, unprompted, wave hello and bye bye to everyone (and I do mean, every single person). She will clap her hands to share both your joy and her joy. She will talk to her soft toys and caress the pets. This morning, she was flipping through her favourite book, talking to and kissing the various animals on the pages. Not quite a social butterfly, but she certainly enjoys her interactions with others.

Physically speaking - she's eating well, sleeping well, healthy and happy. All we could ask for and are blessed to receive.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Life of a Model

These are shots from some of Ryan's recent roles. The first one is from the brochure for the launch of an executive condominium at Pasir Ris called Sea Horizon. I mentioned the shoot briefly in this post. The shoot was a lot of fun and Ryan had a good time, primarily because Jerald Foo (the daddy in the photo) was a ball of energy and kept everyone's spirits up. By the way, Jerald is one of CLEO's 50 Most Eligible Bachelors 2013 and has a rocking instagram - look at this photo! Also, check out this photo on his instagram which was taken at the shoot before the stylist decided to change Ryan's top to the one he's wearing above.

Next are two photos that Ryan shot for another property launch, Kensington Square. I wrote about the shoot in this post. There were some discussions about the models doing the commercial for TV as well but in the end, the client got Mediacorp artiste Rebecca Tan to endorse the TV commercial. 

The first photo is from the e-brochure for the residential units. The second photo shot in the supermarket is from the newspaper advertisements that ran in the papers on Saturday and Sunday, the weekend before last. 

Both properties launched recently so both their campaigns are going on now. In addition, Ryan recently completed a commercial for TV which should air very soon - do look out for it!

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