Thursday, August 30, 2012

5 ways to calm down a toddler

DSC02310So this week featured a mini-drama with the toddler which led to the historic moment of our very first time-out chair session.

Despite the tears (both his and mine) I believe the ‘chair’ made its point. Since that episode, the time-out chair has remained unoccupied and the undesirable behaviour has not been repeated.

Hail the mighty power of the chair!

Saying that, I do think i is important though, to distinguish between actual wrongful behaviour or actions versus circumstances where a child is simply finding it challenging to cope with.

Some examples of these situations could include:

  • Overtiredness or lack of sleep
  • Hunger or low blood sugar
  • Feeling overwhelmed in a strange or new situation
  • A boo-boo or hurt
  • Frustration at not being able to explain their need

In situations like this, I believe it’s best to first try and address the root issue, exercise a little more tenderness and empathy and try to do something to take the edge off.


Here are 5 things I’ve found to be effective in helping to bring calm to such difficult moments:


1. Get down to their level
Kneeling or lying down next to them, and whispering or speaking softly


2. A tight hug
Give a really big, firm, warm, all encompassing hug and often you’ll soon feel those little muscles relax and quiet down


3. Bubbles
Need I say more?


4. Milk
Sometimes something for the tummy is just what they need


5. Lavender and rosemary calming spray
I found the idea here and really like it – so far my toddler has been more interested in the spray bottle rather than the actual effect of the spray itself… but I suppose it did sort of work as a distraction in that way

P.S. Also linking up to this great post from the Mommy Cafe on Surprising Insights About Tantrums

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Time out

So on Sunday, hubby and I officially made the decision to start implementing the time-out chair for disciplining Nathan if the occasion arises.

I think I have been rather indulgent with Nathan all this while. Granted he is not really a very naughty child. Most of the time he displays a very sweet and loving temperament – always eager to please others.

He puts his toys away when we ask him to (sometimes on his own without being told), he enjoys helping to set the table, he will sit down to put on his shoes before going outside, he goes down for his nap and bedtime on the dot when we say so.

But like any toddler… he too has his ‘difficult’ moments…


I don’t know why, but it never even occurred to me to even smack him until another mum brought it up to me a couple of days ago.

But I knew that sooner or later, when boundaries start to be tested, the ‘rod’ (whether we mean it literally or metaphorically) must come forth.

Hubby and I discussed the time-out system at length. What chair should we use? Should it be a different colour? Where we should put it? When should we use it? How long should he sit there? What should we do after the time-out?

We even made a special trip to Ikea just especially to get a particular chair for this specific use.


On the way there, I said to hubs: “I feel so inadequate and underserving of this tremendous responsibility… to shape and develop all these values for this whole other person… when I am such a mess myself

Hub’s nonchalant reply: “Well, it’s either that or leaving it to the police to do it for you next time


So today marks a historic moment:



As hard as this is, I bet there are bigger challenges yet to come.

God give me the grace and wisdom I need.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Babysitter Survival Kit


So this weekend we had some friends help babysit Nathan so we could attend a parenting course at church. To help them out, I pulled together a special kit for them.

Presenting… The Ultimate Babysitter Survival Kit!

Here’s the ‘how' to’ on what I pulled together:

Nappy Change Kit: a couple of nappies, wipes, a disposable change mat and a bottle of hand sanitiser


For Tummies: I packed a mini-milk-box, raisins, a snack bar and a cheese stick


For Spills and Messes: spare change of clothing, a washcloth/small towel and a wet bag


And for the best part…

A Fun Bag: favourite DVD, music CD, stickers, balloons, microwave popcorn and bubbles! (totally the best distraction method for kids)


And especially for the babysitter…

Babysitter Booster Pills: magic pills to keep those energy levels up – strictly for babysitters only (contains M&Ms and Smarties)


Put it all together and voila!


You can download the printable for the labels in the kit here


I also used this terrific babysitter notes printable from Spool and Spoon

Other tips and tricks

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Linky treasures: Have a good weekend

Our photo moment of the week



What are you up to this weekend?

Sunday trading starts this weekend in Perth (finally!) so we won’t have to be squeezing all our shopping errands on Saturday. So on Saturday afternoon we might check out The Reading Hour at our local library.

I shall leave you now with these finds…

Awesome video game covers for gamers to look like bookworms

A lovely idea for a book exchange party

Amazing travel pouch disguised as a book by my friend Pegs.

Cool blog depicting awesome people reading including Spike Lee, Grace Kelly, Christopher Plummer, Orlando Bloom and Elvis 


And a great quote on books from our childhood

No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond
― C.S. Lewis

Friday, August 24, 2012

Teen Reads

Since we’re talking books, here’s another one…


Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High

…Which were all the rage in my teen years. My friends and I were constantly sharing and swapping these with each other, devouring as many as these as we could.

Novels were banned at our school back in those days, but we got away with it by wrapping the covers with paper so we could sneak a read at recess, between classes, and sometimes during class if we happened to be right in the middle of a really exciting chapter.

Flipping through a couple of old these old novels, I couldn’t help thinking how cliché the plots and storylines were. The reading list soon expanded to Nancy Drew, R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike and the like. But every reader has to start somewhere I guess.

Looking back, I think it was quite unreasonable to have a rule banning these novels at school. Granted they were not classical works of literature, but at least we were reading. It would make more sense to have a rule against reading novels in class or something like that.

A smart teacher would have taken advantage of the craze with these novels… maybe even integrate them into English class, Moral Studies (a compulsory subject in the Malaysian school system) to shake things up.

So are were you a closet teen novel reader? Don’t be afraid to own up… you are not alone.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Books to read to my children.

After that little stroll down memory lane on my favourite Enid Blyton book, I decided to make a list of favourite childhood books I would like to share and read with Nathan & Co. someday.

Here’s my list…

imageImages taken from various Google image sources

Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, and The Witches

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (seven books in the series)

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Mrs Frisby and The Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s series of Little House books (eight books)

The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit

And of course Enid Blyton’s The Wishing Chair and The Magic Faraway Tree

Going through let’s say around a chapter a day, I reckon this list should cover off a good five years at least.

I’m not sure how my reading will be received by my little audience someday. I’m terrible at doing voices – and character voices are pretty essential to the whole reading aloud experience.

Despite that I still am eagerly awaiting the day when I’ll finally get a new reading partner (since my bargain with hubs fell through – though not on my part).


P.S. Greats tips for reading aloud to your kids and a geek’s list of 67 books to read to kids before age 10

Monday, August 20, 2012

My favourite Enid Blyton book

So I was rifling through some papers and folders in our study shelf over the weekend. As I was doing so, my eyes happen to drift across a row of old books on the top shelf…

A familiar bright pink book right in the centre caught my attention:


My treasured volume of The Wishing Chair series by Enid Blyton

My parents bought this book as a gift for me from the M.V. Doulos in 1990

I’ve read so many Enid Blyton books that I can hardly remember them all. But this one is by far my absolute favourite Enid Blyton book.

For those of you who have read it, I don’t know about you but somehow this book always made me feel hungry whenever I read it. There is just so much good eating in the book. I used to wish I was inside the story as well enjoying treacle pudding, chocolate blancmange and cream buns.

There was even had a whole chapter dedicated exclusively to food – the one where Peter, Mollie and Chinky visited ‘The Land of Goodies’ which featured a chocolate biscuit tree, a jelly plant, hedges with grape-like bunches of boiled sweets, an ice-cream tree and streams that ran with ginger-beer and lemonade.

Other memorable good eats I remember from the book include tea with Mrs Spells where she served strawberryade, strawberry-ice and strawberry biscuits, and shops with magic taps that served whatever flavour of soup or ice-cream you wanted or imagined.

Here’s what the original covers of the Wishing Chair books looked like:


I’m so looking forward to sharing and reading these books to Nathan someday.


P.S. It was my mother’s birthday over the weekend. My mother was the one who first introduced me to the wonderful world of Enid Blyton. Looking at this book brought back all those childhood memories including the library excursions she took us on every other week when I was a girl. Enid Blyton was almost a staple check-out item in my quota for the week.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Weekend linky treasures

Our photo moment of the week


And here’s the indoor version:


For this weekend, I shall leave you with three awesome links:

100 ways to be kind to your child

Pocket Princesses by Amy Mebberson

10 wild newly-funded NASA projects


Have a great weekend everyone!
(and an nice extra long one for you peeps in Malaysia and Singapore)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

16 ways to stop thumb sucking

image_thumb1My son is a thumb sucker. Albeit not a perpetual thumb sucker… but it is his most relied upon object for staying cool and regaining his composure in difficult moments.

I’m not in a hurry to unplug his thumb permanently right now, but out of curiosity I decided to Google ‘ways to stop thumb sucking’ to see what was out there.

Here are 16 methods I’ve come across which I thought I’d share here (perhaps some of you might even be familiar with a couple of them)


Some classic remedies:



Lemon juice

Hot sauce


Onion juice

Bitter gourd juice

Axe Brand Medicated Oil (a.k.a. Minyak Kapak)

Bandage or duct tape


Some newer innovative methods:

imageA beautiful thumb manicure (for girls)

Awful tasting nail polish

Giant mittens

Thumb blocking gloves

imageA specially designed thumb guard

A fixed palatal crib (looks kinda scary)

A letter from The Kid Fairy


If all desperate efforts fail, I suppose we can only accept that there must be an inner peace found in the thumb which only thumb suckers can understand.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chillies and scary black caterpillars

Our garden is in a sad state these days. It’s winter season now for us living down under, so it’s a lot cosier and comfier staying indoors.

Of course I do venture out to our garden several times a week… either to:

  • Take advantage of sunny spells to sun my cloth nappies
  • Or to let Nathan run around and play outside on clear days
  • Or to snip some lavender flowers for my heat therapy bags

But while I’m outside, I pretty much stay oblivious to the garden. If you don’t already know, I’m just not a gardening person. In fact, I forgot all about the baby oregano which Nathan planted, until hubby asked me whether it was still alive (it still is actually, phew!).

But the one spot in the garden my eyes could never ignore was the flaming red fruit on our chilli plant. Red is a difficult colour to ignore – especially when the whole plant is just crimson spotted all over.


Despite the minimal care given, the small plant was just heavy with chillies dotted all over and literally weighing it down.

I hadn’t planned on harvesting the fruit because since Nathan started transitioning to sharing our meals, my chilli usage has reduced significantly. In fact, I still have two bags of them in the freezer from the previous harvest.

We should give them away, but harvesting and plucking them can be rather time consuming. However after a few times walking by the plant, reflecting on the sad waste of the beautiful chilli, I finally dug my heels in and harvested the fruit.

It was quite a harvest for such a small plant. This is a picture I snapped while I was only halfway through…


The arduous harvesting process was further impeded by Nathan’s efforts to ‘help’ and the super scary hairy black caterpillars I encountered.


I divided everything into ten generous portions and bagged them up nicely. All part of the service. The caterpillar removal service is especially priceless. I hope someone appreciates the gravity of the ordeal I had to undergo. I still have shivers now thinking about those alien creatures.

So far I’ve given two bags away. Please come and claim your portion of the remaining eight. They are excellent caterpillar-free chillies and quite potent too, so a little bit goes a long way.


P.S. If your tongue every falls victim to super potent chilli like ours, apparently the best way to cure the burning effect of eating chilli is to either eat yoghurt or drink milk or alcohol

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My fall back toddler meal idea

There are some days when everything is all over the place and putting a proper and timely meal for Nathan is just not possible. I confess that I too have fallen back on (horror of horrors) the pack of frozen chicken nuggets for Nathan’s dinner.

Of course I try not to resort to the chicken nugget stash too often, so my other favourite fall back plan is this…

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

They’re the easiest thing to pull together and so healthy! Sweet potatoes apparently rank as the number one most nutritional vegetable.

Just take one or two sweet potatoes, clean, peel and cut them into wedges

Toss them in a little drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt/pepper


Then bake in a 170-180° Celsius oven for about 15-20 minutes


And into the tummy they go!


This is Nathan’s absolute favourite way of eating sweet potatoes, for which I’m glad they are so simple to make.


P.S.1 You can also try this with carrots or beetroot or vary the recipe by adding other spices or herbs for seasoning or some grated parmesan.

P.S.2 More super simple idiot proof recipes using under four ingredients

Monday, August 13, 2012

Thumbsucking: endearing or yucky?

So one of the current questions going on in the parenting department at our household is…

Should we, and when, and how should we start actively weaning Nathan off thumb sucking?

Yes. My son belongs to the tribe of thumb suckers.


Nathan first discovered his thumb when he was around 3 months old, much to my relief at that time. It was the biggest breakthrough for him in being able to sleep fully through the night and having consistent naps.

I must say that among his peers, he is considered a top champ in terms of sleep. He is able to consistently sleep through 12 hours through the night and over 2 hours at naptime and I think his thumb is a big key in helping him tide over sleep transitions smoothly by himself.

We had tried other options before, like dummies/pacifiers and various loveys/soft toys but none of them ever caught on. He absolutely hated the dummy and spat it out every time (we have a whole stash of different types and designs of dummies now collecting dust in the cupboard).

We accepted the thumb sucking as it was the key for Nathan to learn to self soothe, and it had some advantages over the dummy – e.g. it’s always there, won’t fall off or get lost, and no need for running over every now and then to pop it back in his mouth when it falls off.

I personally don’t mind Nathan’s thumb sucking at all and even find it somewhat endearing. Plus he is not a constant thumb sucker and so far only resorts to it in three situations:

  1. When he is tired or soothing himself to sleep
  2. When he is hurt or upset
  3. When he is bored or in a situation where he can’t occupy himself with anything else – e.g. in the car

At all other times, he is usually too busy playing and exploring to suck his thumb. He’s still only just 19 months old after all, so I’m not really in a big hurry to shut it down.

But lately I’ve started to wonder if his thumb sucking is becoming an issue… to other people that is. Some people are just completely disgusted, turned-off and even horrified by it. I sometimes worry that for some people who happen to catch Nathan at a vulnerable thumb-sucking moment, they might view my son like this.

So what now? Cold turkey? Gentle weaning? Self weaning? Employ drastic measures? Or bring out some wacky contraptions?

Maybe I should even consider the sage old advice of Mrs Merriwether in Gone With The Wind

Image Source:

Rhett Butler: Mrs Merriwether, I've always had a great regard for your knowledge. I wonder if you could give me some advice… My Bonnie sucks her thumb. I can't make her stop it.

Mrs Merriwether: Make her stop it. It'll ruin the shape of her mouth.

Rhett Butler: I know, I know. She has such a beautiful mouth, too. I tried putting soap under her nails.

Mrs Merriwether: Soap! Bah! Put quinine on her thumb and she'll stop sucking it quick enough.

Rhett Butler: Quinine! I never would have thought of it. I can't thank you enough, Mrs Merriwether. You've taken a great load off my mind!


Hmmm… now where can I get hold of some quinine?

P.S. I really like this approach to the thumb sucking issue – great advice not just for thumb sucker situations but other comfort object attachments like dummies or smelly pillows/blankies/teddies etc.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Linky Treasures for your Weekend

Our photo moment of the week…


The weekend is finally here! I thought I’d share some great linky treasures I found for you to browse through on a leisurely morning or a lazy afternoon or a quiet evening this weekend…

A quote about toddlers/pre-schoolers that made me laugh

Some really rad ideas for wearing a scarf

A beautiful ring that made start thinking of taking up crochet

Apparently how you hang your toilet paper says a lot about you

The inspiring story of the originator of the Take What You Need project

A great cocktail for a cross between afternoon tea and afterhours drinks

For a non-alcoholic version, here’s the secret ingredient to make the perfect sweet tea

Have great weekend!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Recent product reviews roundup

Quick update on recent product reviews I’ve done…

Ones & Twos nappies reviewed here: These nappies have a trim crotch and compact design but feature really good quality leg gussets that contain any mess inside very effectively. A good quality buy for the price (range of $20-23 per nappy)


Green Kids Anytimes nappies reviewed on The Bub Hub: A great workhorse nappy and super easy to use. Colours/designs are a bit plain for the $20 range nappies, but they do offer a premium range for more design/print options.


Disney Classic Pooh 4-in-1 Toilet Trainer set
reviewed on The Bub Hub: A potty, toilet seat, and two step stools combined in one set. Who doesn’t love a multi-use product!


Friday, August 03, 2012

Celebrating Brother and Sister Ties

I just learnt that this week that just passed was the Indian festival of Raksha Bandhan which Nathan had the privilege of celebrating with his day care family.

Raksha Bandhan is an Indian festival which involves the tying of rakhi (sacred thread) by a sister on her brother’s wrist. This symbolises the sister’s love and prayers for her brother’s well-being and the brother’s lifelong vow to protect her.

When I arrived at day care to pick Nathan up on the last day of day care this week, the boys there all held up their wrists proudly displaying their rakhi bracelets. Nathan had one too taped to his worksheet (which I suspect was because he must have kept wanting to yank it off and pull it apart).

Craft rakhi
Craft rakhi made by one of the girls at day care for Nathan

Our carer told me that her husband received a rakhi from his sister all the way from India, and she herself had made one to send to her brother overseas. I had watched a documentary on this festival before and had thought how wonderful a tradition it is to foster closeness between brothers and sisters in the family.

Out of curiosity, I did a Google search to check out the different variations and designs of rakhi there were out there…

Woven friendship Rakhi BandimageSaathiya Rakhi ,Friendship Thread
From, TwoDotts etsy,,

It occurred to me that the idea was not too different from the friendship bracelets that were all the rage in my teens. My girl friends and I used to love making these and giving them away to each other as well as to our guy friends, who were pretty much like brothers.

Image from

I’m not sure what were the exact thoughts that went through those boys’ minds when they received the pretty colourful bracelets from us girls. But they must have been good thoughts, as they were all very obliging in wearing them everywhere. Perhaps it was a sort of proud statement to show the world that they had a ‘sister’ who cared for them.

DSC02099So in the spirit of the recent Raksha Bandhan celebrations, I decided to make a couple of these bracelets for my own two brothers.

As I weave the strands of colourful thread together, my love and prayers for their well-being shall go out to them.

Do you guys remember those friendship bands? Ever made one for someone? Maybe you even still have one among your treasures that you made yourself or received from someone else.

P.S. Check out these amazing friendship bracelet designs and here’s a terrific idea on improvising friendship bands for the gadget geeks.