Thursday, September 24, 2015

Four children’s books that make me cry

Reading story books out loud is daily routine for me. Many many times a day actually.

From baby picture books naming colours and animals… to adventure stories on superheroes, Lego characters and Star Wars.

I always aim to put my heart into each reading. Even if it’s simply a book about naming colours or animal sounds.

But if it’s a book for slightly older children, I really like to get right into the story. Especially if it’s a good one.

Here are four favourite children’s books of mine which I especially love. I often get a lump in my throat as I read them…. sometimes it even gets my tears going (if I happen to be feeling particularly emotional or wistful that day).

****
Jonathan and Martha
by Petr Horáček

I’ll give it to you straight. This is actually a love story. And an incredibly sweet one at that. It’s about two lonely  worms named Jonathan and Martha who inadvertently met one day through their love of eating and eventually fell in love. Nathan enjoyed the story too as we read it countless times and even extended it into our play.

*****
Herman and Rosie
by Gus Gordon15843038

This is another love story. I am quite a sucker for those as you can see. The words in the story flow so delightfully and smoothly. Like music. Which is likely the case because this story is about two music lovers and how they lost themselves… and found themselves again… and each other. I never tire of reading this story to the children.

*****
The Heart and the Bottle
by Oliver Jeffers7096916

I’m a huge fan of Oliver Jeffers and all his books. I just love the whimsical style of his stories and writing. I came across this book at the library one day and seeing that it was another Oliver Jeffers book I added it to our pile of books to borrow. It turned out to be quite a different sort of children’s story than I had expected. In a good way. It’s probably a story written more for adults. Anyone who has gone through grief or loss would definitely relate to the metaphor of hiding your heart away in a bottle to keep it safe.

*****
Love You Forever
by Robert Munsch

310259

This one is no doubt the mother of all classic tear-jerker children’s books. The message of love, death and the circle of life might seem heavy for young children to understand. But I think we should not underestimate children’s abilities to grasp difficult concepts and truths, if it’s framed in a way they can digest. And this story does it well I think. I have to confess that my tears were pouring out like nobody’s business the very first time I read this story out loud to Nathan. Even more so because I read the sad story behind the writing of this book.

*****

[Some people have asked me how I manage reading these longer stories for older children with toddlers and babies around in my family day care setting. It’s likely that the younger children will lose focus, get distracted or try to pull the pages of the book down as you try to read it to everyone. My tip is this: I focus on reading the short board books for group story time with everyone. Then during morning or afternoon tea while all the children are munching on their fruit and snacks, I sit down with the children and read out the longer stories for the benefit of the older children. And the younger children are actually listening to the story too and absorbing it all in at the same time.]

What are some of your favourite children’s books recommendations?
I’d love to hear them!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Purple Lobster

Bizarre conversations that have been happening in our household lately…

“NO Grace! You’d better stop that! I mean it! Or I’m going to get The Lobster!”

“NO LOBSTER!!! NOOOO!!!”

“Alright then!”

“NO! I don’t like lobster. LOBSTER GONNA EAT MY EARS!!!”

DSC07701

In case you’re trying to figure out what that is, it is a little purple lobster wind-up-toy.

It was a present from my brother and sister-in-law for Grace at their wedding in Singapore. Supposedly as a thank you gift to her for being the flower girl. And probably something fun to keep her amused at the reception. When you wind it up, it makes a funny buzzing noise as it rolls across the table or floor.

Unfortunately Grace found the toy lobster absolutely terrifying.

She refused to touch it or let it get anywhere near her.

I kept aside and forgot about it for a while.

One afternoon a few weeks ago, Nathan came across it among a box of toys. I picked it up and wound it up just for a bit of fun.

Grace went absolutely ballistic.

She ran away screaming her head off in pure terror.

Looks like she still had not gotten over her purple-lobster-toy phobia.

So I put the lobster toy away in Nathan’s room. Grace even insisted on shutting the door (supposedly to make sure the lobster would not escape).

We all had a good laugh over it and then forgot about the toy again for a little while.

Until one morning a couple of weeks ago. Grace was being a pain. The way two-year-olds can be sometimes. I can’t remember exactly what the specific offense was. Either refusing to comply with something she was supposed to do or doing something she was forbidden to do. Whatever it was, she was just refusing to budge. Nothing I said or did would move her.

After repeated rebuking and admonitions, I finally lost it.

In that moment of absolute frustration, I called upon…

The Purple Lobster.

Yes. I hate to admit it but it’s true.

I threatened my little girl with with the ‘thing’ she feared most.

It was a shamefully low blow.

But it worked immediately like a charm….

“NOOO!!! NO LOBSTER!!! LOBSTER GONNA EAT MY EARS!!!” screamed Grace.

[Don’t ask me what the deal is with the lobster eating her ears. I have no clue what that’s about.]

So now I keep this as my secret fall back weapon. When all other threats and admonitions fail.

[Allow me to caveat this post by stating that this is in no way considered ‘proper’ parenting methods. It is way off the textbook. In fact many would say this falls under the ‘what not to do’ category of methods.]

We all have our moments of desperations as parents.

It is kind of nice to have a fool-proof trick up your sleeve.

But I expect one day eventually Grace and I might find ourselves in a situation where we are at an impasse.

And we may have to negotiate a treaty.

That might be the day when I shall have to get rid of the purple lobster for good.

We shall wait and see.

For now, I’m keeping the lobster.

 

[What bizarre or unorthodox parenting tricks do you keep up your sleeve?]

Thursday, September 10, 2015

“Just Can’t Wait To Be King”

Do you remember performing in one of those obligatory kindergarten concerts as a child?

I remember having to dress up in a super frilly dress, and having make-up on… very red lipstick and very pink cheeks. The performance itself was a blur which I barely can remember now. I was only four or five years old then. I do remember enjoying the feeling of having make-up on. It felt very grown-up.

Hubby remembers his kindergarten concert. He told me he had to wear make-up too. He distinctly remembers the weird sticky feeling of having lipstick on, and walking around his lips pouted out the entire time because his lips felt so weird.

The circle of life goes on, and now we’re back again at the scene of a kindergarten concert performance. Though this time it’s not us wearing the costumes and make-up. We are now the paparazzi parents in the audience with our eyes glued on the little orange-maned lion on the far right.

DSC07683 (2)

Nathan distinctly requested a lion costume for his performance as they were dancing to “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” from The Lion King. We scoured several shops for lion costumes (or any African or jungle animal costumes) to no avail. Some of the other mums in the class ended up ordering their costumes online. But I preferred not to take that route, plus by then I was already short on time.

Thank goodness for the internet and the power of Pinterest. I found this marvellous DIY lion costume idea. So on Sunday morning we headed to the local swap market and I picked up this hoodie for one dollar. The yarn was from Spotlight for $4.99

Total cost of materials: $5.99
Total labour time: around one hour plus on Sunday afternoon.

(The nose and whiskers was painted on by one of the mums in his class)

DSC07686 (3)[4]

Not bad eh?

I have to say I was pretty stoked with my handiwork. I think I was more excited about the costume than Nathan was. But he was pretty pleased with it overall.

Grace was absolutely terrified of it. She ran away in terror when Nathan tried on the costume. And she went almost hysterical when he began roaring around the house with his costume. She ran to a far corner of the house and crouched there screaming “Noooo!!! Noooo!!! Don’t touch me!!! Don’t touch me!!!

I just burst out laughing on the spot. And hubby got out the video camera to film the whole dramatic scene that was unfolding. It was pretty terrible of us considering her terror was quite real. Eventually we got Nathan to take the costume off and I explained to her that it was not a real lion. Just kor-kor Nathan in a costume. She calmed down enough to come near the costume to examine it although she still refused to touch it.

I’m not sure if Grace’s reaction is a statement of how much the costume resembles a real lion… or if it resembles something else entirely unnameable.

Either way, I’m just proud of my little lion cub. (And of myself for putting that costume together in less than a day!)

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Brothers and Uncles (plus a few cool links)

Was looking through some photos today and just had to share these favourite photo moments of my kids with their uncles…

DSC07293 (2)

UncleSam&Grace

UncleSamHugs

“Only the BEST brothers
get promoted
to an UNCLE”
 
Reminded me of this very famous uncle from an old favourite sitcom…
 
 
Here are some interesting reads and fun links I thought were pretty cool…
 
Famous cast silhouettes quiz (how did you score?)
 
Reading these notes broke my heart.
 
The true gritty secret to success.

This video clip blew my mind.
 
How cool are these convertible handbags?
 
My four-year-old has a dark side.
 
And this deeply intriguing article about Alice in Wonderland and Imaginary Mathematics—-which I learnt was a real thing. It’s a little long but I think it is quite worth the read.