No Tray No Play

I’ve always disliked my kids playing with Playdoh. Hmm… that didn’t quite come out right. Let me start again.

I like Playdoh and I like my kids playing with it (cos it’s really fun). What I dislike is the clean up after. It leaves behind ridiculously-tedious-clean-up messes that’s a tad too stressful for domestically-challenged moms like me. Meshed spots of playdough on the table, on the floor and on the playdoh accessories. Aargh!

(That explained some of the unopened playdoh gifts we’ve received over the years, to be more specific, since Hubby-jr was 1 and he’s 7 this year eeps…)

Yes, I have allowed them to play with it at home before, at times, but those times were highly dependent on me feeling “up-to-it” which suffice to say was rather, rather rare.

But my kids (like almost every other kid) love playing playdoh. So their love for it coupled with the unopened boxes of playdoh sets in their cupboard added to my already surmounting heap of motherhood guilt. Everytime they spotted the boxes and requested to play and I said “no,” I could just feel that 1 guilt point adding up. Yet even that couldn’t move me to succumb. That clean-up-after mess was a very real deterrent.

Well that was before. Now, I’ve finally let the playdough loose. Nope, I’ve not seen the light and think that I should be the perfect mom and deal with the after-mess with loving kindness. Instead I found a solution to prevent significantly minimise the after-playing-with-playdough mess! (Beam, pat myself on the back.)

The solution? I use two red trays which I bought for SGD3.90 a piece (I think) at IKEA and enforce the rule that all handling of playdough MUST be kept within the tray area. It works wonderfully. The cleaning up after is negligible. I’ve opened ALL playdough collections we’ve acquired and they were such a handy keep-the-kids-occupied tool during the last month-long holidays in June when we were frequently rained in,  AND… it has eliminated one of my motherhood-guilt contributors. Sweet, sweet, sweet.

Hubby-jr's playing with the dentist set and yes, that's green playdough teeth!

As much as I wished it was so, this brilliant idea did not come to me while I was folding laundry, rather it was inspired by this post at one of my favourite websites – Ohdeedoh. Are you inspired too?

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If The Stool Fits

Stool as in the furniture piece and not human waste. Now that that is clarified…

Last Friday Little Missy, who by the way is turning 4 this year, was in one of her must-be-with-mommy moods in the morning. As always, such moods have to coincide with one of my more-busy-than-usual period. I had already spent about 1 hour of one-to-one time with her but it was not enough. I could not extend my time with her as the laundry had to be hung or… let’s just say we’d some serious clothing crisis.

But I really didn’t want to have to deal with a tantrum situation and so I was searching hard for a solution in my head.

Just as I was thinking my little one announced that she wanted to draw and a little light bulb turned on in my head. Tink! I remembered this brilliant idea I read in one of my favourite sites – ohdeedoh. I took my Ikea Bekvam step stool, placed it near me and then I tried to “fit” my petite daughter in. Fit she did. And ta da! Just like that the stool became a mini table where Little Missy busied herself doodling while I got to hang my laundry to dry.

Here’s a picture.

Yes I still had to entertain her here and there. “Mommy can you draw a frog please?”, “Mommy can you please draw a fish?”, etc. But that was alright. Nothing stressful. I got to finish hanging up my laundry to dry. She got to draw and we got to spend more time together. And best of all I avoided having to deal with a tantrum or a “fight”. 🙂

Babies, again.

No, no, no! Before you jump to any conclusions, no, I am NOT having another baby. I am, however, posting about babies. Again. Sorry (why am I apologizing?! I’ve no idea!) It is still one of Hubby-jr’s obsession. As such the topic has is brought up again and again. And again. And that folks, is why I’m writing another post on babies.

I’d like to think that this will be the last of it but I seriously doubt it. Hubby-jr curiosity about babies has not waned a single bit. On the contrary it seems to be growing. I showed him a photo album of his baby photos and he drove me bonkers with his endless questions!

One fine weekend hubby came in the line of fire questions instead. I must say hubby handled it wonderfully. He sought help.  (No, not from me, he’s smart enough to avoid a life threatening situation.) He went to the internet!

And he found some lovely gems. Really cute, kids friendly very short videos on babies, courtesy of HowStuffWorks. Click on the link below to check them out. To find the videos for a very young audience, you’ll have to scroll down the page until you see cartoony illustrations of babies.

http://health.howstuffworks.com/adam-roundup.htm

If that’s too big a challenge for you, here’s a list of links to each of the kids friendly videos.

Not only did the videos save me from bonkersville, I found them very entertaining too. Thank you so much hubby!

Enforcing Bedtimes

I’m IN another a little more-crazy-than-usual period right now. Thus the delay (in the already sparse) posts. Eeps! But still, I’ll continue to keep this blog going.

Why? Simply because I love to. It’s a great hobby for me. My outlet. Note the I, me, my. Yes!! That’s the whole point. A “I-Me-My” space.

Anyhow, I’m running out of time to write more… so I’ll cut to the chase. Here’s an article I came across recently on the old topic of children’s bedtimes. Enforcing them is good for their health (and ours!)! It’s not new and it’s not rocket science but, it is a useful read if you’ve not read one of these and, if you have it’s a good revisit. So go ahead and click on the link below.

Enforcing bedtimes improves kids’ health by Madison Park, CNN

P/S: I keep a very strict bedtime routine in for my kids. That’s what keeps me not-lunatic-yet.

Train First Child Well

Little Missy drank her morning and night milk from a cup for the first time last Saturday. At her request mind you. She was thrilled when I bought the cup of her choice the day before. “Now you can drink your milk from a cup, just like kor-kor (big brother),” I psyched told her.

IMG_4008

Nice Minnie Mouse cup, isn’t it? My kids are huge Mickey Mouse (the new version of the show) fans. Ok, well technically I didn’t buy the cup as it was a freebie banded to two tubes of Darlie toothpaste BUT I did buy the toothpaste just so she could have her cup. And of course we had to buy another one (of different design) for Hubby-jr…

Anyhoo, with my no.2 most if not all transitions have been a breeze. Little Missy started feeding herself at 2+ (Hubby-jr at 4+). She moved from sleeping in her playpen to a bed not only fuss free but with much excitement (Hubby-jr took some coaxing and a few days) and now ditching a sort of milk bottle to a cup (it took a lot of effort to get Hubby-jr off the bottle!)

Little Missy also goes to pee in the toilet on her own and washes her own hands. In fact most of the time she’d get upset if I try to help. She wants to be independent, to do things like “big kids”, just like kor-kor.

Yes I do think in part it is a result of her personality (read bossy and strong willed). But modeling Hubby-jr’s actions/habits is also a large contributing factor. And from chatting with a lot of fellow moms, wanting to do what the older sibling does is not unique to Little Missy. It is the norm.

A long time ago, someone did say these words to me of which I am discovering to be true.

“Train your no.1 well and it will be easier with the no.2”

I am not saying no.2 will naturally be an easier child to handle. Oh NOoooo! In so many ways Little Missy is a much bigger challenge (again, read bossy, strong willed but that’s a whole other story!). Each child is so different.

BUT

All my effort in training Hubby-jr (whatever I could) is paying off. In some areas as I mentioned above I do not have to train Little Missy, she just models after her brother. For that I am extremely grateful. Parenting is tough enough as it is and anything, ANYTHING that eases the process, however minutely, helps.

Spaghetti Sauce with Hidden Ingredients

Life has been a little crazy in my home of late (which accounts for the reticence). The latest being Little Missy down with some viral infection for one whole week… sigh. But that’s parenthood for you. Normal days are a luxury! Oh how I crave for mundane routine days.

Oookay, that’s enough ranting for now. Today I’m going to share with you a recipe. Believe it or not, a reader actually sent me an email telling me how she liked my recipes. Incredible! Who’d knew that one day I would be sharing recipes? Once upon a time I would never have quite imagined myself cooking this much in the first place! Ahhhh well… as I’ve said so before, I am mommyfied.

Anyhoo, her email spurred me on to share this recipe with you. It’s a yummy spaghetti sauce (bolognese style) that looks just like minced meat in tomato sauce but actually has loads of veggies in them. Ah hahaha (evil laugh)… mommy tricked ya my boy!

I used to cook spaghetti sauce my daddy’s style. Minced meat, chopped garlic, chopped onions, 1 can of campbell’s tomato soup, 1 can of tomato paste and some sugar if it is too sour. Yup, quick, easy and instant. This in itself is a yummy sauce. But dear ol Hubby-jr, my six year old, disliked it. Simply because he could see the bits of cooked chopped onions. Didn’t help that one time I added chopped capsicum into the sauce.

But I loved this recipe. For one it is so easy to make (and store in the freezer if there’s extra). Two, all of us (except my son) love it.

So one fine day, I thought to myself, what if I just blend the onions instead. He wouldn’t see it and so he wouldn’t know. AND since I’m going to blend onions why not blend carrots as well and add that in. That would up the nutrition factor and the carrots would totally be hidden in the tomato based sauce.

And that’s what I did. Amazingly, the sauce tasted better! It somehow gave it an added punch. I didn’t even have to add any sugar, the blended carrots’ and onions’ natural sweetness was sufficient. Best of all it was a hit with my kids. They loved it. My son ate his dinner in record time and these days he gets excited whenever he smells that I’m making spaghetti for dinner.

Wait, this is not the end. There’s more. Very recently I decided to up the veggie factor one more notch. I added celery too, blended of course. It still tasted yummy and it was still a hit with my kids. Woo Hoo.

So here’s the recipe for the yummy spaghetti sauce with hidden goodness.

  • Minced meat (beef or chicken or pork or a mixture. 300g or however much you like)
  • 1 packet of McCormick Italian-Style Spaghetti Sauce Mix (can be found at Cold Storage)
  • 1 can (6oz) of tomato paste
  • 1 can Campbell tomato soup
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2-3 medium carrots (I like the ones from Australia)
  • 2 or 3 stalks or celery
  • 5 cloves garlic (sliced or chopped)
  • Olive oil (3 tablespoon)

Blend the three vegetables together (add some water, about ¼ cup) as finely as possible. Heat olive oil in pan and add garlic and fry till brown. Then add minced meat and fry till brown. Add blended veggies, tomato soup and tomato paste and stir. When mixture boils, add McCormick spaghetti mix and stir. And that’s it. Cook some pasta or spaghetti and dinner’s ready! If you find the sauce is too thick for your liking just add water.

If  you prefer not to use any instant mixes you may want to check out this Martha Stewart Bolognese Sauce Recipe I chanced upon but have yet to try. If you do, let me know how it is.

The Question

The tentacles episode was hilarious but it reminded me of another conversation Hubby-jr and I had sometime mid last year.

“How do babies get inside mommies?” 

Uh-huh. Yup, the question. The One that we cross our fingers and hold our breath hoping will not  come our way until… they reach puberty??! 

Do not think it won’t happen till your kids reach primary school (like blur me). Uh-ah, noo…o my son asked me this question when he just turned 5, and he is speech delayed. So..o I imagine my girl popping this question, next week! Okay, okay, probably not, then again…

Anyway people, it is never too early to be prepared.

So what was my reply to my son’s question?

I said, “a seed was planted in my tummy and God made it grow.” Thankfully he just had a plant-some-green-beans project at school so I knew that he’d be able to grasp that explanation well. I avoided telling him how the seed got inside me the first place and held my breath for the next few seconds praying he wouldn’t ask. 

Thank heavens he didn’t. Phew!! I managed to dodge that bullet.

That incident stunned me into realising… I had to be prepared yesterday as soon as possible. So I did what I always do, research (i.e. go to the internet)! I hunted for relevant books I could use. After narrowing down to 3 books, I went down to Kinokuniya, found the books and sat myself down and skimmed through them. In the end I settled on this book below, as I felt it was simple and had sufficient information for my kids (for now at least).

Amazing You!: Getting Smart About Your Private Parts  by Gail Saltz

amazing-you

The other two books I browsed (which you may want to check out) were…

It’s So Amazing!: A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families by Robie Harris

its-so-amazing

Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle

where-did-i-come-from

There have been numerous occasions where the baby question re-surfaced. To my relief Hubby-jr’s questions always revolved around male and female being able to conceive.

“Did Mei-mei and I come out from your tummy?”

“Did daddy have a baby in his tummy?”

“When I grow up can I have a baby in my tummy?”

I am still nervous thinking about the impending question of how babies are conceived in the first place. I just hope they ask hubby first. Ha ha.

What about you? How did or would you handle such questions?

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