Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Parenting with Love - Letting It Go, Not!

My heart dropped and my blood must have froze over 100 times in that short session that Dumpling went for her first ever ice skating class. Gawd, it was awful watching her from a distance. I must have died when I let go of her hands (she had to pry her fingers off my hand) as she entered the rink. She has never done ice skating before and I was thinking "what on earth was I even thinking of?" Why did I agree to send her for ice skating class? What ensued were a million doubts that ran through my mind.

"What if she falls?" (Ya I know, that's stupid.) "What if she bumps her head?" "What if she falls flat, sprawled across the ice and someone skates over her fingers and sever them?" (I know that is morbid but seriously, have you guys not have the same thoughts when it comes to ice skating?)

It does not help when some kid in her class kept falling over and they sorta all went down like dominoes.

This was what happened...

but this is what I "saw"

And while she was shuffling to work on her footsteps and balance...

It felt more like this..

I was texting a friend non-stop in the earlier minutes telling her how my heart stopped and that I just can't let it go. No one warned me that it is gonna be this hard as the kiddo grows older. No one told me how my heart will be in my throat as she becomes her own little person and becomes more independent. No one told me that IT WOULD BE ME, who will have separation anxiety.

Where did my baby go? It was just yesterday when I was still holding her as she slid down a slide. Someone please hand me a remote control to stop the time!

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Talk Tuesday! The Princess Fables Book - $50 Amazon / Paypal Gift Card

About the Book

The Princess Fables by Marc ClarkTitle: The Princess Fables | Author: Marc Clark | Illustrator: Eric Hosford | Publication Date: December 5, 2013 | Publisher: Seven C's Productions | Pages: 115 | Recommended Ages: 3+ Summary: The Origins of THE PRINCESS FABLES: When the author's daughter was just beginning the first grade, she was not happy about school. So when he would wake her each morning, whatever she would say to get out of going became the subject for a PRINCESS FABLE. If she'd say, "I don't want to," he'd make up a tale about The Princess Who Always Said, "I Don't Wanna". If she pulled the covers over her head, he'd tell her the story of The Princess Who Hid Under The Covers. By the end of each Fable he'd have her dressed and ready for school, with her eyes wide open and full of hope... THE PRINCESS FABLES are eleven inspirational stories for young girls who may still dream of being a Princess. Each Princess embarks on an adventure of self discovery and along the way, learns about the importance of trust, devotion, courage and the power of love. These classic tales transport little girls to a time and place where they are the heroines and can create their own happy endings. Every delicate pen and ink illustration reflects the classic fairy tale drawings of the late 19th century. Award: The Princess Fables was just awarded an Honorable Mention at the 2014 Los Angeles Book Festival.  


Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Print)

The Buzz

In a recent review by the Island Waves publication, Trey Seal wrote, “The Princess Fables is a book that brings back the nostalgia of the classic fairytales from our youth and is highly recommended for young children.”

Excerpts From Amazon Reviews:
"Marvelously original, soulful, and witty tales! Modern fables with funny and moving twists. I hope these stories make their way to kids everywhere!"
"What a beautifully illustrated and well-written book."
"A charming and witty read, with stunning illustrations. The Princess is adorable and the book conveys a very positive image for little girls."
"Great read for the little princess in us all!"

About the Author: Marc Clark

Marc Clark Author

Marc Clark is the author of several plays and screenplays, a writer and producer of commercials, promos and television content. Marc is the father of two and currently resides in Manhattan.

Book Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon $50 Gift Card

Prize: One winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Contest ends: May 27, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Marc Clark and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Foodie Fridays - Korean Seafood Pancake

I love Korean food. I love the mesh of sour and spiciness. When a person mentions Korean food, most would think of Bibimbap or Kim Chi soup. For Dumpling and I, it's Korean pancake and bulgogi (for her) spicy beef soup (for me!)

The seafood pancake is one item that we would always order when dining at any Korean restaurant. So I decided to try and cook on our own. Here's our attempt ;)

:: The gathering list

As our version is seafood pancake so basically it can be any seafood items which you like:

1) Scallops (chopped into bits)
2) Shrimps (chopped into bits)
3) Spring Onions (I chopped mine into about 1.5 - 2" long)
4) Korean Pancake mix (Check the instructions on the packaging - for mine it was to mix 500gm with 800 ml of water. I halved that for one pancake. If you are using a pancake mix, no egg is required.)
4) Cooking Oil (I used about 3 table spoons, If if is not enough, you can add more along the way)

Optional: I sometimes add in crabsticks (kani) and if the kiddo is not eating, slivers of sliced red chili (seeds removed)

(This is the pancake mix we used)

Dipping Sauce 
1) Vinegar
2) Light Soy Sauce
3) Water
(Mix equal parts of the above - i.e 1/3 of each)
Optional: chopped garlic added to the dip (Dumpling is not into garlic so we pretty much leave this out)

:: Hot Tips

I decided to add a photo of "what not to do" as above. LOL. This was one of my earlier attempts where I made 3 rookie mistakes. 

1) I did not use a FLAT pan (which resulted in a nightmare of attempting to flip the pancake over without the bits of seafood falling out)

2) I added WAY TOO MUCH of the ingredients where the flour mix could not bind the seafood as it was too 'thick'

3) The ingredients were cut a tad too big and took forever to cook.

:: The cookout
1) Add a generous amount of oil into your pan. As I am terrible with flipping the pancake over, I used the HappyCall Pan instead. So, what I did was also to spread a bit of oil on the top 'lid' too.

2) Pour in enough pancake mix where it covers the entire base with a bit of 'batter' to spare and then add in your seafood and spring onions. Sprinkle them evenly.

3) Press down the seafood into the batter and wait till the bottom is browned. The trick is to cook initially on "high fire". This process takes quite long for me - to press and hold and yet wait for the seafood to cook. So please cut your seafood into smaller bits and add sparingly. I know of some people who will toss the seafood separately prior and you can do that too - it helps to shorten the cooking time.

4) When the bottom is browned and the seafood is cooked, add another thin layer of the pancake mix over the seafood and then close your HappyCall Pan 'lid' and flip the pancake over. Open up the lid and press down the pancake.

5) Prepare the dip. Cut pancake into sections and serve hot. :) (Dumpling likes the flour part because she likes the chewy feel. If you prefer the crispy version like me, diced up your ingredients to small bits and spread them out sparingly; this allows you to cook faster and coat better, making it flatter and crispier)

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Talk Tuesday - Earth Day Special: Chinese Picture Books

In view of the upcoming Earth Day, Dumpling and I have been reading titles on 'nature' and on protecting the environment. Amongst some enjoyable ones: one title from the 巴巴爸爸 series, Berenstain bears and 如果地球被我们吃掉了which I have previously blogged about in a giveaway here.

Here are 3 more titles which we have also enjoyed:

:: 我的环保行动书: 垃圾放哪里

This is part of a 我的成长故事图画书 - 我的环保行动书 series which I recently bought and which I am starting to really like. This series has about 30 odd titles in all and is segmented into various larger topical groups with about 4 books under each topic. 

The entire series is suitable for younger children with its cute illustrations and simple explanations. 

In this title, it serves to explore and introduce the concept of recycling and taking care of our environment through the eyes of a boy who lives next to his teacher. 
The sentences are kept short and simple and the story is done in an interactive manner through the speech bubbles by the students and teachers. 

:: Charlie and Lola 查理与劳拉系列
Translated from an English title, everyone's favorite pair of siblings takes us on an educational "tour" on being ecologically friendly through Lola's imagination and experience! Lola comes to understand the importance of looking after our planet through recycling and leads her school to take part in a contest where they win and plant a real tree in recognition of their effort. Lola's 'never-say-die' spirit and perseverance shine through in this lovely story.

I bought this as a 15-book set. Here's the link to view on dangdang. 

:: 树真好
This last story is not a story on recycling but a gentle poetic story translated based on the English title "Tree is Nice" by Janice May Udry . The title is not based on any storyline but on how and why a tree is nice but with examples on what you can do with a tree and on a tree. Its simple approach brings about much beauty and how this unsung hero is able to do so much (and in turn let us do so much) in an understated manner. What's also lovely is its lovely illustrations which won it a Caldecott medal. 

This is one title to be enjoyed on a quiet morning where you can spend time looking through its illustrations and be reminded of the simple joy and beauty a tree brings us. 

"This is one of those books which prick a child into a realization of the beauty of the everyday world." - New York Times

This post is the second post of an Earth Day series. Part 1 shares how we recycled old envelops, newspapers and postcards to make a Corner Page Bookmark. Click on the photo to head to the post :)

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Earth Day Ideas - Page Corners Bookmarks!

In this household, whenever Dumpling tells me that she is bored, I'd ask her to challenge herself by creating things. There are days where she will cut up papers, staple and stick them together to make something new and there are days that I will suggest an activity. It was such a day on Good Friday as the little one has been homebound because she has been fighting a cold. I decided to let her work solely with existing materials we have at home and repurpose them for something useful in 'honour' of Earth Day.

(A typical usual crafting scene)

The idea started when Dumpling asked me what Earth Day is, when we were at the library and she saw a display of suggested titles, etc. In case you are not aware, Earth Day is an annual event on 22 April, where events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection (source).

That question triggered started a series of small pockets of activities to keep ourselves occupied  (truthfully, and me from yelling at her too) for the past days where we have been home bound. 

We made these.

Here's a close up :)

I first saw these page corner bookmarks here and I fell in love with them. Practical and cute, these are definitely useful for us because Dumpling is going into chapter books and she finds it hard to track which page she has left off at. We have bookmarks but those are hard to come by these days and I thought why not make them ourselves especially when we can easily make them out of 'old materials'. 

To start off, I did a demo where I snipped off the corner of a red packet and then pasted the cutout of a flower on the top corner. It looked like this (bottom photo).

I then showed her the web page where I saw those book corners and she really liked the monster series so away we crafted. :)

To start off, you will need these:

:: The gathering list
1) Old envelops (since we are on a recycling mission here)
2) Any old stock card items - post cards, inserts in magazines, flyers, etc. (These are lovely as the backing for the eyes or the teeth)
3) Newspapers / Hong Pau 
4) Scissors 
6) Glue 
7) Marker
8) Optional: Masking / Washi Tapes 
(I happened to receive some from Scotch Expressions Tapes from 3M and put them to good use here! I have to say that I am pretty impressed as they were easy to use, pretty and definitely easy to 'remove where it did not rip off the piece of paper it was stuck to)

:: Steps
1) Snip off the corner of any old envelops
2) I then added the sharp jagged teeth for Dumpling to cut them out

Now, for the above versions, there is no protruding backing piece like the pieces here:

3) If you prefer such an option, you will need to fold down the envelop corner and cut it out where it forms a square when "opened". Thereafter, fold one side up and cut it off. Because Dumpling was actively involved in this project, after folding up the triangle, I 'puffed' the piece up where she can start cutting by  following and cutting up the line at the edge before cutting across. 

4) Therafter, Dumpling stuck some washi tape on the remaining top triangular piece

5) She then pasted a row of teeth (made earlier by her by using the remaining bits from the earlier hong pau) to the underside and then added on the eye pieces (made from hong pau and newspapers)

6) Color in the eyes and voila! We are done!

She wanted to make more and came up with these with more of our Washi Tape:

And we even decided to stretch it a tad further by NOT making a monster but a jellyfish page corner bookmark! And we had to do was to stick on a strip of air bubble sheet and cut out some strips as the tentacles! 

Aren't these  page corner bookmarks the cutest??? These would also make lovely gift ideas too.

In honour of the upcoming Earth Day, stay tuned for the next post on some recommended stories which I have read with Dumpling on 'nature' and being environmentally responsible :)

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram

Disclosure: I received a few rolls of Scotch Expressions Tapes from 3M where I found them useful for our recycling project here and hence, the sharing. This is not a sponsored post.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Parenting with love - sometimes "damages" can be permanent... the un-repairable scratch

One of the key reasons why I blog is to capture all those golden moments which I am sharing with Dumpling. It didn't occur to me at all that some readers may interpret differently where it seems that I "have it all" or am in control of everything.

That's not what this blog is about. I would like to be as truthful as I can but I think it is in all of us to capture those really good moments so that we have beautiful memories to look back at.

I don't have it all and it is certainly not easy being a FTWM and a homeschooling one too. There are many moments where I struggle, get too hung up on 'results' and that I face a roadblock be it working on Dumpling's mannerisms or we hit a plateau during homeschool. I too get tired, cranky and lose focus once in a while. Why I stuck with what I do will be another post altogether and I will get to that post very soon. But for this post, I like to share something heartfelt and something not that easy to write.

In the homelearning group that I moderate and in my day to day dealings with parents of preschoolers (I am in the EC industry), it is very apparent that no matter what the "garmen" says, the primary school system is indeed punishing. I recently saw a Ting Xie list (Chinese spelling of perhaps 40 short 'everyday' phrases of 4 words each) for a 9YO Ting Xie test and I had to just naively ask if it is a term's work (of which the answer is no.).

It is no wonder that all these bring out the worst in many of us, yours truly included. But interestingly, it is in these moments that I learn and 'grow' through praying for grace. See the scratch below? This scratch will always be a permanent reminder for me to focus on only the important stuff.

This scratch happened only when the violin was less than a month old when Dumpling upgraded to a larger violin. I was cranky after a long day at work, dealing with well 'difficult' parents and in Dumpling's violin notebook, the teacher had a note on getting her to practise scales, some techniques and also to monitor some other technical setups. She tried a few times and I was 'trying' too. I had to correct her over and over again when she 'zoned out' and after failing to get her to pay attention, I snapped. I basically told her it was her choice of instrument and if she wants to learn, then learn it properly. If she is not gonna be 'serious' about it (yes, I used that word on a 5YO), we might as well stop. YUP, I SAID THOSE AWFUL WORDS.

That didn't go down too well with her as she was very upset and we had a tug of war - me pulling the violin from her and she, pulling it back because she said she wanted to try again. And that's how we ended with that battle scar. The violin costs about half a G by the way and I was devastated to see this ugly, 'in-your-face-inch-long' scratch especially when it was so new.

To say that I went ballistic was an understatement.

After some time where we both took a break, Dumpling came to me to say "Mama, I am sorry. I am sorry that we quarreled and I am sorry that we scratched the violin. But thank goodness, it was only a scratch."

At that moment, I was so ashamed of myself. My 5YO kiddo had no qualms coming to me to apologise and was so gracious as to even try her best to comfort me. I was deeply humbled and yes, thank goodness it was only a scratch on the violin where it is easily replaceable. What if these quarrels had cost a permanent scar in our relationship? Moments like these teach me grace and lead me to breathe deeply and think about what prompted me to take on coaching her on all these activities on my own. It is LOVE. I wanted her to encourage her love for knowledge, to nurture that love for questioning and to also continue to love music yet I was doing it so wrong that night.

I once read - if someone were to gift you with a present, would you have thrown it or break it? Not likely. Yet, so often, we end up being so short and so harsh with our "gifts" from God. Isn't that a great irony?

If we would not break these earthly presents, why would we break the bond, trust, love and respect between our child(ren) and us, especially the gift that God has bestowed us with? Let this be a gentle reminder to us all not to lose sight but focus on the most important thing - LOVE. Have a blessed week ahead.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Through her eyes #10 - Ring a Ling

How many of you remember this? :)

As a kid, a treat for me in school will be these triangular packets of Magnolia milk. These days, if I wanted an ice cream, 'branded' ones would come to my mind immediately - Ben and Jerry's, Cold Stone Creamery, 

Häagen-Dazs, etc. 

What I took for granted is a rare treat for the kiddo! She'd listen out to the familiar "Ring-a-ling" and rush down with me in toll, excited about her treat? This small humble van is what kids' cold dessert dreams are made up of! 

Do you prefer a cone or wafer? Or if you are adventurous enough, why not try it with "roti"? What about flavours? Choices are a plenty - vanila, chocolate chips, blue berry, mango, raspberry ripple (my personal favourite!) or the local delights - coconut, red bean, sweet corn? 

I thoroughly enjoy my weekly moments with the kiddos as we dash down to the carpark where this magic van awaits us. :) What are your favorite flavours / concoction?

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Book Talk Tuesday - Miss Rumphius 花婆婆 REVIEW & GIVEAWAY!

In 'simplicity', there too can be 'beauty'. That was basically what went through my mind when I first read this title in English as part of the FIAR series. This simple and personal story also won the American Book of the Year award in the year of its publication.

:: The story 
Miss Rumphius, otherwise known as 花婆婆 in this Chinese title, is told through the eyes of a little girl (her grand niece). Miss Rumphius grew up in America where her grandfather was a migrant and an artist who painted occasionally. Miss Rumphius' early memories of her grandfather were those of evenings spent on her grandfather's laps as he reminisced his younger days and regaled his adventures with the young Miss Rumphius. That fueled Miss Rumphius' interest in travelling and she told him that she too, would travel when she is older. 

"很好,“ 爷爷笑着说, ”但是, 你一定要记得做第三件事。”


"That is all very well, little Alice," said her grandfather, "but there is a third thing you must do." 

"What is that?" asked Alice.

"You must do something to make the world more beautiful," said her grandfather. 

And so Miss Rumphius did the two tasks (out of three) that she told the grandfather she would. She visited the countries and places which she wanted to and, stayed in a house by the sea. When it came to the third task, she was stuck. She pondered over this question for the longest time, "what can I do to make the world more beautiful?" 

:: The Illustration

Dumpling and I enjoyed the various scenes from Miss Rumphius' travels in the book. From the icy snow caps to her tropical adventures, each page brings on a different 'delight'. 

The colours are rich and vivid, and the layout, interesting. Many pages have an "overlapping" format where the illustrations would 'bleed' into another page with small "scenes" either above or below the text. :) It is no surprise to know that Babara Cooney (both the author and illustrator) has illustrated over a hundred books with 2 Caldecott Award Winners to her name. The art for Miss Rumphius has a permanent home in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

Author & Illustrator: Babara Cooney 

No. of Pages: 32
Age Group: From 5YO (as a readaloud), 7 for reading independently 

Delicately woven with a lovely message, I am excited to share that Read with Me Mommy is sponsoring one copy of this title for a giveaway. :)

Earn credits using Rafflecopter below 
(Please share on what you can do to make the world more beautiful in the comment section. Do remember to also leave your email address in the section too):

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The more credits you earn, the higher your chances! :)

That's not all! Just for Beanie N Us readers, you stand to enjoy a 10% savings when you key in this code BEANIENUS at the checkout! 

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Parenting with Love - "No" is not a dirty word

Hubs and I have vastly different parenting style and the most interesting discussions would stem from our different perspectives in bringing up Dumpling. Some time ago, hubs asked for a kiss from the kiddo and the kiddo was busy and said "no" and he saw red. Now, I have heard from many of my mummy friends that this is a common scene where the man would see green and sometimes red when the little ones are closer to the mum at times. LOL (Mums, please raise your hands if you have been there!)

To me, it is not a big thing and I tried to reason out with the man and he did not seem appeased. So, when all else fail, I left him to the 'hubs-sitter' otherwise known as 'Cable TV'. :) Now, let's park this aside for just a while as I want to share something else.

I met up with some friends over the December holidays for a playdate. As usual I took the time to 'nuah' (singlish for chill) and do what I like best - people watch, drink coffee and observe. The kids were playing in a corner on their own and one of the mums turned to ask the kiddo if she wanted to head back to the exhibition (where we came out from). The kid first said yes but when she realised that her other friends were not keen to head back in there, she changed her mind. What ensued was interesting for me.

The mum looked to be a tad annoyed and started telling the kiddo that it is OK not to follow the crowd. And what followed on was a good few minutes of asking the kiddo why she changed her mind (kiddo was silent), and how she needs to stand up for herself (more silence, just a few nods) and that she should learn to lead rather than being a follower all the time, and back to why she changed her mind (total silence again) and how is it that she does not lead, etc.

While I applaud the mum for her effort in encouraging her kiddo to be more confident, I can't help but also ponder over something else. This mum is one of the most focused mums that I know, having mapped out her kiddo's academic / educational path till possibly secondary school. She started sending the child to some classes since 3 twice to thrice a week, to prep the child to join a school team in primary school (kiddo just turned 6) and is sending her child to another class to prep for Direct Admission into an elite secondary school to get further credits. And this entry is not via music or art, instead something that requires serious brainiac effort.

While some children are more vocal and would lead better, I believe that the environment plays a big part too. With all the shepherding and the molding since Day 1 where the kiddo's life / direction has been planned for the next 10 - 11 years, how would one expect the child to step out of the shadow, to lead and not to follow? Wouldn't parenting style affect this trait too? Is it a bad thing if we do not (whether consciously or subconsciously) allow for the child to deviate from our well-intended plans, to allow them to speak up and say "No" once in a while?

Back to Dumpling versus Dad. What I shared with the man was that saying "No" is not necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps I sound perverse and I may regret this during her teenage years but for the moment, I am glad that the kiddo is able to stand up for herself and for her beliefs. While I do not appreciate the sassy attitude that comes with her exerting her independence at times, I truly want my child to dare to stand up, stand out and say No at times. This is especially when peer pressure is so strong these days. So, how can we encourage that? For me, it is pretty much allowing her to pursue her interests, to discuss (as in having real discussions where I listen to her point of views, do not force my opinions on her) and not to force her to take on anything that she does not enjoy.

Because I truly hope that by respecting her that way, she learns to respect herself and others too, and remain steadfast in this society where temptations are aplenty.

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