Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Taking Time to be Thankful

When you have a child, time seems to fly by more quickly than ever before. As you watch, amazed, at how fast your child grows, you wish you can press a pause button to make things stop, even if just for a moment.

That's the feeling I get when I realised January is already coming to a close and soon it's the start of another month.

However, I'm not complaining at all. If anything, I'm thankful for a great start to the new year and how this month has been a special one for us in so many ways. So it is apt that today I join Mama J from Mum in the Making in giving thanks to God for:

Two birthday parties that went well... ...

Having a clutter-free dining table (hope it stays this way!) which double up as my work desk (had to give up the study to be the helper's room)... ...

A grandma who dotes on the little boy and showers him with love... ... 

Kenan being a brave boy as he started school and hardly showing any separation anxiety... ... 

And finally getting my haircut. I love how light my head feels now! (would have cut shorter if not for the reason that Kenan cried and protested against me having short hair)

And what are you thankful for this week? Join us on this Grateful Gatherings link up and share with us what fills your heart with thanksgiving!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy Lunar New Year!

This year's Lunar New Year preparations had been busy but it was quite relaxing at the same time because we started the decluttering and cleaning up much earlier than the past few years. In the end, I had extra time to put up more decorations around the house. 

I love the feeling of decluttering and throwing away things that we no longer need. Somehow, it made me feel lighter in the spirit and I'm so happy about how neat and nice the whole house looks now! It really feels like a great start to the new year.

Here's wishing everyone a happy Lunar New Year!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Two Parties for My Two Year-Old (and Some Party-Planning Tips)

My boy turned two recently and we had two birthday parties for him – one at home and the other in school.  

Last year due to some unforeseeable circumstances, we had to forgo plans of having a birthday party for him. I was really upset over it but in retrospect, I think it was for the better.

If we had celebrated last year, Kenan would have been too young to really appreciate or understand what’s happening (and he had not even started walking yet!). This year, he really enjoyed playing with his friends and had just as much fun huffing and puffing away at the candles!

Planning the Parties

It may sound surprising to you but I really had been stressed over the party preparations. I was lost for ideas and had to trawl the internet for inspiration.

First, they say you must have a theme, because it would then guide you in decisions about the venue décor, birthday cake, goodie bags and so on.

I thought about it and decided on ‘My Favourite Things’. Kenan’s favourite cartoon character is Mickey, so we used Mickey as the theme for décor and goodie bags. Next, I used his favourite soft toys as design of his birthday cake.

 Secondly, you need some entertainment for the kids, and this was the tough one. The kids’ wide age range (from two to primary school children) made it almost impossible for me to have something for everyone.

In the end, I settled for entertainment for the majority of the kids (two to six). I rented toys for the younger ones and bubbles for the older kids. In the end, almost everyone played with everything.

Initially, I thought of getting a balloonist but since we didn’t have a lot of children, I decided not to have it. But we had helium balloons as part of the décor and some children including Kenan had fun playing with them.

By the way, we were busy entertaining guests that we almost forgot all about taking photos! Thankfully some guests who took photos sent them to us (thanks cousin! thanks Angie!).  

Mickey is Kenan's favourite cartoon character so we used it as the decor theme and for the mini cupcakes, which we got from Wicked Oven. Sam, the mumpreneur was really nice and gave us Mickey cupcake toppers and stand.We ordered two flavours: chocolate cheese and banana walnut brownie, which our guests really liked. 

Rented the kitchen set and teether-tooter which were a hit with the little guests. We also bought bubbles for the children.

Continuing with the 'My Favourite Things' theme, we used Kenan's favourite soft toys for the cake from Cake Avenue. See how realistic the figurines turned out to be! The cake was probably the highlight of the party! It only comes in one flavour - chocolate fudge (when I first found that out, I thought"Huh? No choice at all?!"). But let me say it's one of the best chocolate fudge cakes I've had - moist, rich and with just the right amount of sweetness. 

When it came to the school party, it was a breeze in comparison. The school has guidelines regarding birthday celebrations which can be summarized as “Keep It Simple”. And that’s what I did (plus we had about just half an hour for the celebration): all I did was to order a cake and prepare the goodie bags. After all, it was just for his class (which is less than 10) and not the whole school (thank God!).

Party Planning Tips:

1. Plan early
I know this is common sense but if you’re like me who has a tendency to get things done at the last minute, it creates unnecessary stress.

2. Same age
If you can, invite kids who are about the same age as your child as it makes for easier planning when it comes to things like activities, games and even the goodie bags.

3. Rent toys 
Rent toys for the kids, but not as a party package – that way, you stretch the dollar by getting to keep the toys for a month (the normal duration for toy rental) after the party and your kid can continue playing with them (so make sure they are also toys your child likes). I find that kitchen set is a good option. Just take precaution against losing any of the small parts or risk paying a penalty. What I did was to take out some of the smaller, easy to misplace items and add in some of my boy’s toys e.g. food (at least I don’t have to pay for it if they get lost).

Kenan playing with the balloons and toy after the party

4. Assign photographers
When it comes to photo-taking, rope in family members/friends who are photography buffs (I think two is a good number) and assign them as photographers. Then you can fully focus on entertaining the guests and don’t have to worry about not capturing the funny/heartwarming/once-in-a-lifetime moments. You may like to get your photographers gifts for their hard work.

And I'm sure you will have more party planning tips. Please do share them with me so the next time round, it will be less stressful for this mommy! Thanks!

Vendor Listing*:

Birthday cake with soft toy figurines by Cake Avenue
Winnie the Pooh birthday cake by Bengawan Solo
Cupcakes by Wicked Oven
Toys from Rent That Toy
Balloons from Kidz Party Store
Food by EatzCatering

*Please note that the above is purely for information, I am not endorsing any of the vendors nor do I get payment in any form for listing them.

On 2 Feb 2012: A note on cakes
Just thought I'll share this experience. At Kenan's school party (where we had the Winnie the Pooh cake), and at another kid's birthday celebration (cake from a different shop), we realised while it's nice to have the cute cartoon characters which the kids love, cutting through that icing sheet wasn't easy. For us, even sticking in the candles was a challenge, despite having candle holders. The top layer was really hard, so in both cases, we ended up removing the icing sheet. But guess that was fine, as no one was interested in eating it. I'm not sure if all icing sheets are just as hard. So this might be another consideration when you order your child's birthday cake.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Problem Adjusting to School? It's Not the Child!

It's been two weeks since my boy started going school. The first week went by peacefully. Given that the principal had 'pre-warned' us that some kids only start crying and act clingy in the second week, I was bracing myself for any sudden change of behaviour, such as morning tantrums or refusing to go school. But the second week of school came and is over now and nothing has changed. Sure, sometimes my boy would wake up cranky as he slept a bit later the night before and wanted more sleep. Other than that, it was all uneventful.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I'm totally proud of how well he's adjusted to school life and how he seems to be enjoying it all. Ironically, it's mommy here who's finding it harder to adjust to the new routines!

I no longer stay up until 2, 3am glued to my laptop. I wake up at least an hour earlier than before. I have to drive my boy to and fro school, something that I realised I don't enjoy doing (by the way, I didn't think the ferrying the kid would start so early; thought maybe not until primary school. I was wrong again).

And while I appreciate the peace and quiet at home, I'm missing his mischievous/cute acts, his trying to stop me from working and even his tantrums (on second thought, perhaps not the tantrums). Basically, I'm just missing his presence at home. I come to the realisation that while I had been somewhat fretting over Kenan's preparedness for school, I've left myself out of the whole equation. I forgot that I need time to get use to the changes too!

I'm learning as well that we should never underestimate our child's ability to adapt to changes. Often, they are actually braver and stronger than we imagined. Kids, they never fail to amaze me.

By the way, his teacher has been updating us about Kenan's progress in school, usually via the communication book. However, last week, she emailed us a really lovely slideshow so we can see what our little boy's been up to in class. We were so impressed and appreciative of her efforts. Here are some of the photos we've downloaded from that slideshow:

(My boy found a new interest in making ugly faces at the camera... hm...)

How does your child's school update parents about the kid's progress? Do you know what's being taught every week/month? 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Hey Mom, I'm a Big Boy Now!

As we ushered in the new year, Kenan also began a new chapter - he's started going school!

Today is the third day of school and to all our surprise, he's been the coolest kid around! He didn't cry when daddy and mommy did a disappearing act on the first day (we left him with the teachers after about 45 mins), he didn't cry when mommy again sneaked out of the class the next day and today, the other kids took turns to cry.... all except him!

Well, he did almost cry yesterday when I was a bit late in fetching him. He saw the rest were leaving and he's about the last one around. When I walked in, he rushed over and hug me real tight. I saw his eyes were turning red but he fought back his tears. How brave!

So today, I went earlier as I wanted to make sure he's not the last to leave. But I've got another agenda - I wanted to be there during their lunch and see him eat. The teachers had been telling me that Kenan was able to feed himself with minimal help. How can that be? My boy's never really been able/interested to feed himself except for snacks. Has he grown up all of a sudden?

However when I arrived, they were already done with their porridge and were eating fruits. Argh.

So the doubts continued to linger in my mind. But not for long.

When Kenan had finished his fruit, he got up from his chair and walked away with his plate. I went after him, thinking that he's taken the plate to go play with it. Instead, he placed the plate inside a big basket together with other used utensils, and he did that without me or the teacher instructing him. I was utterly surprised. I supposed they must have taught the kids to do so, but remembering the instruction and taking the initiative to follow it is another thing altogether! Suddenly, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and gave the boy a big hug. Perhaps he's really more independent and capable than we've thought! It's amazing just how much kids can learn in such a short time. By the way, he even started saying a few new words.

To think that just last week, we had been apprehensive and unsure of how he might cope. After all, we didn't really prepare him much. All we did was to keep telling him that he'll be going to school, which is a fun place where he will stay a few hours everyday to learn and play with new friends. Mommy will go home first and be back later to fetch him (when he first heard that mommy won't be staying around, he actually shaked his head to indicate that he does not want to be left alone in school). He didn't even go for the orientation as the school had a reported case of HFMD and we didn't want to risk it.

From tomorrow onwards, parents will not be allowed to stay in class. Let's see if he continues to be as brave as he's been these past few days *smiles*

Has your child just started school as well? How's he or she doing?


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