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Archive for the ‘toys’ Category

There’s a reason why people say blocks are a classic toy for children. In this day and age of electronic toys with all kinds of bells and whistles, humble toy blocks can still hold their own and appeal to children, providing hours of fun.

Not just any fun, creative fun. Yes, blocks are good for your kids! Numerous articles have been written about the benefits of playing with blocks. Among the various benefits, blocks help your kids develop problem solving, motor, social, language, and spatial skills. It also encourages creativity and divergent thinking. What a lot of benefits to reap from playing!

But there are blocks and there are blocks.

My kids have tried playing with other blocks before but it did not hold their attention for very long. So when Pamela from My First Games offered us some (many!) blocks for a review, I was keen because I had seen the amazing structures that could be built with Citiblocs, but was apprehensive about whether the kids would like them or not.

My worries were unfounded!

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Citiblocs comes in a range of colours – Cool, Natural, Warm and Camo. There are additional options of vehicles and trees.

Vehicle set

Vehicle set

Trees set

Trees set

Citiblocs is an award-winning toy that has won 17 Toy Industry Awards. All pieces are made from Grade A Radiata Pine from certified renewable forests in New Zealand. Each piece is lightweight but of good quality. I even wondered to myself if I could pass these on to my grandkids in future. Maybe even my great-grandkids!

The unique thing about Citiblocs is that every piece is precision cut to exactly the same dimensions. It sounds like a simple thing, but this sameness  ensures the pieces fit perfectly and enables you to build extremely complicated structures that are held together only by gravity! There is no glue, no magnets, no connectors, no snaps nor clasps.

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All the same size

Just look at that! The minute I saw the picture below I was completely intrigued by Citiblocs and wanted to try building that structure.

You can see many examples of super structures built by Citiblocs fans – both kids and adults. Yes, adults too! There are many examples online showing the challenging super structures built by groups of adults. Check out this video for just one of many examples.

The boys initially started by following the examples provided in the booklets that accompany each set of blocks. They made simple structures, and were not very good at balancing the pieces on top of one another. But over time, they got better and better at it. They learned when they needed to add more blocks on one side in order to counter-balance the weight of the other side. They learned how to make sure they stack pieces on top of each other so that the tower doesn’t end up tilting and toppling over. They learned the different techniques of stacking and came to have their preferred methods. The growth in motor skills was most apparent in my younger boy. At first he could not build tall towers because he didn’t stack the pieces properly causing them to fall over easily. He would get frustrated and needed my help. Now he’s able to build tall towers on his own.

One of his first attempts at building a tower with Citiblocs

One of his first attempts at building a tower with Citiblocs. He did simple stacking.

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After a few sessions of play he decided to work on building a house

We even brought the Citiblocs out for a picnic once. I used the SG50 NDP bag that every Singaporean household gets and stuffed some blocks in along with a picnic mat. The blocks kept him busy while I kept an eye on my youngest who was running around the playground.

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Block picnic!

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Outdoor play! Make use of your SG50 NDP bag by throwing the blocks in and going to the park.

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Experimenting with building techniques

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A long ramp leading up to a carpark

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Bridge over a river

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Building with a spiral staircase

Spikey pineapple? Porcupine?

Spiky pineapple? Porcupine?

Pirate ship

Pirate ship

The boys play with Citiblocs both individually and collaboratively. Collaborative play is my favourite. Seeing them work together to build something is any mother’s delight. They can busy themselves with a building project for a good long while! This was one of their big projects – three towers with bridges connecting them.

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Working on a bridge between two towers

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Adding finishing touches to the towers

Their completed structure

Their completed structure. The three of us worked together on the crooked bridge.

They were very proud of their structure!

They were very proud of their structure!

Elevated crooked bridge

Car crossing the crooked bridge

They call this the "ang ku kueh" tree

They call this the “ang ku kueh” tree

Here they built a city with an airport, carpark and roads.

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Looks like a mess but there was some order to it

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Airport, control tower and runway

Car park

Car park

And there was another project where they brought in Lego and other toys to play together. We built the train I was eyeing but extended the train tracks. On the carriage was a cage for the dinosaurs, the roof of the train was a landing pad for the aeroplane, while the mammoth was the train driver.

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Another time Ellery made a building and used cardboard to draw the road/lake around it. I liked how the boys brought in other elements to their play and did not confine their make believe to just the blocks.

Drawing the road or lake?

Drawing the road or lake?

My youngest daughter, turning two soon, was initially too young to do build anything with the blocks. Her favourite activity then was to quietly steal the blocks from her brothers and stuff them in her little bag. Now though, she does some simple stacking. I’m sure that in time she will join them to build their tall structures.

"Keep! Keep!"

“Keep! Keep!”

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The boys challenged me to use all the blocks to build something. So I did! A massive vase.

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All 400 blocks

If you are thinking of how to occupy the kids meaningfully this March holiday, and especially if you are looking for something that is not electronic, does not involve a screen, and encourages creative play, you should get some Citiblocs for your house! Even if they only build a really tall tower, one of the best things is the pleasure of knocking it over :)

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Bish!

You can get Citiblocs from My First Games, a store that specializes in selling games for children. There’s a promotion now on where you can enjoy 30% off your purchase of Citiblocs if you enter the following code: CTBTHIRTY. It’s a case of the more the merrier with these blocks, so that’s a great promotion to take advantage of!

Happy building!

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Disclaimer: We were generously given the Citiblocs for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

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We’ve been in our new place for 2 weeks now, but we’re still not quite settled yet. To be honest, it’s been a challenging couple of weeks.

For starters, Alyssa fell ill the night before we moved. She developed a fever in the middle of the night that lasted for the next five days, and a bad cough too. The cough got progressively worse in the morning and we decided that rather than keeping her with me for the move and exposing her to all the dust which aggravated her cough, that my parents would bring her home for a couple of hours.

What a milestone for her. She’s never been taken care of by anyone outside of my home, nor for that many hours. That was the day she was started on formula as well. We had emptied out the freezer, so all the stored expressed breastmilk was finished. I had planned on nursing her during the day. So all of a sudden she had to try formula. Thankfully she took well to it!

What a change. For Asher and Ellery I had planned exactly when they would try formula milk, bought a small tin several days in advance, introduced it slowly with half-and-half breastmilk and formula milk, slowly increasing the amount of formula until it was just formula milk. For Alyssa, we just decided that very morning, told my mum which brand and she hurried to the supermarket to get a tin :) And the best part was, I was totally ok with it. Definitely third child laissez-faire-ness.

The movers were great. We hired Alliance Movers on recommendation from a friend and they were excellent! The guy who came around to give the quote was friendly and reassuring. The movers themselves were super efficient, professional, helpful, and despite all the work, cheerful! I loved seeing the movers chatting and joking with each other even as they worked. It made moving a less stressful affair. And there seemed to be nothing they couldn’t do. They helped to disassemble and reassemble our bed, dismounted then mounted some shelves, wrapped up everything quickly and properly (sofas, tables, computers, etc), provided 2 large clothes rack for moving clothes (fantastic! No need to re-iron Jon’s shirts!) and helped with packing our stray items. And they were so fast. I spent weeks packing, and in just a few hours the entire house was empty. The only things left were some items in the storeroom that we hadn’t had the chance to run through yet so told them to leave it behind.

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Filling the truck with our stuff

 

With Alyssa ill I couldn’t unpack much though. So for days the boxes just sat there. I started to feel stressed and overwhelmed. I don’t like mess. I’m actually quite OCD about cleanliness and having everything in its place (even though I’ve lowered my expectations since the kids came along). When the house is messy, my internal life feels messy. So living in a house full of boxes before moving, and then still living in a house full of boxes after moving, plus the dust that inevitably plagues new houses, and noticing the rectifications missed out by the interior designers, and finding new things that needed rectification, and scuttling back to the old house to clear it out for the new tenant, and a sick baby that was quite literally stuck to me the whole time…all this really drove me crazy. Everything felt grimy and dusty. Everything seemed to be going wrong.

The boys and the husband were perfectly happy though. In fact, the boys settled right in as if they lived here all along! It was a real blessing, but in my stressed state I failed to be more grateful for it. Even though we now have a view to die for outside our window, I was grumpy and focusing on the mess.

Until one afternoon, as I sat glumly staring out the upper windows at the dust encrusted on the outside, cursing to myself at how the interior designers didn’t clean it up as they were supposed to, I found my eyes refocusing from the glass of the window, to the clouds that were framed by the window. Beautiful, white fluffy clouds set against a gorgeous blue sky. And then it hit me that, like my eyes just a moment before, I was focusing on the wrong thing. Instead of looking at the dirt on the window, I should be looking at the clouds outside the window.

I felt lighter. I wouldn’t say completely at ease, but lighter and less stressed. I can do this, I thought. And prayed.

And the change in attitude came not a moment too soon, because the day after, I somehow found myself with a sprained back. I couldn’t stand upright. Walking was painful. Sitting was painful. Sigh. But I’m grateful for the people who prayed for me, and that my back is better now. Not perfect, but better.

And in spite of the back I kept trying to unpack. Now the house is less cluttered even though there are still boxes that need to be unpacked. It’s reaching the point where I can’t see how it’s all going to fit into the cupboards. Might need to do another round of throwing out things. I grumbled to my husband about how we should have made more cabinets. We have planned some things to be built in a second phase to save on costs for now, but I felt we needed it now. But his position is that we should just throw out more stuff. I suppose he’s right too. I probably hang on to too much stuff. Overly sentimental about so many things.

So, the unpacking is not done yet.

In the meantime, the boys have been having a blast here. They love going downstairs to play, they’ve been enjoying playing with boxes, and they’ve been rediscovering a lot of our books. Previously they were kept on a shelf that wasn’t so conducive for browsing. Now they are pulling out all the old books and reading through them. I reminded myself to be thankful that they could entertain themselves this way while I handled Alyssa.

And yes, as for Alyssa, she’s better now. She’s finally not coughing all the time, at night her coughing is much better too (it was worst at night). She’s back to being a smiley, happy baby. For those five days that she was feverish, she barely smiled. It was so unlike her. I had to scramble to find a paediatrician near our house to attend to her after we moved. Thankfully I have some friends with kids in the east who could recommend me their doctor. She hated the nasal spray and didn’t like her medicine. She also lost her appetite and didn’t eat anything, only drank milk, and even then not that much. As a result she lost quite a bit of weight. But she’s regained her appetite again, thankfully.

The bad part is, her routine is completely messed up. I never enforced a routine. She kind of fell into one naturally. She used to nap around 10am, then barely slept, taking maybe 5 to 15 minute naps here and there, before knocking out around 7/730pm. She’d then sleep for several hours without waking up until around midnight or 1am. Now, she sleeps around 8pm and she’s up every hour or so. Less sleep is no fun. Am hoping she somehow falls back into her usual routine again.

So, yes. It’s been a tough 2 weeks.

Hope to make the house look more presentable soon and have some semblance of a Christmassy home before Christmas arrives!

How many boys fit into a box? The boys packing themselves away before we moved

How many boys fit into a box?

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The boys packing themselves away before we moved

Saying goodbye to our first home

Saying goodbye to our first home

Empty!

Empty!

Boxes in our new place

Boxes in our new place

Boxes in our livingroom and the view outside :)

Boxes in our livingroom and the view outside :)

We have a balcony now! Great for messy things like excavating bones

We have a balcony now! Great for messy things like excavating bones

Bookish boys

Bookish boys

Making a tunnel of boxes to race through

Making a tunnel of boxes to race through

It's a tie!

It’s a tie!

 

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LEGO is such a timeless toy and the boys are big fans of it. They regularly create various machines and creatures, breaking it apart, recreating, and improving their designs. When I  heard about LEGO robotics, I thought it would be something that would definitely interest the boys and would introduce an exciting new dimension to the their LEGO playing.

They went for a trial Junior Robotics Engineers class at Wonderswork, a place that offers courses for children on robotics and inventions. Wonderswork seeks to nurture creative and inventive thinking, problem solving, critical thinking, and cross-cultural communication in children. The LEGO robotics programs, in particular, aim to educate and equip children from young with essential skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

At each Junior Robotics Engineers class, kids are given a project to complete. This project involves following instructions on a computer to build something, then using simple graphical programming to make the object perform a particular action. A graphical format is adopted so that it is not too complex for children, but yet still teaches them the logic and thinking behind programming.

While I was confident that Asher would be able to follow what was going on, I was a little worried that Ellery would be distracted and unable to keep up. I was also concerned about whether they boys would have problems using a computer because, if you can believe it, the boys have never used a computer! They’ve watched things on a computer, but not used one.

So I was happy to see that Enzo, the founder of Wonderswork, and the other teachers were extremely patient with both of them, and especially so with Ellery. They took the time to explain how to use the computer (!) and the computer programme, they guided Ellery on how to determine if what he was doing was correct and let him figure out whether he was on the right track by posing questions and letting him draw his own conclusions.

Tapping on the arrows to move to the instructions for the next step

Tapping on the arrows to move to the instructions for the next step

I would say the teachers functioned more as facilitators. Children are guided through the project and assisted when the teachers saw they needed help, or the kids asked for help. I thought that was a good approach. It is in the doing that kids learn best, and they need space to figure things out for themselves. I found out from Enzo that this is also how they approach the Young Inventors class as well. In that class, kids are given a challenge and have to create their own solutions to solve the problem.

It was also good to see that the other boys who were there for their regular class had very good rapport with the teachers. The kids and teachers were talking and joking with one another, clearly enjoying themselves.

I was surprised at how Ellery remained focused on his task throughout. He has a tendency to be easily distracted when disinterested in something, but that was clearly not the case here. By the end of the session he had built a rocking horse, and with some guidance had programmed the horse to rock back and forth. He was happily tapping on ‘Enter’ and ‘Esc’ to start and stop the horse over and over again. He was also able to explain to me how the horse could rock – that the electricity came from the computer and powered the motor, that the motor moved one a long block that was connected to the base of the horse, and that in turn moved the horse.

Ellery's rocking horse

Ellery’s rocking horse

Enter! Esc! Enter! Esc!

Enter! Esc! Enter! Esc!

For Asher, he was delighted to have been given a Star Wars walker to build. It even had a sensor that made the walker stop when it reached the edge of a table. Enzo also showed him how the sensor could be triggered to do different things. Besides stopping at the edge of a table, it could be programmed to play a sound when something came near. Asher’s favourite was when the walker made laser shooting sounds whenever he put his hand in front of it :) He was quite amazed by the sensor and mentioned it to me several times after we left the class, and was one of the first things he told Jon.

The Star Wars walker

The Star Wars walker

Watching his walker move

Watching his walker move and waiting for it to reach the edge of the table

The Junior Robotics Engineers class was fascinating and the boys loved it! I’d definitely recommend the robotics class, especially if your kid – girl or boy – is interested in LEGO.

Wonderswork conducts its robotics and invention classes weekly. There are also two holiday camps coming up – a Space Inventors camp and a Master Inventor camp. Five sessions of each camp are being conducted until the middle of December, but spaces are limited so you should sign up quickly if interested! You can click on the links above for more details.

Space Invention Lego Robotics Invention School Holiday Camp Nov - Dec 2014

Camp 1: 17-19 Nov (over)
Camp 2: 24-26 Nov
Camp 3: 1-3 Dec
Camp 4: 8-10 Dec
Camp 5: 15-17 Dec
All camps from 10am-230pm

Master Inventors Lego Robotics  School Holiday Children Camp Nov - Dec 2014

Camp 1: 20-21 Nov (over)
Camp 2: 27-28 Nov
Camp 3: 4-5 Dec
Camp 4: 11-12 Dec
Camp 5: 18-19 Dec
All camps from 10am-230pm

Wonderswork also offers a by appointment one-time drop off class that’s held on weekends. This is great for parents who want to meaningfully engage their kids while they take a much needed coffee break :) You can find out more about the regular classes and other programs here. If you are interested to sign up, they are currently running a promotion on the program fees.

Junior Robotics Engineer (for 5yrs and above) – $380 (Usual $500)
Young Robotics Engineer (for 8yrs and above) – $460 (Usual $550)
Young Inventors Level 1 (for 5yrs and above) – $380 (Usual $500)

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Kids at a Robotics workshop (Photo courtesy of Wonderswork)

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The kids who attended the last space camp (Photo courtesy of Wonderswork)

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Testing their space inventions (Photos courtesy of Wonderswork)

I’ve signed Asher up for the Space Inventors camp and he’s extremely excited! I’m excited to see what he’ll get to do too! Ellery is unfortunately too young to attend, but I might bring him back for some of the other workshops instead.

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Wonderswork offered a complimentary trial class for the boys. All opinions are my own.
You can call Wonderswork at 6333 4088 to arrange for a trial class if your kids are interested.

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My boys really love playing dress up and role-playing. I have box full of random pieces that they regularly play with – clothes I don’t want to wear anymore, extra caps, scraps of cloth from costumes made during my schooling days, scarves, and other such things.

There are also a few pieces that I specially made for them to play out specific characters. Last year I made a Darth Vader and Yoda costume for the boys (need to go dig up those pictures!) that they still play with even today. The same cape and head piece has been used to turn them into Darth Vadar, Darth Sidious, and even Magneto.

With their new found liking for Marvel superheros, Ellery specially asked for a Captain America shield. I had some cardboard lying around so we made one! He was so happy :)

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Waiting for the paint to dry. Mighty pleased that I painted that star free hand!

Mr Captain America

Mr Captain America

Ellery also had a bit of a How to Train Your Dragon craze and wanted dragon wings. That was quite easy so I fashioned out a pair in under 10 minutes. He loves wearing the wings with a stripey tail we bought from Australia that surprisingly became such a well-loved plaything.

Wings on!

Wings on!

Super happy dragon

Super happy dragon

Just a few days ago the boys suddenly decided to be pirates, and there they are all decked out in pirate gear. The swords they received at Jo Claire’s party, Ellery’s headscarf from another event, Asher’s headscarf an old singlet of mine, and their bling was from Jon’s university orientation performance that I’ve kept all this while that made for perfect pirate jewellery.

Arrrrggghhh

Arrrrggghhh

I wonder who they’ll decide to be next! One thing is for sure, before you throw out stuff, think about whether it’ll be a good item to add to your kid’s dress up box. It might just find a new lease of life there.

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Several weeks back Asher’s school had a project for parents and children to do together to promote bonding.  The aim was to use recycled cardboard to make something, and then there would be an exhibition of all the art work at the end of the month.

So as I thought about what to make, I saw the work from other parents slowly trickling into school.  The most common were cars, houses and castles.  I had made houses for Ellery’s birthday party so wasn’t keen on doing that again.  Something interactive was what I was going for, and one day while talking to Asher about Transformers it dawned on me – Transformers armour!  He was very excited by that idea!

In my blurness I forgot which pictures I had downloaded from my camera and which I hadn’t, and accidentally deleted a whole bunch of pictures showing him doing sticking and painting.  The irony is that I hadn’t deleted pictures from my camera for weeks prior to that!  But as I’m the kind who like to keep some pictures of precious or fun memories in my camera, I still have a few photos :)

We used cardboard that came from the packaging of the kid’s IKEA chairs.  I had kept that for almost a year thinking it might come in handy someday (see, it pays to keep some junk!).  I also used rafia string which was used to tie some boxes of I-can’t-remember-what.  Had to use masking tape to piece some parts together, and it was all decorated with acrylic paint.  And for reference of what the characters looked like, I used his Transformers waterbottle.  Asher chose to make Optimus Prime and Bumble Bee.

Then, because he said girls cannot use the armour (though I tried to convince him otherwise), we decided to make something for the girls too – a hobbyhorse.  For that we used more IKEA cardboard and the inside cardboard of a roll of wrapping paper.  As for the horse hair, I saw the newspapers that we had painted the armour on and thought they’d make lovely hair since there were paint marks all over!  We cut it into strips and stuck those on.

As cutting of the cardboard required a lot of use of the penknife, I did that on my own and attached the pieces together with the rafia.  I also cut out the horse head, but left the sticking for Asher to do.

Optimus Prime before

Optimus Prime (back) before

Bumble Bee before

Bumble Bee (back) before

Hobbyhorse before

So the next day after school we painted the armour and decorated the horse.  Asher did most of the work, except some stylistics that I helped with.

I think the end results are really quite nice :)  The shoulder straps were a bit too far apart and kept falling off, but he didn’t seem to mind.  I was thinking of his bigger sized classmates, but in the end it was too wide for them too.  The kids were really excited when they saw it though, and Asher’s teacher had to talk about Transformers for a while in class and everyone had a turn to battle with one another :)

Bumble Bee after

Optimus Prime after

The horse didn’t receive much attention from the big kids, but Ellery liked ‘riding’ around on it as he’s into horses now.

Hobbyhorse all adorned.

So overall, a fun project, and we’ve new dress-up toys!  I hang the armour on hangers on the back of our armchair in the livingroom for Asher to play with whenever he wants.  Aidan has come by for a fight against the Decepticons (read: Jon) too :)

Asher dressed Ellery as Bumble Bee

Little Bee

A quiet moment for Optimus

Sword fight with Popo

Autobots sparring

Heather playing with the horse

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Sweepers

No time to write fully about it, but basically we went to visit Parti and Aunty Shirley who was back on holiday.  The boys had a blast playing with brooms and sweeping up the driveway area, to Parti’s great amusement!  It was wonderful to see her laughing and smiling so much :)  The presence of little children make us younger.

Breakfast at Parti's house. She was amazed that Asher loves his prata

A family picture. Ellery not looking too happy here cos he was crying for me. Been quite sticky lately.

And off they go!

Happy sweeper

Very diligent in his work

Leaving no tile unswept

The boys with Parti, who was very very VERY amused!

Ellery & Parti

Attacked by the giggles

Next plaything - the hose!

On Parti's special rocking chair

Asher's turn

 

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This is SUCH an overdue post!

Yes, I’m backdating it to the actual day as is my usual practice (I’m a bit OCD that way, I like knowing exactly which day things happened).  But this is one month overdue!!!

Gosh.

But moving on…

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On top of celebrating Ellery’s birthday we thought it’d be a great opportunity catch up with friends and relatives, so many of which we hardly get a chance to meet with on a day-to-day basis. Afterall, Christmas is a time for such things isn’t it?  So the party ended up being quite big, and our house was filled to capacity.  Every space was occupied, and I think it got a little cramp at one point because the caterer arrived more than an hour late so our guests were lumped together!  We had organised it such that the kids party was in the morning and the relatives would arrive in the afternoon.  But as lunch came late, the morning and afternoon crowd were crowded together for a good hour or more!  Everyone was very polite and kind though.

Homemade Christmas mobile

Thankfully the food was good – we catered from Samy’s Curry – although a little too salty and spicy for some.  Maybe next year we’ll cater Northern Indian since that tends to be less spicy.  It was a toss-up between Samy’s and Curry Garden, and this year Samy’s fish cutlet edged out :)

Indian food for Christmas

The kids seemed happy enough and didn’t seem to mind the crowd.  I had prepared several play areas to entertain the little ones.  In the living room the kids could help themselves to Asher and Ellery’s toys.  I had also made two cardboard playhouses for the kids.  The first was a 3-room playhouse which I put in the boy’s bedroom.  I had intended for their room to be the role-playing area (dress up clothes, masak-masak, pretend food were left there).

The 3-room cardboard house

Kids playing in the house

The other was like a cardboard mansion, complete with chimney, flowerbox and shingles, which I placed in the common area outside our house.  I had planned for the kids to decorate the house as they pleased, but here I discovered an interesting thing.  When the house was just unadorned cardboard, children are happy to draw all over it (as Asher and my neighbours kids showed), but once I pasted white paper all over (the intention was for their scribblings to be more obvious), not a single kid drew on the house!  That was something totally unexpected.  I guess they are all too well trained – no drawing on walls!  The white paper made the house have white walls, and made the house look too ‘made-up’ to draw on.  Inside though they were happy to draw on the walls since no paper was pasted there!  That phenomenon was so interesting to me.

Ellery was quite happy to play alongside the other kids, and I think he knew something special was going on because that night before he went to sleep he kept sitting up and clapping with a HUGE smile on his face :)  I don’t know whether he was remembering people singing his birthday song, or he was just happy.  I’d like to think he felt it was a special day :)

"Ball" was his word of the day

He really liked the rocking horse we rented from the Toy Rental Club

To mark the uniqueness of his birthday, we got log cakes instead of regular cakes as his birthday cake.  One for the morning kid’s session, and one for the relatives.  We thought it’d be fun for the kids to eat log cake too :)

Chocolate log cake for the kid's party

Hazelnut log for the adults

Thinking back on Ellery’s birthday, though, there are several things I would have done differently.  First, I would have given more thought to what he was wearing!  It was only on the day itself that I picked out something, and it was fairly random at that.  For some reason I thought he should wear something new that day, something not handed down, and had on hand just 2 t-shirt choices.  I let him pick, and he chose the t-shirt with colourful pictures of ice-cream.  I think I should have dressed him better since he was the birthday boy, something with a collar :)  Now everytime I put something on him that I like I keep thinking, shucks, I should have let him wear that on his birthday.  Not that I didn’t like his t-shirt, but it wasn’t dressed up enough I think :)  I guess with him I don’t dress him up as much as I did Asher.  Partly cos he’s usually doing casual things with me so hand-me-downs and casual t-shirts are more comfortable.  I don’t know, for some reason I really didn’t give it much thought.  I think I was more preoccupied with preparing the cardboard houses, doing up the handmade decor, etc.

I would also have asked someone to help take photos!  My camera, the Nikon Coolpix S9100 is really horrid.  Half the pictures are blurry.  We had bought it on the spur of the moment cos our previous camera was spoilt.  But I think I should have looked harder.  Beside the quality of pictures, I also simply didn’t have the capacity to take nice pics.  I was quite busy entertaining guests, checking on the arrival of food, getting other food prepared in the meantime for the kids, playing with the kids, etc.  But I’ve no regrets on that too since I was enjoying the moment.  I really liked catching up with friends, and watching the kids play.  I guess photos are really secondary, when it comes down to it.  That said, anyone with nice pics from that day please send to me! :O)

The last thing, though unlikely to change, is to have a bigger house haha!  I liked having the house be so bustling with people but it really would be more comfortable with more space!

All in all, I think it went well though :)

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Ellery, my dear boy, Mummy loves you no end!  I think there hasn’t been a day since you were born that I don’t say, “You are so cute!!  I cannot take it!!”  Of course, parents are intrinsically biased.  I love looking into your big eyes, I love when you give your megawatt smile that looks like it’s going to burst from your face, I love how chubby you are, how you like to pat people on the shoulder when they carry you as if you are saying “good job!”.  You are so nice to carry cos you’re filled out :)  But you are mighty heavy!  From quite early on I could not bring you out without using the Ergo.  When you choose to be wiggly you can be quite hard to hang on to because you are so strong.  You may be chubby but it’s not flabby at all!  You’re one tough little boy.

The two words I hear the most when people talk about you is “cheerful” and “big” :)  You have really turned out to be a cheerful boy, living up to your name!  You do have a temper though, which you showed towards the end of your first year.  If your toy gets snatched or you don’t get your way you can really cry.  Yes, you are macho and you have big lungs.

You are fearless, which can be quite alarming for me.  But it’s also refreshing since your brother can be quite cautious.  I hope the two of you will influence each other positively :)

Besides our house, the other place you see all the time is Asher’s school.  All the teachers and his classmates know you.  When we arrive in the morning it’s, “Hello Asher!  Hello Ellery!”.  You have a big fan club in his class, and your biggest fans are the girls.  Oh, how they pat you and kiss you and hug you!  Sometimes you trigger funny questions from his classmates like, “Aunty, how come Ellery doesn’t want to talk to me?” :)))  Now, you are so comfortable with them you’re as good as part of his class.  Asher’s teacher, Ms F, also adores you since you and her son are just 3 days apart.  You like her very much and often ask her to carry you.

You’ve been saying quite a few words like “ball”, “bir” (bird), “mama”, “deh” (daddy), “tar” (star), among others.  You moo when you hear the word cow or see a cow, you go baa when you see a sheep or hear the word sheep, and you say woof to the dog as well :)  It’s very cute :)

As for toys, you really like cars.  You’ll take cars and zoom around the living room making a ‘vroom’ sound.  Actually any toy with wheels you’ll do that.  And you’ve taken to dinosaurs too.  Yes, that’s one of the first words you said, “di!” for dinosaur, now progressing to “di-nor-nor”.  You “rah!!” like Asher, complete with the pretend claws.  Will I end up with two dino maniacs?

In the playground your absolute favorite part is the slide.  You’d go up and down all day long if I didn’t drag you away.  The other thing you enjoy is the steering wheel.

Contrary to everyone’s expectation you didn’t walk by your first birthday.  But I suspect you were trying to prove you independence and prove everyone wrong huh? :)

You and Asher play really well together and I’m so happy I have you two boys.  The instant you see Asher in the morning you light up and give the hugest grin, which Asher immediately reciprocates :)  What a nice way to wake up :)

You may be my second boy, and a lot of people ask me if I wish I had a girl (and there was even someone who said it would be nice if you had been a girl), or ask if I will be trying for a girl, but Ellery, always know that Mummy loves you so very much.  You are special, you are unique, you are irreplaceable.  Mummy and Daddy love you lots, but more than that, God loves you!  *muak*

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