The Trio

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The best of friends. The worst of pals.

My trio. Taken during Zoie’s childcare centre’s school photography day. It was also during the boys’ school hols, so I brought them that morning to get a nice photo taken with her.

And yes, I know Xavier is half-squinting in this pic, but in the mini thumbnails that we had to choose from, it wasn’t so obvious oops! He does still have a winning smile though haha! Well, hopefully I get the chance to have a proper family photoshoot soon haha!

But having three kids means three times the interaction. And interact they do.

I love how Jayvon is so proud of Zoie, and speaks in a gentler voice to her (than he does with Xavier).

I love how the two younger kids really look up to Jayvon, and Xavier has told me more than once that “Jayvon is the best, isn’t he?” (Not so much a question but a sentence).

I love how Xavier and Zoie can play for an hour, pretending to be pirates and dinosaur-hunters and sausage (don’t ask me why), and how they love building forts with pillows, playing hide-and-seek with each other and play Wii U games together.

I love how Jayvon and Xavier can talk non-stop about Roblox. And soccer. And school.

I have a laugh at how the older brothers keep their younger sister in check when she tries to cajole them into doing something by telling her, “Don’t act cute Zoie. It won’t work. That ISN’T CUTE!”

I love how Jayvon would help Zoie when she wants to do colouring in.

But most importantly, I love how they look out for each other. I once read that the best present you can give your child is a sibling, and I am thankful we had to opportunity to give them two gifts each. Will we have a fourth? Interestingly, Xavier turned to me and asked for another sibling cos “then we can all have fun together.”

Nice try. Not happening. :P

Xavier’s First Electric Toothbrush!

Being a parent has a lot of responsibilities. And sometimes, things happen to our kids due to our oversight, negligence, ignorance … or sometimes things JUST happen. And as parents, we have to roll with it, learn from it, and move on.

When they were babies, it was all about things like reflux, feeding them well, weaning, nappy rash – preventing it from happening and easing the pain when it inadvertently occurs. We have to consider the benefits of cloth nappies versus disposable ones. What pram to buy. What milk bottle to get. What spoon best helps them to feed themselves.

The list goes on … and on… and on. #BeenThereSpentThat!

And when they grow into toddlers, it doesn’t seem to get better! Teaching them how to tie their shoelaces (which, incidentally, is a parenting fail for us cos even my 8 year old still struggles, so he has been using velcro-type school shoes even till today. Potty-training (shudder.) Oh, and tooth-brushing.

Now, I don’t know if you recall how you were taught tooth-brushing as a kid, but I recall that when I started attending school, we would be required to bring a toothbrush to school everyday, and we would all have to learn the “proper” brushing techniques. There would be half-yearly visits to the Wielder of Horror, I mean, the school dentist. Oh, to be in class, and be informed by another student that your time was up – and the dentist was expecting you. Immediately. That walk down the stairs. No amount of licking your teeth would help, as you lay naked (figuratively, of course) on that cold dental chair and hear the dentist tsk-tsk away.

As you can imagine, I didn’t enjoy going to the dentist – even as an adult now!

But gah. Kids. They make you face your biggest fear. And with my kids’ huge love for sweets and chocolates and sweet snacks, making sure they brush their teeth at least twice a day is the least I can do. And to be honest, I’ve never considered getting electric toothbrushes for the kids. It just seemed, I don’t know… a little excessive? I mean, what good would an electric toothbrush do? A manual toothbrush would do the trick! Don’t be lazy now, Mummy! Teach your kids the right brushing method.

And then, thanks to the good people at Philips, this little goodie came in the mail some weeks back.

The Philips Sonicare Toothbrush – box has certainly taken a beating!

Yes, as you can see, my kids got to the box before I could stop them. Pfft! Kids nowadays – you’d think they would know I need to get a good shot for social media first, eh? :P

But I hardly blame them. The gorgeous, kid-friendly graphics, and the novelty of something new sure caught their eye.

And this little gadget came right in time. Just before Halloween. And if your kids are anything like my kids (and please tell me I can’t be the only one like that), candies, chocolates and sweet treats are a HUGE part of their lives. And chips. And cookies. And you get the idea.

Our "little" chocolate stash

Our “little” chocolate stash

Despite my best attempts, the challenge with having three kids is that you simply only have one pair of eyes and one pair of hands, and while helping one kid brush, the other (usually older) one will make quick work off brushing, do a quick gargle and race out of the bathroom shouting, “I’m done!” behind him.

But introducing Xavier’s new toothbrush. (He’s the chosen one this time haha! I figure as the middle kid, he often gets the shortest end of the stick, and all the hand-me-downs)

Someone is mighty pleased with his new toothbrush!

This toothbrush is suitable for kids from 4+, and the handle was slim enough for my 5 year old’s hands. But what really won his little heart was the fact that you could customise (and change) the front cover of the toothbrush.

8 different sticker designs.

The designs were a hit – with my 3 year old girl AND my 8 year old boy! Which is no small feat. There were also smaller stickers to decorate the toothbrush with, but Xavier generously handed those over to Zoie to decorate her non-electric toothbrush with haha!

Easy enough to apply toothpaste himself!

Easy enough to apply toothpaste himself! 

And then it was brushing time. It was easy enough for Xavier to handle applying toothpaste himself, and the vibrations were a very new sensation to him. He wasn’t comfortable brushing his teeth too long that first time, but the next morning, he was more used, and in a few days time, he is now so at ease with it!

In those hard-to-reach molars, the electric toothbrush makes quick work of cleaning each tooth, getting rid of the gunk and keeping his baby teeth as clean and cavity-free as possible. Now, I just need to get him to move the toothbrush around each tooth. I don’t need to think if he got the up-down, side-to-side motion correct, so it gives ME a bigger peace of mind as well.

Why did I take so long to be electric toothbrush-converted?

It’s time to invest in one for the other two kids too!

Disclosure: Thanks to Philips Sonicare for the sponsorship of this product. No other monetary compensation was received and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

“Everyone Should Play Pokemon Go” – according to my 8 year old

Well, not really. I mean, yes – and no.

That particular line was his speech which he prepared for one of his assignments in school, and he decided to extol the virtues of playing Pokemon Go. I asked him what his reasons “for” were, and he couldn’t remember them all – but his top reason is “It helps you to exercise.”

Pokemon Go launched in Australia just a month ago, and I have to confess – I was the one to download it first, and I told the boys about it. Before this, they’ve never watched a single episode of the cartoon, they don’t have the Nintendo handheld game sets, so they’ve also never “caught” a Pokemon before. They have seen some of the Pokemons around, but have no real idea of the background. I was introduced by reading up some articles, and we were all very excited to download it. I put in on my iPhone, and also on the boys’ two iPads (which were wifi enabled only).

So on July 10, 2016, the game was downloaded and we were all ready to start catching some Pokemons. Given my reluctance to waste precious data, we decided, during the boys’ school holidays, we would take a walk around the University campus. Unfortunately, the day we chose to go a-hunting was July 12. The day the game experienced such a huge load. That is crashed. So there we were, faced with the blue screen of death and it totally rained on our parade. Catch Pokemons? PFFFFT! The boys got bored of it in 30 minutes, and even after I realised what was happening, the boys were OVER IT. The game had let them down. Boo.

That day, we checked out the original Pokemon cartoon series (thank you, YouTube!) and the boys finished through the entire Season 1 of the series (and a little of Season 2) by the time their school holidays ended.

And then the Pokemon fever really started. The boys realised that their friends were playing the game. And more than just Pokemon Go, the Pokemon trading cards were making a HUGE comeback on the school grounds! (NO) Thanks to past trading cards that Woolsworths rolled out, the boys were experienced card-traders, and before I knew it I found myself getting Jayvon a box of Pokemon trading cards.

So the trading cards, combined with the cartoon series on YouTube has really helped to spark both the boys’ interest.

More than just being a spectator, Jayvon decided to create his OWN card series, naming it Plasmamon. He created four cards, drew his own “monsters” and thought up of their quirks and attack powers, and his friends were instantly drawn in. Even in the class setting, together with his friend, they were creating new cards, and almost everyday after school, the boys would be regaling me with the latest and greatest in their card game land.

And all this, in turn, has helped the boys become interested once more in Pokemon Go.

I’ve always been maintaining the account on my mobile, as I find it something to do on my long 1KM walks to the boys’ school. Plus – living on campus means we are literally living above two PokeStops (yes, I know, you may hate me) and the campus itself is a huge network of maaaaany Pokestops within walking distance from our home. So walking the short distance to the car, I can walk past about 5 or 6 PokeStops each time. Now that the boys have a rekindling of their interest, it makes for many interesting encounters.

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The boys with their iPad in hand!

Like that time, when Jayvon and I were walking home from school (Xavier was home sick that day), and we hatched a Pikachu. We. Hatched. A. Pikachu. We turned, mouths agape as that pic showed, and Jayvon literally screamed in joy – “PEEEEEEEEE-KAAAAAAA-CHOOOOOOOO!” Hahaha! It was hilarious, but only because I was as excited as him.

Or that time when we had just pulled up to the carpark, and when I turned the app on… lo and behold, we saw the silhouette of the elusive Kangaskhan. KANGASKHAN! We piled out of the car and tried walking around to see if we could catch him, but alas! No such luck that day.

So this game has provided plenty of fodder for conversation, and fun aside, we also laid down ground rules.

Our Pokemon Go Ground Rules

#1: No walking on the road and playing. Even when I am walking back from school with the kids, I will have the app turned on, but I will either close my cover, or use the battery-saving mode, and flip the phone over so that the screen goes blank. When there is a Pokemon to catch, my phone vibrates, and then I pass to the boys in turn to catch, before we continue walking.

#2: A turn is a turn is a turn. So you may catch a Pidgey for each of your turn, but too bad, there’s no wriggling and “stealing” a turn. The boys are pretty good at cooperating, and they know any argument of any sort is really a lose-lose situation, so this has worked well so far.

#3: Even with my Rule #1, there can be times it can get crazy-exciting, so the key is always in safety first!

#4: And this is my personal rule… there shalt be no evolving without my expressed permission. Haha!

Check out some of our Pokemons!

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Yes. Jayvon renamed each Pokemon captured!

I enjoy our Pokemon Go adventures with my kids. Even Zoie has caught a few herself. Though she did waste use 13 of my Ultra Balls just yesterday, trying to catch a Bellsprout. The boys were beside themselves “Nooooooo Zoie!!!!! STOP! Not THAT ball…. NO!!!” But of course she ignored them. My heart might have cracked into three pieces then, but love overcomes all.

I do it… for the common conversation. It is hard to find a game that they love and that I am good at. The kids love Minecraft but oh goodness me, I can only last 15 minutes TOPS before a headache comes on. But apart from Minecraft (which I have at least come into contact with so I have a vague idea of what they are talking about), we try to be involved in every other activity they are interested in.

Jayvon is 8 years old now. Xavier is 5.

I have no illusions that in just a few years time, “Mummy” might be too uncool to hang out with or talk to. Building common bridges is something I think should be done now, not when they are 16. So the hubby talks to the kids about all matters concerning soccer (which Jayvon loves), and argue about who THE greatest soccer player is, and how to become a professional soccer player in the future, he talks to them about science, about space… and yes, as shallow as it may seem, I at least have Pokemon Go in common with the kids. My knowledge about space and science is limited to say the least. Haha! But hey – Pokemon Go is one more bridge of a common love, and we get a common language too.

(The hubby doesn’t play Pokemon Go, by the way, and has on more than one occasion made disparaging remarks about people on the street who seem over-engrossed in their phones, which he quickly assumes are Pokemon hunters. But he has now learnt to live with it, and even tried to help us with the Kangaskhan-hunting that time too. But see, I don’t understand soccer either, so we each do what we can).

There are dangers – yes. Even in school, Jayvon would be telling me his teacher would speak to them about how people have been in accidents or even caused accidents due to the game. And that’s a good thing to teach the kids, to be aware of the dangers around even when playing the game!

Do you play this game too? Do you allow your kids to? Why and why not? 

Do Your Kids Use Swear Words?

Or maybe the first question ought to be, as a parent, what is your stand on your kids using swear words?

I promise this won’t be preachy – but let me first share where the inspiration for this blog came about. Two instances stand out. When Jayvon first started Kindy (this was 3 years ago, and we’d just arrived in Australia, all bright-eyed and maybe a little naive), and when I was picking him up after school, and as we were walking across the school grounds to head home, I saw one of his classmates having an angry conversation with his mother, and calling her a “f***ing b****”. And this classmate would be 6 years old – tops. But that was 3 years ago. Why bring it up now? Well, Xavier, who’s now the one in Kindy, was invited to a classmate’s birthday party, and it was a pretty informal one, held at the nearby playground. So all the kids were being their usually rowdy behaviour, all running amok at the playground. I thought I heard someone saying “f***ing b****” but quickly dismissed it. Till the hubby brought it up. It was spoken by one of Xavier’s classmates, again, 6 years old tops, and it was directed to another classmate who “dared” to invade the boys’ space. AKA a play structure that they declared to be the “boys”.

I am disturbed. Perplexed. Worried. Concerned.

Not trying to be holier-than-thou. I know of friends who can swear and cuss, and I’m a big enough girl to be able to handle swear words thrown at or around me. But while I can accept an adult using this kind of language to let off steam, hearing it from a 6-year-old is disconcerting to say the least. And since I was a distance from the particular boy (and the hubby being nearer cos he was keeping an eye on our boys who were at the structure), I could barely make out the words, but he wasn’t saying them under his breath as well!

I don’t use swear words. I would like to say I NEVER SWEAR… but I also can’t lie, and my slip-ups come especially when I am driving and particularly when someone else does something dangerously stupid. But I have a love for the English language, and a teaching instilled in me, from my pastors and leaders in church, that we should watch the words that come out of our mouths. So yes, I make the concerted effort to keep the swear words out.

It’s a tough battle, what with the Youtube and even the seemingly innocuous “Cartoon Network” which is code for cartoons that derive pleasure and laughter in being mean and obnoxious.

And my boys love it. They love these cartoons. My 8 year old enjoys watching these cartoons, he enjoys watching Youtube videos of other people playing Minecraft and all. He uses phrases like “What The!” (Which grates me), and his latest pet phrase – “idiot”. Oh and he picked up the words “shit”, and understand that “F***” is a rude word, so he spells it out to me, in the context of telling me his classmate said that in class. We make it clear to the boys that when they pick up nonsensical words and use them with glee, then it’s high time for a screen time break. But of course, they also pick it up in school. And it’s a constant tug of war.

Their friends use these words. The words sound funny and cool. But they are slowly understanding I have a low tolerance for such swear words.

“If you can’t speak in proper sentences, without using such words, then instead of watching your iPad, read the dictionary and find new words to use.” Yup, I told my 8-year-old this. I also explain what the words mean, and why the words are offensive (especially to me). It is kind of like a repeat of when they were much younger, and the words “poo poo” caused them to roll over in laughter – but I told them that words should also be used in context, and using this word to talk about something unrelated is unacceptable and silly behaviour. So it is quite the extension of what we’ve always tried to teach them.

It is an uphill battle.

I personally think it’s a lazy way to speak. And yes, I can see eyes rolling already. But that’s what I think. Rather than using words like “very”, “extremely”, “so” or other words, a simple swear word replaces it. Rather than sharing what gets you irritated, you can just spurt out little nuggets of disgust.

Simply using these words gets you in a frame of mind that is angry, frustrated, and often at a loss for words, so more such “nuggets of disgust” come rolling out.

I know of people who can’t even talk normally without peppering their speech with swear words. I may not do it, but I can take it.

But when a 6-year-old does it?

That is just so wrong. I am not judging the parents, but it is a sad thing to see.

The New ‘Kid’ On The Block – Oli6 Dairy Goat Milk Formula

Brought to you by Nuffnang and Oli6

Quiche, coffee and chit-chat with newfound friends.

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Oh, and a very informational morning spent with experts, learning more about the newest “kid” on the block – Oli6 with its brand new product line of dairy goat milk formula.

Now, back in Singapore, as a mom, I’ve heard about goat’s milk as an alternative to cow’s milk, and suitable for kids who are 12 months or over. But I must admit, that hearing it as newborn infant milk formula? Now that was a first for me.

Did I mention experts? Yeah, we had two of them speak to us, a dietitian and a university professor, who were expounding on the health benefits of goat’s milk. And I must confess, while I was captivated by the first speaker (who was sharing about her personal journey as both a dietitian and a foster parent, wanting to give the best to her foster children), when the professor walked on, I took an extra big gulp of my coffee, and a silent prayer that my long sleepless wrestle with my girl the night before would not rear its ugly head then.

But I was wrong. Sure, there were huge sounding, multi-syllabic words that were mentioned, but I was intrigued! Sure, we’ve heard of words like “prebiotics” and “probiotics” – even if we didn’t know what exactly they did once inside of us, but by golly, if that smoothie had it, we had to have it then! (Goat’s milk is a natural source of prebiotics too, by the way).

Breast is best – and that should be choice #1 if any mommy can do so. But in the event choice #1 isn’t available, or there’s no other choice, well, there’s a few choices that a parent can go for. One of the takeaways I had in this event was that the nutrition structure of goat’s milk is actually closer to breast milk compared to standard cow’s milk – now that’s something to think about for sure!

If you are looking for a formula milk, do check out Oli6 – a 100% Australian-manufactured product, available in Stages 1 to 3.

Oli6 Stage 1 to 3

Oh, and how about the taste test? Well, I took back a tin of the Stage 3 formula. My kids are past the age of drinking formula, but I use the milk powder & added chocolate powder for Xavier’s daily cup of hot chocolate which he asks for by reminding me, “Mummy, you said you will make me hot chocolate everyday…” Yes, I am held accountable to my promise to him, cos it’s $4 for a cup of hot chocolate outside when I can make the same yummy goodness in the house. And he couldn’t tell the difference! A winning formula, indeed!