6 of my favourite children’s books

We’ve come to the “Book Review” part of the blog challenge. Last night I realised it was a bit late for me to start reading a book to review (i.e. an actual fiction/non-fiction book written for adults). More so because I was falling asleep by like 7.30pm and that my brain could not get past the cover page.

So, instead, I’m going to share with you six of my favourite children’s books, as voted by Jacob who knows all the words.

1. There’s a House Inside My Mummy
Author: Giles Andreae
Illustrator: Vanessa Cabban
There's a House Inside My Mummy - Giles Andreae

When I first found out I was expecting again, I was really keen to get some books to explain the concept of a new baby to Jacob (who was just under 2 years old at the time). This book came highly recommended and it was really easy to read and used very simple comparisons, and I found it really helped Jacob relate to my pregnancy and to the baby in my tummy. There’s one page I found a bit unnecessary though (about Mummy’s door being rather “tight” – errr….) but other than that, a great book!

2. Peppa’s Car Ride
By Ladybird (doesn’t say the author’s names)
Peppa's Car Ride : Peppa Pig Series - Ladybird

I had to put a Peppa Pig one in, right? (Jacob is obsessed with Peppa Pig) I initially bought one for my nephew and then I found one in an op shop so I bought it for Jacob too. It actually has moving wheels which makes it all the more fun! Jacob loves reading the book and has put Peppa Pig stickers all over it as a sign of his approval. I also love that because the car was taken to Granddad Dog’s garage to be mended, Jacob now uses that word. If he breaks a toy, he says “Mummy, this toy needed to be mended.” Cuteee!

3. Toilet Time for Boys
By Dr Janet Hall
Toilet Time : A Training Kit for Boys - Dr Janet Hall

Okay, I had to add a toilet training book into the mix too! For the record, Jacob’s still not successfully toilet trained at the moment – we tried before Jared was born but he didn’t really take to the idea, or like he didn’t want it to be an ongoing thing (he told me “No more toilet, mum. Nappies please.”). But we do enjoy reading this book however – Jacob loves the whole idea of sitting on the toilet and it just presents the idea of toilet training in a simple and encouraging way. I only have the book but not the full activity pack, so I can’t comment on that, but fortunately we got a Huggies pull-ups pack which included a potty training resource and wall chart that has Lightning McQueen on it (and Jacob is absolutely SOLD! He loves Lightning McQueen) so we will start on that in due time!

4. I Love Mealtime
Author: Joy Berry
Illustrator: Dana Regan

My mum bought this book for Jacob, as well as another Joy Berry book called “I Love Bedtime”. He likes this one better – I’m not sure why, maybe because the main character is a boy and there’s a dog in it too? It’s also sorta ironic because he isn’t a fan of mealtime in real life haha! But this book is nice and clear – it explains why we have certain eating practices/etiquette and why (i.e. if you eat too many sweets, you get a tummy ache). I’m not sure that it has had any effect on Jacob’s table manners, but one can only hope!

5. Sunshine and Snowballs
Author: Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrator: Charlotte Cooke
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I absolutely love this book! I’m not sure what it is but there was a certain emotion it evokes – the illustrations are just beautiful too. You might realise by now that I love books with rhymes/poetry because it just has a lovely ring to it (and I love to hear Jacob say the last word of each sentence).

The book starts out with “Summer, summer, in the sun” and it’s funny because there is a little girl at our church called Summer, and Jacob instantly thought the girl in the book was called Summer. It’s so hard to explain the concept of seasons to a little child! And he says that the boy in the book is Jared because Jared has a winter hat like the one the boy wears. So yes, it’s about Summer and Jared playing at different times of the year. I love that this book has helped Jacob make the connection with natural elements – he’ll talk to me about rain and thunderstorms, and the other day we had a foggy morning and he was so excited to experience the “grey, silent” fog. Definitely a favourite!

6. Pull-out “Jonah and the Big Fish”
Author: Josh Edwards
Illustrator: Chris Embleton-Hall

I love these pull-out books – some other stories in this series include David and Goliath, Noah’s Ark and the Christmas Story. Jacob loves David and Goliath the most because Goliath is huge and roars (Oh wait, no, that’s mummy roaring) but he also loves all the others too. I highly recommend these books because they’re interactive, easy to read and fun – and to prove that, here’s a video of Jacob actually reading this book with me (this was a good 4 months ago)!

Happy reading! 🙂

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Anzac Day Weekend

We’ve just gotten back from a lovely long weekend away. Today is Anzac Day, which commemorates Australians and New Zealanders who have served and protected their countries in wars and other missions.

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While I grew up in Malaysia, hence this occasion is a relatively new concept to me, the unity seen on the day feels somewhat similar to how Malaysians celebrate our independence day. There is a strong sense of symbolism with the red poppies, wreaths and even Anzac biscuits – and then the memorial services as well. I haven’t been to a service for ages but when I was a student, my apartment was directly opposite from the National War Memorial in the city and I used to hear the dawn service and watch part of it from my room (though lucky me could go back to sleep after – those were the days!).

I was trying to work out if I had been to a memorial service before, and I think we did go to one at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra 6 years ago! Or it may have just been a regular service as I think this was in the afternoon? This was one of the first trips Daniel and I took together – we drove from Adelaide to Newcastle in a day! We plan to do a NSW trip sometime this year as well, but it will be a lot trickier with two kids this time!

As I’ve been in Australia for nearly 10 years, I probably should read more about Anzac Day and educate my kids about it. On a blog I often read, the writer listed a few good Anzac Day books that can help kids understand the concept of Anzac Day – here is the post. Have you read any of these books with your kids?

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On a separate note, we went away for a lovely beach holiday down in Normanville. More updates about that to come, but just wanted to share this adorable shot of these cuties (Jacob, Jared and my nephew) waiting patiently for their breakfast. Credits to my mum-in-law for capturing the moment!

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Hope you all had a great long weekend! 🙂

Children’s Book Review – “Mr Pete, Where are your feet?”

Reading is one of my hobbies, or at least it used to be until I got too busy to do it. Even before I started going to school, I used to churn through 12 books a week. But over the years, I’ve had to put that hobby in the background to try and juggle all the other things I need/want to do (being the social being that I am). And now with a baby, this is proving even harder – I borrowed a book from the local library in March and have renewed it twice but still haven’t gotten halfway through it yet.

However, something I indulge in lately is children’s books! Of course, I try to read them to Jacob who is either completely uninterested or tries to eat my book (and cries when I try to take it away from him). But really, children’s books help me remember my love for reading and spur me on to pick up that bigger “adult” book that I have to try and read a chapter (only to be interrupted by a baby trying to climb the TV cabinet). 

I agreed to review a new children’s book written by Katherine Bartlett, a talented lady with a love for winged creatures (i.e. birds, not bats or flying foxes). Her book has a catchy title – “Mr Pete, Where are your feet?”. With Jacob sitting in his cot at full attention, I opened it up full screen and read it to Jacob (in hopes to get his opinions too).

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The book introduces us to Mr Pete and his family – his winged brothers and sisters, and his non-winged mummy (whom he obviously loves to bits despite her not having wings like him). Anyway, mummy asks him a rhetorical question, “Mr Pete, where are your feet?” and it gets Mr Pete thinking. He looks at his feet and to his dismay, they’re “missing” – he had shorter feet and fewer claws compared to the other birds.

So, he sets off to look for his feet. Along with his birdy sisters and brothers, they search all over the place for Mr Pete’s feet but to no avail. Mr Pete is disheartened and is worried that his mummy will no longer accept him for his flaws, but mummy proves him wrong with loving affirmation.

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While this book addresses the issue of disability and acceptance in society, I think that it also addresses another much more common issue – accepting our flaws. Our world today pressures people so much to groom themselves to perfection that people are increasingly insecure about their shortcomings. However, all we need is a gentle reassurance that we are accepted for who we are.

I enjoyed this book – the illustrations were simple but effective. Repetition is always a great feature of children’s books and I really liked the values the book teaches. Probably a more suitable read for kindy or early primary readers, though I must say it did keep Jacob’s attention for a little while (before he started chewing on the cot railing, le sigh).

An extra bonus at the end was the fact that it was a true story (and we were introduced to all the real-life bird characters!). I think it’s really great to bring the story to life (and perhaps pave the way for a sequel?). Awesome story, Katherine, and I look forward to future books!

You can purchase her book on Amazon here.

I apologise for a bit of self-promotion along with this post, but this brings something to mind that I haven’t thought of for AGES! Back in 2007, I joined a writing competition which won me a trip to Dublin. We were meant to write a 1500 word piece on the title “Helping Hands” – and as I read the piece I wrote, I think “Damn, I was a pretty good writer!” 🙂 

I found the archive of it – read my story here.

And just to prove to you that yes, I have been in the paper before, here is one of the archived articles about my prize-winning experience. Please ignore the terribly ugly picture of myself trying to look as though I’m excited.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!!! 🙂

The aftermath of Christmas…

It’s amazing how so many things build up to one day and then it feels like that’s it, the end! Do you feel that way about Christmas? I felt a bit deflated yesterday but am intent on keeping the Christmas spirit going, at least til the New Year’s spirit takes over. To keep the flame burning, Daniel and I watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, which was really quite funny!

I guess one of the highlights of the days after Christmas is enjoying all the presents we received. And boy, were we blessed this year with lots of wonderful gifts from family and friends!

On my Christmas list this year, I put down some kitchen equipment as I’d like to do some experimenting. Before when I was working full time, I never really had the time to bake or make elaborate meals, but now that I’m at home a lot, I’m looking forward to trying out some new recipes! The large contraption at the back is actually an ice shaver – perfect gift for summer! Ais kacang, here I come! (It’s a shaved ice Malaysian dessert, fyi.)

ImageProbably two of my favourite gifts were the musical instruments I received – I got an awesome green ukulele which I’m learning to play now, and Daniel got my guitar fixed (well, it’s theoretically his guitar but I’ve claimed it as my own). Dan sent me on a treasure hunt though, with a list of clues to seek out the gift! It took me all over the house and I finally found the guitar in the back shed!

ImageBut if there’s one thing I’m excited about, it’s Jacob’s presents! They feel like presents for me because I’ll probably end up playing with them with him. The lucky boy got lots of colourful toys and awesome books like Hairy McLairy and Mem Fox books too. He also got clothes as well as Praise Baby, which is a lovely DVD set with praise songs and lovely videos of nature, people, etc. that are to grasp the baby’s interest and stimulate the mind. Jacob had a good time lying on the carpet watching some of it.

ImageThanks again to everyone for giving us such lovely presents! Now, to clean up and put the house back in working order.

But of course, this post would not be complete without a picture of my two lovely boys! Christmas can be an exhausting affair, and these two are recovering from it in style.

ImageHope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

Bargain hunter strikes again…

I think I’ve expressed in previous posts that I enjoy op-shopping. Yesterday, I indulged again and scored some awesome items (for a total of under $20)!

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I love baby books, especially bigger ones with bright pictures. I also love to buy books with Bible stories brought to life and read them to Jacob on Sabbath. The toolbox thing is actually a book too – you can take the shapes of the tools out and play around with them.

And I especially love the wire bead maze (which was only $4). I know that it’s only really for kids from ages 1+, but I can demonstrate it to Jacob at least. For some reason, he loves sitting up (i.e. propped up on the couch or on a pillow) and he loves watching what I’m doing.

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I also scored something for myself for only $7. I apologise for wearing jeans under the dress as I was just too lazy to change. Talk about sloppy mum. And here’s my Jacob picture of the day. He bares some skin and says “Draw me like one of your French girls!”

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I’ve decided that with every post I write (or perhaps every second post – will see how I go), I’ll be posting a Top 5 list. To start off this trend, here are the Top 5 Weirdest things I’ve found myself saying this week:

5. “Should I buy Sophie the Giraffe?”
For those who don’t know what Sophie the Giraffe is, this sounds very strange (especially since my display picture is of a giraffe after falling prey to that Facebook riddle that’s gone viral). I think Daniel thought I had gone a bit bonkers. Sophie is actually a famous French baby teether which is really popular (and also a bit pricy)… should I put it on my Christmas list? Have any of you had experience with her before?

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4. “Don’t put that in your mouth! It has pee on it!!!” 
Please excuse the references to bodily functions. Yes, Jacob is not even a toddler yet and I already have trouble with him putting things in his mouth. Basically, this event involved a small pee disaster and Jacob trying to put his shirt in his mouth. Le sigh. Honestly, it’s not that bad though – these things only happen when you take their diaper off. 😛

3. “Should I study? Or go back to work? Or buy a business?”
Yes, I keep pondering these things despite not having enough hours in the day to clean the house. My rationale is if I earn money, I can afford to hire a cleaning lady….

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2. “I do NOT want a flying grim reaper!!!”
You probably have to watch this video to understand this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tB8D2QZ9lA4
My husband loves pranks (especially scary ones), and he was saying he’d love to get a flying grim reaper. Hence my response… I am NOT into Halloween. I am NOT into scary movies. Heck, I get scared seeing my own reflection in the mirror at night (though sometimes I look so bad anyone would be scared). So, yes – NO flying grim reapers please.

1. “Is the bathroom covered with baby poo or was that just a dream?”
Yes, I dream of baby bodily functions too. How pathetic! Is this what my life has come to?

Have a happy week, and wake me up when October ends.

Don’t drop that dummy!

Another eventful day – my parents are going back to Malaysia soon, so I took them up to Tanunda to have a look around. We skipped Chateau Tanunda this time round – I think we’ve been there too many times to a point where it’s become rather ordinary.

Something that I have inherited from my mother is my op shop obsession. I love op shops, particularly the ones that have clothes in my size and are dirt cheap. However, since Jacob was born, I have a new obsession in these shops – baby books and clothes! Today, we had a field day…

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I was already being conservative here. 🙂 Jacob is going to have a lot of things to read!

What do you think of op shops? Some people don’t like second hand things – for example, they’d say pre-loved goods are dirty or shabby and they want better quality. I just like the value for money, and I actually love the fact that some things have a history to it.

In other news, I was just thinking about the things that annoy me about Jacob… while he can be an angel at times, we have our moments. Here are probably the top 5 things I think to myself each day:
5. Jacob, can you please have proper feeds every 3 hours instead of snacking all day?
4. Jacob, please could I put you down for a minute? I can’t cook or clean while carrying you…
3. Jacob, please don’t chuck up on me… especially not in my best outfit!
2. Jacob, it’s only a nappy change, so please don’t scream the house down…
1. Jacob, don’t drop that dummy!

But then again, I’m sure there are things that may annoy Jacob about me as well:
5. Mummy, why do you make funny faces at me?
4. Mummy, why won’t you walk around carrying me all day?
3. Mummy, why do you need to take my nappies and clothes off again and again?
2. Mummy, why did you put me on my tummy?
1. Mummy, why is your hair in my face?!

I have to admit that last one would irritate anybody… sorry Jacob, I can’t help having long hair. And even when I tie it up, my fringe gets in the way at times.

All in all, I think we’ll all have our love-hate moments but it’s all worth it. I’m not sure if Jacob thinks that I’m immensely cute, but that is one of his redeeming factors… 🙂

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