Happy Mother's Day to All Mothers in the World!
Enjoy this little treat! xx
I was raised to be exceptionally aware of cleanliness. Clean clothes, clean hands, clean hair, clean nails, clean everything. Not a hair out of line. No sitting on the grass because your pants will get dusty. No picking your nose and flick it on the floor. No baby crawling on the patio floor or soil because it's dirty. Make sense, since the country where I was raised wasn't really clean anyway, at least while I was growing up. Muddy roads, smelly air, dusty air. You could be cleaning your floor in the morning and ended up with a dirty feel on your floor at the end of the day. All that caused my family to be quite ... clean freak. That, plus Asian parents, in general, tend to be more physically protective when it comes to their children. I'm not talking about ALL Asian parents, but I know quite a number of Asian parents who got really worried when their children are playing rough and came home dirty. I was one of those parents.
Until one day, when I enrolled my eldest into kindergarten and started to hang out with Caucasian parents. At the beginning, I was experiencing what you may call culture shock, perhaps. Kids, shouting, running around barefooted! Babies, crawling on the dirty patio floor and drank the water from the dog's drinking bowl by mistake! Clothes got wet and muddy and no one was batting an eyelid. I wasn't kidding when I said I was shocked! And I wasn't the neatest and the cleanest in the family (apparently my great grandmother used to place a pinch of rice grains to see if anyone realised it and cleaned it up. The ultimate test for a clean floor).
But I also saw how happy and confident they were. How strong and healthy. So I learnt to let go of my worry and my exasperation and let my kids just had fun. And the first time I did so, I might have shocked my family, too. Haha, that was fun! But I still freaked out whenever my kids come home with dirty clothes, perhaps because I was simply lazy? Nobody likes extra laundry, after all.
PS. I'm pleased to report that now I'm able to watch my kids run around barefooted, with sandy hair and clothes wet and muddy without batting my eyelids. But I still reserve the rights to complain. At least to make them aware that laundry does take a lot of energy to do.
It feels a little awkward to return to blogging after months of absence. But here I am, blogging again, with hopefully not so long delay between this one and my next post. So, a lot has happened. For those who know me well in real life, you probably know that I have been actively drawing some illustrations for a private project in the past few months. I've been moving very, very slow, mainly because at the same time I have also found a part time position as a graphic designer/social media coordinator.
There was also a very sad event in the family. My grandmother died just a few days after her 88th birthday in January. The passing has taken over a portion of the beginning of 2017, and I found it difficult to draw for awhile. Everything I drew seemed to manifest into a darker tone. My grandma is, after all, a figure who has very much helped raise me into the person that I am now. An intelligent and a smart lady, she has taught all of her granddaughters to excel in family life and in their careers. Heck, she even hoped I would be a doctor, one day. But aren't you glad I become an artist, instead?
Anyway, I'm glad that I finally was able to finish this one! This one is too long overdue! It's based on this ongoing debate/discussion(?) at home about owning a pet. Even though I don't hate animals (and certainly don't like bad things happening to them) I am one of those who doesn't like to live with one, although my husband and kids really, really push me to have one. Namely, a dog. Three against one! But so far I'm still the winner...phew! I'm so thankful that they never ever go and get a dog behind my back.
But I really love this piece of my memory where little miss O tried to negotiate with me. She was so honest and innocent. Still, I'm pleased to report that her negotiation skill has much improved since then, to my disadvantage. All good and how it should be. After all, what is parenting without a little negotiation thrown along the way?
...interesting if not exasperating. At the moment, our Miss E is going through a phase where she just wants to dress up in a certain way. It's not that she looks awful wearing her choice of wardrobe - she could look downright cute, even - but sometimes what she chose wasn't suitable for the rest of her day. But still, I guess one has to pick one's fight. There are many more matters that require more energy, and fashion sense is definitely not one of them, at least in my book. As long as she's dressing according to the weather and not taking the fancy tutu into the mud, she can wear whatever she wants. Funny, but I guess I have mellowed down after my second child. I am very style conscious, so I used to be very nitpicky about what Miss O was wearing. Luckily, E seems to be aware that once mud comes into her tutu, it will be very hard to get rid of the stain.
Anyway, here's my Halloween comics. A little late, I know, but at least it's done. This is not what she finally wore for Halloween, but I just felt like drawing a little illustration on what she usually wears these days. And she could be very stubborn and demanding when it comes to matching her ideal outfit. Gosh, she could throw a whole tantrum just over it.
That's that, for now. Enjoy!
BTW, Edie didn't use to be this fashion conscious. Once upon a time, she even refused to have hairclips on her hair. Now she just has to have as many as she can :D
I can tell you that I have. We did have a period where our interests differed, but as far as I remember, my sister and I have always relied on each other whenever we were in trouble or whenever we just feel plain happy. There are 3.5 years difference between us, so naturally, there were points in our life where we didn't truly understand each other, but it was okay. It was all part of growing up, especially that our personality was also vastly different. While I was the nerd in the family, my sister has always been surrounded by friends and she was popular as a student. However, we influence each other. A lot. Both of us love comics, drawing, music and movies. Whatever I did in my spare time, she did it, too, even if the result was vastly different. Was that the reason why we were so close to each other?
Wel, yes and no.
We did share a few interests growing up, but we are still two vastly different personalities. We have different approaches to a lot of things. If I'm methodical, she's more intuitive. If I'm impulsive, she's calmer and more relax. There were even times where we were actually frustrated with one another. We used to have explosive fights.
However, whatever we do, we always feel and miss each other's presence. Even now after we have our own children. And I have always been filled with wonder at how we manage to maintain this togetherness. I'm not talking about being together physically - it's more about mental support, I suppose. Whatever I do I never feel alone. I know my sister is out there to support me if I need her. That's why I have lately been self-analysing our sibling relationship. Especially now that I have my own two daughters and wish for them to have the same relationship that I have with my sister. Some people might be lucky in the way that they just click with their siblings right away, but surely there are things parents can do to encourage cool sibling relationship?
Talking about prents, my parents must have done the right thing.
But if there is anything I DO learn, sibling relationship is forged from day one your older children are introduced to their newborn siblings. And although it may not be perfect, this is the kind of environment that my parents, and now I, tried to provide for that wonderful relationship to blossom.
So here is my thoughts on the subject. This is just sort of a reflection on my journey as a sister and what works so far for my own children, so by all means, anyone can add to the list.
This is hard. Sometimes you feel that you favour one child's abilities more than the others, but whatever you feel, at least do not express it in words. I feel this way occasionally. Sometimes I gave into the urge, but I don't think it's beneficial for my children and for their relationship. Being labelled is never pleasant, no matter how great the label might sound. It creates competition, and sometimes even jealousy. As children, they hinder close sibling relationship. It is hard to trust and be close to someone you feel is your rival, don't you think?
Anyway, those are my thoughts when it comes to encouraging close sibling relationship. Or at least, that what I notice works so far. I saw a lot of great sibling relationships (and not so great), and all of them circle around those six points above. I saw siblings who in the surface seem great and close to each other, but got into competitive bickering and blame game. On the other hand, I also saw great sibling relationships where the siblings genuinely loved to spend time with each other, where there were a lot of tolerance, fun banters and emotional support. I am grateful that my sibling relationship is a beautiful one and I wish for others to experience the same thing. If I have to describe it, my sibling relationship is not perfect, but it's full of laughter and togetherness. We seek each other out and we do crazy things together. We even still behave like children whenever we are together (sometimes). LOL.
So what do you think about this month's comics? Yep, that was one of the crazy things I did with my sister. Definitely not recommended. Actually, just in case you're reading this. this is not the first time I drew about haircut. You could read about my other haircut adventure here. I have also added a comic archive, so you could find past episodes easily. It's here.
Anyway, late post again. I haven't been able to follow my own schedule these days. A lot have happened in the past month. I have added a portfolio, and in the future, I would be more likely to promote my service as an illustrator. Check it out, if you have the chance and drop me a line! Do you think you would like to collaborate with me? Then contact me here.
...and if you have one in your house at the moment, you know why. They are the most bull-headed creatures ever gracing the Earth, and I'm not kidding here. Often no amount of reasoning is able to bend their one track minds. Take Miss E for example. At three years old (the terrible, terrible three, I tell you, not two), she is so set on the ritual of pouring her water from once cup to the other before rinsing her mouth after brushing her teeth that she practically exploded when I told her that we shouldn't do that before the (ever) late school run. Waitaminute. May be I should turn that into a comic strip as well and shove it under her nose when her toddler behaves the same way in the future *evil cackles*.
On a lighter note, I also notice that she would actually still do what we want her to do even after she has said no vehemently. Funny, right? I tell you, toddlers all over the world, you guys really should sort out your priorities (despite that, no complaint here. Definitely prefer her doing my bid than not doing it altogether).
The title of this article sounds like a How-to article, but the truth is, I think we can all agree that toddlers are one of the biggest life's mystery. We never know what's going on in their mind. Having said that, you can actually pick your fight, though. Assess your situation. Are they/you:
And if you say no to all of them, by all means, indulge yourself, save yourself from a big tantrum and let them do what they want. Because, believe me, your answer will mostly be yes to any of the question. And it's always good to remember: what doesn't kill them only makes them stronger. Also, hugs work (most of the time).
Anyway, it's been 2 WHOLE MONTHS *gasp!!!*ever since I truly publish anything. I'm so so sorry for making you guys wait that long. A lot of things happened (mostly mummy and wife duty), and by the time it was 10 pm I found it hard to find the will to draw. Lame excuse :P. But art-wise, I'm quite proud of this comic strip. This is probably one of the hardest I drew at 7 panels, especially because it involved quite a lot of perspective drawing. But love the green chair and the blocks. Took me a solid 3-hour work to study the chair drawing itself at the beginning. All in all, it's a great learning process.
As for the story itself, I found that at times I may want to brag about my little girl a little too much to close friends and relative. So I should have seen this coming. But what mum doesn't find herself bragging about their children, albeit very privately and off Facebook? I'm definitely guilty of bragging, although I try to keep it at a minimum, and certainly not to strangers or people I've just known.
Just a day in my life... nothing too heavy, but I was surprised by how honest she could be! She usually tends to be more sympathetic whenever I unwittingly complained about something, but that day she plainly told me something I least expected her to say. Although in theory I know children were born with their own personality and preference, I was still taken aback when I was presented with the real-life taste of what her beauty standard could be! Growing up, my mom and I have always had different aesthetic standards, so I should have expected this from my own daughter, but this still feels new. When she was a toddler, we did have fights about her clothing preference, but as she grew she left her toddler fashion sense behind and closely followed what fashion I chose today. But I guess not when it came to make ups. Watching this little girl grow into a fine young lady is a pleasure, indeed, and I can't wait for other surprises she springs up.
I love raising daughters!
I still remember as if it happened yesterday. One moment I was a carefree childless young woman, and the next a mother of a newborn baby. It was all so surreal. The first few days were like a dream, filled with a lot of peeks into the bassinet and awkward little cuddles. Yep, I am not a baby person. I'd sooner answer cheeky questions from an obnoxious school kid than holding and cooing someone's baby. And yet, a baby of my own....was so magical! Being a mum was all I've ever wanted since I was in grade 5 (d'uh!) and there the baby was...dream comes true!
Until reality sunk in.
See, I was blessed with an adorable high need baby. Wait a minute, adorable wasn't even on my list of descriptive words when she was at her neediest. And she, my lovely readers, just wouldn't stop at just a few months. She grew from being a high need baby to a high need toddler, to a high need preschooler, and so on and so on. All her cries sounded the same - dramatic, and her tantrums were just similarly so - explosive. And once her feelings were out, there was no stopping them. Period.
At first, I resisted. I watched people with babies and listened to friendly advice. Elevated mattress? Check. White noise? Check. Favourite toy (or more like persuading her to have one)? Check. Time out? Err....check.
So what went wrong??? I was earnestly trying and yet there was no stopping that temper tantrum from escaping her little body.
Until I gave up and just picked her up. Close to me in a sling, just like that.
So when she was finally a toddler with her infamous tantrums, I would watch her rolling on the floor for a minute or two, and then offered, "Wanna hug?"
When as an older child she cries from even the simplest things (that make me want to roll my eyes and stomp my feet to a different direction), I ask her above all things, before all serious talks commence, "Do you need a hug?"
Before we know it, hugging has become a routine in our relationship. And believe it or not, tears and tantrums solved within minutes, sometimes seconds.
Hug is good for me, too. Because no matter how boiling mad I felt towards her, once I resolved myself to hug her, the anger melts away somehow. At least it dulls. And manageable.
And my big baby knows hug is good for her and the others, too. So she passes it around.
She was such a nice lady. I remember trying my hardest to make Little E behave even only for the next five minutes, whispering soft admonishment and gentle encouragement for her to at least use her 'inside voice'. We brought toys, but she has long become uninterested in them. Instead, she was more interested in playing with her surrounding, and at this point of her boredom she has resorted to using the bench as climbing equipment and eyeing the opportunity to touch strangers' possessions around her. Not mature enough to command perfect behaviour, she was truly unable to adapt to her surrounding. She was two at that time. I had no choice but to bring her along for obvious reason.
The people at the place we went to were generally understanding, but I could feel a few pairs of eyes who would occasionally look our way. At one point, my husband had to even bring her outside to have quiet words with her about the importance of being quiet.
We tried so hard to manage her behaviour.
But of course, as vigilant as you could be, there are times when things escape your attention. That time was when Little E decided that the little black bag on the seat in front of her was a cat. She patted the object and meowed spontaneously, surprising the owner of the bag. She pulled the bag on her lap. And Little E earned a few chuckles from her audience. But I was horrified (looking back, it was rather funny..)
I quickly apologised, but the lady gently reassured me. And I thought it would stop at that. That the lady would pretend the whole embarrassing episode never happened at all.
But she did more than just saying it wasn't my fault. At the first opportunity, she turned to face me again, and she said the kindest thing people have said to me in a very long time. That my baby toddler was lovely, and she was a good kid. That she was just behaving normal like a two-year-old should. And that I was a great mother.
A burden was released that day. For some reasons I couldn't fathom, tears was blurring my eyes and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I was rightly touched. I felt understood, and her words lifted my defeated spirit. I could see now that bringing her along was all not for nothing and she could still safely practice about behaving well in public without being judged meticulously.
You see, we parents have dreaded bringing our kids to public place at some point of our parenting life. We are filled with worry of being a nuisance to others around us, just because our babies refuse to stop crying or because our toddlers decide then and there to throw a tantrum. Otherwise, some of use would not go as far as using electronic devices to pacify our children. It is sad, but the reason behind it is totally understandable in this constantly changing rules of parenthood. And we are aware of how much tolerance people have exerted for us. But the kindness of being told that our family is welcome and not a nuisance, and that we're doing great job trying to keep our toddler in line is like a breath of fresh air.
To that nameless lady, whoever she is, I say thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I think I will remember, for the rest of my life.
To strangers in public place, be kind to young parents. Especially those who try very hard to keep their children in check, although they might be failing miserably at that time. Kids learn fast.
To other mums out who are struggling with their young children out there, chin up! You know you are great!
Happy Mother's Day!
Remember that one time when I said I would concentrate on making comics but would also upload some personal projects on the side? Well, this is one of those personal projects. And pardon the title of this blog post, but that's exactly how I feel Ｏ(≧▽≦)Ｏ. Can you see that I put a lot of love into this?
For those who know me personally, they also know that I love birthdays. I really do. And that includes the idea of having this special day especially dedicated for you along with flowers, decorations, presents, good food and most importantly...very close family and friends! My family has always made me feel super duper special on my birthdays so I want my children to feel the same. This is how I express my love for them once a year. And being budget-challenged, I take pleasure in presenting beautiful handmade birthday dessert table for them. It also gives them a chance to get involve in the preparation level and make memories together. My eldest remembers the birthday parties I threw for her so far and has always recounted excitedly how she was involved in them.
I will write more in detail about the DIY aspects of this party, but for now, it's show off time! I manage to take some nice pictures, so here is the first one.
Again, simple dessert table. Everything I used here was from the dessert crockery I collected over the years or recycled box/basket from last Easter. The brown box at the bottom of the cake tier actually came from discarded packaging. Due to its strength and simplicity (no print or sticker) I kept it aside for this purpose. At the moment I'm still using it as a shadow box for one of my little figurines. Flowers from my garden and from our local supermarket, nothing fancy and lifted the atmosphere quite a bit. And I love how the fruits stood out visually. Plus that was one of the first things our little guests finished. I hate having heaps of lollies on my dessert table, so this is my solution. My dessert criteria are that they have to be easy to eat and light. At least we weren't left with too many sweets after the party.
Another closer look...
That green plant in the bird vase is called Baby Sunrose, and it's a versatile kind. At a glance it seems like one of those easy to grow ground cover succulents, but it has the cutest hot pink pom-pom like little flowers, and when you put them in water it could last for weeks beautifully! All year round cut flowers at your disposal. I used Baby Sunrose for almost every event I hosted at home as it is very easy to grow and take care of. And talking about plant, here is a closer look at my party backdrop.
DIY by yours truly! :P The flower garland is not as complex as it looks, and it's inspired by this tutorial by Oh Happy Day! I decided to simplify it for the sake of my bank account and used the branches of my of my bushes. I cut blue glitter paper into triangle bunting and just add minimal amount of flowers. As for the butterflies, I bought them off Ebay. If you have extra time, you can even order them from China - super cheap but takes 2 whole months to arrive! The butterflies have magnets so after we finished with them we arranged some of them on our fridge and kept the rest for next time.
Why butterflies? For those who have watched the live action Cinderella, you know why! Little Miss E loves the live action movie even more so than the animation that it is only natural to design the dessert table after the live action version. Besides, who don't love butterflies? They're adorable!
The only thing I think I could do better is the paper banner. I wish it was a little longer and flowing. But still, the whole idea is so simple and cute! The tutorial for the paper banner is at Oh Happy Day! as well. Check it out! I'll create a tutorial for the simplified flower garland next time.
Aaaanddd....here is the cake!
...with edible lace. One of my closest friends made the cake this time, which is a huge help! I feel that as the years go by and I start designing and drawing again I have even less time to prepare for an event like this. She did a marvellous job, didn't she? I love how the tiny toddler Cinderella looks just at home on top of the cake.
What about crowns for our little princesses?
The kids and I had a lot of fun making the crowns. Okay, they might not be the best-looking ones out there (check out Girl Inspired for a concise tutorial), but they were definitely made with love. Honestly speaking, if I could do it all over again, I would choose a stiffer kind of lace like the ones in the first two pictures. The less stiff one was definitely better for the whole crown circlet around the head.
Here is the rest of the details.
Rumballs. Yum. And flowers.
And the crown plus some meringues.
And finally, a picture of my birthday girl and I, she looking happy in her handmade lace crown. Isn't she adorable? Happy 3rd birthday, luv! Glad you enjoyed the day.
In the end, mummy persevered and Edie didn't get the soda... although mum had to suffer her tantrum. Haha, she's allowed to feel disappointed whenever possible no is a no, unfortunately (although sometimes my willpower crumbles under the pressure of her tantrum).
Anyway, just a snippet from my daily life. And for your information, little Miss E failed to get the beer, too (and she shouldn't be able to). What a drama, though *weak laughter*. Enjoy this week's comic strip, and once again sorry for the delay, people. Drawing and working on design projects earlier this year have been taking its toll on me. It's not that I run out of ideas, but I have the responsibility for my family (and especially my children) to take care of my health and state of mind by having enough sleep since enough sleep = happy mum = happy children = happy family. But don't worry, new strip will always keep rolling, and once I figure out the right time management, eventually I will stick to my schedule.
Thank you so much for your ongoing support!