It's art and craft night with Kai. While he makes a card for Terence, I finish up the cardboard bat for our horror house pencil holder project.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Perhaps sometimes it's ok to have a myopic view of the world. Especially if what you see is a strange yet beautiful, warped yet romantic image of the world. It's just as if you are looking at the world through a giant kaleidoscope. And here's what Kai and I will look like from a myopic view. It's actually an image of Kai and I in The Real Thing, a giant kaleidoscope, which is activated by the participation of the viewer. (The Real Thing is part of the National Museum of Singapore's The Playdome program.)
Don't believe? Zoom in closer and there! Kai's wearing a blue shirt and I'm that squished up image in coral.
Like I said, perhaps sometimes it's ok to have a myopic view of the world because sometimes the big picture or having a macro-perspective isn't so... romantic. So. What's your view of the world?
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Here are some of my favorite memories from our road trip to Melaka in April 2011. We stayed at Holiday Inn Melaka, which came highly recommended by friends. Not only were the rooms clean and well appointed, I was bowled over by their service.
Where's Kit Kit? He loved hiding behind the curtains in our hotel room.
Remember the scene from "Three men and a baby" where a ghost of a boy was reportedly seen standing behind the curtains? Here is Kit's take on the scene.
# # #
Vendors almost everywhere in Melaka, in shopping malls and at pasar malams (night markets), were selling Angry Birds plush toys. Kai begged us to buy some Angry Birds for him and every night (or every time we returned to our room) during our holiday, we built the pigs' fortress on the bed using pillows.
Checking out the enemy's hideout from behind a 'barricade'.
Then jumping up and launching the Angry Birds at the pillows/pigs. Terence made the game realistic with his sound effects.
And we played Angry Birds, taking down the thieving pigs by launching our birds at 'em!
# # #
Climbing St Paul's hill with Kai because I was there too when I was a child.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Kit didn't quite like the grapes, courtesy of Holiday Inn Melaka, and he wasn't afraid to show it.
Hansel and Gretel left a trail of bread crumbs. Kit leaves a trail of masticated fruits. He chews on them, extracts their juice, and spits out whatever he doesn't like. We have to watch our step when we give him a bowl of fruits. You never know when you'd step on something wet and squishy, courtesy of Kit.
We discovered that he is sure to spit out apples, so we don't give him apples anymore. He sometimes spit out grapes and blueberries, depending on his mood and the quality of the fruit. It's almost funny except that I have to keep cleaning up after him!
Monday, June 13, 2011
There! I made my first edible installation with decorating icing and white bread.
I have been grousing to some girlfriends lately about Kit's reluctance to talk. Like all good girlfriends, they reassured me that everything is well and asked me to think positive.
Like all mummies, we have all thumbed through parenting literature and asked other mummies for their opinions or help when we encounter problems. From breast feeding, sleep training, potty training, disciplining, weaning, to... OMG, will the list never end?! And the number of experts out there telling you what's right and what's wrong is just mind boggling.
Today, I decided to forget about what I perceive is a problem and just, oh well, focus on the positive. At 20mo, Kit loves to babble with a cheeky grin on his face. He has decided talking is not important (since his mummy understands him well enough) and focus on other skills like climbing and running so that he fall into prickly bushes and muddy patches, feel what it's like to have water in his face and rushing up his nose when he jumps into the baby pool, and getting his wind knocked out of him as he runs straight into a crashing wave. All the things Kai didn't dare to do at 19mo because he was focused on another set of skills, talking.
I feel better now. :)
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Kai, beaming from cheek to cheek, with best friend Ian. Now that smile is the reason I spent many late nights on the piñata! Happy birthday my baby boy!
In one of my previous posts, I mentioned that no one could give a straight answer on just how many layers are appropriate for a paper-mache piñata built for young children. I still don't have an answer but I know for sure, eight layers was too much. Our piñata was tough!
Before we let the children loose on the piñata, we asked all the adults at the party to guess how heavy the piñata was. So at least the bird was fondled by many pairs of gentle hands before it was abused. It weighed 2.2 kg, and we gave away a prize to the guest with the closest guess. (Congrats U-Jin!)
Then we hung it up again and the birthday boy was given the honor to be the first to hit the piñata.
But the piñata was so tough that it only suffered dents in its body. Although I used four ropes to hang the piñata with, Terence cut off two before the party (he thought two were enough). The ropes tore right through the piñata, and the bird fell to the floor intact. We then hung it back up by tying the rope around the bird's comb. (Whew! Disaster averted.)
Die, birdie, die! Or rather, break, birdie, break!
More whacking by the kids followed, but the bird just wouldn't give up its goodies. Drastic measures were needed. Terence took a kitchen knife and stabbed it multiple times.
Everything happened in a blur. It was just a split second, from tearing of the piñata to pouncing on the candies. (Photo courtesy of Eva Wong.)
By this time, even some of the big kids (i.e. the fathers) were hitting the bird. Finally, it was Alvin, Ian's daddy, who gave it to the bird. It ripped and fell to the ground with a thud, still without giving it up goodies! But before it could became a bad PR moment, Terence quickly picked it up, ripped it apart, and then there was a sudden downpour of sweets, confetti, and streamers all over the place. That's when the kids lost it and scrambled for the 'kill'. (Great crisis management, babe!)
Lovely Kate Lyn still quietly picking up candies long after the dust has settled.
No Angry Birds. Hello Kitty will have to do.
We gave goody bags for the children to store their treasures too.
Kit holding his first lollipop and me holding my treasure and an object that gave Kai another happy memory.
The hitting of the piñata was quite a laugh actually. Even the adults had fun. The next time (that is if I am mad enough to do it again!) I might do just five or six paper-mache layers. But then, the question is would it be strong enough to hold up 14-16 bags of sweets?
Thursday, June 09, 2011
Balloons galore! Great for decorating the place and they served as gifts for the children too.
Ideas for Kai's Angry Birds birthday party were put together/executed over a course of two weeks. It started with the invitation card featuring part of Kai's Angry Birds army in the Melaka hotel room. (The price tag of the white bird in Ringgit was still attached in the photo.)
Invitation card (front)
Invitation card (back)
Kai's friends may bring their own Angry Birds plush toys. I'm not sure how many did, but there were some birds flying around and rolling on the floor that day.
From the top: Ian, Kai, Josh (seated and unsure what the rest were doing), and Joshua (Photo courtesy of Eva Wong).
Including boys rolling on the floor pretending to be birds that had fallen off after hitting their targets (in this case, the pinata).
For goody bags to give away to the children at the party, I bought Angry Birds thermos cups which contained Angry Birds erasers and a (non-Angry Birds) sharpener. No sweets in this goody bag because the children would be getting them from the pinata!
Children had to hunt for the Angry Birds' stolen eggs placed all around the living room. (Terence had to quickly place 40 bouncy balls in the room while I briefed the children on their mission.) They could keep their 'eggs' at the end of the game.
Thomas and Friends were around to entertain the kids too, thought he's definitely not part of the theme. A toddler-size battery-operated Thomas was available to take children on a ride. And going a full-circle around the pillar/refrigerator in the living room was also...
A train track that Terence so patiently built before the party. It was totally destroyed by the boys mid-way through the event.
Coloring of Angry Birds, however, was not so well received. All of them were too busy running around and keeping their little mouths busy with goodies they have created using the...
The birthday boy had a go at the chocolate fountain before his guests arrived.
How was it? Definitely yummy, judging by the smear on his face.
Chocolate fountain! There were marshmallows, biscuits, colorful candy sprinkles, and fruits to choose from.
And what's a party without balloons? We had balloons in colors that represented all the Angry Birds and pigs. They entertained the kids pretty too. So it didn't matter that we only had one party game. There were lots of things to keep the children busy.
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Lovely white fondant (or pettinice) from Bakels. Though they (ready-to-use fondants) were a life-saver, I don't want to see, touch, smell, or mould fondant for a long time to come!
As mentioned in my previous post, Kai's obsession with an Angry Birds birthday cake started with a YouTube video. But that was months ago. I had forgotten about it until three weeks before his birthday, while watching an episode of "Cake Boss", I sat up with a jolt. Horror of horrors. I didn't know if there are local bakers who could bake a 3D Angry Birds cake, playable or non-playable. Or should I *drum roll* attempt to make my own?
Option #1: Outsource the entire cake
A quick search online led me to this lovely lady, Veronica, who makes gorgeous looking cakes. She has a playable Angry Birds cake, but the cost of commissioning a cake for my party of 25 people was more than what I was prepared to pay. I can understand why she charges that much though; a lot of work goes into making and decorating the cake. Since I've made Angry Birds figurines before using clay, I thought: "OK, why don't we bake the cake and make the Angry Birds toppers ourselves? It should be easy. Right?"
I spent many sleepless nights over the cake as a result.
Option #2: Make it myself, 100%
and bags of instant fondants. I am so grateful for ready-to-use fondants.
Veronica and many other bakers use fondant, which is a thick yet pliable sugar paste, to decorate cakes and sculpt pastries. Lucky for this dum-dum of a baker, there are ready-to-use, colored fondants. I bought them in all the colors^ that I would need for the birds, pigs, and concrete/wooden blocks.
I roped in Kai to kick-start the project, and he helped me roll two red balls and three blue balls of fondant. (They formed the bodies of the red and blue Angry Birds). Then I gave him some fondant to play with while I made the actual cake toppers.
My favorite pigs were the one with the eyes closed and the injured pig with a black eye and red tongue sticking out. (Photo was taken with the iPhone 4 at 3am by zombie mummy. I wish I had taken out my DSLR!)
Subsequently, I worked on the toppers at night. It took me two nights to make nine Angry Birds, one night to make eight pigs, and one night to make some blocks to put the pigs on.
I even made my own catapult^ for the Angry Birds. It's very rudimentary, but Kai was thrilled when he saw it.
Then I couldn't muster enough courage to bake a cake (I'm an artist, not a baker!). Furthermore, I was running out of time. That's when I turned to Option #3.
Option #3: Make it myself, or just 50% of it
My initial plan was to get a baker friend to bake the cake, and I would put a layer of green fondant over the cake. Then, as I tossed and turned at 3am, the solution came to me: I'd buy an ice cream from Swensen's and place my toppers on it.
I only placed the toppers on top of the cake a few hours before the party. Terence made the tall tower for kingpin pig with three Kit Kat bars, held together by white fondant.
I nearly danced and whopped with joy at Swensen's Parkway Parade outlet when I found out that they could remove their toppers from their Soccer Mania cake, and kept it plain. That way, I had a green surface -- to represent grass -- to place my toppers on. It was perfect. A lot of people don't like the taste of fondant anyway so covering the cake with a layer of fondant might not be such a good idea. And who doesn't love ice cream? (I chose strawberry and sticky chewy chocolate.) I bought a tube of sparkly red decorating icing to write "Happy Birthday", and I helped Kai write his name on the cake.
It was a quite an experience. I can't believe I was so stressed out over the cake, but I wanted to give Kai the best. And I am glad he had a small part to play in the process. (I promise, I made him wash his hands with soap and water before touching the fondant.) My only regret is that I didn't have a chance to take proper pictures of my toppers and cake! Fondant starts to sweat whenever there is moisture. So every time I took the cake out of the freezer, my toppers would sweat due to condensation, giving it a shiny, runny gleam to it. As a result, I didn't dare to take out the cake unless necessary.
Oh well, as Terence would say: It doesn't matter if I have no photographs to capture 'the moment'. My memories are all that matter.
The 2.2kg piñata I made using paper-mache, with a 24-inch latex ballon as my base.
(I am embarrassed. It's been a while since I updated the blog, but it's been CRAZY since we returned from our Krabi, Thailand getaway. However, Kai turned five yesterday and I want to put up all posts related to his birthday ASAP so he could read it when his older and remember just how crazy he had been about Angry Birds.)
Kai with his Angry Birds army in the Melaka hotel room.
What started this whole "I want an Angry Birds' birthday cake" craze was this video Kai saw on YouTube. It was about a father in UK who made a playable birthday cake for, coincidentally, his 5yo son too. That was a few months back, say around March. Then when we went on a family road trip to Melaka/Genting, Malaysia in April, we played Angry Birds with him in the hotel rooms using pillows and Angry Birds plush toys^. (More on that, hopefully later!)
Then Terence put the final nail in the coffin by telling Kai: "No problem, your mummy can make an Angry Birds birthday cake for you." And that was how the whole family started on our Angry Birds birthday journey.
Kai and Terence with the 24-inch balloon on the night started making the piñata.
Other than the birthday cake, the other birthday accessory that will make the Angry Birds theme, I thought, would naturally be the piñata. After all, the birds are round and I can easily make it with a ballon and paper-mache. I got my design inspiration from another blogger. I then went to some balloon stores in neighborhood malls but I couldn't find a latex ballon that is bigger than the usual 11/12-inch balloons. I finally found them at Party With Us, and I bought a 24-inch latex balloon. (If anyone is interested is making an even bigger piñata, they have a 3-feet balloon. Now that's HUGE!)
The ballon is prepped, workspace cleaned and covered, with the glue made. I am ready to begin!
As I could only work on the piñata for only a few hours a day at night, I gave myself one week to complete the piñata. I made the glue using flour and water (one part flour, five parts water), which gave a really nice smooth paste. If you are going to attempt this, it's essential to lay out the newspaper on your workspace before you start. It can get really messy if you intend to get your children to help!
"Eeee YAH!!!" said Kai, who added that an empty balloon with eight layers of paper was too heavy for him.
Most DIY paper mache piñata sites will tell you to use three to four layers of paper for your piñata. But we didn't want the piñata to break after just a few hits by the birthday boy. I had about 11 children at the party, and everyone should be able to have a go at the piñata. Some sites suggest 10-12 layers for a piñata built for teenagers and Terence urged me to do more than four. So under duress, I made eight. (Was it too much, you ask. Read on.) The final layer was made with white A4 paper. I could use white crepe paper for a smoother finish but I couldn't find white crepe paper! The shops have crepe paper in every possible color except white.
Outline of the bird's eyebrows, eyes, and stomach in pencil.
After spending about four nights plastering the balloon, I dedicated a weekend afternoon on painting the balloon. This was the part where Kai participated. :-) First, I drew on the face.
We used normal poster color by Pentel.
Then we painted the stomach.
Then red. Note the intense look of concentration on Kai's face! He was so serious about getting it right that he ended up making lots of funny faces without knowing. As the bird was very big, there was a lot of 'ground' to cover and Kai gave up painting after a while. I finished up the body, and started on the finer details.
The eyebrows and the eyes.
Then I made the beak using yellow cardboard paper. I then released the air from the balloon (we wanted to reuse the big balloon as a toy for the boys), and pulled it out of the piñata.
The next step which was really fun for Kai to do was to put the sweets, streamers, and shiny confetti into his piñata. I bought about 14-16 packets of sweets, which we all threw into the hole. Kai was quite excited; he wanted to see how they all looked like inside the balloon.
I put him more streamers in for him after he went to bed. The bird looked pretty funky with colorful curls.
Hitting the nail in the head. The bird's head.
This is the step which I think can be improved. To secure the ropes to the piñata, I made a hole with a nail so I could put the rope through. I made four holes and tied two knots at the end of (four strands) of rope. There are other ways of securing the role to the piñata, which I may use in the future. That is if I ever have to make a piñata again.
So this marks the end of our piñata-making journey. Many times, during the piñata-making process, Terence asked me not to spend so much time over an object that the children were going to whack to pieces. In reply, I'd like to borrow something from Brian (aka Piñata Boy), who loves making piñatas for his children:
I'm not just building piñatas, I am building memories. All these piñatas have become an indelible part of my kids' childhoods, and that will last a lifetime.