Sunday, February 22, 2009

The "Naked-Baby" Class

If we ever have another baby, I would definitely do PEKIP again. I wish I'd known about it when Josh was little, but I only learned about it when we had Zoë.

We started doing PEKIP when Zoë was five months old and we continued until she "graduated" at 12 months. For me, it was one of the more worthwhile mommy-baby classes around.

PEKIP, run by Anne Knecht-Boyer, is an educational child development program that teaches quality games and activities that parents can play with their babies. It is all about sensory integration and stimulating activities that help with motor skills development (fine and gross).

We went to class each time bringing along with us two huge towels --one to use, the other a spare. Yes, I'd been peed on a couple of times, but thankfully no poo. You don't have to worry about the baby catching a cold. The room temperature is set to around 260C.

What I loved about PEKIP are the many activities that one can play with baby and the different baby-safe props that Anne uses. Some of the activities were so slap-the-forehead simple yet so very interesting and quite easy enough to replicate at home. There were also others that I never dreamed that I could do with a baby and never would have dared try with Zoë if I hadn't first learned how to properly do them during the class.

I liked the fact that all the babies in Zoë's class were born in the same month and it was almost like having a weekly playgroup where the mommies could mingle and compare notes.

I also liked the fact that the activities got increasingly more challenging as the babies grew. We started out with simple exercises or activities that we would do with the babies simply lying on the towels --this was before the babies could sit up or crawl. As we progressed, the babies got to belly-crawl on a mirror slathered with baby lotion, etc. Around 10 months or so, they got to go around an "obstacle course" where they had to go up an incline, come down a mini-slide, crawl over/through/under objects. It was amazing to see their mobility improve with each passing week.

Each session would end with a mini massage session. Anne provided all the natural oils and she would walk us through the strokes. It was a nice way to calm the babies down at the end of each session.

To learn more about PEKIP, click here.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Josh has been doing Socatots at the YWCA since he was 3 years old. I have to say that it's his favorite after-school activity. At one point, I asked him to rank his after-school activities according to how much he likes each one and without missing a beat, he said that he likes Socatots the best.

What we love about Socatots:

  1. It's great that Josh gets to run around and burn off some the unbelievable amount of energy he has.
  2. Kids learn to follow instructions.
  3. Fun drills for motor skills improvement.
  4. Some of the coaches integrate numbers and colors into the drills, making the class more than just physical exercise.
  5. I get to be in there with him during the class to delight in his successes and/or be there to support him when he needs help with some of the activities.

It's great that they have Socatots classes in more places now (Stanley Sports Centre, American Club, Football Club, etc.) apart from the YWCA. I had to queue up for four hours --yes, 4 hours! -before I was able to sign up Josh for his latest class. (Not Socatots' fault, though. The Y just has to get their streamline the application procedure to make it less painful to sign up our kids for any of their classes.)

Will I let Josh move on to Brazilian Soccer when he turns 5? We'll see. I can see that the kids in this class (4 year-olds) can be rougher than the ones in his 3yo class. I guess that's inevitable, though, that the testorone levels get higher as they get older...? For the moment, I love it that Josh enjoys his classes and I love seeing his confidence grow as he gets more agile and more coordinated. I love the way he comes running back to me to give me a high ten whenever he saved or scored a goal. I love it when he discovers that he can easily complete a drill that he'd initially thought might be difficult. I just love it when he has fun, especially when it's the kind of fun where I don't have to clean up after him!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Hong Kong Public Library (HKPL)

One of the things I love about Hong Kong is its public libraries.

I can get almost any book I want from there (for myself or for the kids) and what they don't have, I could always fill up a form to recommend that they purchase it. I've suggested a few books that I wanted to get my hands on, but was too cheap lazy to buy myself and the public library has come through for me. How cool is that.

Some public libraries would have a more extensive selection of English titles than others, I think. The Central Library (Note: The one in Causeway Bay, across from Victoria Park) and the libraries in Central (City Hall) and Stanley would probably have a bit more English titles than others.

The librarians are generally very helpful. Once, I lost (!) a library book and went to pay the fine. The librarian on duty suggested that I simply keep on renewing the book until I've used up all five (or six?) renewals that are allowed for each book, in the vain hope that the book might turn up somewhere. When my time was up, I went back to pay and the librarian took pains to explain to me that I need to keep the receipt for the fine, just in case I find the book or somebody finds and returns the book, then they will refund me what I just paid --for as long as I have the receipt. Nice, no?

The whole process of borrowing books is so painless and that's what I love most about the HKPL. This is what I usually do when I need reading materials:

1. Go to and browse through favorite authors to see if they have any new titles out or I simply go through the bestsellers lists. Anything that seems interesting, I jot down.

2. Search through HKPL's website to see if they have the title/s I want. You can do this by book title or by author. You can even sort results by descending publication year so that you get the latest books at the top of the results list.

3. If I see what I want from the list, I just click on it and a list will come out telling me which libraries would have the book/s and whether they are currently available, reserved by others, or checked out. If the title/s can only be found at a library that's quite far from where I would normally venture, I'd just click the "Make a Reservation" button. It will then lead me to a page asking me at which library would I want to pick up the reserved book/s. There's a pull-down menu and you simply click the one to where you would want to have the book delivered. It will then ask you to key in your Libary Card number (or your HK ID card number --if you've applied to use your Smart ID to enjoy library services) and your PIN.

4. Wait for the email notifying me that the book/s I'd reserved are ready for pick-up. (You get email notification if you have signed up for it; otherwise, I think you get a call from the library.)

5. Once I get the email, I just hie off to the library, shove my HKID into the thingamajig, pay HK$2.50 for each book that I'd reserved, and voila! I have my books.

6. If you need to renew, you can also renew online --as the book is not overdue yet. Each book gets at least five (maybe six) renewals. Each renewal is for a period of two weeks from when you do the renewal.

You can get a library card for your child once he/she turns 3yo. It's great to start them out young and trips to the library rank as highly as trips to Disneyland, in my book (excuse the pun). They're educational, not to mention cheaper, too!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Baby Signs® Program

I started this blog to talk about things that make my parenting job "easier and that much more fun." At the top of that list is the Baby Signs® Program --on both the "easier" and the "that much more fun" parts. The only reason it has taken me this long to write about it is that I was concerned that people might think that I was merely promoting my own business.

I'd gone back and forth and decided that I am going to write about it anyway, because this is my blog after all and I get to write about anything I want (ha ha!). Seriously though, I am going to talk about it because if anything, the Baby Signs® Program has been one of the greatest things Chris and I have come across since becoming parents (Thanks again to Joanne, who told me about signing!). So good that, Chris, an initial skeptic, was the one who convinced me to explore further, get training, and set up Baby Signs Hong Kong.

When we first started with Josh at 8 months, we were doing it primarily because I thought it would be fun. I'd always been interested in sign language and thought that it would be cool if we could sign with Josh. The benefits of signing were, for me, then, a bonus. (I am a girl... and you know that girls just wanna have fu-un! Sorry, couldn't resist that one.) So, Chris --bless him for doing it along with me even if it was only to humor me! --would sign along with me when we would play with Josh and read to him. We were doing it every day that it became second nature to us to sign along as we would talk, read to Josh. One night, as we were reading Goodnight, Moon to Josh, he raised his little arm and did the sign for MOON. Chris and I looked at each other and whooped our delight. We were not making silly fools of ourselves signing with Josh after all; the little guy actually got it and was now signing back! Chris got so excited that he urged me to learn more signs so that we could teach more to Josh. And so it went. (More about our Baby Signs® story here.)

Signing with both Josh and Zoë had been a lot of fun, to say the least. It was very exciting to be able to communicate effectively with them even way before they could talk. They would use signs to tell us things that we otherwise wouldn't have known that they knew about; they could tell us if they wanted MORE of something, if they felt HOT, if they wanted MILK, etc. It was cute, it was exciting, but most of all, it made for a much richer interaction and communication with them, much much earlier on than would be possible otherwise.

Even when they started talking already, the signs still came in handy. For example, sometimes when their mouths are full and they wanted water, they would just sign WATER, instead of trying to talk with their mouths full. Or, there was this time when we were at Cityplaza and Zoë was looking at the fountains with the arcing streams of water, she kept saying, "'bow, 'bow." We didn't know what she meant by it until she made the sign for RAINBOW, clarifying that she thought the arcing streams of water looked like rainbows. That was the first time she said 'bow in reference to a rainbow. Without the sign, we wouldn't have been able to affirm her observation, share with her her delight in her "discovery" nor even know that she knew what a rainbow was, let alone see that she was able to liken other "arcs" to rainbows!

I can go on and on. I'm quite passionate about this subject. But I will stop here. For now. :)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Moby Wrap

We used the Baby Bjorn with Josh. It was good except that when Josh started getting heavier, my shoulders and back would feel sore after wearing him for even just half an hour. With Zoë, I got the Moby Wrap after attending a baby-wearing workshop that was run by Nappypooh (before S left HK for good).

I loved the Moby for its soft, stretchy fabric. I love that it is just a piece of cloth, no pins, no rings, nothing hard that might dig into the baby's soft flesh. I loved how the wrap kept Zoë snug and secure against me. I loved that my shoulders and back didn't hurt. I loved its versatility --that I could do the Hug Hold (my favorite one), the Kangaroo Hold, the Lotus Hold (with baby facing out). There are also the Hip Hold, and the Hike Hold (never had the guts to try this one, though). You can even use the wrap to hold twins!

It takes getting used to. It takes practice. I had to read the instructions over and over and practice quite a few times before I dared to wear Zoë in it.

My only complaint is that because it's such a LONG piece of fabric, it can be a bit of a hassle getting it on outside the house. At home, I'd simply lay the ends of the wrap either on the bed or on the couch, so that they would not touch the floor when I am "fixing" to wear Zoë. When out, sometimes you can't help but have the ends brush up against the floor. Like I said, it takes practice to do it expertly, knowing how to hold the folds so that the ends won't drag, etc.

But, but, but! Once on, I LOVE it and I love the feel of Zoë snug against me. Did I mention that I love its color, too? I got one exactly like the one featured on the photo --the turquoise one with the UV protection. People I met always noted the striking color and how comfy and snug Zoë looked in it.

I just checked out their website again and noticed that they now have new lines available (Moby D, Moby Select). They even have other products now - Moby Mini (Cute, but I don't think I'll spend US$14.95 just so that Zoë can 'wear' her dolls in a Moby Mini, though); swaddle blankets, Baby Legs, and a few other items that I didn't think I saw when I ordered my Moby Wrap two years ago. Lucky for Chris; I might have been tempted to get the other stuff, too!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Big Kid's SleepSack

When Josh was little, we used cotton Halo SleepSacks. I loved them so much that I was kinda sad when he outgrew them. They're basically a wearable blanket that's oh-so-soft. (At one point, the thought crossed my mind that maybe I should get one for myself --if only they carried them in adult sizes!)

After the Halo SleepSack and before we discovered the Big Kid's SleepSack, we were constantly checking up on Josh to make sure that his blanket stays on. Josh (and Zoe, too!) is forever kicking off his blanket. We used to tuck the ends of the blanket under the mattress so that it would be difficult for him to squirm out from under, but no dice. Then, when I was recommending the Halo SleepSack to a friend and I wanted to send her a link to the website, I saw that that they came out with the Big Kid's SleepSack! I just had to get one.

What's different about the Big Kid's SleepSack is that your kid's feet are actually out. This is great for the older kids because they can still walk about without tripping (e.g. if they need to go to the bath room in the middle of the night). I got the 4T-5T for Josh and in the photo above (taken when he was 3yo), the SleepSack was a bit big for him still, but he could wear it with no problem. There are (how can I accurately describe them?) "bands" around the ankles -sort of like in some track pants, -- that keep the material from sliding past the ankles.

I wish some stores would carry the Halo line here. With Halo SleepSack, I had to get my sister-in-law to buy them from a specialty store in Toronto. With the Big Kid's SleepSack, I ordered from It's actually much cheaper to order from than to order from the Halo website.

If you know of anybody who "makes" or sells something similar to the Big Kid's SleepSack here in Hong Kong, do let me know. I'd love to get a couple more.

What Makes a Rainbow?

What Makes a Rainbow? is one beautiful book by Betty Ann Schwartz. Very colorful, beautifully illustrated, cleverly designed, and quite sturdy.

Primarily, kids learn about different colors from the book, but also they learn about different animals. Every page you turn features a color and the whole spread is washed in that particular color, highlighted with a strip of silk ribbon in the same color. (Oh, it's all about colors, did I mention that?) Each succeeding page adds a new color (so you get an additional strip of ribbon with each turn of the page) until you get all the colors of the rainbow. The last page of the book gives you a pop-up of a rainbow.

Initially I was worried that the ribbons might come out from the kids' pulling and tugging. Well, guess what? Our book survived both Josh's and Zoë's mighty tugs and it's still quite intact!

IMHO, a must-have in every child's library. :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Brush-On Painters

Josh loves to paint. I think I first noticed it when at HKPPA, he would always gravitate toward the easel and start painting away. He actually managed to sell (yes, you read right!) one of the "paintings" that he did there when he was around 22 months, but that's a different post altogether (I'll post it in Mini Masterpieces later this week).

Anyway, I started asking the director of the HKPPA where she got her supplies, etc. She was kind enough to lend me her Lakeshore Learning catalog and while browsing through, I came upon these really cool paints that were "mess-free"! What more could a mommy ask?

The Lakeshore Brush-On Painters came in a set of six colors: Purple, Orange, Red, Green, Yellow, and Blue. They're non-toxic, washable, and refillable. They come in soft plastic bottles with a paintbrush on top, so basically all you have to do is squeeze the bottle a bit while you're drawing and voila!

It takes a bit of practice to squeeze and paint at the same time, but what you can also do is you help your child squeeze enough paint on the brush and then hand it back for him to paint with.

What I like:
  • Each bottle comes with its own brush. This way, you don't have to keep rinsing the brushes in between changing colors.
  • You don't have to pour out different colors of paint and then have to throw/wash away the leftover portions once the activity is over.
  • Very easy to clean. You just rinse the whole bottle and the brush and remember to put the cap back on (to prevent paint from drying).
  • The Lakeshore name. It is known for the quality of its products.

The only drawback is that you have to order through the local distributor(Tel. # 2352-5330) and it can take anywhere around 45-60 days before your order arrives (from time of receiving your order deposit). They are very helpful, though.

To place an order --
  • Go to the Lakeshore Learning website and look for the item that you want.
  • Note down the Item Number (usually 2 letters followed by 3 numbers).
  • Call or email ( the local distributor and let them know which items you want; you will have to give them the item number.
  • They will call you back with a quote and also let you know when you might expect your order.
  • Payment is : 30% deposit, 70% by cash before delivery.
Update: I just went on the Lakeshore Learning website to try to find the Brush-On Painters, but couldn't find them. They might have discontinued this item. :( You can still check eBay, maybe...?

Monday, February 9, 2009


Chris told me once about how his dad directly sucked out the snot from his little brother's nose. Gross, right? But when it gets down to it, all of you would probably do the same if that is the only way to ease your kids' discomfort. Thankfully, we never had to.

Before the kids could blow their own noses, we had the Pigeon nasal aspirator, but that didn't do squat. It wasn't effective at getting the snot out. My friend, Joanne, recommended what she calls the "booger-snatcher." I quickly went over to Eugene Club and saw a great selection of nasal aspirators. The closest that came to the one that Joanne described to me was this Piyo Piyo nasal aspirator (see photo). It has two soft rubber tubes: one goes to your mouth (to suck), the tube with the rounded end goes to the baby's nostril. Don't worry, none of the snot will ever touch your lips. Whatever gets sucked out goes through the tube and into the little canister. Each part can be removed for easy cleaning.

What we did was usually was to shoot some saline spray up their noses (optional) and then a few minutes later, use the booger-snatcher. It cleanses and clears up their nasal passages pronto!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Totally Tape

I am always on the lookout for things that will keep my kids occupied during flights.

I think I've hit pay dirt with Totally Tape, a book from Klutz. I got my copy from Book Buddy in Stanley, but I know that you can also find some Klutz books at the stationery shop on the first (or is it the second?) floor of City Hall, on the way up to Maxim's, if you take the stairs.

The book, as you can see, comes with four rolls of tape (red, green, blue, and yellow). What one has to do is use the rolls of tape to "decorate" or match items in the book. Josh had a blast with the different things that he could do with the paper tape. Even though the tape was kid-friendly (no scissors required), he did need help with tearing off pieces of tape, but that's small bother. He was pretty much occupied with trying to get the pieces of tape lined up properly for each activity. :)

Oh, and if you run out, you can order more from You probably can ask the shop to order for you from the local distributor, too, I think.

What's good is that this book is, in classic Klutz style, heaps of fun not just for the child, but for the adult as well. It's great to see the tape "creations" come to life and Josh was quite proud to see that (in Zoe's words) "he did it" himself.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

We had been given this book by our children's godmother and for more than a week, this was all the kids would ask for (both of them!). Sometimes Zoë would just come out with the book at odd times during the day and go, "'geon! Read!"

I think they like the fact that they've been "entrusted" with not letting the pigeon drive the bus and that they'd been given the license to say NO a zillion times throughout the book. What I like is that it turns book-reading into an especially fun interactive activity.