Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] This Crazy Lil’ Thing Called Love – Elisa Woodward

One moment you are going, “I wish I were still single!”, the next you are going, “I love my kids to death!”. Don’t worry. You are not crazy. As Material Mom Elisa Woodward explains, these conflicting feelings are totally natural. 

elisa1Kids – one minute they are driving you up the wall with their antics, the next, they fill your heart with such intense love. Only a mother can understand that it is perfectly normal to oscillate from one to the next in the same hour.

Hands up if you have friends who openly lament the loss of freedom and personal time, and yet still continue to post up pictures of their kids coupled with public declarations of their love and adoration. Or, what about the colleague who complains how little she’s slept the previous night and proceeds to light up with joy when her kid calls her at lunch? We grumble about the mess our kids create, the toys that never get put away, and yet, the sight of them asleep in their beds makes our heart melt and all resolve to discipline them just vanish into thin air. All you want to do is hug and kiss them.

I think the love a parent has towards his/her child is indeed one of the truest loves of all, and it’s a love even my staunchest non-kids friends cannot deny.

A friend – who has made it more than clear that she doesn’t ever want kids – recently admitted that a child does give you a sense of purpose. “The child creates a purpose in life that goes beyond your career, marriage, and lifestyle. This is someone you are prepared to love unconditionally, someone you are prepared to take care of and nurture throughout his/her entire life. Even after you are gone from this world, you want to make sure they are well taken care of.”

I have no regrets about about having my kids at a young age. They bring to my life joy and completeness – although some days I need to be reminded. No matter how old they are, no matter if they are in university or are married with their own kids, your children will always be children to you.

As parents, we have such huge responsibilities because we bring children into this world not by their choice but our own. How we bring them up, how we teach them about life … everything depends on us. The years between 7 and 12 are particularly important because these years are when they formulate their thoughts and impression on love and human nature. Someone once told me that the only thing he remembers of his childhood was how it was particularly dark and unhappy, and that has somewhat coloured his views of the world and how he sees people. This is why it is crucial to make sure your kids end their day and go to bed knowing they are loved and protected.

Even when I’m miles away from my children, the thought of them brings a smile to my face. Just the thought that I have people to live for and that they are also dependent on me gives my life purpose.

And love is simply just this amazing.

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About The Author: Elisa Woodward, a career-focused wife and a mom of two active boys, is a Jack of all trades, who enjoys flummoxing people. She likes getting her hands dirty (figuratively and literally), yet enjoys dressing up just enough to “look acceptable”. She embraces wholeheartedly the concept of getting older.

 

 

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Material Moms, Small Purchase

[Material Moms] For The Love Of Crafts – Selena Quah

Love creating crafts with your kids? Read on to find out what Material Mom Selena Quah thought of the new Brother’s ScanNCut machine.

I remember cutting out ‘Happy Birthday’ alphabets for my son’s 4th birthday party and my husband rolling his eyes at me for putting in so much effort.

“Why don’t you just buy the bunting?”

“But it’s more meaningful to do it yourself. Plus, I can make my own design!”

That was just one of the many times I spent time and effort cutting things out manually with a pair of scissors. To be honest, I did wish I could magically zap it out so I could finish up and go to bed early.

Well, someone at Brother must have heard my wish, and the wish of many crafters out there I’m sure.

The Machine

The ScanNCut with the materials for making the card.

The ScanNCut with the materials for making the card.

Brother, better known for their sewing machines, has developed an innovative machine that can scan any image, whether printed or hand-­drawn, and cut out your desired pattern from paper, fabric or vinyl. I know the concept sounds simple, but if you’ve done things the manual way, you’ll understand the draw of this device.

Loading the adhesive mat with the paper to be cut into the ScanNCut

Loading the adhesive mat with the paper to be cut into the ScanNCut.

The ScanNCut looks like a small ink­jet printer and is equipped with a built-­in 300dpi (dots per inch) scanner. In place of an ink cartridge is the cutter blade. The machine has data storage so you can save scanned images and have the machine cut out those shapes on any material you feed it, up to a maximum thickness of 3mm (so even cardboard and felt is fine). If you want the same shape cut out from various types of paper or fabric, this feature is a real time saver.

The Hands-­on

I had the opportunity to try the ScanNCut with my craft­-loving eldest son to get a feel of how the machine works. We were guided through the process of creating a ‘pop­-up’ Christmas card with layers of different sized paper on the cover.

The machine proved to be fairly easy to operate. Even my five-­and-­a-­half year old understood the basic functions quite quickly, and eagerly helped some of the participants sharing the same workstation as us. You scan the pattern you want and save it into the machine’s memory, then using the adhesive mat, put the pieces of paper you want cut onto it, load the mat into the machine, click a few buttons, and voila! All the pieces are cut out for you. In all, it took less than 10 minutes to cut the pieces and assemble the card.

The ScanNCut’s blade made clean and smooth cuts. I thought it was impressive that the machine could even do more delicate work like cutting out the words ‘Merry Christmas’. All these are not impossible to do manually, but it would easily have taken three to four times the amount of time (or more) compared to using the ScanNCut.

We did find that you have to make sure the paper is stuck firmly onto the adhesive mat otherwise the paper will slide and will not be cut properly. The group I was working with encountered this problem a few times, but besides this we didn’t have any other issues.

The Good

If you like crafts, the possibilities with this machine are endless.

Close up of the finished product

Close up of the finished product.

The scalloped edges cut perfectly.

The scalloped edges cut perfectly.

It’s great for kids’ parties; you can do the bunting (without your husband rolling his eyes at you), customise the invites and decor to suit any theme you want, make all kinds of confetti (this really excites me because I love confetti!), prepare art and craft corners with themed cut-­outs, make face masks (with the ScanNCut, cutting out the holes for the eyes is a lot easier), make customised T-shirts by cutting out designs from iron­-on paper or cloth appliques, and so on.

Scrapbooking fans will love how they can create all kinds of paper and fabric embellishments. Quilters will love that the fabric pieces are cut to precision, and you can even specify the seam allowance you want when cutting the fabric. Pre­-school teachers will appreciate that the machine saves them time when preparing materials for art and craft sessions for an entire class of children.

Plus, if your kids like arts and crafts, making a card together like I did with my son is a nice time of bonding.

I really wouldn’t mind having this machine, but …

The Price

It’s touted as being the ‘world’s first home and hobby cutting machine’, but to acquire it you must have quite a lot of spare cash lying around. At $828, I feel the price is prohibitive. There’s also the other issue of replacing the adhesive mat (around $20 for the 12 x 12 low tack adhesive mat). Apparently each mat can be used up to 20 times. Even if you rotate the mat around so you use every inch of it for different projects, I figure you’ll need to make several replacements a year if you use it intensively.

I like what the ScanNCut can do, and I can see many groups of people who would like to use it and can benefit from such a machine. But until the price drops, I’ll just use my scissors.

Oh well.

Material World was invited by Brother to try the ScanNCut machine. All opinions are the author’s own. This post is neither paid for nor advised by the brand. Please read our advertising policy here.

Selena Quah with Asher Selena Quah enjoys the little things in life and hopes her children will pick up this trait from her too. She thinks kids are an excellent excuse to indulge in things she likes such as strolling through parks, doing art and craft, and baking. A dancer from young, she hopes to get back to it when the kids are older, though for now she’ll have to make do with dancing around the house while her boys wonder why Mummy is mad. You can find Selena’s blog Unlikely Lady of Leisure here. 

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Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] Yes, I Do Want To Add A New Member To My Family – Deborah Tan

Has Deborah Tan finally succumbed to all that incessant nagging about when she’s going to have a baby?

A couple of days ago, I posted up on Facebook that I’m thinking of doing an MBA. I hashtagged the post #nextchallenge because I saw it as the “next new thing” to obsess over, after having (1) quit my job (2) start a business (3) get married (4) learn to bake (5) run a half-marathon, etc. I was bored and I needed something that wanted my time and energy.

Then came a comment from my sister, “How about a cousin for (my kids)?”

I have said a while ago that the husband and I have no intention of having children. We feel that it’s more important to invest in ourselves to ensure we are assured of a good retirement than to pour money into raising kids and having to deal with the uncertainty of whether they’d turn out well despite our best intentions and efforts.

But lately, I have been wondering if the need to grow a family has been “programmed” into us all. That it’s not just our parents and grandparents who want us to “expand the family”, but we ourselves kinda want it.

For me, I DO want a new addition to my family.

Just last Sunday, as I was dozing off on the couch, I found myself entertaining this thought, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a chubby bulldog is nestling in my arms and we are both taking a nap together?”

I am now obsessed with the idea of acquiring a bulldog and I’m making it a point to tell my husband once a day, “I really want a bulldog.”

But is this a precursor to something more insidious? I also wonder.

Could it be that the thing I actually want isn’t a chubby bulldog but a chubby baby?

Do all married couples wonder – at some point in their marriage – whether they want children?

I must admit, I am curious as to just what kind of kid my husband and I would be able to “produce” – would he be argumentative and annoying? Would he be creative? Would he be a left-hander? Would the child inherit both our innate disrespect for authority and status quo? Vanessa and Lili are of the opinion that any child of ours would, first and foremost, be very talkative – I am inclined to agree with them.

Curious as I may be, does it mean I have changed my mind about being a mother? I still don’t think so … sorry to disappoint those of you who have been hanging on the edge of your seats.

So every time I find myself veering dangerously into “maybe baby” territory, I’ll remind myself that I personally still prefer a pet by looking at these cute pictures:

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It’s a hard fight in the Who’s Cuter contest but I have my winner …

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Seriously, who can resist those folds of skin!?!?

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Check out the butt!!! The tail! The frown! So cute!

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At the end of the day, a bulldog does, “It’s ok, bro” best!

I want a baby. I want a bulldog as my baby.

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Deborah Tan talks about the trials and tribulations of being newly married. Stay tuned for more!

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She’s going to talk non-stop about bulldogs until her husband succumbs and allows her to adopt one. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

 

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Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] Live In The Moment! – Selena Quah

One of the moments Selena managed to capture.

One of the moments Selena managed to capture.

Selena Quah enjoys the little things in life and hopes her children will pick up this trait from her too. She thinks kids are an excellent excuse to indulge in things she likes such as strolling through parks, doing art and craft, and baking. A dancer from young, she hopes to get back to it when the kids are older, though for now she’ll have to make do with dancing around the house while her boys wonder why Mummy is mad. She is expecting her third child and today, she wants to make it known to everybody that she will strive to be less trigger-happy in 2014. You can find Selena’s blog Unlikely Lady of Leisure here.

I had prepared another story for this week’s submission, only to be faced with a 21st Century problem – a technology blackout. My PC, netbook and smartphone all decided to take an unannounced holiday at the same time. My story and all the associated pictures were wiped out. Add to that, hardware malfunctions of my two portable hard-disk drives.

I was left reeling from the fact that I had lost all the photographs, notes and contacts on my smartphone that I hadn’t gotten around to backing-up, not to mention all the years of pictures of the time we lived abroad, of family gatherings, and other special occasions that were stored on the portable hard-drives. Precious memories lost.

Then I thought about my remaining store of photographs. 48,443. That’s the number of pictures I have on my hard-disk. Yes, I can rationalise that it spans from 2007 until now – a good six years or so. But still, that’s crazy!

But that’s the problem that we face nowadays, isn’t it? And this is especially true of parents with young kids. We simply have too many pictures. The advent of digital photography has brought about a conundrum. It is so easy to capture little moments compared to when we saved our film for the truly significant events. And while this means more memories of fleeting kisses and secret hugs, it also presents the problem of sheer volume. How many of us have actually gotten around to printing our photos for posterity. Well, I certainly haven’t. I’ve spent more time taking and uploading, than sorting and printing. I harbour ambitions of compiling the significant pictures into photobooks. But going through 48,443 of pictures is simply too daunting. And how can you possibly pick one to represent so many that are different and unique in their own special way?

'fess up. How many pictures did you take of your kid blowing out his birthday candles?

‘fess up. How many pictures did you take of your kid blowing out his birthday candles?

Admittedly I am quite trigger-happy, and this is my downfall. I’m sure there are the more organised mothers out there, but I am sadly not one of them.

So this 2014, I will strive to do a few things.

First, take less pictures. Still take them, but be more restrained. Just take one or two of them blowing out the candles, not 52! Just one or two of them running in the park, not 185! Capture the special time, but don’t overdo it.

Second, get into the habit of regularly printing out pictures. It’s really so easy to print pictures from our phones nowadays. Although it may cost more to print just a few each time rather than accumulating them, it is definitely much more worthwhile than having them disappear into thin air when software or hardware decides to fail.

Third, something that I had strived to do in 2013 and will continue to do in 2014, live in the moment rather than seek to document.

Lastly, I’m gonna buy me a network-attached storage (NAS) device to double or even triple back-up my stuff lest something similar happens again.

Technology, you may have won this time, but I will have the last laugh! Ha!

 

 

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Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] My Untold Fears As A Mother – Elisa Woodward

About The Author: Elisa Woodward, a career-focused wife and a mom of two active boys, is a Jack of all trades, who enjoys flummoxing people. She likes getting her hands dirty (figuratively and literally), yet enjoys dressing up just enough to “look acceptable”. She embraces wholeheartedly the concept of getting older. In this post, Elisa candidly shares the fears she faces as a mother. 

With sons Lleyton and Lliam

With sons Lleyton and Lliam

On our recent ninth wedding anniversary, my dear husband said to me over dinner, “You make me feel bad, cos you look good (physically), and I am getting old.”

(Trust me – my husband is far from looking old and bad-looking).

Of course, my reply to that was, “Don’t be silly, you are far from looking half-bad yourself”, but inwardly, I was highly pleased that I was still attractive. (Fine, it might be only the biased opinion of my husband, but a married woman with children will take compliments wherever she can get one!)

Like many mothers, I am always busy trying to ensure I provide physical and emotional support to my family and household, while grappling with a full-time job. Being a working mum comes with the burden of managing the many facets of being a wife and mother.

The responsibility and changes to our lives that come with motherhood creates trepidation for many of us liberated women in this modern age. This fear is grounded in the possibility of losing touch with the world, our friends, and probably even ourselves.

The fear of becoming unattractive

As a mother of two, and working full time in a senior role, I have always wondered if I was squandering my “womanliness” away. After all, us women have always been conscious about the way we look, and the way we might present ourselves to others.

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It’s tiring enough looking after kids. Now we have to worry about our looks too?!

Look around on the streets. There are many of us married mothers, who do not have time to worry about ourselves – how we look, how we dress, how we present ourselves to others – hence the unkempt hair, and dowdy clothes. What we tend to worry about more: keeping the kids well-behaved, and making sure the family has everything we need when we are out of the house.

So, apart from what I call the “celebrity” moms, most of us have the gravity of motherhood working against us i.e. sagging body parts. This is a result of carrying the excess weight of a little being in our bodies. We also experience the loss of brain cells (given to our lovely kids during birth – all mothers can attest to it), and changes in our mental and physical capabilities.

The fear of losing friends, and not having things to talk about

Ever hang out with friends or family with children? Most of the time, if a group of mothers end up together at a social gathering, the conversation would gear towards kids, home, and family topics. Some of my friends who do not have kids yet, told me they gradually lost touch with many good friends who have kids, as they were moving towards different directions in life.

What can we talk about apart from our kids and families?

What do mothers talk about apart from their kids and families?

When I was not employed for a period and had relocated overseas, I decided to attend a mothers’ group. While I admire the mothers for what they do full time, I definitely did not have much in common with them. It was at that point where I realised how lonely it was to just be a mom and a wife – without our husband or partner, the only conversation partners are our children. No matter how much I love my children, talking about toys, school, and whatever else interests them doesn’t really stimulate my brain.

The fear of losing our own identities

As a mother and wife, I encounter it all the time – “Hi, so you are so-and-so’s wife/mother.” It is the label that I get whenever I attend functions with my husband or gatherings with my children.

Who am I, apart from being a wife and mother?

What’s your identity, apart from being a wife and mother?

What happened to knowing me as me? This is the reason why I need to work. I need the identity that I create for myself at work – even to prove that I can still hold my own, outside of being a mother and wife.

So many mothers I know are proud of their children and husband, who have achieved much in their careers and lives. But whenever they talk about their families’ achievements, what amazes me is how they’ve dedicated their lives for their families, and become housewives, and are contented with the accomplishments of their family.

I cannot fathom how someone, especially in the Singapore context where most women are well-educated, can give it all up for the sake of her family. This is truly admirable that even in today’s context of modern moms, there is still a large percentage of women who believe in giving it all for their family.

These fears I have are definitely not unfounded, but I’m thankful I have a partner who believes in pitching in to help with the family. I’m blessed to have married a man who loves spending time with the family, and teaching the kids (he toilet-trained both our children!), understands my needs as an individual, and is a great help in the house! 🙂

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Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] Being A Rockstar Mom

Linda with her family

Linda with her family

About The Author: Lawyer by training but musician at heart, Linda Ong is one third of local alternative rock/metal band, Lunarin. Formed in 1993, the band has released two albums and two EPs. They’ve also performed at Baybeats and other festivals at the Esplanade, the Substation and the Arts House. However, with the arrival of her son Damien, Linda has swapped her bass guitar for bassinets (for now)! That’s not to say she’s given up on music completely. In this post, she shares how she balances motherhood while keeping her love for music alive.

On how life has changed after having a baby

You know that scene in “Lost in Translation” where Bill Murray shares with Scarlett Johansson what it feels like to have kids? “Your life as you know it is over” he tells her as they drink sake on the bed. It’s absolutely true. Motherhood is truly the most humbling experience I’ve ever gone through. It is so easy to get lost in the confusion, the exhaustion, the chaos. I am not sure I am out of the woods yet!

That said, I am beginning to see the world in a new way, thanks to my son. I see, for example, the weird light shapes that flutter on the floor under the curtains because he saw them and were intrigued by them. I can appreciate his ability to express clearly and exactly how he feels without having to hide or be ashamed of his emotions.

On juggling motherhood with musicianship

I admit, I’m not very good at this! The band is now on hiatus because of the babies (my drummer also recently had a baby girl). It is so difficult to find time to jam nowadays. However, my bandmates and I keep in constant contact via Whatsapp. We have a bunch of new ideas which we need to work on and hopefully record. My aim is to try and re-establish a regular jamming schedule with the guys after the baby gets older and we get a helper. Hopefully that will be sooner rather than later!

On keeping her passions alive

You never give up something that is a part of your life. Yes, I have stopped playing in the band (temporarily) but I certainly intend to resume when it is possible. While I don’t get as much studio time as I would like, I am still connected to my musician friends via social media. That way, I can check out their work on YouTube, buy their albums and share their tracks, etc.

If you love music or art or whatever your passion is, you never give up on those things just because you have a child. In fact, your love for these things should shape the way you bring up your child and mould you as a parent.

Linda with her Lunarin bandmates

Linda with her Lunarin bandmates

On cultivating one’s passion outside of motherhood

In the early years of the child’s life, his needs are mainly physical and immediate. He needs to be fed, clothed, bathed and cuddled. The physical demands of parenting at this early stage is so demanding that to some degree, yes, it overwhelms and takes precedence over many other things. I know of many mothers who quit their jobs because of this.

That said, as the child grows, the intellectual stimulation and nurturing that his parents provide him take precedence. That’s the stage when I believe that a parent who is well-adjusted, with a passionate world view of her own and an interest in other areas besides the domesticity of life, would be able to provide the necessary stimulation that the child needs. I think it is also important for the child to know that he is not necessarily the center and focus of his parents’ attention all of the time. He needs to learn that there are limits and demarcations of time and space applicable to himself and to others around him.

Also, for the sake of the parent’s own sanity, it would not make sense for life to stop completely and to give up on everything that you had loved before you had a child. You were a person before you became a parent. You must continue to be a person after, not this amorphous being that only posts baby pics on Facebook and yaks about lactation all day long!

On hopes for her son’s musicianship

If Damien expresses an interest, say to learn to play the piano, then I will try him out and see if he enjoys it. If it turns out he would prefer playing football and riding bikes like his dad, that’s fine too. No one forced me to play music. I picked it up myself because I had a natural love for it. My son should be given that same choice.

As a mum, how do you juggle your passions/interests outside of parenthood? Tell us in the Comments section below!

[More stories by our Material Moms]

1. [Material Moms] “Why Is School So Bossy?” – Elisa Woodward
2. [Material Moms] All You Need To Know About Car Seats – Deborah Giam
3. [Material Moms] Choosing the Right Obstetrician and Gynaecologist (OBGYN) – Delphine Tan
4. [Material Moms] The Veggie Dish Your Kids Will Love – Selena Quah

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