Posted in Parenting, Review, Talents

Book Review: Hairy Maclary From Donaldson’s Diary

We were all in bed and knocked out by 9PM last night. It was a crazy day (that’s another story) and by the time we got home, we could not wait to hit the sack. So, at 4AM this morning, I was up and unable to sleep. Finally, I hopped out of bed at 5AM and decided to do some sketching I’ve been meaning to do for a while.

Hairy Maclary From Donaldson’s Dairy is R’s current favourite book. They have been reading it at the daycare. She asked me to tell her the story last week and that was the first I even heard of it. I looked it up on the Internet, then went ahead and bought the book. Before that, I bought the TV episode because it was available straight away (plus we can play it in the car). When it comes to books, we are suckers in this family. The 3-year old has more books than most adults I know and the collection keeps growing rapidly.

The first time I leafed through the book, I fell in love with the pictures. I had to try to paint these or draw them! I knew I simply had to. It was like a craving that was gnawing away at me every day that I did not do it. Time has been hard to come by (yeah, yeah, I know… make time and all that). This morning, I sat down with my “Art book”, a case of sketching pencils I’d bought DH for one of his past birthdays, a pack of felt pens and the story book.

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So, this B&W messy sack of fur is Hairy Maclary, aptly named for his hairy demeanour. He heads off on a walk and is followed by 5 other dogs, each one cleverly named after their appearance. At the end of the walk, they are surprised by Scarface Claw who holds the title of “the toughest Tom in town”.

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The story moves along at a beautiful pace, following Maclary as he goes on his morning walk. The words are few and repetitive, perfect for the little ones to remember the characters. The names of the dogs are descriptive enough to identify them easily and remember then. They are funny enough to fit into the sing-song rhythm of the narrative. As each dog makes an appearance, there is a picture of him on the left with the introduction on the right.

The pictures, as I already mentioned, are fabulous. They keep the cheery attitude of the story and fit beautifully with the theme of the book. The end is a surprise and funny. Miss R also finds it scary. The appearance of Scarface Claw and his fierce mewing has her putting her metaphorical tail between her legs and burying her face in my chest. Scarface Claw haunts her dreams and she is now officially more scared of the dark than she has ever been. Still, she loves the book and will read it everyday. Her dad and I love it too.

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I was going to draw one of the dogs. I ended up drawing all of them, and the cat. Now that I’m finished, I want to do the other pictures too. They are such a delight to try your hand at. I wish I could paint better, so I could do them in colours. I was sketching when Miss R woke up this morning. Chuffed at being able to finally get to sketching and thinking the sketches did resemble the characters in the book, I proudly displayed my pictures in front of her. She smiled when she saw them. I waited for her words. She said,

“This is wrong. Hercules Morse should be brown. He is not black and white!”

Bam! That’s Little Miss Perfectionist, for you. How can it be the same dog, when it is not even the same colour? I must introduce her to the concept of pencil sketching.

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Posted in Parenting, School, Talents

What do you mean by…

As soon as R started talking, we began to wonder how she ever survived the months before she was able to talk. She had so much to say. We were warned that very soon there would be questions, beginning with “Why?”

Then the Why happened. She wanted to know why something was the way it was and for every answer thereafter, she countered with a why. It was easy enough for her, she just had to say “Why” but it was impossible for us to keep up. I tried my best to answer with something such that I had a good answer when the next why came. After a while, I tried to answer so that there just had to be an answer for th next one, didn’t matter how good. Even so, her whys outlived my persistence. I would remind myself it was a phase and be over soon… and keep trying. Her dad gave it 10 seconds and had enough. He started to counter her why with his own why. Sometimes she would say something and he would get on the why wagon straight away. Winning with a headstart. Poor kiddie had no way to turn. Eventually, the why stopped. Whatever the reason, they did and we could move on. 


A couple of days ago, the What started. Her obsession with the movie Frozen and story of Rapunzel are unparalleled. Every morning she asks her hair to be done up in an Elsa braid or Anna hair or Rapunzel braid. Often, I find her looking at the book in deep concentration. One day, I walked past her while she was flipping through a Frozen book when she pointed to a page and mumbled something about Elsa’s attire. She would go on about exactly how many times Rapunzel wore a crown in the movie/book. When we told her the story at bedtime, she’d stay awake to make sure we got the details right. Apparently, she has finished her PhD on the picture details and progressed to dialogues. So as we walk to the train station on the way to work/daycare and back in the evenings, our conversations hover around things someone in one of her books said. 

What do you mean by, “I tried to save her but it was too late?” 

I tried my best to explain. It took a couple of takes. She mulled over it and asked again later; it wasn’t entirely clear.

What does “tries to save her” mean? What does “it was too late mean”?

The next one was…

What do you mean by “Why do you shut me out like this? What are you afraid of?”

Again, I tried my best to explain. The second question was fairly obvious, so she didn’t chase it but she is still trying to get her head around the “shut me out like this” part. I tried to explain using the literal incident where Elsa shuts he door on Anna when they were children. Obviously she wasn’t convinced because at dinner, she asked me why Anna would say that as a grown up because Elsa wasn’t in the room anymore. She had thought about my answer but she felt there were gaps. I had underestimated her logical & reasoning abilities! I gave the answer another shot. Now I have to wait and see if that cut it. 

While that’s processing, we’ve had the next question. 


Where did that come from? Leak? Anna leaks? Anna takes a leak? I don’t remember any reference to anything leaking in the movie (not even the snowman Olaf)! I’m almost sure there is no mention of a toilet break. I could be wrong as she knows the story in way more detail than I do but I’m fairly certain there is no Anna pissing in front of Elsa. 

Anna leaps in front of Elsa”, her dad says, from behind me. 

Ah! Of course! I don’t remember that line in the book but it makes sense. I can see where that would’ve occurred… Anna leaps in front of her sister. Yeah, I see that now. This has, by far, been one of the easiest questions. I told her it meant Anna jumped in front of her sister. She understands jump, so there were no follow-up questions. 

One more done. I’m a bit wary about the “shut me out” issue cropping up again but I think we’ll be okay. Bring on the next one!

Posted in Parenting, Talents, Uncategorized

Mummy’s Me Time Involves Googling Hairstyles, Braids and Princesses Before Work

As I left home as an adult, I cut my hair short. There was no mum to care for my hair and I decided it was far too much work to try to style it. It’s my turn to be mum now and R loves long hair. Not only does she love it but she expects me to be able to do all the hairstyles her favourite characters sport. Ouch!

For a long time, she wanted the Elsa hair. I got away by braiding her hair for a bit and then I bought a blonder braid extension to add to her braid. It was best $5 I’ve spent. To this day, she doesn’t quite know that it isn’t the actual Elsa hair style as in the movie but just a regular braid. One morning, I was in a bit of a hurry and had to request one of her daycare teachers to braid her hair. It was a different to how I normally do it and it stayed in place for longer than my regular braid. Since then I’ve been doing a couple of versions of the French braid, with this blonde extension. She absolutely loves it.

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$5 at H&M, complete value for money

For the last couple of weekends, it’s been all about the Rapunzel hair. I’ve had to sacrifice a scarf in the process, so she can have long hair that will “circle” at her feet. I haven’t let her wear it to the daycare. Luckily for me, there wasn’t much of a style involved with there. Rapunzel mostly lets it hang loose. I doubt that Mother Gothel cared much to Google braids and styles for her ward anyway. It must really hurt your arms to tie all that hair up every day. A couple of times R has mentioned Rapunzel’s braid with the flowers, when she’s at the village, but so far I’ve gotten away without having to do that. In preparation for the day when I might not be able to get out, I sought help from the world wide web.

I found an Elsa braid tutorial on Pinterest (more here). It looked complicated for a daily school braid. I pinned it for later and only got to it this morning. I had to look at the youtube video to learn how to do it. I might not be able to do it exactly like the video but I reckon I can pull off a fishtail braid easily enough. That should work for the next Rapunzel flower braid request. Anyway, one thing led to another (as it would) and before I knew it, the morning was gone. I woke up at 5:30AM to get some time for myself… and spent the hour and half looking up how to do a variety of easy and stylish braids. I also managed to find a website of princess hairstyles, which I imagine will serve me well for the next Halloween or some other special day.

Somehow, over the last 3 years, ‘me time’ has become all about researching on things that will satisfy her needs. Preparing myself for requests that might come my way when she is awake seems to be all I do while she is sleeping. On the rare day that I get to commute by myself on the train, I find that I don’t have a book to read and I’m too excited to sit still, so I eventually end up Googling some place I could take her on the weekend or Pinning activities for the quiet times. It is like this cartoon I saw on one parenting forum, once.

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As soon as I’m done with her stuff and get started on mine, she is up. That is my cue that it’s time to start running against the clock. Another morning of trying to get her to daycare before morning tea and myself to work with enough time to grab a coffee before dashing into the first of many meetings. It’s only Tuesday.

Posted in Random, Talents

Staircases Are a Hoot

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“Thank you for bringing me on the stairs, mama”, R says as we arrive at the top of the staircase, at the train station. Then she tells me she loves going on stairs.

Yes, I know that. She thanked me every single time we reached a set of stairs on our Europe holiday. Her uncle, my brother, was impressed with her manners. If you’ve been at the tube station in London, you’ll know that there are lots of stairs from the entrance to the platform. Paris is worse. By lots, I mean about 50 steps to get to your platform but if you’re changing platforms, there will be a bunch of stairs you go up and then another set of steps to go down to get to the next platform. It’s stressful when you’re in a hurry. Not for her, though. She loved it.

I do not know what her fascination with staircases is. I let her walk up steps and go down by herself as soon as she started to walk. At 11 months old, she would hold on to the railings and take one step at a time. I’d be standing at about 4 steps below, with my heart in my mouth, hoping that she wouldn’t fall through the gap in the railings. Thankfully, she never did. Even then, she would walk with one foot per step, like the grown-ups. I hadn’t noticed it until my mom pointed out when she was less than a year old, how she didn’t put both feet on the same step before taking off to the next one. Maybe she did initially but I don’t remember her going with two feet per step so it couldn’t have been for long. She learned by watching us and I never consciously taught her how to walk.

When she is tired or feeling lazy, she asks to be picked up or sit in the pram but only till we arrive at a staircase. As soon as she sees one, she’ll wriggle out of my arm and insist on walking by herself. When there is a choice between taking the lifts or the stairs, she always chooses the stairs. She noticed when, one afternoon, I automatically walked in the direction of stairs instead of taking the lifts on our way back home from daycare. She thanked me for it and has done so ever since then. It’s been months now and she still thanks me. Every single time.

She used to play this game when we got home every evening. She would go up the stairs
first. I should stay at the bottom until she got to the first landing and then start walking up. Her dad should wait for me, till I got to the landing. As always, I obliged. It never occurred to me to question her when she made up these rules. I play along with all her silly games and rules she cooks up. Her dad, not so much. At first, we would let him go up before us, so he wouldn’t fuss.

“Daddy needs to unlock the front door for us”, I would tell her.

She doesn’t do that anymore. I wonder if it has to do with her going home with daddy on some days. He doesn’t have the patience for her stupid rules. If he has nothing in his hands, he likes to get a move on. When he is juggling her bag, his and a couple of her toys, there is no way, he will wait at the bottom of the steps while she gets to the top and gives him the go. More so because she will sometimes stop mid-step to tell you the intricacies of her game. She is Elsa, he is Kristoff and a whole yarn around the details of how the process of walking up two flights of stairs is going to play out.

I’ve told her she doesn’t need to thank me every time we come to stairs but she won’t listen. I’ve decided to enjoy it while it lasts. So when she said that to me at the train station yesterday, I couldn’t help but smile. Then we held hands and walked down, as she went on about something that happened during the day. She walks faster than a lot of adults I’ve seen at the train station, so I’ve never worried that we were holding anyone up. When we got off at our stop, we were the first at the stairs. We had a big crowd of people following behind but that was okay. We walked to one side, so the runners could skip steps and run up past us. The rest of the folks just walked behind us. One tiny foot on each step, stretching her little legs wide, she strode up the stairs like a boss. No one complained. I wonder if anyone even noticed that it was a toddler in front of them.

Posted in Parenting, Talents

Artists In The House

One moment I’m trying to teach her to draw a circle – unsuccessfully, I will admit – and the next minute, she is drawing pictures that somewhat resemble real life creatures. I mean you can see the resemblance once she tells you what it is. When she asks me to guess, that’s an awkward situation to be in. Luckily, she doesn’t feel bad when my answer is wrong. This morning, her drawing was special.  


Apparently, it is a picture of me, with long “Rapunzel hair”. She is obsessed with hair at the moment. Blonde hair… and princesses. I wouldn’t have guessed it but once she has told me that it’s a picture of me, I can see it. Of course! Two eyes, what appears to be a mouth, outstretched arms (that seem to be coming out of  my face), wild hair (so far this is the closest resemblance to me), a SpongeBob SquarePants body and a couple of leg-like extensions. Why not?

Later she drew another picture and described to us what her future looked like. It was a depiction of her, when she is all grown up. She is driving a monster truck, which crashes into a red car with a door. It’s important to note that the car has a door. She is thrown off the monster truck onto the car but manages to jump back into her truck. There were a lot of people but after the crash, only three are left – her, her mum and her dad. Later we find out the red car was being driven by trees, not people. Sounds like all the casualties were trees, phew! That’s a little less gory than the picture that was forming in my head. It’s my fault, though. There was no violence or bloodshed in her picture. I imagined that in. Purely my bad. 


Once more, I see a bit of her dad in her. I could draw a half-decent portrait or scenery when I had something to copy off of. Her dad draws things from memory, imagination or whatever it is that makes artists draw. She does that. She drew this image of me in the library, while I was busy moving furniture in the living room. She drew her future purely from her imagination. 

When I have one of those moments where I’m questioning my parenting skills, I wonder if I would have been able to teach her the kind of things she learns at the daycare. Like drawing a circle, for instance. Maybe I would have. Who knows? It’s not all what she learns externally, I can see. She has so much potential inside her. We just have to let it flow freely and see where it takes her. Hopefully, not to a car crash like the one she is picturing for herself. Pun intended.