31 August 2013, by Tan Yi Lin
With Coco’s bout of HFMD in June, my freaky rhabdomyolysis encounter in July and Claire’s croup scare in August (and Dannie on the brink of total exhaustion from tending to three ill females), needless to say, we hardly had any family outings over the past three months.
The good news is that we’re all okay now. Last weekend was the best one that we’ve had in a long time with no hospital visits and sick kids! We even managed to bring both the girls to Art Garden at SAM (again!), caught up with friends over dim sum, and for some water play at Changi City Point (although Claire would strongly disagree that it was play – more like child torture, maybe).
So, before we all emerged from August disease-free, what was there to do with a restless toddler quarantined at home for HFMD?
Well, thank goodness for the new smart TV that arrived in time to keep Coco entertained. In particular, the nice, big, empty box that it came in. With that, we made a little cardboard house for Coco. The little actress had been re-enacting scenes from Disney’s ‘The Three Little Pigs’ (the 1932 version, available on YouTube, is just classic) where the pigs run for their lives from the Big Bad Wolf (starring Gong Gong) and scurry into their houses of straw, sticks and brick to hide from their hungry predator. Coco had been using smaller scraps of cardboard to fold around herself as walls but the flimsy, battered pieces fluttered uselessly to the ground, offering scant protection from Gong Gong wolf. She cut quite a pathetic picture scrambling to hold her paper walls in place as the Big Bad Wolf and his large hairy paws loomed over her.
In contrast, the TV box proved to be delightfully sturdy and large enough to contain a squealy little piglet. Dan sawed an entrance for Coco with his Swiss Army knife, complete with a look-out, and we girls set about doing what girls do best – beautifying a home.
Tada! Presenting, No.10 Samsung House (complete with private parking lot outside)!
We found a long cardboard tray amongst the protective packaging for the TV and turned that into a train for her animal friends. All aboard!
The paper walls were just perfect for all sorts of crayon graffiti. We took the opportunity to work in a few spelling lessons.
The remaining walls were used to showcase her artwork.
It’s been a couple of months since we created No.10 Samsung House and the development is still in great shape despite Coco dashing wildly into the house and ‘slamming’ the cardboard door each time she’s chased by the Big Bad Wolf. Best of all, a play house is such an ageless and versatile toy that more than one kid can enjoy it. So when the bigger piglet is away, the little porky one will play!
We also lent our creative juices towards another DIY home project in August: Coco’s birthday cake(s)
Coco turned two on 22 August. We held a poolside celebration for her in Bintan (thankfully, Claire recovered just in time for us to bring her along). Transporting a fancy schmancy birthday cake ‘overseas’ would have been tricky. So we brought all the ingredients along and constructed a Thomas train cake using store-bought banana cakes and a swiss roll for the engine.
Excluding the candy pieces used as decoration, all that cake only cost about $20. Sure beats the eye-popping $1,000 birthday cakes that I’ve seen featured in parenting magazines and websites. Of course, our cake-making skills are nowhere near that of a professional baker, but I think our tiny two-year old was immensely pleased with her 3-D Thomas cake.
Our pre-fabrication method of assembling birthday cakes proved such a success that we replicated the process for Coco’s birthday celebration in school. This time, we ‘built’ her a pink double-decker bus and a blue single-decker (just like Tayo the cartoon bus, she says) using banana cakes from the same neighbourhood bakery, adorned with marshmallows, M&Ms and Oreo cookies.
The birthday girl’s face lit up when she spotted her cake, and like the seasoned party-goer that she is, claimed her place on the plastic chair behind the cake and strapped her party hat atop her head. After blowing out the candles (and pinching the sugar flowers and M&Ms), the little hostess graciously distributed party packs each containing a box of Sunmaid raisins, haw flakes, White Rabbit sweets, M&Ms, a chocolate wafer and a small toy car to her classmates.
Simple as they were, doing these little DIY home projects brought us lots of fun and satisfaction, and seeing Coco beam with happiness while playing with her cardboard shack and admiring her birthday cakes was just priceless.
Try out some DIY home projects of your own some day. It really doesn’t take a lot of effort to create a play house or ‘Flintstone’ car out of scrap cardboard. Or to assemble and decorate a kiddy cake. If we can do it, anyone else definitely can!