Memories of our playdate (today)

I’m writing this post with quite a heavy heart. You see, over the course of this year, I have grown attached to this group of mothers who come together to plan lessons for our children’s weekly playdate. I love the dynamics of this group and appreciate their care and concern for the children. We pool our resources and chip in whenever one couldn’t make it or have difficulty with any segment of the playdate. And I also love it that our children have forged friendship with one another.

But it would be a different story come next year.

All but one of the children will be going to school the following year. And yes, that includes Faith (that is another story in itself).

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I’ll miss the ‘Good Morning’ song that we know so well by now.

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And Circle Time in which the mummies will think of creative ways to introduce the farm animals (our theme for this term). There is always something new to learn each session.

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Love Mummy Ade, the lobang queen and one avid blogger. We love her outgoing spirit and she is always willing to take on new segments even if it is out of her comfort zone. Part of the objective of having the mummies to lead the various segments is for our own development too. We grow in love and knowledge together!

It is really heartening to note that the children could sit down and enjoy the storytelling session. When we first started during the earlier part of the year, our children couldn’t sit still and were distracted by things around them. But now, they can and even respond to the story! Yahoo!

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Mummy C and I have been friends for almost two decades and since the days of our youth, we have known her to be one ‘crafty’ lady. She would send homemade encouragement cards to us and they were always so pretty. So, it is no surprise that the children learn some useful art and craft skills from her. Mummy C has a lot of creative juice in her and it is a pity that she doesn’t have the time to blog about them. ;( Thankfully, she shares her ideas and knowledge to fellow mummies and those who come into contact with her. A very wonderful and patient mother.

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We had full attendance today!

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Mummy Jenna, the best Chinese storyteller in my humble opinion! She is so animated and speaks with clear, crisp Mandarin. As you can see from the picture, everyone was all ears!

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Our little girl led her peers in giving thanks for the food.

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Since today we had our lesson in the outdoor, we decided to get the kids to play with the balloons and balls. They had great fun despite the heat and we ended off with the feeding of the fish at the nearby pond, thanks to Mummy Jenna.

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We had such great times together and I believe we have provided our kids with a fun and safe environment to learn. Faith would come back and hum the songs she has learnt during the playdates and would often utter the names of her playmates. I’m thankful that the mummies help to correct the behaviour of the kids if anyone misbehaves and would not be stingy with encouragement for the kids and fellow mummies alike.

It is entirely possible to plan regular playdates such as ours. All you need are like-minded mummies who are willing to do a little bit of homework in planning for the lessons. Mummy Ade had written a very useful post on organising playdates. Do check it out!

Playdate with little distraction

Our last playdate was held in a function room of one of the mummy’s condo. Turned out to be awesome because there was little distraction from toys and the kids were more attentive.

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After storytelling, we got them to create a lion’s face using the tines of the fork. Again, this was designed with kids who don’t like to get their hands dirty like Faith.

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Faith’s lion is the one of the left and the right is mine which I used to demonstrate to the kids. Again, Faith wasn’t that interested in craftwork but I shall persevere!

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Practical life segment

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Playground time: The Children’s favourite!

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“I wonder where we will be going next week?”

Protected: My kind of preschool, finally!

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How do you price your cakes?

This is not a parenting post but one about my other love – baking and cake decorating.

If you are a home baker who bakes at the request of friends, how do you determine your pricing?

I find it really tough to answer this question. Sure I did my rounds of checking out the cakes at the bakeries but I can’t do a direct comparison because what I’m doing is customised cakes. These cakes will inevitably cost more than what are available in the usual bakeries simply because they are made upon specific request. Where sugar art is involved, the cake will definitely be priced higher because of the time invested in creating and beautifying the figurine(s). The ingredients themselves already cost more, what’s with artwork?

I pen down this post because this is a question that is often posed to me when I’m teaching cake-decorating classes. I have no definite answer but what I am certain is that we must cover the cost price of the cake which includes the ingredients used, electricity bills, transportation cost to purchase the ingredients and materials. Cakes that involve sugar art like fondant-covered cakes need a cool environment and that is when most bakers would switch on the air-conditioner just for the cakes. Do we need to take that cost into consideration? I definitely think so!

What is commonly overlooked are labour cost and the time taken to design the cake. How would you pay yourself as you spend time creating the cakes? But sadly, these are often overlooked by those who order cakes.

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I have been teaching cake decorating lessons for almost a year now and each time after the class (especially so for sugarart lessons), the participants will always tell me that it is so time consuming and involves so much work that they now understand why such cakes cost a bomb. More recently, one participant started to bake cakes that require sugarart for others and she would often utter, “It’s not worth it. I spent so much time and effort in creating those cakes but the customer doesn’t want to pay that kind of price.”

My advice to them? Don’t accept such orders. I mean unless you are okay with it, you are better off not accepting the order. In the end, you have to be happy doing what you love and not grudgingly.

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Recently, I made this 6-inch x 3.5-inch Devil’s Food Cake using Valrhona chocolates. How much would you have priced it?

I guess for me, I want baking for friends to be a passion and not a business venture. Baking for {much} profit kills my love for baking but yet at the same time, I do have to cover the cost and maybe get a little bit of return so that I can continue to practise my craft and to buy those materials (hah!). Then again, I think I have underpriced most of the time. Maybe I should look into my pricing again?

If you find yourself at a loss when it comes to pricing, here are some helpful links that were searched by the dear hubs:

http://www.cakeboss.com/Cake-Stuff/Articles/How-Much-Should-I-Charge

http://www.veenaartofcakes.com/pricing-your-cakes-a-beginners-guide/

http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2013/09/pricing-cakes-like-a-pro/

http://www.celebrate-with-cake.com/p/price-guide.html

Hope this helps.

Thankful that we are one

Our family has joined a new Cell Group (CG) late last year since our previous group dissolved *sobs*. But we always believe that “..in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) and true enough, many of our ex-members are settled well in the new CGs and that includes us.

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Personally, I’m thankful to be placed in this group because I can identify more with the ladies who share some common interests with me AKA cooking and education. The fact that we have a big group of young children helps because Faith could have more playmates and big brothers and sisters to learn from. Recently, she does not need me to be with her anymore as she finds more joy mingling with her playmates. Independence eh? Praise the Lord!

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We can almost start a  Children’s programme with this group of kids and I’m thankful that the ladies are always willing to step up to help look after them. Awesome!

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Yesterday, I had the privilege of baking cakes for our pilot CG leader and another member of the group. We had a wonderful celebration and all ladies chipped in in terms of food – roasted chicken thighs, beef stew, black sesame paste, apple strudel, fruits, etc. This is the kind of sharing I long for in a group, that kind of love demonstrated in giving (.. “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” ~ Acts 20:35).

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It’s such a joy to see smiles on their faces and more so, the Christ in all of them.

May we not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but to encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25)

Co-op at the reservoir

For our last co-op, we had it at the reservoir. It’s been so long since we had an outdoor lesson and thankfully, that day, the weather was fine though it threatened to rain initially.

That morning, the little one woke up early and since she had nothing much to do, she got bored and threw a tantrum. Going to the park earlier than expected seemed to be a desirable choice and off we went, with the skate-scooter in tow.

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Faith spent the bulk of the time observing the joggers and cyclists and broke into smiles when she saw her playmates. Thank God! We started off with the introduction of the farm animals and Mummy Ade brought along a puzzle to get the kids to match the animals.

The kids eagerly awaiting their turns

The kids eagerly awaiting their turns

For storytime, I chose the book ‘Do Cows Meow?’ by Salina Yoon and I thought it would spice things up if I bring some puppets along. Because the story is really straightforward and simple, I thought I just had to read it with much enthusiasm and I though the puppets helped in getting the kids interested. The children were all ears!

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For Craft, since we were in the natural environment, I thought of getting them to paint leaves on the trunk. Knowing that some of them (especially Faith) did not like to get their hands dirty during painting, I got them to use clothes pegs and the pom pom balls to ‘paint’ the leaves.

Explaining the steps to the children

Explaining the steps to the children

Engaged in the art work

Engaged in the art work

Group photo

Group photo

After Chinese time, we had snacks as usual before getting them to work on their big muscles. Mummy C had brought along various types of balls and we got the kids to learn to throw the balls upwards and sidewards and of course, not forgetting the kicking of the soccer ball.

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10676340_10152542501554234_7922960652791048130_nThe kids had an enjoyable time for this Co-op and the moms too!
Read a more comprehensive account at Mummy Ade’s blog here.

 

The October Vaby Box

The October Vaby box came in a bigger size this month! Let’s take a look at the content!

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1. The O10 Skin peppermint essence which helps stop the itch of affected area and leaves it moisturised. Inhaling the blam also clears nasal congestion.

2. Summer Citrus 5X Dishwashing Liquid by Idocare

3. Foldable Tote Bag

4. Bonny Baby Diapers

5. Everyday Head to Toe Cleanser by Bud Cosmetics which is suitable for growing babies. Its gentle amino acid and sugar based cleanser is combined with soothing, hydrating Aloe Vera and Fructan to cleanse and nurture the baby’s skin.

6. Educational mini book

Of these, we love the polyester and waterproof tote bag. We brought it along to the library once and were pleased that it is really hardy and could withstand the weight of the many books that were loaned. When folded and stored in the small bag, Faith loves to carry it around!

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You can find out more about the Vaby box here.

A day in the kindy … in Paris

These few days, I have been toying with the idea of putting Faith in school. I have had enough of her tantrums and she’s pushing boundaries all most of the time. I have been raising my voice to get my point across and disciplining her and I’m just short of getting the cane to work (and thankfully I haven’t bought it). She’s really getting too comfortable with me. Either that or she’s really bored. At the end of the day, I have a headache and a sore throat; this is worse than my teaching days.

This phase will soon pass, so say my friends. I just pray that I will not scar her emotionally as we go through this period together. *just kidding* On a serious note, I really ought to do more ‘lesson planning’ to engage her. She has grown out of her jigsaw puzzles and is less motivated to want to complete them. And I find that I constantly have to look for more activities through books or the internet just so that she could learn new stuff. If only I have more time….

Thankfully, there is the library and she won’t get tired of new stories. Recently, I read this book to her and at the end of it, I asked if she wanted to go to school, “Yes…”

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Not sure if she meant it. Anyway, I thought of posting some pictures of life in a French kindy as a friend has kindly sent them over to share about their life there.

Apparently, preschool education ( all the way to Secondary school) is free in France though you have to pay for the catered food in school. This year, the French government introduced 4 and a half school days per week as compared to the previous 4 school days. Generally, school starts at 8.30am (though you can put the child in school from 7.30am) and ends at 4.30pm though the children could stay in school until 7pm.

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Each morning, the children place their bags outside the classroom in their rightful position that are marked by their names. As they enter the classroom, they would greet the teacher and have free play while waiting for all the children arrive.

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The children would have storytime, playtime and other learning activities, such as…

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Are these activities that you do with your kids too?

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This board shows the names of those children who will be staying at the canteen for lunch.

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The menu is pasted on the wall so that parents will know what they have for lunch every day.

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Shhh… nap time and every child has a bed of his/her own.

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Women are really more enticed to work with such a school system (free and ample activities to engage the children) though I’m personally not fond of the idea of having the kid away from the parent(s) for such long hours daily. But that’s just me.

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_y7N4tJJL7n8OBCYXPW8CV3OMaxSGQB9pyf4gunSUZYX=w567-h524-noDuring mid-afternoon, the kids would be having their snacks and outdoor playtime until their parents fetch them. If the weather is not good, the children stay indoors and for after-school care activities (for those whose parents could only fetch them later than 4.30pm).

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There are definitely a lot of activities going on in a day for these kids in the kindy and I wonder if I could enrich Faith to such an extent. Possibly, if I could spend some time planning her curriculum which I hope to update on this space if I ever get around to doing that. Of course, I need to be realistic as to how much I can do since I…I… have to mind the other chores. #lifeasaSAHM

I hope I am writing this post with some coherence. #ilacksleep

F’s first experience with stage performance

So we went for the Hairy Maclary & Friends show during the weekend. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of Faith’s reaction to it. She’s a bit young, a month more to being TWO, and the show caters to young children from 2+ years old onwards. We’ll just give it a try, I reckon. There is really no harm in trying.

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We arrived at the library a tad earlier, to return the books that we had borrowed in order to help Faith get acquainted with the characters in the books. I was pleasantly surprised, upon reaching the lobby, that there was a small counter selling books by the author and other children’s books and some artwork done by preschoolers.

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We met an ex-colleague who bought the tickets way back in March for her twin kids. Her kids were excited about the show since they have been reading the books in their preschool. How wonderful is that? I had my hopes up from that point forth. Surely, Faith would enjoy too?

The show didn’t disappoint. In fact, Faith was engaged and sat through the 55-minute show. This was really surprising because she is a high kinesthetic learner and to have her sit down for 15 minutes is a great feat already, but 55 minutes? I was all prepared to bring her out of the theatre when she gets restless but hey, there’s nothing of that sort. In fact, she was laughing at the characters and watching intently at them! As a result, I got to enjoy the show as well.

I love the beautiful music and lyrics and the actors sang them with clarity. The music was catchy and upbeat which was great for kids. Love that the characters of the books came alive during that show and the audience was just entertained by them. It also helps that the audience was encouraged to be part of the show too by performing certain actions with regard to the story.

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This is Faith’s first time in a theatre and she was busy checking it out.

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Yay, I’ve got a balloon!

After the show, the children were given a balloon and a bag with promotion of upcoming shows by Kidsfest for the following year. All of them are good titles and since Faith enjoyed this show as much as her parents, I believe we would be bringing her to more next year! The shows run from January 21 2015. Be sure to check them out! I know I will!

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Homeschool or preschool?

These few days have been rather challenging basically because Faith has become more aware of herself and testing limits more often. Her mom, of course, feels very drained each day and her frustration level increases daily. And today she’s contemplating if she is able to take yet another year to homeschool her. Patience is wearing thin.

I have the group of moms to thank that I am still in this journey of ‘homeschooling’ Faith. We encourage one another and share ideas. As always, I feel enriched after each session of playdate/coop because there is always something new to learn.

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Mummy C hosted today’s session and for free play, she set up this painting area along the corridor so that the little one could express their appreciation for art. Hah. Faith stopped after a mere three minutes. She really doesn’t like art! Is it a lack of exposure or is it the genes? Sigh!

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For craftwork, Mummy Ade had the children colour the different parts of a lion and the mums helped to put them together using paper fasteners. Mr Google is a great resource for ideas! We just need time to search!

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Faith, with her completed lion.

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Group photo. It’s uber difficult to get everyone to look at the camera!

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The children learnt about the names of the farm animals in Chinese.

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I love the practical life segment that Mummy C organised. I have always loved her ideas as she has more experience and could come up with really useful stations which we could re-create at home.

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Station 1: Matching of bears which is an okay task for Faith since she has been doing quite a lot of matching at home.

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Station 2: Cutting homemade dough into pieces. Child-size knife is from Ikea and I’m pleasantly surprised that Faith was willing to touch the dough and attempted successfully to cut them up. More practice needed though.

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Station 3. Recreating the patterns using blocks. Faith didn’t follow through and piece up the blocks as she liked it. Sigh!

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Station 4. Pouring of water into cups. I guess a smaller jug would be helpful because the little one doesn’t have sufficient strength. Good to practise at home!

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Station 5. Hanging of clothes. Faith’s pincer’s grip is not there yet and could not perform this task. I’ve been looking out for clothes pegs that don’t require so much effort but till now, have not found suitable ones. Anyone has recommendations?

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For big muscles segment, we got the children to play at the playground. The restless kids came alive all of a sudden and played to their hearts’ content! Up and down the slide they went and each wore a smile on their faces. *Bliss*

Alas, my joy was cut short as we headed back home. Faith kicked up such a fuss on our way back that I had to raise my voice many times. Bad! Bad! Bad! And then the thought of sending her to school came back. Guilt gripped me once more as I was reminded that this is the wrong reason for having her in school.

The cycle continues…

You may want to read Mummy Ade’s account of the coop here.

Curriculum planning??

We are almost coming to the end of the year and for the following year, our playgroup would shrink in terms of the number of children. A majority of them would be entering preschool and it’s back to Mummy C and I in the end. Both of us are not that keen in sending the little ones to school…yet. We intend to homeschool for at least a year more and I guess it’s time to do some planning for the following year and by that I mean the ‘curriculum’ for Faith.

20141002_101059-MIXI’m not trained in early childhood education and to do curriculum planning for Faith can be daunting but that’s no harm trying eh? Thankfully, a friend who is a preschool teacher had shared a little with me with regard to that and I guess I would be doing a lot more reading and planning for these remaining few months.

The above is an activity in which Faith (and I) made a sheep for craftwork during her last playgroup. You can read about it from Mommy J’s perspective and that of Mommy Ade’s.

Certainly hope to come up with some concrete plans by December!

Pool shoes? Poolzies!

Faith loves waterplay and each week, she will utter ‘waterplay, waterplay’ under her breath and I make sure that I schedule one session of waterplay or swimming session per week.

If you are a regular for these activities, you will notice that the little ones do have problem with the slippery surfaces especially in and around the pool area or the shower facilities at the waterplay area. It’s common to have them slip (even when they are held by their parents) and this can be dangerous. If you bring your kid to the waterplay area in the morning like I do,  you might encounter that the ground can get too hot for the little ones to step on on days when the weather is warm.

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I guess the above are some of the reasons why Poolzies are created. Poolzies are pool shoes that are designed to help protect our kids from slippery surfaces mentioned above. The unique soles are made and imported from Toughtek USA, and the top part of the pool shoes is from Lycra Xtralife UPF50+ and is imported from Australia.  The pool shoes are then made to order from the Philippines.

I got Faith to wear this pair of Poolzies when we went for our recent waterplay session. Being a fussy girl (yes, she can be now!), I was prepared that she would remove them soon after we put them on. But I was wrong! She went off and roamed about in the pool shoes and kept them on throughout the session.

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She must have felt comfortable in wearing them! The fact that it is ultra lightweight must have helped in having her keep the pool shoes on. She had no problem getting in and out of this waterplay area (in the pic) and what’s good is that she didn’t slip at all at the shower area. I can now shower her in peace! Hah!

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If you know me, I’m not one who is uptight about the little one slipping and falling. I think she can learn to pick herself up or walk on slippery floor because eventually she would need to learn how to manage that (you get what I mean?). However, I find the pool shoes especially useful during waterplay due to a recent incident in which my friend’s daughter had a swollen foot after a waterplay session. We suspected that she was bitten by an insect during that short time when they removed their shoes and played barefooted. Thankfully, the swell went down after a few days.

I must say that poolzies are a good pair of pool shoes to have when the kids are younger. At the very least, they help alleviate some fears about the kids slipping and falling at the pool area, amongst others. There are 10 vibrant designs to choose from. Do visit http://www.poolzies.com/ to find out more!

Disclaimer: Faith was gifted with a pair of Poolzies for review purposes. I am not obliged to do a blog post if I do not find the product beneficial. No other form of compensation was received and opinions are mine. 

 

Milestone

Today was just another ordinary day.

No, it turned out to be a very memorable one indeed.

The little one did a few things that surprised and delighted me.

At the playground, the hubs got her to climb up a rather difficult ladder. It is curved and the distance between each set of space is wide. The hubs got her to attempt once, guiding her through it. Before long, she could figure the concept. There were a lot of children at the playground and some children were eager to climb that ladder too. Faith waited patiently for her turn before attempting and once, there was a boy who wanted to descend, she actually gestured and told the boy to wait.

It was all very polite. But more importantly, I admired her courage to attempt the climb and her persistence in it.

She was the youngest in that group. Bravo, girl!

Back home, she surprised me again by telling us that she wanted to poo, to use the potty and after trying for a few minutes, the waste came out. It’s a first for me! I mean, having her poo in the potty. You see, I wasn’t that hung up about having her potty-trained. I believe that when she understands the concept and when she’s ready, she would be, well, ready for it. There’s no point in rushing to train her. But now, it seems she’s ready to take on this challenge and I’m so happy to witness her first poo in the potty. Hah! Simple joy!

In the evening, her skate-scooter was delivered, all thanks to the delivery man who came back again after I contacted him; we missed him when we went jogging earlier. And oh, I really had a very wonderful experience with Yamato Transport! Faith was obviously excited but I had to cut short that joy since it was time for her shower and subsequently, bed time. Told her to wait for tomorrow since we could get Grandpa and Auntie to play with her and she willingly obliged.

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I’m praying that she will stay this way – that she will be patient and not insist on her way.

#22MO #firsttimeparent

Fun for Free Fridays: Pasir Ris Park

Somewhere in the eastern part of Singapore lies a wonderful park that appeals to the young and old alike. There, children could enjoy the various kinds of playground, a pony ride or simply spend the time building sandcastles while the older folks could have a relaxing time picnicking. The place I’m referring to is the Pasir Ris Park.

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Kids under the age of 13 years old could enjoy a pony ride at the Gallop Stable. Faith was too young to ride the pony but she could still admire it from a near distance! Alternatively, you may purchase pony feed packets and get up close to these ponies by feeding them.

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There is a bicycle kiosk nearby and you could rent the bike for an hour but you could ride for two hours! Not bad a deal eh? The park was a tad quiet even though we went on a weekend. So the ride turned out to be a very leisurely one for us and the little one sure loved the breeze!

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We rode to the main playground area and stopped for Faith to have a little workout. There are really a lot of activities to choose from!

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Swing just for the little one!

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Getting lost in the maze

Walking along the suspension bridge

Walking along the suspension bridge

Enjoying the ride!

Enjoying the ride!

Gearing up for rock climbing

Gearing up for rock wall climbing

Making melody!

Making melody!

Rock wall climbing!

Rock wall climbing!

These are but just SOME of the activities that are available at the big playground and we have not included some of the activities that are suitable for older kids like the flying fox!

The one thing that this park lacks is a decent cafe or eating place. We wanted to continue to chill out at the beach but we didn’t bring a mat or any food. So we had to bid farewell to the park in search of a eatery to satisfy our empty stomachs.

I believe you can spend the whole morning or an afternoon in the park itself if you go with a group. Savour the moment with loved ones and have the children enjoy themselves at the playground. You could also bring along a volleyball or a soccer ball and have a kicking good time! Do visit the Pasir Ris Park if you haven’t!

[Giveaway] A family set of 4 top category tickets to HAIRY MACLARY AND FRIENDS

Life as a mom can be exciting when the little one grows older. It’s really much like having a constant adorable companion by your side and doing things together with your mini-me. One of the things that I enjoy doing is watching musicals and performances and now, as she approaches the wonderful TWO, it’s time to expose her to such shows!

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The very first show that we are watching together is Hairy Maclary and Friends! I’m looking forward to this show because I know Faith loves dogs and would go up to the furry animal if she sees one. She’s just not afraid at all! Besides, Hairy Maclary and Friends is coming to Singapore for it’s very first time and promises great fun for the family!  It is an official stage adaptation of the much-loved Hairy Maclary children’s books by Lynley Dodd. This hugely popular performance is suitable for children ages 2+ and above and is packed with live music, singing and colourful costumes. There are also opportunities for the young ones to sing along and do the actions with all the characters from the books. I’m sure the young ones would enjoy this 55-minute show!

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DETAILS

Venue: Drama Centre Theatre, National Library Building
Season: Fri 10 Oct, 5pm; Sat and Sun 11-12 Oct, 11.30am, 2pm, 4.30pm
Duration: Approximately 55 minutes
Tickets: $35 onwards
Bookings: Tickets are available via SISTIC. Quote ABA2014 to save 10% on the tickets!

GIVEAWAY!

You can get to watch the performance with your loved ones! ABA Productions has kindly sponsored a family set of 4 category 1 tickets to ONE lucky reader of this blog (you will have to be residing in Singapore though). The tickets will be for the opening performance on Friday Oct 10th, 5pm, at Drama Centre Theatre – National Library. Enter the giveaway here! Results of the giveaway will be announced on Tuesday Oct 7th at 5pm on this blog post and my Facebook page.

All the best!

Disclaimer: Our family is invited to review Hairy Maclary and Friends. No monetary gift was received. 

Mushroom Pumpkin Mixed Rice

If you know me, I’m a huge fan of one-pot-dish meal. Call me lazy but there are really too many things to handle and I just need to fix a quick and healthy meal for the family. I can certainly eat out, like what the hubs always tells me to do but I don’t really fancy that idea because I want the little one to be interested with what’s going on in the kitchen, just like how my mom got us all to be so hands-on with food preparation and cooking from young. Yea, even my brother cooks well. It’s certainly a skill that I want to impart to Faith.

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I love this Mushroom Pumpkin Mixed Rice because it is absolutely tasty and doesn’t involve too much work. Credit goes to Naturel Living who inserted a recipe in the goodie bag that I received during the recent Eeva Chang’s Language Power talk show. I thought it would be worthwhile to try out the recipe since Faith loves pumpkin and mushroom. Win-win situation for me!

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Ok, I must also confess that the pressed rice on the first page attracted me so much that I kept the leftlet. I had wanted to make Bento sets and this picture really captures my attention. Oh! The many things that I want to do!

Anyway, here’s the recipe, just in case the words in the picture are too small. By the way, I used their organic mixed brown and red rice and I must say it is good! The recipe serves 4.

Ingredients: 
2 cups Naturel Organic Mixed Brown and Red Rice (uncooked)
300g Pumpkin (small cubes)
200g Chicken thigh (small chunks)
100g Chinese cabbage
12 pcs Shittake mushroom
20g Dried shrimp
1 stalk spring onion
10g Raw ginger (sliced)
20g Garlic (2 cloves)
500ml Chicken Stock or Woh Hup Concentrated Chicken Stock

Seasoning (Pre-mix in a bowl)
2tsp salt
1tbsp Light soy sauce
1tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1tbsp Naturel Pure Olive oil
1/2 tsp Ground white pepper
1tsp Sesame oil
1tsp Thai Fish Sauce

Preparation:
1. Rinse the rice and drain.

2. Rinse pumpkin and cabbage.

3. Soak dried shrimp.

4. Cut ginger into slices, crush and peel garlic and dice spring onion.

5. Pre-mix all seasoning in a bowl.

Method:

1. Heat the olive oil in a wok. Add chicken, ginger, garlic and dried shrimp. Stir-fry until chicken is cooked on the outside and fragrant.

2. Add in shittake mushroom, cabbage, pumpkin and mixed brown and red rice (uncooked). Stir-fry evenly.

3. Add in the chicken stock, seasoning and continue to stir-fry for another minute.

4. Transfer all ingredients to an electric rice cooker to cook fully.

5. Garnish with spring onion (and seaweed) and serve hot.

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Maybe I will attempt Bento next… for Faith!

Ready for more sports?

There is nothing more joyful than to see the little one enjoying what she is doing. It’s no surprise that Faith is better in terms of her physical abilities. She started walking rather early and has a good sense of balance (maybe because she’s short!). Now at 22 months, she could walk a fair distance (from our place to the playground at the reservoir) and run steadily.

Today, we had our playdate at the new sports hub and two of the kids brought along their skate-scooters. Faith tried scooting and in no time at all, could scoot! You can imagine my joy!

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I have always wanted her to be able to do that and am ever ready to spend on the scooter. The time has come! Skate-scooting is a good form of sports because the kid needs to have hand-eye coordination and a sense of balancing. Always good to sweat it out too!

Apart from that, we have been getting the little one to swim. Although she was afraid of the waters in the beginning, she wasn’t afraid of getting her head under the water now. Yay!

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I’m still waiting for Faith to be taller so that she could try on her balance bike which she has won through a contest! Yea, triathlon is very much on my mind. That’s the grand plan. Haha!

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Disclaimer: Opinion does not reflect that of my hubs. It’s purely mine. ;)

The September Vaby Box

If you still haven’t subscribed to the Vaby Box, let me show you the contents that we received for this month.

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1. Sommeil travel wallet. Good to have if you are planning for some vacation.
2. A cute personalised owl that is good as a gift!
3. Smartfish fish oil
4. Sommeil natural sleep aid oral strips
5. Ban Kah Chai Lemongrass tea pack
6. Hair velcro for the little girl
7. Frisco milk powder
8. Frisco $5 voucher

You can find out more about the Vaby box here.

Reflections on Language Power 蓝格子, 跑啊!

I left the theatre with  a thankful heart.

Thankful that I had spent an afternoon attending a most inspiring talk about the power of language and to be wowed again by the beauty of the Chinese language. Yes, Chinese and I thought I had a most wonderful lesson in years conducted by the very eloquent and unassuming speaker, Eeva Chang.

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I have ‘known’ Eeva Chang since I was a young kid, having listened to the radio programmes on Rediffusion during those early years. It is perhaps how I started to learn to speak in Mandarin in the first place since our family only communicated in Cantonese during those days and right into our Primary School years. Being able to see Eeva on stage and listen to her speak in crisp, clear Mandarin is a real treat in itself.

Eeva started off by sharing about her background and illustrated how the power of language could change lives and society by drawing examples from renowned figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Jack Ma (Chairman, Alibaba Group), to name a few. Indeed her own life and success can be largely attributed to her language ability and … her voice. Thus she urged the audience to do that ONE thing upon reaching home – to do a recording of our voice and listen to it for our voice has a face to it and we can use our voice to make an impression on others. Our voice can determine or change our destiny and indeed it has, in Eeva’s own life.

The following are three points that spoke to me:

Language is not inherited but imitated

Eeva illustrated this point by getting the audience to match the language spoken by two children to that of their respective parents just by listening to the recording. It clearly shows that the child will learn to speak in a way that is similar to his parent(s) for he first learns the language by listening. Language is not inherited and having a good language environment is crucial for language acquisition. In her years of working with educators, Eeva observed that many children are afraid to speak in Mandarin but are more conversant and confident in English. She attributed that to the lack of a rich Chinese language environment in Singapore.

I concur with Eeva on that and as parents, I think we have to make extra effort in our speech if we want our child to learn to speak well. I have been speaking to Faith in Mandarin with the (hopefully) right intonation and I have friends who asked me why I have to speak in such a manner. The above is exactly the reason why I do that. As a language teacher myself, I know full well that the child imitates how the adults speak and we have to make effort in speaking properly. That definitely applies to English too. Speak to them in standard English for this will impact on their writing ability in future. They will learn Singlish in no time at all since our language environment fully supports Singlish. Don’t leave the job of speaking well to the teachers. It has to start with us, parents.

And, no baby talk please, for the younger ones. We are just NOT helping them by doing that.

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The importance of joyful learning 

This is nothing new to us, that learning takes place when children (or adults) find a topic interesting and will naturally be motivated to want to find out more information on their own accord. Interest is thus generated and children don’t have to be forced to learn. They will find that learning can be enjoyable and desirable results (be it tangible or intangible) can be achieved.

Makes sense?

But how often have we asked our children to learn something that we deem as beneficial but which they dislike? Self-assessment is required here, dear parents. An easier method is to ask your child how he feels about attending certain classes that you have planned for him. If he likes it, that’s great! If not, why?

Learning must result in application. If not, why do we have to learn? Similarly for children, they must see a need to apply their knowledge and skills before setting their mind on acquiring them. The ability to apply is an achievement for them!

Visualisation in language

What do the above mean? Simply put, it means getting the person to visualise an image(s) when we mention a word(s). A word has an image and meaning attached to it and the word comes alive to the person.

An example was given. Eeva asked a local girl how old she was and the little one replied, “Five years old.”

However, when she asked a Chinese girl the same question, the answer was, “I am six this year and I am going to school next year.”

This illustrates that the number 6 has a special meaning to the latter girl and it is not just a number to her. More often than not, when we teach words to the children, we fall short of getting them to understand and visualise the words so that the children could use them effectively. They are not just words on the cards or boards but they have an image and feeling attached to it.

Another example to illustrate the same point was given. In getting the child to construct a sentence using ‘good girl’,

#1 student wrote, ” The sister is a good girl.”
#2 student wrote, “My sister helps the old lady to cross the road. She is a good girl”

#2 student thus can visualise the words ‘good girl’ and that translates into his writing.

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I left the theatre feeling thankful that I was given this opportunity to hear her speak. It came at a time when I was on the brink of giving up speaking to Faith in Mandarin. I used to be strong in that language but because there is little need to use it once I entered tertiary education, I found myself getting weak in the Chinese language. So, communicating with Faith in Mandarin can be a difficult task at times when vocabulary is limited.

Still, the language does occupy a special place in my heart. I’m not sure about you but when I listen to certain Chinese songs or poems, I could feel a tug at my heart. And when I hear good Mandarin being spoken, my heart is lifted; it almost feels like you are listening to someone singing. I want Faith to acquire the Chinese language and to achieve that, it has to start with me.

Things that I want to improve on is the way that I communicate with her. I would need to explain more in detail of a certain word to her and not just, “This is xxx.” Visualisation is so important!

I would also need to mix less of English with Chinese (I have a tendency to do that!) and to start learning more Chinese words! Thankfully, I have friends who are passionate about having their children learn Chinese and having them come together during playdates is a good way to get them to communicate in Mandarin too! Another way is to listen to the Chinese radio stations so that both Faith and I could listen to good spoken Chinese.

Last words: A social entrepreneur with a passion for the Chinese language

This last bit is not about the talk but the speaker herself. I was moved by Eeva’s effort to continue to fight for the language which is her love. She bought over Rediffusion at a time when many thought that it was a dying radio station (at least I thought so) and revived it. Read more about the history here. She continued to exhort educators and parents to bring Chinese alive to the children through educational talks and shows. She did share that it was difficult to get sponsors for this talk show because many companies believed that not many would be interested in such a show and the inevitable question arose, “What is there for me (to benefit)?”

I sighed at such a remark.

Does money have to be tied to everything we do? Can it not be for passion or because the society can benefit from it? Businessmen would probably laugh at my naive remark above and that’s probably the reason why I am not a businesswoman in the first place. I think I will turn bankrupt in no time at all. But then again…. sigh!

I’m grateful then for the few companies that came forward to support her cause and I find myself doing likewise.

I’m actually interested to get Faith to attend any suitable courses organised by Eduplus, a school founded by Eeva. Alas, there is no such course for her because she is too young! Oh well, Faith has just got to wait and learn from her mother in the meantime.

Disclaimer: I was invited to the Eeva’s Language Power talk show in exchange for a blog review. No compensation was received and opinions are mine.

Fun For Free Friday: Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden

The weather these days hasn’t been too good. Hazy, to be precise but the little girl desperately wants to go out and play. So, when the PSI shows an OKAY level, I will normally bring her out and just recently, we went over to Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden to have a little bit of fun and be close to nature.

Jacob Ballas is Asia’s first children’s garden and it aims to provide a place for children to play, explore and be happy in. The two-hectare garden is open to children up to 12 years old. Admission is free though the children have to be accompanied by an adult.

Faith and Belle spent about two hours in the garden and we learnt about the magic of photosynthesis and the Epiphytes and spent some time in the Fantastic Forest.

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So, oxygen is given out during photosynthesis…

 

Plucking up the courage to walk across the suspension bridge

Plucking up the courage to walk across the suspension bridge

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Water plants!

Whoah! The enchanted forest!

Whoah! The enchanted forest!

Sandplay at the Treehouse

Sandplay at the Treehouse

Of course, waterplay is very much part of the package when I go out these days. Faith kept chanting ‘waterplay’, ‘waterplay’ and well they had fun with the water all right.

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Since Food for Thought is just round the corner, we popped by for lunch. By then the kids were getting a tad restless but we did have a good meal. I recommend Chicken Laksa, Slow Roasted Pulled Pork and Laksa Leaf Mushroom Risotto. Yummy!

Note: There are a few more areas in the Garden that we haven’t explored! Oh my!
Nicer photos taken by my mommy friend, Trisa!

Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden
1 Cluny Road
Singapore Botanic Gardens (Bukit Timah entrance)
Bukit Timah, Central
S259569

Playdate, Sharing & an Orange Almond Cake Recipe

We resumed our regular playdate this week and initially, we had planned to have it in the outdoors but due to the haze, we had to abandon that idea.

Ade hosted us and since we were early, we took the time to explore some of the materials that the host had kindly set up for the kids. Among them was the LeapFrog farm animal mash-up kit which Faith was attracted to. She had to identify parts of the animals and if she has done so correctly, the sound made by the animal would be played. Cool eh?

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Ade started the session with the recap and introduction of the farm animals using materials like this and this. I think the kids especially liked the Melissa and Doug’s farm animal sound puzzle. You can see them inching forward to piece the animal so that the relevant sound was made.

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After that she read the story ‘Barnyard Dance’ by one of my favourite authors, Sandra Boynton. Faith has read this book before and we love the story. This time round, we did the actions! So fun!

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We missed craft time for this week and shifted Practical Life up to replace it. We had five stations – snake button, sorting of coloured animals, practising of pincers’ grip, matching of animals’ parts and stacking.

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Sorting

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Snake button

Practising pincers' grip

Practising pincers’ grip

Matching of animals' parts

Matching of animals’ parts

Stacking

Stacking

When I put myself in charge of this segment, I was worried that I might not have enough ideas and resources. Thankfully, friends lent me stuff prior to this day and in the end, I was able to set up the various stations, each requiring the kids to work on different skills. I am indeed thankful for their generosity and I am reminded that this is a quality that I want the little one to learn from young. I don’t embrace the idea of buying things for her just because she likes it. Most of the time, we borrow from others and she has to learn to lend her belongings to her friends too. And I’m heartened to note that the mummies in this group share their resources all too willingly. Yay to such a spirit!

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Chinese lesson – Jenna shared the Chinese terms for the various farm animals and we sang ‘Row, row, row your boat’ in Mandarin, and this we did the action too! The children had fun and I really feel that the kids want to have fun with their mommies too and not just learning with their peers.

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For big muscle activity, I got the children to have relay with the bottle caps that were given to me by a dear friend. Just in time! The kids were supposed to run from one end to the other, gathering as many bottle caps as they could within a certain time frame. I think they like it and this item could be kept.

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After the activity, Maths came in as the mummies counted the number of bottle caps that the kids could gather.

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Just the four of us today!

Below is the recipe for Orange Almond Cake which I have baked for the mommies. Got the little one to help me carry the baked goods to Auntie Ade’s place! Hopefully, the girl will catch on the spirit of giving and serving from young!

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Group A
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
150g sugar

Group B
190g unbleached flour/ plain flour
50g ground almond
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Group C
40g Orange juice
1 orange zest, grated
200g unsalted butter, melted

Almond slices

1. Whip (a) until sugar is dissolved and the mixture turns thick. Fold in (B) and mix until well blended.

2. Stir in (C) and mix until well incorporated.

3. Pour it into greased cup cake moulds ( I used square ones) and sprinkle some almond slices on top.

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4. Bake at 190C for 20-25 minutes or until the top turns golden brown. Remove them immediately from the moulds when done.

;)

 

We are 5!

Recently the hubs and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. How time flies, we have been married that long/short (however you want to see it).

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I’m in a thankful spirit and I want to remember how the Lord orchestrated everything in His timing.

And to remember that He has blessed me with a partner who:

- constantly keeps me grounded through encouraging me with the word of God.

- constantly reminds me to seek the kingdom of God rather than treasures of this earth.

- provides for the family such that we lack nothing.

- encourages me to pursue my dream.

- never puts me down.

- will do anything  most things that I want just to make me happy.

Thank you, dear Lord.

IMG_20140914_0845180.27292815096290524Five years later and it’s the three of us.

Black Sesame Seed Beancurd Chiffon Cake

I’m excited.

To bake.

You should have seen the many bookmarks that I have made on the cookbooks.

I’m itching to bake them.

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First up is this Poppy Seed/ Black Sesame Seed Beancurd Chiffon Cake. The original recipe calls for poppy seeds but because it is illegal for us to own them, the alternative is to use toasted black sesame seeds.

(Adapted from Alex Goh’s Fruity Cakes)

Ingredients (A)
4 egg yolks
1/4 tsp salt
50g vegetable oil
40g soy milk
65g beancurd

Ingredients (B)
100g cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Ingredients (C)
4 egg whites
80g sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Ingredients (D)
1 tbsp poppy seeds/ toasted sesame seeds

1. Mix (A) until well blended and then add (B) and mix well.

2. Whisk egg whites in (C) until soft peaks form (foamy stage). Then add sugar and cream of tartar. Continue to whip until stiff peaks are formed.

3. Take 1/4 of the meringue and mix with the above egg yolk mixture from step (1) until well combined. Add the remaining meringue and fold well.

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4. Add (D) and mix until well combined.

5. Pour the batter into a 22-cm angel food cake tin. Bake at 170C for 40 -45 minutes. I used a 17-cm tin and it worked okay.

6. Immediately invert it after taking it out from the oven and let it cool.

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7. When it is cool, remove it from the mould.

* I used poppy seeds for this cake since I have a little left in the kitchen.
* Didn’t manage to take a lot of pictures for the steps since I thought that it would be a failed attempt but it works! Will do so the next time!

A decision (kinda) made

I wanted a cheerful start to my week but my morning ended a tad sombre after the study of Matthew 24.  I left the building with reflections about my life. From the lecture, the heart was convicted about serving in a particular area and I couldn’t attribute it to coincidence anymore. There are just too many coincidences lately about an issue that I’m seeking the Lord in.

These are some statements/ questions that spoke to me this morning:

- The ability to stand firm and persevere comes not from our own strength. Only God can make it possible.

- Am I living in the hope of His return or am I living for the concerns of this earth?

- Am I spending my energy and thought on things that will pass away or am I living a life that is in anticipation of His return?

- Believing and living for Jesus make us ready for His return.

- It’s no good to be heavenly minded but of no earthly value. We are to give faithful service. True believers serve Christ by serving others, without reservation.

These thoughts kind of seal my decision in serving in a particular ministry in the church. I want to make my life count for eternity and as of now, I see a need in the Sunday School. I’m not sure if I can do a good job but that’s not the point at all. He will enable me to if I am willing to learn and let Him take charge.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)

 

Farm hopping!

While others do cafe-hopping, our group of mothers and children prefer to do farm-hopping and since this week is the school holidays, we took the opportunity to do that!

Our initial itinerary included six places but in the end, we managed five which was a great feat! Am thankful for Mummy C who came up with the plan and helped to liaise with Bollywood for our lunch. Thank God for her serving spirit!

Our first stop is Hay Diaries where we got to watch the mother goats being milked and view them in their pen.

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If you are going with a group of more than 20 people, you would need to pay an entrance fee of S$3.21 per person and this price includes a 200ml bottle of milk, a souvenir and a 20 minute orientation on goats & milk. Not a bad deal!

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We got quite close to the goats when they were about to return to their pens. Faith was fascinated by them and even witnessed their pee-ing and poo-ing. Ah…nature’s call!

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Taking a stroll and viewing the goats and kids.

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Our group was not considered big and thus we did not have to pay for the entrance fee (#funforfreesg). However, if you want to drink the fresh milk, a bottle will cost $2.50. Mommy C’s sons enjoyed the drink whereas Faith preferred to mess up the leaflets.

Hay Diaries
3 Lim Chu Kang Lane 4, Singapore 718859
+65 6792 0931

Our next stop is the Jurong Frog Farm. However, we missed out on making reservation with them and thus we could not have the frog tour. There are various types of tour packages in which  you can can have a personal encounter with the frogs or even fulfill your dream of kissing the frog prince (kidding). But I think it will be quite an experience for the adults and children alike. Our kids could only see the tadpoles and a few frogs in the tank outside the farm but they were already excited. Just imagine if they go through the tour! We will definitely go back again!

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Jurong Frog Farm
51 (Plot 56)
Lim Chu Kang Lane 6
Singapore 718864

We proceeded to a hydroponics 0rganic farm (not in our itinerary and thanks to a reader for pointing out my mistake for terming it as a hydroponics farm! ) instead of the intended Fireflies Health Farm but we didn’t stay long since the sky was overcast and promised heavy rain!

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I don’t really think that the kids like the hydroponics organic farm since the vegetables can’t really be interactive. To them, it’s probably just patches of green. Hah!

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Oh no! Dark clouds! Run!

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Before that, who can’t resist buying a few packets of fresh vegetables at very reasonable price! We are ‘aunties’ after all!

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We started the tour at around 9.45am and by the time we were ready to move on from the hydroponics farm, it was already a quarter past 11am and it was time to makan (eat)! We headed to Bollywood where Mummy C had helped to make reservation. Mummy C and I whipped out our busy bags once the kids settled. I think we kind of know that the kids were cranky and needed some form of distraction or entertainment.

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Some of us had The Warrior’s Platter and we all agreed that the food’s good! I had the Bollyccino (coffee) since I needed the caffeine!

Bollywood Veggies
100 Neo Tiew Road,
Singapore 719026 (Kranji)

Our last stop is Qian Hu (fish farm) and this place never fails to captivate the children. Faith and I visited this place when she was about 14 months old and she was attracted to the colourful fish. As we visited this place again, she was equally mesmerised by them.

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We decided to call it a day at around 2pm. The kids were getting restless even though some of them continued to practise their big muscles ( running around). They needed their naps and so did the moms! We had wanted to complete the tour with a visit to the Farmart Centre but I guess we had to reserve that for the next time.

Qian Hu
No. 71 Jalan Lekar
Singapore 698950

We had much fun and thankfully most of these places allow us to visit without a cost. Yay to #funforfreesg!

Timeout for baking and a madeleine recipe

I have been baking cakes for friends for about a year now and looking back, I’m glad to be given the opportunity to do so.

I’m thankful to friends who trust in me enough to ask for celebration cakes from me. Truly, it has been a humbling and enriching experience.

The last two weeks have been really hectic and I’ve reached the point of exhaustion. Sometimes I wish my cakes could taste a little better and that I could be more adventurous in terms of flavour. Alas, I have no time to experiment with recipes. There are household chores to do, meals to prepare, lessons to teach the little one, classes to teach and the list goes on. So to be honest, what has begun as a love for me -baking – has turned out to be a chore in recent times. I have to stop. To take a break from baking for others and go back to baking for leisure, for my family. The husband has complained that he doesn’t get to eat any of the baked goods nowadays. ;p

With these final cakes for the season, I will have to bid farewell for a while to baking cakes for friends so that I can resume my home-based culinary lessons which I have started since the days in Boston.

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Vanilla sponge cake with chocolate ganache

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Vanilla sponge cake with IMBC, topped with edible image and meringue border

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Vanilla sponge cake with IMBC, topped with edible image

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A simple yuzu sponge cake with IMBC for a 1YO boy

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 I will still make figurines during this period since I need to continue to hone my skills in that area. But more importantly, I want to take time to improve on my baking skills and continue to learn the science of it.

For a start, here’s a recipe for madeleines – scallop-shaped cakes that epitomise classic French patisserie. They are easy to make and are best eaten fresh from the oven. All you need is a stiff metal whisk. Simple?

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(Adapted from Perfecting Patisserie by Dr Tim Kinnaird)
Ingredients:

3 eggs
120g caster sugar
50ml milk
175g all purpose flour/unbleached flour for a healthier version ;)
1 1/2tsp baking powder
200g melted butter

1. Preheat the oven to 230C. If you are using a metal madeleine tray, lightly butter and flour the tray. I use both silicon madeleine tray and the metal one.

2. Beat the eggs in a large bowl and whisk in the sugar and milk until well combined. Whisk in the flour and baking powder until the batter is smooth, but don’t over-work the mixture as this will develop gluten in the flour and toughen the madeleines. Whisk in the melted butter.

3. Fill each scallop-shaped mould of the tray to half or at most 2/3 full.

4. Bake for 8 minutes in the oven or until golden brown. You may want to turn the tray 180C halfway through the baking.

For variation, I added yuzu concentrate to a batch (I took out one portion) and green tea to another batch before baking.

Enjoy! ;)

Language Power 蓝格子, 跑啊!

I read linguistics in school and after understanding more about brain development with regard to language, resolved from then on that I would want to raise bilingual child(ren) if when I have a family. Thus, in our household, the husband speaks in English and I would communicate with Faith in Mandarin .

Early childhood is the easiest time to learn multiple languages. Babies are born with billions of neurons (brain cells). They spend the first few years of life building trillions of synapses (connections) between those cells. For language especially, these first few years are the most “sensitive period” in their lives when they are primed to learn language. At 6 months, human babies are able to differentiate between any sounds that human beings make. But as children age, they begin to “prune” some of the synapses they’ve built. Connections that are important get reinforced, but things which they aren’t using in everyday life may get cut.

It is my desire that Faith grows up being an effective bilingual. While it is relatively easy communicating in simple Mandarin with her when she was an infant, I found it increasingly difficult to do so now as I would need more vocabulary in my daily conversation. What’s making it more complicated is the fact that I am also teaching her using English and I’m not sure if I am on the right track anymore.

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So, when a friend told me about this talk called ‘Language Power’ (蓝格子, 跑啊!), my interest was piqued. In the talk show, the speaker, Eeva Chang, would touch on the following (and here, I attempt to translate a few of them):

1。我会让你看见你是否有语言力量
(The participants will discover if they have language power)
2。你会体会到, 你的孩子或自己是否用了最好的方式与语言相处
(The participants will experience if they or their children are using the best method in language development)
3。我们会一起明白, 在新加坡学习语文真的如此痛苦吗
(The participants will understand if it is really that difficult to learn a language in Singapore)
4。你有机会听见自己 是如何在”运用”着自己的声音能量和语文能量。
5。你的家庭语言和学校语言到了几年级开始分道扬镳?
6。我们的社会是个语言视觉化的社会吗?
7。为什么语言视觉化可以让人的理解度大大提升?
8。新加坡的小学生最直白的心里话, 在那天会告诉你。
9。语言是遗传还是学习来的?
10。你知道,我们一直在违反语言学习的黄金定律吗?

The above are questions that I have been asking myself too and I thought it would be beneficial to hear her thoughts on them. If you don’t already know Eeva Chang, here is some information about her.

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After her university graduation, EEva was awarded the Golden Bell Award (Taiwanese Broadcasting Award’s highest accolade). She then left Taiwan to come to Singapore to fulfil her dreams. She has not left since.

The multi-talented EEva was also a winner at the ASEAN Literary Prose Awards and was also named the Best Producer at the Shanghai International Television Broadcasting Awards show. She was a Programme manager at 100.3FM as well as a presenter and programme producer at FM 95.8 and Rediffusion. I listened to her when I was a young kid and probably learnt Mandarin through that means.

On the education front, EEva was a professional trainer at MOE’s teachers training programme for 8 years. She started her own school EDUPLUS about 20 years ago and has since helped countless students in building their strong foundation in the Chinese language.

This event is the culmination of her years of experience as a Broadcaster and Educator.

Interested?

When: 20 Sept 2014, 3-5pm
Where: Resort World Theatre, Sentosa
Tickets: You may purchase your tickets from Sistic or call Rediffusion at 62888 3321 to save on the booking fee!

You can also look out for more information on her facebook page.

Playdate 040914

We are into our second lesson on the ‘Farm Animals’ theme and this is the programme for that day.

Free play with farm animals
Welcome song, introduction of one or two animals
Story time
Craft – making shakers
Snack time
Chinese
Practical life
Big muscles activity / playground time
Action songs and Goodbye song

The host, Ade, set up stations for the kids to busy themselves with before the lesson starts. There are sensory bin of toy animals, puzzles and books.

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We had our welcome song and I introduced four farm animals to the little ones. Most of them could recognise the animals and name them. Hmmm, I think we should move on to something more difficult! Nah…

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After this, Ade read the story ‘The Cow that Laid an Egg’ which was rather entertaining but we weren’t quite sure if the kids understood the humour in the story. At the end of it, we reflected and thought we should not confuse the kids with such a storyline until they are older. Reminder: Choice of appropriate books at this age is important!

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Craft time and we made shakers from toilet rolls, balloons and masking tapes! The kids were more involved this time round and I dare say that they did more work than the previous times. ;)

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 Mommy E shared the Chinese story this time round and as usual, the kids were all ears.

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Practical life session saw the kids working on snake button, puzzles, sorting of lego bricks and scooping of pom pom balls. It’s a good reminder to all of us that we should encourage and not get frustrated when the child cannot achieve or complete a task. There is a very high chance that the child is simply not ready.

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For big muscle activity, we decided to use bean bags and get the kids to balance each one on their head. Not an easy task for them!

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We ended the session with some action songs and used the shakers that the kids had made earlier to complement the singing. We had fun!

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Just the four of them for this week.

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Science lesson on terrapin

;)

What’s your ideal preschool?

When I was still training as a teacher, there was this module called Educational Philosophy and the lecturer gave us our first piece of assignment entitled ‘My Ideal School’. Sounds easy to write? Perhaps on first thought. On further reflection, you will realise that it is not because you need to consider the principles behind those ideals and how those could work out in our society.

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Now, as a mom to a toddler, I ask myself the same question but obviously I’m thinking more in terms of a preschool for the time being.

This video on how a 4YO boy spent his morning in a Montessori classroom excites me. Somehow, it reminded me of Totto-chan who received a delightful education in a railroad car and where her individuality and creativity was nourished. I wish the same for Faith but I’m not sure how many preschools out there stress on this. In any case, I have not done any research and judging by how things progress in our household, it is quite likely that Faith would not be enrolled in a preschool any time soon. Hmmm…

If I am to teach Faith myself, then I had better design a curriculum for her and to find a community in which she can grow and learn with. This can be both daunting and exciting at the same time. And as each day passes, I am acutely aware that she is growing up really fast and there is no time to lose. So much stuff to teach her!

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This week, I will be reflecting on this issue and if you are into montessori education and want to try some of the ideas at home, you can look for them at #montessoriathome on IG.

Here’s another video for your viewing pleasure.

I want to state that I’m not advocating that Montessori education is the way to go and that I would enrol Faith in such a preschool in days to come. In any case, I’m not even sure if those in our neighbourhood carry out lessons in the true Montessori spirit. However, there are areas with which I’m obviously impressed and would love to employ those methods to teach Faith.

These are some of the features that I love about Montessori education:

  • The children work individually most of the time, coming together when they wish to, at different periods during the day. These periods are not set, but arise out of the needs of the children on a daily basis.
  • Children are vertically grouped (mixed ages).
  • Written observations of children are made regularly.
  • Children have continual and free access to a full range of the Montessori materials appropriate for their age.
  • Classes are run in such a way that they promote the children’s freedom to make spontaneous choices; to be independent; to complete cycles of work; to develop a sense of responsibility within the group; to use the materials properly.
  • Children actively engage with materials that are designed from a developmental point of view and which lead them to successive levels of discovery about their world.
  • Materials are displayed in an orderly way, well maintained and complete.
  • The environment is prepared to be simple and beautiful, and is continuously maintained to a high standard.
  • At any time in the classroom a ratio of no greater than 1 adult to 8 children engages in classroom activity.

Just some notes to remind myself in terms of choosing a preschool when the time comes. These ‘tips’ came from an ex-preschool teacher.

- Do you feel comfortable communicating with the principal and the teachers?
– Ask about the teacher-child ratio and the turn- over rate and qualifications of the staff in the centre as this will affect the quality of care that they can give to your child.
– The environment plays a part. If the centre is air-conditioned, children will fall sick often and virus such as HFMD and chicken pox will spread more easily.
– Curriculum wise, you could ask yourself if you are more concerned about your child’s academic learning or character/social development. Find a centre that supports your belief in how children should learn (e.g through hands on projects/activities or worksheets/drilling ).

Faith at Sunday School today

Faith at Sunday School today