Playdate 210814

We had our usual playdate and this time I was supposed to host it but I suggested going to the reservoir nearby. Thankfully, the mummies obliged! Phew! It’s my belief that kids should be out in the open as often as possible, to be near to nature, to learn more about the environment and not be cooped up in the somewhat comfy environment – the home. Perspiration is ok, ants are fine (though we were almost greeted by an army of ants!). They just have to learn to deal with it. Kids are survivors. Don’t shield them from all these! (By that, I’m not saying that you purposely place them in danger, yah?)

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Everyone arrived on time and after we had settled, we had the welcome song so that the kids would understand that the programme is going to commence.

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Recap of the colours and shapes since we are on this theme for the term.

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We had storytelling time told by A and this time round, it was Eric Carle’s The Very Busy Spider.

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Following that, we got the kids to do some texture rubbing of barks of trees, granite flooring, leaves, etc. I don’t think the kids know what they were supposed to do but well, we’ll just treat it as an exposure? Faith, as usual, didn’t really enjoy craft time. ;(

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Snack time! Faith’s favourite activity! She could down many pieces of biscuits, blueberries and grapes. *Faint*

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Next up is the Chinese storytelling time! Always love this segment because I like how J reads the story. We had an action song following that which was a tad difficult to follow. Hah!

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For practical life, the kids learnt sorting which was a continuation of last week’s activity. I think the children knew what they had to do and could generally complete this task. We sang some songs again before having the children play at the playground.

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I got Faith to walk on sand because I know she’s not comfortable with it. But I also know that I need to help her overcome her fear and forced her to step out of her comfort zone. She did so, thankfully. That day, the kids were not too keen to play at the playground (possibly because it’s hot) and got attracted by bubbles!

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Group photo before we left the reservoir. It’s so hard to get a decent photo!

Next week’s lesson should be interesting. I’m looking forward already!

Faith: 20 to 21 MO

The little one will turn 2 years old in a few months’ time and I’m not sure how to feel about it.

She is growing up too fast! There are so many things that I want to teach her and I feel there isn’t enough time. She is learning rather quickly in recent times and I need to seize that opportunity! I’m also enjoying being with her now (of course, there is ALWAYS the occasional tantrums) and I’m really not sure how I would take it as she enters the terrible 2’s phase.

I thought I should record what I do with her at home for future reference and for you, readers, if you are interested.

I’ve always wanted Faith to hone her motor skills and impart our family values to her. So, I do spend a lot of time doing stuff that helps her in those areas. So, if you ask me if I flash cards at her. Nope. Not until I went for the recent Glenn Doman’s seminar did I realise that there is some worth in getting Faith to recognise words via this method.

Reading is an activity that we will always do and getting her in the outdoors is a must-do too.

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Here are some activities that she engaged in at home during her 20th month:

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Faith loves jigsaw puzzles. A month ago, she got frustrated because she couldn’t piece those puzzles together but now she enjoys it so much that it’s almost a routine that she would pull out that box of puzzles to play with them.

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This is another set of 2-piece puzzles but with more complexity. You can teach rhymes with them and it trains the little girl to look for the related pieces. Of course, once she has finished, she MUST pack those puzzles back into the packet or box that holds them. I’l sing, “Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere. Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share!”

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Another set.

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Snake buttons, She still loves to play with it. I like this because I can soon get her to button her own jacket; she’s quite good at it now. Can teach colours and shapes too with the snake button.

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Scoop and pour.

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Sorting. It didn’t take me long to explain before she got the idea. I think somehow in her own playtime, she knows there’s certain order in place and thus it’s not a big problem for her wrt this activity.

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Pretend play. She pulled out containers from the drawers and played with her ‘friends’. I just watched…

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Pretend play again and this time round, I got her to identify the various farm animals.

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After farm animals are the usual animals we see in the zoo. A trip there is well worth it because the little one came back, excited to see these miniature ones. And for the first time, I decided to link them with words. Let’s see how well this will go.

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Life is not all about playing. Faith is very much involved in helping out at home. I didn’t force her ah…she wanted to help out so might as well! A trip to the wet market or supermarket is the norm every week. I want her to interact with people (stallholders, strangers, cashiers, whoever she meets on the street) and to greet them. Basic courtesy, no? In the market, it’s a good opportunity to teach her the names of the various goods.

So, these are some activities that she engaged in during her 20th month.

Do you have any to share?

;)

[Reflections] The joy of teaching your baby, Part II

This is my reflections on part II of the seminar on Discovering the joy of teaching your baby. It is easier to stomach than Part I, I assure you, and much of what the speaker, Janet Doman, shared was rather logical and practical. She didn’t promote the institute’s programmes but brought the focus on the parents and what we can do to enhance the learning of our child(ren).

1. It’s all about joyousness

This is the underlying philosophy of all their programmes. They believe that all babies can learn anything and everything and we need to do so with joyousness, to have a good time with the babies and experience something great with them. Babies can sense if we enjoy being with them or if we are really present when we are with them.

Oh, this is something that I’m so guilty of not doing. There are so many instances that the little one wants my attention and desires that I play with her but I’m just caught up with other things to do. At times, even when I’m with her, I’m actually not. I definitely need to slow down and prioritize! I need to be present and have a good time with her!

2. Less is more

We are bombarded by many programmes out there which seem attractive and beneficial to the child’s learning but Janet’s advice is that we choose one programme that is irresistible to us, focus on doing it well and reap the rewards. Once we have done well with a particular programme, then can we try a new thing and start doing it modestly and build on it.

I admit I’m a bit stressed up as to what I should teach Faith because there are so many things that I want her to learn and she is at a stage when she is receiving and learning so fast. I recognise that I shouldn’t ‘touch-and-go’ but go deep into an area that we want her to learn and she is interested in. I need to take time off to reflect again. This will warrant another post.

3. Go faster

Kids like things that are fast and zippy and we adults do things that are generally too slow for them. I’m not sure if you have encountered this: When we are reading a story to Faith, many times she will flip the pages before we could finish reading that page. WE ARE TOO SLOW FOR HER. This is also what have been shared to us when we attended Pamela Lim‘s seminar on Reading. A child’s mind works incredibly fast during the first years and we are just too slow for them. Arghh! Btw, her seminar provides some interesting insights on a child’s beginning years and how reading is important. I certainly hope I have the time to pen down some thoughts.

A point to note is that we are often too slow to add new materials as children always want something new to learn (once they have a grasp of certain concept?). Don’t show the same thing over and over again to the child. This is DEADLY, so said Janet. Arghh! Mothers out there, let’s share resources! ;p

4. Be more sophisticated

With regard to books, we shouldn’t stay with simple books/words all the time. Children can progress to more sophisticated ones (words). Oh yes, I believe!

5. Find out what your child likes

This is rather commonsense but how often do we really take time to observe and find out about their interests. What’s worse is that we want them to learn something that we have planned for them but they are not interested in. What do you think will happen? Frustration! Oh, I have often encountered this when I try to get Faith to learn, say, colours. She is particularly slow and looks uninterested and often turns away when I teach her. This is her way of telling me that she doesn’t like it. As much as I want her to know the various colours, I know I can’t force her. It’s off to other things and when she is interested, she learns it really fast and that really amazes me.

So, I’ve learn to observe, observe, observe and cater to what she is interested in BUT at the same time, not giving up what I want her to learn (weave it into the things that she likes to learn). Heh. Alternatively, we can also ask our children what they want to learn/do and even at a young age, they will be able to tell/show you. We need to learn to communicate with these young ones because when they feel we understand them, their affinity for us will multiply and we will also encounter less tantrums! I find it so true!

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:: Some other points that I want to be reminded of:

- Kids want respect from us. They know they are loved (because we say that all the time) but they want respect from us too. They tell us that they want respect by showing us that they can do certain tasks. Again, look for signals from them. E.g. Young kids want to feed themselves but often we take over because of the mess they can create. We are undermining and not respecting them as a result.

- Kids need structure and they need a predictable life. They need to know what to do next. They learn rapidly when things are in consistency or when our words are consistent. Failing to do so and we will have them test boundaries.

Great things happen when you put kids with their parents.

Disclaimer: The hubs and I were invited to attend the recent Discovering the joy of teaching your baby seminar by Glenn Doman in Singapore. No compensation was received and opinions are mine.  

Fun For Free SG: The Animal Resort

This post is part of the FUN FOR FREE SG series of blog posts, brought to you by a group of mum bloggers. We’re sharing on one fun and free venue a day in the month of August, just for you. For the complete list of venues, please scroll right to the bottom of this blog post.

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Fancy the idea of farm animals roaming near you? There is one such place in Singapore and you don’t have to pay a fee to visit it. I’m referring to The Animal Resort which is located near Jalan Kayu.

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Sprawling over 5 acres of rural land, the Animal Resort resembles that of a kampong and you can get up close and personal with various birds such as the geese, peacocks, parrot, hens, roosters, Marabou stork, ducks. For a minimal sum (optional), you can purchase feeds for the animals and this certainly adds more fun for both the adults and children alike. At this simple store and cafe, you can purchase mosquito repellent (very essential to bring along!) and enjoy some simple snacks.

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Look how free the birds roam! The children are sure to squeal in delight!

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I personally feel that this visit makes a great opportunity to learn about farm animals.

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Some birds, such as these beautiful peacocks and the roosters, are in the cages though. This actually gives more courage for the little ones to get close to them, knowing that they are protected by a fence.

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What is this strange-looking bird? It’s the Marabou stork!

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Besides the birds, there are also furry animals to adore. However, these animals (rabbits, guinea pigs, skinny pigs) are caged up.

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Young children get awed by these animals and I dare say the same goes for the adults too.

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If you want to try your luck and have fun catching fish in the small stream, you can pay a small sum of $5 and get a small fish tank to keep the fishes you catch.

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As you spend time at the ‘resort’, you will see dogs being walked. That’s because there is a dog training and grooming school in the premise. You can also see the cute puppies at the kennel.

There is also one lonely horse for you to admire! Say hi!

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The Animal Resort is a wonderful place for urban dwellers like us to be close to nature. We brought our kids on our last visit and the children were thrilled to be among the animals and that lasted for close to 2 hours.

 

The Animal Resort
T81 Seletar West Farmway 5 ScienceCentre Road20140715_104454
Singapore798061
Opening hours
Tuesday – Sunday: 10am to 6pm
Contact
 Tel: (+65) 6338-7665
Fax: (+65) 6234-1360
Email: ricted@singnet.com.sg

Getting There
The Farm Animal is not easily accessible by bus or the train so the best way to get to the location is by car or taxi. There are ample parking facilities in the premise.

Nearest MRT: Sengkang (NEL), Yio Chu Kang (NSL)
Bus 86, 103 (off Jalan Kayu)
Landmark: Ju Eng Home along Seletar West Farmway 4. It’s about 15 minutes walk from the main road.

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Who’s next?

The next mom, Jiahui, who blogs at Mum’s the Word [link: http://www.mumseword.com] will be sharing about times at one of the most iconic parks in Singapore—Botanic Gardens! Jiahui is a full-time working mum of three who still feels she’s a new parent because of the many new things that she learns about her kids each day as they grow. Join her tomorrow to find out kids fun at Botanic Gardens!

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Here’s the whole list – 31 days of free fun in Singapore! This list will be updated regularly; you will be able to click on the location to be brought directly to the blog post when it goes “live”.
12 Aug: IMM by Mad Psych Mum
17 Aug: Animal resort by Raising Faith
18 Aug: Botanic Gardens by Mum’s The Word
19 Aug: A surprise! by Mummy Ed
20 Aug: MacRitchie trail by Scrap Mum Loft
21 Aug: Road Safety Park by Miracule
22 Aug: Marina Barrage by J Babies
23 Aug: Gardens By The Bay, Children’s Garden by Finally Mama
24 Aug: Changi Airport T3 by Mother Kao
25 Aug: Pockets of Nature by Mum in the Making
26 Aug: Changi Airport T1 Growing with the Tans
27 Aug: Pasir Ris Park Ingspirations
28 Aug: Gardens by the Bay Supertree Grove by My Lil Bookworm
29 Aug: Vivocity Play Area by Amazingly Still
30 Aug: Punggol Promenade + Punggol Waterway by Chubby Anecdotes
31 Aug: Westgate Wonderland by Xavvylicious

Drummer boy cake

Today must be a dry day. The fondant I put on the cake didn’t perspire much.

I worked on a drummer boy theme cake for a 3YO boy. His father is a drummer and I think the little one aspires to be one too. So the dad asked me if I could make a rainbow cake for his birthday in the theme of a drum, leaving the design to me.

I went for a figurine. Because I want to practise.

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As usual, the figurines were made a few days in advance since I need to dry them. A day before the collection of the cake, I baked three layers of the cake and today, I baked the rest. So I used my usual sponge cake recipe. the recipe yields about 1130g and I divided the portion into three colours = 376g per layer. I think this is a bit too much for an 8″ cake because if I put on 6 layers, it will be more than 4 inch tall! Today, I put on 5 layers only because I was multi-tasking and forgot about that one layer. But all’s good. I thought it looks better. It’s proportionate.

*Note to self. To divide into 4 layers for an 8″ cake and 3 layers for a 10″ cake.

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I used IMBC and a little of the conventional frosting (the one with icing sugar) and surprisingly, the fondant works well with it. I’m happy!

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I’m beginning to enjoy making figurines!

This is the full version of what has happened today.

Rainy day on an outdoor playdate

Once a week, some moms and I would plan outdoor playdate for the kids. Prior to that day, we would pray hard that it wouldn’t rain but obviously we couldn’t control the weather and this week, it rained cats and dogs.

What a dampener!

We had wanted to go to Jacob Ballas but adjourned to seek shelter at Food for Thought at the Botanic Gardens. We love the restaurant for its wide space and a playground just outside the premise where the children could play.

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There were about 10 children on that day and what could we do to occupy the energetic kids?
We were disappointed that the restaurant doesn’t provide colour pencils and paper for the kids anymore but hey, there’s bound to be someone in our midst who brought something for the toddlers!

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The kids went out to play once the rain had stopped.

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Lester and his mummy.

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How long can they be content with the small playground?

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“Mama, I’m bored!”
Mama panicked.

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Yay, someone brought the bubbles!
All the children perked up!
Moms went ‘phew!’

Lesson learnt: When you are going on an outdoor activity, always bring the busy bag along and storybooks. Playing with bubbles is fun for the kids, so always have it in the bag.

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These pictures make me smile.

*Thank you to the one who brought the bubbles for the children to play with.
* Nicer pictures taken by one of the moms, Trisa. The not-so-nice ones are taken by yours truly.

No frosting on cupcakes?

A friend asked me to bake cupcakes for his son’s 3rd birthday celebration in school. Initially, chocolate cupcakes were called for and it’s up to me to come up with the designs. A few days earlier, he called and asked to change them to simple vanilla cupcakes with no frosting since the school has requested for minimal mess. Just the alphabet letters will do.

In my mind, I was thinking, “What? No frosting?!”

How can cake go without frosting. It’s not nice (aesthetically and taste-wise) anymore!

So I defied him and went ahead to put A LITTLE frosting.

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Using Wilton’s method of royal icing, I made the alphabets a day in advance since they need to be dried. What you need to do is to print out the letters on paper. Then place a parchment paper over and stick both papers using tapes on plain, smooth surface before using a piping tip (Wilton tip #4) to pipe dots for each alphabet.

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Once they are dried, using an offset spatula and carefully lift the alphabets off the parchment paper.

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 Place each alphabet on each cupcakes and you have a simple design. Easy enough?

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Packed and ready to go!

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:)

No screen time before 2YO

This is a late night post and if I’m writing incoherently, do pardon me. But I feel I need to pen these thoughts down before it disappear from my mind and these are lessons I need to remind myself.

This article prompted my writing.

Faith has been barred from watching Hi-5 for about a month now. If you can recall, I shared about how TV programmes such as Hi-5 can be such a saviour when it comes to giving me a breather because the little one could sit on the sofa by herself while watching it.

Well, I want to take back my words.

Because I fear I may be doing more damage to her by making life a little better for myself.

During that period, the first thing when Faith woke up is to ask to watch Hi-5. She did it in an adorable way and the first few times, I found it cute but when the frequency of those requests increased, it raised an alarm.

I observed what she was doing when the show was on.

I didn’t like what I saw.

Faith was no longer dancing to the songs like before. She just sat on the sofa, stared at the screen and her facial expression was blank. There was very little interaction with what was shown and that disturbed me.

What is going on in her brain?

There are quite a few articles in the internet which state the dangers of exposing young children to electronic devices and personally I subscribe to that.

So I got Faith to go cold turkey on Hi-5.

She showed her displeasure by throwing tantrums of course and that persisted for a few days. By the fourth day, I think she knew her mother meant business and did it more mildly. At the end of the first week, there were no tantrums and fewer requests for the show.

Now, she did not ask for it anymore.

*However, there are some special occasion when we allow her to watch the TV programme with us. Other than that, the TV is mostly switched off. The adults got updated with news from the newspaper or the internet. ;p

In our family, we do not believe in using the mobile phone to engage her. To us, the device only distracts her from the chance of understanding more about the environment she is in. When we dish out the device during mealtimes for example, we not only deprive her of using her senses to savour the food and learning about communal eating, we also cause her to focus on the device rather than food. Bad eating habits result.

Technology has its place in learning and I suspect Faith could know more words through using some apps and be more IT savvy. But that can wait.

Meanwhile, there are changes my hubs and I need to make. We need to learn to use less of those devices in front of her and to really pay attention to the little one because a lot of times, we may be physically present but well, we really are not and young children can sense it easily.

They are really that intelligent, you know?

 

[Reflections] The joy of teaching your baby, Part I

I was recently invited to attend the seminar on Discovering the joy of teaching your baby organised by Glenn Doman in the hope of finding out more about their reading programme, amongst other topics that would be shared. However, that day, the speaker, Janet Doman, delved into the general ideas of teaching the baby and shared in detail (for the first part of the seminar) on helping the child in their social growth. Here’s some of the information shared and my reflections.

According to Janet, all children are born geniuses and there is great potential in every child to learn. From the time they were born, they want to learn everything and they want to learn every moment. Tiny children believe that it is their job to grow up and they think about it every minute of the day. We definitely can testify to that by the way and speed in which they imitate us in our actions and speech.

read

Children have the immense ability to learn fact for fact prior to six years of age. They are superb learners and  are only limited by the materials that are given and this includes the quality, depth and sophistication of the resources. It is easy to make a baby physically, intellectually and socially excellent before six years old. Janet claimed that it is almost an effortless process but it will be much more difficult if we wait past the first six years to accomplish that. The ability of a child to learn languages effortlessly in his first few years is a good example.

Reflection: If the first six years of their lives are so important, what would you, as parents, do to facilitate their learning?

Up till this point, this is information that we know much about if we have read up on early childhood. The next point that Janet made might not sit well with some of us. She advocated that mothers and fathers are the best teachers and no one can teach our own kids better than ourselves. For social growth, the best environment for a child is home and there is no other social environment that is as effective. She further stressed that for a child, it may be the only environment that he can learn socially.

While many of us think that little kids need to interact with their peers to learn or for the purpose of socialisation, Janet thought otherwise and maintained that there will be social chaos instead (she was referring to a preschool context). The only thing that a 3YO can possibly learn socially from another 3YO is how to be a 3YO. She gave an example in which a child learns that screaming enables him to get his way because he saw his peer using that method successfully.

Is that socialisation?

Is that what we want?

Can little kids learn socialisation from kids their age?

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This is my nephew,D , and Faith.
D loves Faith but I thought this set of pictures illustrates the following point well.
Pics taken randomly during one of their playdates. 

Janet further gave an illustration on how little kids are not ready to share their toys. If we take parents out of the equation and put the children in a group, what would happen is that the smaller ones will get knocked down by the stronger ones. Is that socialisation? It sounds like a dog-eat-dog world. The outgoing, friendly kids learn to be willing to fight for what they want or join like-minded friends (gang) to achieve their goals. For the shy ones? They don’t even stand a chance and might get bullied in the end.

She also challenged us to take about 20 minutes to observe what really goes on in a preschool and commented that we probably would take the child out of it. Too much chaos and a waste of time for the kids. The kids would be better off learning at home. 

I thought hard about the statements Janet made and the examples that she gave. I want to agree with what she said because to a certain extent, those are some of the reasons why I did not put Faith in a playgroup. Faith is too young (barely 2YO at this point) to distinguish between right and wrong. She needs an adult to teach her, constantly, and though there are teachers in the preschool, they are not always with her. Habits and values are caught, not taught and a young child learns through observation. If there is no one to guide her as to what’s right and wrong, she will form her own hypothesis about certain social norms. It would then be an additional effort to correct a certain behaviour or thinking (that is, if the parents are aware of it) and it certainly takes diligence, patience and perseverance of the parents to do that.

Nobody says parenting is a breeze.

As it is, during our weekly playdate, I have noticed certain behaviour from our kids that are not so desirable but I’m thankful that the mothers are with them and could correct them on the spot. Imagine if the children are in the preschool and those behaviours are not addressed. Do you want to “let it go…let it go?”

However, I also want to believe that the scenarios she had painted (though they are real), may not happen in all preschools. Granted that there would definitely be chaos in a group with many young children and the teachers would probably spend more time maintaining order than teaching ( I was a teacher myself and could relate to that). This is inevitable in a group setting. But I would like to believe that there are many early childhood educators out there who are doing a marvelous job with the children. It is definitely not fair of me to pass judgement on them basically because I am not in their situations nor have I placed Faith in a preschool to witness anything unpleasant.

At the end of the day, what Janet seemed to advocate was for mothers (I would say parents) to spend more time with their children because she claimed that studies have shown that there is a direct relationship between the amount of time spent with a kid and being a civilised kid.

She cautioned that each time we decide to hand the child to someone else, there is a price to pay and we might want to ask ourselves if it is worth it.

I could almost feel a sense of uneasiness in the room. What Janet had shared was not something everyone would like to hear. It’s a call for working mothers to rethink about their priorities, to weigh if work is more important than her child. It’s a reminder for SAHMs to stop minding so much about household chores but to spend the time to teach the child well for there are a thousand things that young children do not know and they need to be taught.

The magic is in your child and in you, not the materials…

It’s certainly a wake-up call for me. Being a SAHM, you might think that I have all the time to teach the little one. But this can be far from the truth. My mind is constantly filled with the to-do list and though I am physically with Faith, I may actually not be present (you know what I mean?). There could have been more structure in terms of learning for Faith and I really ought to plan my time well with her knowing that kids thrive on predictability.

I thought it’s also worthwhile to review our parenting philosophy and what we want for our child.

I will reflect on their programme in the next post; this is getting too long.

In a nutshell,

to speed brain growth at the institute is to give a child visual, auditory and tactile stimulation with increased frequency, intensity and duration in recognition of the orderly way in which the brain works.

Meanwhile, you may like to read another mom, Shermeen’s views on this seminar.

Related readings can be found here.

You can find out more about Glenn Doman’s programmes here.

I will also get myself started on their reading book as I realised I have this lying on the bookshelf! Thank you to the one who gifted me with this.

glenndoman_reading

 

Disclaimer: The hubs and I were invited to attend the recent Discovering the joy of teaching your baby seminar by Glenn Doman in Singapore. No compensation was received and opinions are mine.  

Never once

Each day as I read the news on the screen, my heart saddened. It’s heart-wrenching. The world is in turmoil. There are thousands, if not millions, suffering and living in fear.

Can I safely say that nothing ill will happen to us? I can’t.

In these times of uncertainty, the only thing I can do is to cling on to the living word of God and trust that He is in control. And should anything happen to us, I hope I will remember that never once did we ever walk alone for He has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

A montessori-inspired toddler room for Faith (Part II)

Faith’s room has transformed!
See previous post here.

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We basically removed the cot that took up almost a quarter of the room (yes, the room is that small), the armchair that I used to breastfeed her in and changed the position of the chest of drawers. To replace the cot, we bought 2 mattresses that cost a grand total of $40 and 2 side tables from Ikea for her activity shelves.

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These are the shelves that display some of the things that she plays with. She is into jigsaw puzzles lately and I made a box out of the cardboard that we have. Each item has its place and Faith learns how to put the stuff back to its original position. The white container houses books that she loves and each night, before she turns in, she would grab a few for us to read to her. I love it that the shelves are just at the right height for her.

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The mattresses can be stacked on top of the other and this allows for more space in the day for play. I made a few photo frames from the excess cardboard and the photos create a cosy feel to the room. They are also mounted at a height that she could view easily.

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This is the reading corner which is really not comfortable. I would prefer a carpet and a bean bag but the room is too small. Anyway, Faith prefers to grab a book and read while sitting on the mattress.

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 Faith is definitely pleased to have her own dressing table with mirror that is hung at the right height!

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We are into our second week of getting her to sleep in her own room, with much success! Though there are times that she still pointed to our room, wanting to sleep in there, I must say she is generally all right with her room now. I still sleep next to her, for now, since she wakes up in the middle of the night to look for me! At least, we have made some progress!

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 Her room’s done and now, it’s on to more Montessori activities at home!

The Ninjago Cake

I know one fine day I would bake a Lego cake. It’s not surprising since children and even adults love playing with these bricks. I remember when I was young, I could spend hours building and even without the guide, I would draw on my imagination and do a layout of a room or house.

Recently, a friend asked me to do a Ninjago cake for his 6YO son. The cake took a week for me to make, simply because I could only do the figurines at night, after the little one has gone to bed. I was really apprehensive about the turnout and threw a couple of figurines away because they didn’t work out.

In the end, this is the completed product.

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It’s a 3-inch chocolate cake and I’m thankful that the frosting didn’t melt in the heat. I did a double layer of fondant covering after frosting the cake.

The bricks and figurines were done a few days before the cake was assembled since I needed them to be dried. Tylose powder works wonderfully well for these.

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I had problems with the temple though. Initially, i had wanted to build one with either rice crispy or some biscuits for the interior but I thought it would weigh the cake down and decided on doing that single panel. Not my ideal but I guess I would just have to make do.

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In the end, I was most pleased with the bricks and the banner with the name on it. It was a last-minute idea and I did it free hand but I love the result.

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3.5kg

Playdate 070814

It’s been a crazy week with teaching and baking of cakes for friends but I always look forward to our weekly playdate. I’m thankful that the moms in this group are all enthusiastic when it comes to teaching the kids and I always go back home with a few more teaching ideas. Inspired, no doubt and hey, majority of the moms are were teachers!

We decided on Bishan Park as we did have an awesome time the previous week. Thankfully, we were blessed with good sunny weather!

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We first started off with a welcome song (as usual) and then the recap of the colours and shapes that we had learnt. Then we introduced the colour that they had to learn for the day.

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C then read the story ‘Dear Zoo’ to the kids. I love interactive books such as this. The children got to open the flap and this got their attention.

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The follow-up activity requires the kids to colour the various animals in the book. Obviously the little ones couldn’t colour at this point in time but the mothers took every opportunity to teach colours to them.

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And it’s time to move about! The kids got to pick the fallen leaves, feathers and twigs for their art and craft session.

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Adeline got 3M to sponsor some tapes for us and the kids learnt to use the tapes and stick them on the items that they have collected. Thanks to both!

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Our dear girl decided to explore a little more and didn’t follow the ‘curriculum’.

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If you see such neat artwork, it’s definitely NOT Faith’s work. Not yet, anyway.

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The completed work.

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After sitting down for a rather long time, the children sprang to life when they saw food, glorious, food! It’s not surprising to see Faith popping grapes, blueberries and biscuits into her already-full mouth. Sigh!

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The children love it when it comes to physical activity (who wouldn’t?) and I really felt that Faith scores in this segment. I’m not comparing her with the other kids. What I have observed is that Faith came to life when she is asked to move about and her actions are more mature. However, when it comes to artwork, she doesn’t show interest in that area. Is it about exposure? Her preference? I’m not sure.

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We added soccer time!

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We added a Chinese Storytelling session this month onwards because we have a Chinese teacher in our midst! I must say that the children were all ears and I’m truly captivated by the language. Oh, the way Jenna read the story… it sounded so soothing to the soul!

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Certainly hope you guys have fun!

Car washing day

Yesterday, we went down to support my nephew and his classmates who were involved in car washing organised by his school. I love it when young children learn to do these chores from young and I fully concur with the principal who advocates character building over academic excellence.

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By the time I reached the school compound, the kids had already started washing and we love parents who lend their support to their children!

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Under the guidance of the teachers and with much encouragement from their parents, I must say that the kindergarteners did a good job and more importantly, they had fun. This is really like waterplay for them!

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Our younger kids stood nearby and observed the busy activities…

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 Lester stood by the pail and watched….

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 Faith wondered what was happening…

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And then the mother got her to join in the act…

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The children had a wonderful time!

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I’m one happy woman because my dirty car got a tad cleaner!

Good job, children!

To-Gather Cafe

I like chilling out in a cafe, especially when I am in one that has a cozy ambience and that their coffee and food are good. It would be even better if the cafe allocates a small area for the kids to play in. Recently, I came across one that we, as a family, are delighted with and I believe we will go back for more. It is located in our neighbourhood and that also translates to reasonable pricing for the items on their menu.

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To-gather cafe is located next to the famous Fengshan Market (more commonly known as the Blk 85 market). The exterior decor has a Japanese feel to it and the cafe stands out among the shops in that block. Once inside, I couldn’t help but feel welcomed. The interior is simple, clean and exudes a warm, homely feel to the diners.

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Before we could be seated, our little one automatically went towards a small area and helped herself to the ‘kitchen’. Yes, you’ve guessed it right, it’s a play area for the little ones and this is so thoughtful of the owner and a brilliant use of space. Normally, this space (under the stairway) is used as a storeroom for cafes that have the same layout. The owner obviously know that kids can be a handful and designed this space for them so that the parents can have an (almost) undisturbed meal time. ;)

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The prices for most of the food items on the menu are below $10 and you order and pay before going back to your table. There is no service charge as such. I ordered the Teriyaki Chicken Kinoko Pasta (the photo above does not do justice) and the hubs had Pork Cordon Bleu. The dishes do not impress but they do not disappoint either. On the whole, I feel that the food is worth the price we pay for. You feel good paying for them actually.

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I also appreciate that there are different kinds of seating/table arrangement. If you prefer a little privacy, there are those tables that are separated by a low false wall -benches and booths. If you have a big group, there is a long wooden table that you can be seated. There are also those normal 2 or 4 seaters (I hope you know what I mean. This is the best I can describe with my limited vocabulary). Outdoor seating is available too. Oh, I do love the wall decals that bear some meaningful quotes.

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Normally, I don’t visit a cafe more than once (or twice) unless we find it real good. And we probably will come back to To-gather cafe for more since it is within walking distance from our apartment and it serves good food with reasonable pricing. I heard that this cafe has expanded (to the current 2 units) within a few months of operation.

It must be good.

To-gather cafe

Blk 84, Bedok North St 4 #01-25/27
Tue – Thu: 11:00 – 22:00
Fri – Sat: 11:00 – 23:00
Sun: 11:00 – 22:00
Closed on Monday
http://www.togathercafe.com.sg

PLAYDATE @ Bishan Park 310714

We had our playdate in the outdoors today and it was great fun! Decided to let the pictures tell the story.

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It was a beautiful morning and we are indeed grateful because for the past few days, it had been raining and we were wondering if today’s playdate could happen in the outdoors. And the sky cleared for the little children. Thank you, God!

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After the welcome song and circle time, we proceeded to story telling and this time, I picked Eric Carle’s Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?. I think the children were paying attention especially to the sounds of the various animals in the book. Time for Faith to visit the zoo too!

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We had a total of seven kids today because we included the slightly younger ones to join us for this day. Got the children to pick up the leaves on the ground and use them for leaf printing.

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I love this picture. Every one of us was engaged. The children had great fun with the water telematch and we were pleasantly surprised that they could scoop water from a cup and transport it to the other end before pouring it into another container. Well done!

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From this activity, we could observe a child’s character. Some are really cautious and proceeded very carefully and slowly, not wanting any drop of water to drip while others just wanted to complete the fun task.

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Wonderful big muscle programme!

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Look at all the encouraging moms with their tots. Beautiful, isn’t it?

20140731_121902Went over to Grub for lunch and had a relaxing one with the group.

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All of us had a wonderful time and wanted more!

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:)

Our first weekend together

Excitement is in the house as we welcomed our brother and his family back for a month. My parents have been waiting for this day for so long and it is a no wonder that mom got busy on that day when they arrived = scrumptious dinner!

We spent our first weekend together at Sentosa as we wanted to bring them to the Port of Lost wonder. My brother has been stationed in Shanghai and my nephew has little opportunity for water play. We must expose him more!

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The kids were waiting rather impatiently, especially the older ones since they knew what to expect.

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As usual, we were the first in line because we were simply kiasu! Hah!

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Yay! Off we go!

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Faith and her cousin, Lester, who seemed very apprehensive.

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Remember to get the kids to drink lots of water and apply the sunscreen!

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The younger kids stopped playing after an hour while the older ones were still enjoying themselves.

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Eventually we stopped and proceeded to Siloso Beach for our lunch. It’s to Coastes again! We chose this eatery because we wanted a place that the kids could continue to play while the adults had their meal. Play what, you ask. Sand!

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Remember Faith is afraid to go into the sand, let alone play with it? I think {good} peer influence is important because when she saw that her cousins were playing, she went ahead as well.

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And then when she saw that her cousin Dayen was fetching water from the sea, she wanted to do so too which was really surprising! We brought her once to the beach and she resisted the waters but now, she wanted to do it. I grabbed the opportunity to go into the waters with her. I’m reminded again to always observe what’s she doing and to encourage her (not to restrict her) whenever she’s ready for any task/adventure. In today’s case, it’s the sand and seawater!

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The adults had a relatively easy time for lunch. Yay!

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It’s an enjoyable weekend, I must say. Not sure where we would be headed to next as a family.

;)

Cold noodle salad

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This is a dish that is so suitable for our very warm weather! I had it at the recent cell group meeting which was hosted by Trisa and her hubs and I was instantly refreshed after taking a bite. It must be the cold noodles that did the job. So, I asked the gracious lady for the recipe and here goes. There wouldn’t be specific measurement though but you will get it if you follow the instructions.

Use angel hair spaghetti and follow the instruction on the packaging. Mine only needs to be cooked for 3 minutes and after that, I soak the noodles in icy cold water, making sure that the noodles are cold before draining them of the water. This stops the noodles from further being cooked.

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Then add in some sesame oil and mix well. This is done to prevent the noodles from sticking to one another.

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After this, I placed the bowl of noodles into the refrigerator for a few hours until before serving.

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At the point of serving, I added the Japanese sesame salad dressing,  salad and black sesame seeds and toss evenly. To have a more substantial meal, you can add ham, roasted chicken stripes or like me, sausages!

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Hope you like this dish!

A Montessori-inspired toddler room for Faith

Faith has been co-sleeping with us for many months. In the early days, she slept in her cot and when we thought we had sleep-trained her, problems arose. Teething, to be precise. She would cry in the middle of the night for a few times and I had to drag my feet to her room and soothe the poor fellow. In the end, I was so exhausted that I gave up and got her to sleep with us. I guess she gradually loved the idea and the security that she got from having her parents by her side and in the end, she refused to leave our room.

Poor us.

And we don’t fancy that idea. It HAS to stop.

So I did some reading up of montessori-inspired rooms and in doing so, wanted to chide myself for not doing more ‘research’ before the little one was born. Sigh! Oh, by the way, I am really into Montessori’s principles now and eagerly anticipating the few related books that I have purchased online. More homeschooling ideas. Yay!

Anyway, I have decided to transform Faith’s nursery and to do that, I have to give away some bulky items, namely the cot, playpen, and obviously toys that Faith has outgrown. It is not too hard to part with them since they are mainly hand-me-downs; we are that fortunate (and immensely thankful for the generous givers).

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 This is Faith’s very cluttered room and which has been left empty for a few months. I hope to turn it into a montessori-inspired room with the following ideas:

1. Create a calm environment.

2. Make their space at their scale. This can be anything from a child-size broom to a bed on the floor to hanging art at their level.

3. Everything has its place. On low lying shelves, put a selected group of activities for them to choose from.

4. Clean room without a lot of stuff. 

You may find these five tips for creating a Montessori inspired bedroom useful.

Some blogs for inspiration:

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Let’s just wait and see what the transformed room looks like in a few days’ time!

The weekly playdate 240714

We had 3 children in attendance today but no worries, we still had fun!

As usual, we had our welcome song and circle time and today, we introduced purple and square using blocks (as seen in the picture).

20140724_101607For storytime, I chose a book that I bought from the Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens. It is a simple book on fruits and vegetables and there is a repeated phrase, “I pick it and eat it.” For the past sessions, I realised that the children couldn’t sit through the whole story and I thought this short story would suffice. In addition, I wanted them to see the fruits and vegetables in real and brought them out.

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As I read, I showed them the items and had the kids touch them. The repeated phrase helped and Faith who has read the story a few times, pretended to pick the fruits from the book and eat them. This time round, I also got them to eat the grapes and blueberries and this really got their attention all right. They sat through the story. Hooray!

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Adeline then supplemented with another story of a similar theme. I love team work like this. ;)
It would be better if we have bigger board books. I find it hard to search for them in the library. Oh, NLB, please have more of such books?

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After some action songs, we had art and I carved patterns on some vegetables, namely carrots, potatoes and corn so that the kids could use them to stamp patterns on the drawing paper.

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Our little girl still could not get over messiness and refused to touch the vegetables and paint, much to the frustration of the mother. I know I can’t force her; she’s just not ready. Sigh!

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There’s good news though. Noah, the boy in the middle, started our playdate not liking paint but today, he did an awesome job. He actually filled the paper with paint on his own! I’m so proud of him! The paper with the yellow border is Noah’s and the one with the flowery border is Faith’s and the work is not counted since her mother helped a lot to achieve that look. By the way, to create that border, I used washi tapes to do the job.

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After a few action songs, thanks to Adeline, we had our snack time and it comprises corn, grapes, blueberries (yes, items taught from the storytelling) and chocolate-nutella cupcakes that were sent over by my sis in the morning. How timely!

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While taking a break, the moms decided that we should head over to Ikea for lunch. The kids could expend their energy there. Hah! Before departing, we had our Big Muscles Movement and got the kids to retrieve the needed shapes and put them in the right container. I’m heartened to note that the kids really did observe the shapes that they had in their hands and place them correctly in the respective containers. Smart!

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This is Faith doing Yoga… nah…

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Had a fun day today!

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See you next week. It will be in the outdoors and we are praying for good weather.

;)

Melbourne : Royal Botanic Gardens

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Life has been so busy lately with playdates, baking and family outings that I couldn’t catch up with reminiscing the days in Melbourne through blog posts. I resolve to do that today!

The Royal Botanic Gardens is founded in 1846 and comprises 38 hectares of garden beds, lakes and lawns. A relaxing walk through the gardens can be rather uplifting to the soul especially with the cool weather in Melbourne. If you are into botany, you would be excited to know that the gardens is home to 52000 individual plants representing more than 10000 species from around the world.

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The hubs and I had a good time chatting as we strolled with Faith. The little one was running all over the place and her excitement was evident as she spotted some unique birds and their chirping. The Terrace, a cafe overlooking the Ornamental Lake to Government House, was our pit stop for the much needed caffeine fix.

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To be honest, the main reason for visiting the gardens is for Faith to explore the Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden. When you travel with kid(s), it’s not all about the adults anymore, is it? ;p

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The Children’s Garden is good for kids of all ages and they get to discover the various plants at the kitchen garden and explore the vegetation of the rainforest ruin.

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I must say I find it delightful to explore the Children’s Garden but that’s just me. I know that as compared to the farm, Faith was more interested in animals than the plants but we did have a good walk around it.

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And you bet we made use of those moments to teach Faith about the fruits and vegetables found in this small garden. We don’t have the luxury of space to grow our own fruits or vegetables, so this is an opportunity not to be missed.

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We spent about an hour in this Children’s Garden, taking the time to explore and having Faith play at the water features. Generally it was fun and educational though I think older kids would enjoy it more. I didn’t dare to have Faith play with the soil; I don’t think she liked to do that too. We stopped by The Gardens Shop and purchased a book and some toys for the little one.

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Besides The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden, there are also the Dinosaur gardens, educational programmes that are offered throughout the year from kindergarten to tertiary level and a checklist of 50 things to do at the Royal Botanic Gardens that one can get from the Visitor Centre. I have a copy of it and let’s just see if we can adapt some of them at our own Botanic Gardens! ;)

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Aww…writing this post makes me miss Melbourne and the lovely weather in June.

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;)

Recent bakes

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Over the weekend, I had the privilege of baking two cakes for a friend whose son turns two. Edible images are called for and buttercream is preferred. I enjoyed making the cakes because they are definitely not as demanding as the fondant ones and I can practise my piping skills!

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Then I had leftover chocolate ganache from recent bakes and decided to use them for chocolate tartlets. I always have pate sucree shells in the freezer and they come to good use this time round. Awesome tartlets I tell you because it’s good chocolate we are using here!

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I can’t help but post Faith’s picture here. The mama finds her real cute here!

Seminar: Discovering The Joy Of Teaching Your Baby

Increasingly, I’ve found early childhood to be an area that interests me greatly, obviously because I’m a parent to a young kid and also because research has shown that the first five years of life is when the most significant growth and development occur in a human (I’ll write more about this soon). Therefore, as a concerned parent, I would want to ensure that I have the necessary knowledge and skills in raising that little person. I’m sure you, as a parent, could identify with me. ;)

During these (almost) two years, I have attended seminars and read up on the different early childhood approaches namely Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia since I have the intention of homeschooling Faith for the first few years (or until my patience and stamina run out). And I’m pleased to share with you that there is a seminar – Discovering the joy of teaching your baby – coming our way.

To be honest, I have not heard of the speaker (pardon my ignorance) nor the book that she co-authored. But I’m interested to find out what she would be sharing on the reading programme and teaching the baby music and foreign language, amongst other topics.

If you are interested, why not sign up for the seminar? The details can be found below.

HTM Seminar Aug 2 by Janet Doman FINAL

(Handmade) Toy of the moment

A month or two ago, Faith loved to play with the homemade toys – pom pom stuff it in and pipe cleaner. She could spend minutes into it and each time I brought them out, she would not get sick of them. Now, she has moved on.

At 20 months old, she is ready to improve on her fine motor skills and currently, this toy enables her to practise her pincers grip, hand-eye coordination and definitely train her to be more focused.

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Similar in concept to the button snake, Faith has to ensure that the string goes through the holes in the blocks. Easy for us but challenging for them and it does require the child to concentrate on the task. Somehow I feel these blocks are easier for Faith to handle than the felt material used for the button snake. (The blocks can be bought from Toys ‘R’ us by the way, according to my friend). I love the bright colours on both and you can definitely teach shapes and colours with these toys.

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Wonder how long Faith will be interested in these toys before she moves on to the next.

* If you have read our weekly playdate activities, the wooden blocks and string is included in one of the Practical Life activities.

The weekly playdate 170714

Our weekly co-op/playdate brought us to C’s place. Her place is so cozy and she has this painted black wall where the kids could draw using chalk. So cool!

Our first activity was at the sensory bin where the kids got to play with the salt, blocks, plastic cups and toy animals. It was brilliant because all we need to do to clean up was to wash it with water. I say it’s a better choice as compared to sand! Some of the kids needed encouragement to play with salt. Our dear Faith only played with the toy animals. Think she is into animals now.

We have very engrossed kids!

We have very engrossed kids!

We went on to start the programme with a welcome song and circle time in which we revised the colour and shape taught the previous week and introduced a new colour and shape for this week. Following that was Storytelling and then craftwork!

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The tired Faith clung on to me! Arghh!

We decided that we should continue with paint even though it may not be the kids’ favourite. Coincidentally, the kids who do not really enjoy this segment are the ones with no siblings (yet). Little exposure, I guess?

Using shapes to create some artwork.

Using shapes to create some artwork.

Our star student!

Our star student!

Teatime!

Teatime!

We had our practical life as usual before we moved on to big muscle movement time and the kids got to do ‘shuttle run’ to retrieve round shapes from the bin. I love wide corridors like this. Fun! Fun! Fun!

Run, children, run!

Run, children, run!

We taught the kids some songs before the end of the playdate and then it’s on to lunch for all of us! What a lovely morning spent with the mums and kids.

All except one who's with the mom to fetch the older brother from school.

All except one who’s with the mom to fetch the older brother from school.

:)

Vaby Official Launch + Giveaway

Vaby held her official launch on 28 June 2014 at The Playhouse and our family was cordially invited to the event. Were you there?

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In case you are wondering what Vaby is all about, I wrote about it in a previous post and during the launch, we were all gifted the July Vaby box. I met some of the mummies there and we got excited over it. Pity that it isn’t THE turquoise box. ;p

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 Even my little girl was curious about the box and its content.

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During the two-hour launch, we were treated to filling buffet spread, Cutest Baby Contest and Lucky draw. The kids entertained themselves at the indoor and outdoor playgrounds and what fun they had!

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Faith was intrigued by the colourful balloons on the stage and also participated in the cutest baby contest.

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While waiting for her turn to appear on stage, she busied herself in the indoor playground. Good life, eh?

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So Faith didn’t win the contest as there were cuter babies around. ;) But in her mother’s eyes, she’s the best. Hah!

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Faith did win something though. She won a set of Goo.n from the lucky draw and we had cloudasprint print our instagram pictures on the spot. For me, I’m glad to be able to meet up with fellow mummy bloggers and their kids.

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So, you may ask, “What’s in the July box?”

20140628_150623The July box contains the following goodies:

- Natually Kinder wet tissue
– Alphabet magnet (good for showing the little one!)
– Chu-Chu nursing pads
– Pure by Phytocare Papaya Ointment
– Nurturmeals by Nurturme
– The Playhouse voucher ($5)
– Hiruscar (Helps scar appear softer and smoother)
– Ban Kah Chai Zhui Feng Su Ho Oil (Eliminates pathogenic wind after childbirth and relieving of pain)
– GOO.N Japan version tape diaper
– Adoring Beauty Makeup Grooming Workshop voucher
– Cloudsprint promotion code

The Vaby Box is a monthly subscription box (S$18.90 per month) with samples from well-known and unique brands, and it is delivered right to your door step. I personally think that the July box is especially suitable for pregnant ladies and new mummies.

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Vaby has kindly offered to sponsor Vaby boxes to five lucky readers! All you need to do is to leave a comment on this blog with your name, your child’s age and your email address. Yea, it’s that simple. ;)

The giveaway is open to Singapore residents only and will be closed on 24 July 2014. Five winners will be randomly drawn. The winners will be notified via email.

Do visit the Vaby’s facebook for more information.

Disclaimer: We were invited to Vaby’s official launch event, and received a Vaby Box and transport allowance. All opinions are mine.

Update: Congrats to the five winners (Lu Siu Ching, Danessa Foo, Connie, Teo LL & Janisia). You will be notified by the Vaby team via email with regard to the box. Thank you for participating. ;)

WW: Enjoyable class

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Conducted this class for the first time today and thankfully I had very eager and teachable participants who made my day. They were so attentive and followed the instructions well and I must say they sculpted very well and covered the cakes wonderfully neat for first-timers! I’m impressed!

I’m getting so encouraged by them. Well done!

 

The Animal Resort

The number of children for our weekly playdate has grown! Normally, it would be C and I bringing the kids out for some playground and waterplay fun but today, we had three more kids joining and that means more company for the little ones!

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We went to The Animal Resort as suggested by C. This place is more accessible by car and is located near Jalan Kayu. We were there at around 10am and there was a group of kindergarteners being briefed by the staff on the food that they could feed to the animals. Since we were there, we joined in to listen to the short ‘talk’. Here, she showed us a skinny pig and we could purchase some food to feed the animals – $2 for every 3 packs. Oh yes, before you enter the premise, do put on the mosquito patch or spray some mosquito repellent!

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The area is big by Singapore’s standard, I feel. There is a good selection of animals and the wonderful thing about this place is that some of the animals like the geese, hens and chicks are free to roam and the children can get up close and personal with them. Faith has been reading on animals and this trip is such a good opportunity to meet them in real life. Hah..

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The geese, peacocks, parrot, hens, roosters, Marabou stork, ducks….

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Noah and Faith fascinated by the guinea pigs and the skinny pig. ;)

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Faith and the real life bunny…

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The children love to gaze at the fish or is it just the water that attracts them? I can’t tell…

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Getting really close to the horse! The children got scared by this big animal.

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I’m not sure about the other kids but I think Faith enjoyed the animals a lot. She was intrigued by them and kept observing them. No prize for guessing what I will be doing with her at home after this trip. ;p

There is a small simple cafe if you need some refreshment. For us we went over to the nearby Greenwich mall for lunch. Parking space is available at The Animal Resort though it can be limited (at most 15 cars?). But I like it that we don’t have to pay entrance fee for this. #funforfreesg

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The Animal Resort
T81 Seletar West Farmway 5, Singapore 798061
Opens 10am to 6pm

A cake for Mr Wood

Relatives from my hubs’ side came back to visit and I was tasked to bake a cake to surprise Mr Wood, an ardent fan of The Harlequins. Of course, I know nothing about this football club until the hubs told me and I had to do some reading up on it and browsing of pictures before I decided on the figurine that I would be making. Initially, a cake in the shape of a football was called for but I don’t have the pan and I’m not ready to sculpt a cake and decided to just settle for a figurine.

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It’s a rich devil’s food cake that I baked and I decided to pipe some ‘grass’ on it. It’s a simple cake but one which I like because of the figurine. It was made the night before though I wish I had more time. Had I more time, I would have made another player lying on the ground. But that week had been crazy with playdates, homeschool stuff, teaching assignment, a seminar to attend and a cake order in the weekend too. Not that I’m complaining. I actually enjoyed all the activities. Just that the spirit is willing but the body is weak and  I felt it protesting already.

Thankfully, the folks were easy to please and I think the cake satisfied.

I wonder how this week looks like.

Yuzu sponge cake

I fell in love with Yuzu after trying the Yuzu drink sold in the supermarket. I like that it is aromatic and refreshing without being overly citrus. And I thought I should infuse it into my cakes! I did just that for refreshment during the recent playdate that we had.

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I did some changes to a vanilla sponge cake recipe by using more cake flour instead of using all of plain flour. I also reduced the amount of sugar since my friends prefer less sweet stuff. Instead of vanilla extract, I used Yuzu concentrate which I purchased from Kitchen Capers.

So here goes:

Yuzu sponge cake

2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
200g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup castor sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 tbsp Yuzu concentrate
1 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 170C. Line baking tin with baking paper. I baked a 6″ cake for this one and the height goes up to 4 inches. Very tall cake!

1. Sift the flour and baking powder.

2. In a mixer bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 mins and gradually add the castor sugar. Beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy and the sugar has almost dissolved.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition or until the mixture is light and fluffy.

4. Add the Yuzu concentrate and beat until combined.

5. With mixer on low speed, add a third of the flour, beat until combined. Add half of the milk and beat. Repeat and then add the remaining flour and beat until combined.

6. Spoon mixture into baking tin. If you are doing rainbow or ombre cake, you would have to use your scale to divide out the batter equally and then add your desired food colouring. Bake for about 20-30 minutes (depending on the portion you bake) or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean.

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Italian Meringue Buttercream
150g fine sugar
60g water
4 egg whites
220g unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch bits
1 tbsp Yuzu concentrate
Pinch of cream of tartar

1. Pour the sugar into the water in a saucepan and let boil to 120C. Do not stir the sugar when boiling. Go on to step 2.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar on high until it reaches the sift peak stage (foamy stage).

3. When the temperature of the sugar syrup shows 115C, whisk the egg whites on high until stiff peak. When the sugar syrup reaches 12oC, turn down the speed of the mixer to speed 1 and then pour the syrup into the meringue (beaten egg whites0 by the side. Do it carefully in a steady stream. Once all the syrup is in, turn the mixer on high and whisk the egg whites until the sides of the mixer bowl no longer feels hot. This will take quite some time.

4. Once the meringue has cooled, turn the speed down to medium and add in the pieces of unsalted butter, one at a time. It will look like it has curdled but fear not, keep whisking and in the end, it should look like this.

5. Lastly, add in the Yuzu concentrate.

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Once you have the buttercream, the next step is to frost the cake. Enjoy the process!

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Verdict: So my friends ate slices of it and one of them commented it’s still a tad sweet. The husband likes it and I think it’s just right too. Try it yourself and see if you like it less sweet by reducing the sugar to about 3/4 cup. If you really want a soft cake, you can just use cake flour. Experiment with the recipe. This is the fun thing about baking.

;)