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 farm (not in our itinerary) 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 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

Mid-week thoughts

This week has been crazy. Cakes/ figurines due, teaching assignments, teaching Faith (the bulk of the time), planning for playdate materials and on top of these, household chores. I’m physically tired but I’m thankful to the Lord that He has granted me with that extra portion of strength to go through each day.

And today ended beautifully.

I was teaching a class from morning till mid afternoon (no break!) and went back to fetch Faith. And the hubs and I decided to go for a walk after dinner.

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And we saw snails. Many of them. Such a good Science lesson in the outdoors. Faith got introduced to this creature for the first time and met so many of them face-to-face. She continued to explore and though it seemed dirty for her to touch the fallen leaves and drains, we just let go and let her do her own learning. We had a good walk, with her greeting the folks who were exercising along the track and some four-legged animals.

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I’m glad we got out of the apartment for some fresh air because it never fails to refresh.

And I’m thankful to the One who provides for us.

Yes, even this artwork.

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;)

Farm animals!

Our playgroup/playdate/co-op is moving into farm animals theme for the new term and how exciting that is! I thought it helps the moms streamline what we are going to teach the kids and it definitely helps in the preparation of the lesson.

To prepare Faith for the lesson, I created a sensory bin using salt and placed the farm animals in it. She was thrilled when she initially saw the bin and attempted to touch the salt. Thankfully, she is more willing to do so as compared to the previous time when we had our co-op and one of the moms set up a similar kind of sensory bin.

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Faith has this book from which she inherited from an auntie and it’s about farm animals. The Old Macdonald song can be played with the press of a button but it got so irritating that eventually I had to hide the book from her. Of course, she went searching for it and played it the first thing she woke up (on a particular day). Noooooooo!

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On our last playdate, Mummy C set up a ‘farm’ in her living room for free play. Awesome, isn’t it?

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Recently, I came across some toy farm animals and they complete my collection of them. Yipee! Faith and I organised the farm animals and a related book helps a lot in understanding about them.

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 The setup in our place. Are you ready for more lessons on farm animals? ;)

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20 minutes in the loo

If you are one of those moms whose child insists on following you to the bathroom when you do your thing (and she clings on to your leg for her dear life), perhaps you can try these activities. They kept Faith occupied for 20 minutes, good enough for you to do some business.

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It’s easy for us to pour water but that is not the case for young children. Their motor skills are not refined enough and more often than not, they will dampen the floor as they endeavor to pour the liquid into the cups. This activity requires concentration and hand-eye coordination. Faith spent the bulk of the time trying out this activity and she likes it. It’s waterplay after all!

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As with all children, their attention span is soooo short and soon it’s off to another related activity. Add some balls and have the little one catch them with a scoop. Motor skills again.

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Last activity. Add some homemade ‘fish’ with clips and you turn the activity into fishing! This definitely tests patience and concentration. I’m just short of putting water beads in but I reckon I could save them for future use. The fish are made from felt material and I attached a clip at the end. After that, I wrapped the fish in clear bag so that they can survive being in the water.

“The first essential for the child’s development is concentration. The child who concentrates is immensely happy.” -Dr. Maria Montessori

So there you have it, this set of activity lasted 20 minutes. It probably can last longer if I get down on my knees to play with her.

Ask a lot of questions and converse with the kid as she goes about working on them. Play time is extremely good for language development.

The August Vaby Box

The August Vaby Box arrived and gave me a nice surprise.

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I love the contents because they are all useful products that I could use. Let’s take a look at them.

- Korean Adhesive Labra. It’s a backless, strapless, seamless and self-adhesive  from Labra that is priced at $49.
– Zoo Bibs which is lightweight and water resistant. It’s at a very affordable price of $4.90.
– Natural cotton diaper by Baby Organix
– Lavender Fields Concentrated Laundry Powder by Idocare
– Nurtureme Organic Food
– Portable Pencil Mini Fan
– Kids Party Entertainment Voucher
– The Playhouse Unlimited Play Pass

If you add up the sums, the items definitely cost more than the subscription that you pay for – $18.90 – each month. I also like it that they customise each box according to the profile of the mother and child.

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I love the Zoo bibs. It is attractive, light, easy to clean and packs well in the ziplock bag of stuff which I always bring when I go out with Faith. Faith doesn’t have the practice of wearing bibs because she doesn’t feel comfortable especially at the neck area. She would always insists on pulling it off and in the end, I give up having her put on a bib. And I tried the Zoo bib. Although she resisted initially, she was okay with it from much encouragement and allowed me to put on for her. Probably the minimal weight helps because it seems like she doesn’t feel a thing and also she doesn’t feel restricted around the neck. I like it too that there is a wide catch-all pocket for the food that slips from her mouth. Neat!

I’m still in the midst of trying the other products and would definitely visit The Playhouse again since the little one had fun the other time we were there. It’s a good place for some mommies to catch up with one another too!

I’m already all excited about the September box!

Have you subscribed to it?

You can find out more about the Vaby box here.

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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.

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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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:)