Memories of our playdate (today)

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

But it would be a different story come next year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We had full attendance today!

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

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

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

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

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

Playdate with little distraction

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

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

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

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Practical life segment

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Playground time: The Children’s favourite!

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

Protected: My kind of preschool, finally!

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How do you price your cakes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope this helps.

Thankful that we are one

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

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

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

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

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

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

Co-op at the reservoir

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

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

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

The kids eagerly awaiting their turns

The kids eagerly awaiting their turns

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

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

Explaining the steps to the children

Explaining the steps to the children

Engaged in the art work

Engaged in the art work

Group photo

Group photo

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

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

 

The October Vaby Box

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

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

2. Summer Citrus 5X Dishwashing Liquid by Idocare

3. Foldable Tote Bag

4. Bonny Baby Diapers

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

6. Educational mini book

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

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You can find out more about the Vaby box here.

A day in the kindy … in Paris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Are these activities that you do with your kids too?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

F’s first experience with stage performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Yay, I’ve got a balloon!

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

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Homeschool or preschool?

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

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

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

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

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Faith, with her completed lion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The cycle continues…

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

Curriculum planning??

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

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

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

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

Pool shoes? Poolzies!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Milestone

Today was just another ordinary day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#22MO #firsttimeparent

Fun for Free Fridays: Pasir Ris Park

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

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

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

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

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Swing just for the little one!

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Getting lost in the maze

Walking along the suspension bridge

Walking along the suspension bridge

Enjoying the ride!

Enjoying the ride!

Gearing up for rock climbing

Gearing up for rock wall climbing

Making melody!

Making melody!

Rock wall climbing!

Rock wall climbing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DETAILS

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

GIVEAWAY!

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

All the best!

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