TGIF and friends

As you grow older, do you find that it is so much harder to make friends? I’m not referring to those whom you meet once in a blue moon (they are precious nonetheless); I’m talking about those who share the same struggles and situation as you and whom you can confide in and share your deepest fears without being judged.

When I was in Boston, I remember saying a prayer, asking the dear Lord to bless me with friends who could share the same interests as I and those who could encourage me in this journey of faith. He did bless me with a group of sisters and we loved to share recipes, cook, bake and even window-shopped for kitchen applicances. Though we are continents apart now, we still catch up with one another whenever possible.

Now as a SAHM, life can be lonely at times. Again, I asked God for like-minded mothers to grow together. Without fail, he granted my request. And today, I was blessed by one of them who decided to serve me and another mother to celebrate her birthday. What a meaningful thing to do!

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I must stress that this friend, Tri, is 34 weeks pregnant but because she has such passion for cooking, she doesn’t mind preparing a scrumptious brunch for us. The fact that her ktichen is filled with Le Creuset cookware and dishware is another treat for me. 😉

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She even bothered to bake bread for us. So much love!

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This is our all day’s breakfast. I think if we aren’t pregnant, we can really look forward to poached eggs!

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The spread

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While the mommies were having a good brunch, the kids were eating merrily too and enjoying some play time!

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Since Tri is good in Chinese, we got her to read books to the toddlers and they got to learn some Chinese words too!

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Half a day was gone like this. Some days, I have it easy like today and got to enjoy the company of other SAHMs. Time passes very quickly as we chat and share our problems with one another. However, most days, I am just going through routines which can be boring. In any case, I’m thankful for a Friday such as today and definitely precious friends whom the Lord has blessed me with.

friendship

15 Stations at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

I’ve only taken train rides from the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station twice and both times, it’s a deliberate choice over the other modes of transport because I wanted to experience how it was like to take the KTM trains into Malaysia.

I recalled that the railway station wasn’t as crowded or vibrant as the other stations that I have been to in other countries. There weren’t many locals and most of them were made up of Malaysian passengers. There weren’t many train services available and thus it was a hassle-free experience travelling up north.

Railway station_malvina tanPhoto courtesy of Malvina Tan

Unfortunately, railway operations at the station ceased from 1 July 2011 and the station became a national monument of Singapore and is only open to the public on public holidays in the hope that more people will use the opportunity to visit the historical monument for strolls, take photos or to partake in its history.

Now, for a limited period (17 June through 4 July 2015), the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station is open to the public as one of the O.P.E.N.‘s Augmented Reality Memory Tour Project which provides visitors the opportunity to experience a unique and interactive memory tour of the station.

15 Stations, as it is called, allows visitors to meet the people – from the past and the future – whose lives were connected by the railway line through a downloadable application on their smartphones. There are three curated routes – Reflect, Connect and Imagine –  and they draw on archival materials and animation to weave their own stories about the relationship between the station and those who have passed and will pass through its doors.

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Our family turned up at 7pm and we started off at Route #1 with the PROLOGUE, along with 5 other stations.

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Some of the videos at the stations come with audio so visitors are advised to bring along their earphones. Take your time to slowly wander, view the videos, reflect upon what was shared and connect with the people and stories in the videos. On top of that, enjoy the architecture of the building which is in a richly ornamented Art Deco style. The exterior of the building, for infomation’s sake, are four marble statues, allegories of Agriculture, Industry, Commerce and Transport.

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You might think these visitors were all taking pictures of the ticket counters but nope, they were actually viewing and listening to the videos. At this point, my girl was getting restless and started to tour the main hall. How I wish she was older so that we could learn and share historical facts together.

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So, she might not be able to fully appreciate the exhibition but we sure could create some wonderful memories of the place as a family!

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We proceeded to Route #2 (my favourite) where five stories would emerge from scanning the different QR codes displayed on the stands. At this point, the little girl got a tad interested in the stories and listened to them intently.

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But her attention span was just too short and minutes later, she went to disturb her Papa and they went onto the tracks for some fun while I stayed on at the departure platform to complete the stories.

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F was excited to be walking on the tracks but she saw no trains!

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Route #3 consists of three stations which envision a future created by NTU students who never had the chance to set foot in the station during its heyday.

Each memory route is in English and takes about 30 minutes and in all, one would spend about 90 minutes at the railway station. The O.P.E.N. will provide 30 sets of Samsung Note 4 and 20 sets of Samsung Tab S, with earphones, on site. Alternatively, you may want to download the 15 Stations app (downloadable for free from 16 June to 4 July 2015) on your smartphones and enjoy the audio commentary with your personal earphones.

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I must say it’s quite a unique experience learning more about The Tanjong Pagar Railway Station through this augmented reality memory tour. I only wish that we had visited it in the day time so that we could have more beautiful pictures! Oh well…

15 Stations (The O.P.E.N.’s Augmented Reality Memory Tour Project)
Tanjong Pagar Railway Station
Opens 18 June through 4 July 2015
Tue-Sat: 12 noon – 10pm
Sun: 12 noon – 6pm
Mon: Closed

FREE ADMISSION with O.P.E.N. Pass
Limited single entry tickets ($11 each) are available at the door

Disclaimer: Our family was invited to tour 15 Stations. No monetary compensation was given. 

3rd year as a Dad

How has it been being a father for three years? I certainly hope that you are enjoying the journey. image I just want to tell you that you are an awesome dad…image Happy Father’s Day!

A morning spent at a terrarium workshop

“Oh no! I’m late! I’m late!”

I was panicking as I drove to Hortpark. There was a traffic jam caused by an exit closure due to the SEA Games and I had to think of an alternative route to get to my destination. Alas, there was still heavy traffic along the way and I contemplated turning back home. However, the little girl was adamant on going and kept insisting that she wanted to go to the garden. Thankfully, I heeded her advice. Because both of us had great fun that morning. image Faith and I were invited to a terrarium workshop by the good folks at Actualyse. The workshop itself was conducted by Cath of The Plant Story. By the time we reached the indoor open concept cafe, we were half an hour late and we went straight to making our own terrarium.

imagePhoto: Actualyse

In simple term, a terrarium is a low-maintenance indoor garden in a glass container and is ideal for people who don’t have the time to care for a garden or just don’t have a “green thumb” like yours truly. What you would need is a clear glass container and plants suitable for terrariums. To start making the indoor garden, you would need gravel or small pebbles, charcoal pieces, potting soil and some decoration pieces.

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Initially, I was a bit worried that Faith might not not be up for the job and would create a mess instead but decided that I should just let her try. I must say, she did well! She was careful at every step, perhaps sensing her mama’s anxiety and in the end, she created and decorated her own garden without much mess!

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Obviously, she received help from me who was actually clueless as to what I should do. Thankfully, I met very helpful participants and fellow moms who guided me along.

imagePhoto: Actualyse

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Photo: Actualyse

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This is the end product and I must say the little girl was proud of her work!

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Please don’t drop it!

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Photo: Actualyse Can you sense my joy and pride?

It was a short one hour session (minus our half-an-hour lateness) but both Faith and I had a good time of bonding through working on the terrarium. If you are interested, you should definitely find out more about this workshop whose DIY kit starts from $35/- and workshop fee is at $10/pax or $20/pax for a private session. You can also have the option to add a hand-made Murano glass animal to further personalise your gardens. Everything is provided for. You just need to get ready to play with dirt and not mind the mess (not a lot actually).

image Photo: Actualyse

Through that session, I got to understand Faith a tad more. That she can be an orderly person and is capable of understanding and following instructions and attempting more difficult tasks (at her age). I should never underestimate a 2.5 years old girl! It is much like what the founder of Actualyse, Isabelle Loo, believed in, that each one of us has a unique blend of capabilities and skills, and in setting up actualyse.com, a one-stop education and learning resource portal, she hopes to help people discover the best ways to nurture and unleash that talent.

It’s a reminder to me as a mom, to respect Faith as a unique individual, and to help her discover and nurture her talent(s).

image Photo: Actualyse

It was indeed an enriching and fun session, thanks to the good people of Actualyse who organised it for us. You could get yourself updated on the latest news, information and trends on education and learning via the Catalyst Library at actualyse.com and perhaps, for a start, register and find out your own unique strengths smarts through their simple Multiple Intelligences quiz?

image Photo: Actualyse

The Plant Story HortPark, Singapore. 33 Hyderabad Road (Off Alexandra Road) #01-01 (Beside the Lawn) Singapore 119578 Opening hours: 10am to 7pm daily. Closed on Wednesday and major public holidays.

SEA Games 2015 and thoughts on sports

Our nation hosted the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games this year and we came in second, bagging a total of 84 goals, a record for the country! What a joy! And obviously, we took the opportunity to participate as spectators and attended the carnival held at the Sports hub.

20150604_101120 I’m pretty sure that many families have brought their children to the carnival. There were stations for the kids to try out the various sports and activities. I was hoping Faith would enjoy the carnival but the fact is she didn’t. 20150604_103130 It was terribly hot that day we went down and she wasn’t in the mood to try out anything which was a real pity. The other kids who were with us enjoyed sweating it out and I could only envy them. 20150604_110345 In the end, she was contented with just the colouring activity. How interesting. I have always thought that she is an active child who loves running around and trying out new stuff. I would very much prefer that she likes the outdoors because her mom is one who adores being in the open. I am hoping that she would eventually develop a love for triathlon or marathon because these are sports which I was crazy about at one point in my life (now still am but I have to reserve them for later years). 20150604_125640

Just look how ‘stoned’ she was while trying out hockey. *Faint*

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I’m still trying to figure out what she is good at at this point in time. At the very least, I would try to expose her to all kinds of things, whether it be an indoor or outdoor activity. And definitely, I would allow her to follow her passion once she finds it.

Growing up, I did not have the opportunity to develop myself in other areas except in the academic domain. The only sports that my mother got me to learn is swimming because she believes that everyone must learn how to swim since we are surrounded by water. I soon got quite good at it and my coach even assured my mom that I would be able to achieve much if I continue to train. As a 7YO child, that was the highest compliment one could give me. Sadly, my mom decided that studies were more important than passion and stopped me from pursuing it. Isn’t it sad?

I hope I would not follow my mom’s footsteps. I don’t deny that academic education is important but if a child shows talents in other forms, we should allow him to shine in those areas too, no?

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That’s us supporting the waterskiiing and wakeboarding events.

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 I guess it is still too early to tell if she is a sporty kind of girl or one who loves to be indoors or both. We just need to give her the opportunity to be exposed to all sorts of activities and see if she is keen in any area.

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More importantly, it is our desire that she would pursue God first above all others. 😉

Quekling II @ 23 weeks

It seems that Queking II is of a smaller size than Faith. As I compared him to her, he weighed about 400g at this point as compared to Faith’s 500g in the same period. My overall weight didn’t increase a lot. In fact, three weeks had passed and I have only gained 0.3kg instead of the 1.5kg which I’m supposed to put on. I blamed it on the Glucose screening in which I was asked to fast from 10pm the night before ;p.

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Other than that, Quekling II seems fine.

Meanwhile, I have been exercising a fair bit from the household chores that seem endless. Not that I mind; I do derive enjoyment from fulfilling them at times. On top of that, I have been going for Pilates lessons regularly to stretch and strengthen those muscles and climbing of stairs. I think the least I can do for myself and my family is to take care of my own health. No?

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I’m hoping I will pass the glucose screening. Arghhh…

We have also been blessed by a dear friend who passed us baby clothes, baby cot, rocker and bumbo chair and other necessity for Quekling II. We didn’t keep a lot ourselves since (1) we are not hoarders; (2) I didn’t expect that I would want another kid when we gave away all those items and (3) we are certain that people would pass baby stuff to us if we are expecting another child. Muahahhah…. we have faith in our friends!

Weight: 53.3kg

Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden (#junehols2015)

By now, you would have known that I am a great supporter for the outdoors. If our country is blessed with the woods, jungles and mountains, you bet we would have gone for some trekking or camping by now. Thankfully, we have nature reserves, reservoirs and gardens for the children to roam and the next stop for us is Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden.

Again, this was not the first time that we visited this garden. It was our third visit and this time round, the hubs was around to explore the garden with Faith. Hopefully, he would enjoy it!

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The garden is really not very big but each time we visited this garden, we couldn’t fully cover it because the weather was basically too hot and in the end, we would end up at the fountains. So, if you intend to visit Jacob Ballas, always bring along your waterplay equipment!

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Experiential learning at the garden!

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When Faith was younger, she was scared stiff with this swinging suspension bridge but now I saw an improvement! She wasn’t rooted to the bridge anymore but gamely walked across it with her Papa.

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Who can forget this treehouse that is fully equipped with slides and ladders. For the previous two occasions, I wouldn’t even think of getting her to go on the slide. She was too young anyway but this time round, she agreed to go on the slide. Could you sense my excitement and pride?

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I know it is really no big deal for many of you but to me, it is. It shows how she has grown and developed over the months and how she is willing to attempt things that are out of her comfort zone. She went on the slide, not just once, but four times and we had to ask her to stop because the adults were bored. Hah!

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Doing the balancing act with Papa

20150606_085512There were really a lot more to explore in this garden but we were just sapped by the heat. We went through the Fantastic Forest, Photosynthesis Exhibit, Sandpit and Sensory Garden with much speed and finally ended up with the water play area which Faith looked forward to.

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With the hubs around, I could rest more and took on the role of the photographer. It’s so wonderful watching both of them spend time and have fun together. We should do more of such activities!

20150606_164824Back home, we worked on some playdough fun. The little girl has been hooked on playdough for the past month and I thought it would be good to have her work on stuff related to the garden. I found the gardening and growing playdough mat via this website and Faith had fun working on them. There are many free printables available so if your child is into playdough, you might want to take a look, print and laminate those mats!

20150531_170417To get her to continue to work on her beginning sounds, I got Faith to use playdough to create the letters (on the mat) and at the same time, practise the sounds together with her. Such activities can take up to one hour when she has the interest. No kidding!

Obviously, you can make your own playdough too but I’m just too lazy.

Some useful resources:

:: For playdough mat for counting to 10, click here.

:: Playdough mats of all sorts, from letters to shapes to numbers. Click here.

Farm visit (#junehols2015)

When I was younger, my ambition was to be a farmer. I like the idea of tending to the farm animals, growing my own crops and living a simple life in a rural setting. The fact that I had just returned from a very relaxing New Zealand trip helped to seal the decision then.

Of course, that didn’t materialise. But that will not stop me from visiting farms, will it?

And so I did. Last week, we brought the little one(s) to have some close encounter with the farm animals and though it was tiring (because of the heat), it was well worth it.

Our first stop was The Animal Resort. It was our second visit to this farm and we love how close we could get to the animals. This time round, I purchased the feed at $2 for 3 assorted packs for different kinds of animals so that the kiddos could get to experience feeding the rabbits, guinea pigs and the birds.

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For the past two terms, Faith has been learning the names and songs related to animals and when she saw this rooster, she instantly told me about that particular song taught by her Chinese teacher. I love how her face was lit up!

20150602_132448 Happy gal!

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For a while, I thought she was just so brave a girl until…

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…these 2-legged creatures came swarming towards us as I fed them and she hid behind me and shouted, “Go away!”

The Animal Resort
T81 Seletar West Farmway 5
Singapore 798061
Opening hours
Tuesday – Sunday: 10am to 6pm
We stopped by a mushroom farm since it is located near The Animal Resort. Mycofarm is Singapore’s only specialist mushroom grower. Alas, when we were there, we were told by the staff that they have just harvested the mushrooms and all we could see were the logs. They kindly obliged us by having us view the Grow Rooms as they didn’t want to disappoint the kids!

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Faith loves mushrooms A LOT but she definitely didn’t like the smell in this room.

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We were treated to samples of warm mushroom soup and mushroom Bak Kua as we returned to the office. The ladies in the office were so hospitable and we left the farm with a few packets of mushroom soup and a few dollars poorer. ;p
Mycofarm Pte Ltd
9 Seletar West Farmway 5
Singapore 798057
Opens daily
The next day (yes, we spilt our farm visit into two days), we went to the other end of Singapore to visit the Kranji Countryside. There are many farms that we could visit but obviously we had to be selective. We visited the Hay Dairies but we didn’t manage to catch the milking of the goats which is actually the highlight if you are to visit this farm. So, we were out within minutes.
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I had wanted to visit the Jurong Frog Farm because on our last farm outing with Faith’s playmates, we didn’t make a reservation with them and couldn’t tour the farm. This time round, the timing wasn’t good for both parties and in the end, we had to give it a miss as well. But we’ll be back!
Off we went to Bollywood Veggies for some veggies tour and refueling at the bistro. I have personally been here for a few times (for food) but this was my first time touring the farm. I wish the weather was a tad kinder but the sun’s rays were beating on us mercilessly and we had to cut the tour short.
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Managed to pose for me!
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Look, Mama, it’s a banana plant!
Our last stop was Qian Hu Fish Farm because the girl just loves to watch the fish swimming in their habitat and the hubs wanted to try the fish spa. The little girl got to experience fishing (but caught none), feeding the fish and was fascinated by tortoises.
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After a few days of venturing out, the little girl had quite enough of it and wanted to stay at home. The learning journey to the farm would not be complete if there isn’t any follow-up activities! Haha!
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Reading is definitely an activity we cannot do without and I love the Usborne farm storybooks and colouring books. Faith loves to find out what’s under the flaps and I enjoy the information I read from the books too!
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Reinforcing vocabulary words through the colouring book in which she could learn the words of the various farm animals. Obviously, I have to read them out to her.
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Then, I got her to bring out her farm animals set and the word cards which I have made for her when she was younger. Now, she came and asked me what the words were and placed the animals accordingly. Goes to show that she understands that words have meanings attached to them.
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It’s time for some art! I wanted to teach Faith about the hooves of some of these animals and then she went on to pretend play. Oh well…
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The completed work
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We continued to work on the beginning sounds. Using corrugated paper for the letter, Faith was able to trace it using her finger and I searched words with that beginning sound and those that were related to the farm theme.
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We also revised some Chinese words that she has learnt in school lest she forgets all of them during the school holidays!
Hmm… where shall we be heading to next?

First MTP session (May 2015)

Last Friday, i met up with Faith’s teachers to discuss her progress in N1.

So it seems that she has adjusted well to school and is well-liked by all. She could share and take turns and has an eye for details. Ms V cited the example of the colour sorting task that requires the pupils to concentrate in matching the related colours. It is a rather advanced work for pupils her age but she could manage it well.

imagesFaith is also independent and prefers to do things herself rather than relying on her teachers. When she’s in doubt, she will ask the teachers. For language, it seems she knows her sounds and I’m advised to continue to revise the letter sounds during the school holiday. Maths’ wise, I need to continue to get her to understand that the symbols 1 -10 have meaning and to continue to practise working on that at home.

In terms of Chinese, Faith has to catch up (as compared to English). According to teacher L, she doesn’t want to speak the language during the lesson although when she was encouraged by the teacher to do so, she would. Teacher L told me that the little girl was actually listening in class but was afraid to speak up. She could name the items in Mandarin when she was assessed and that’s good. Well, I guess I would need to continue to speak with her in Mandarin. Our environment is really not conducive for learning Chinese!

IPuIVses4oOgCdYnqYySWe received her portfolio and progress report. All artwork are now displayed in her room which she is proud of. And, just look at how detailed the progress report is. Every area is noted by the teachers and as parents, we would be able to know how to help our children at home. Hats off for preschool teachers!

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So my current major concern for her is the Chinese language and I wasted no time. We happened to pass by a book fair organised by the Asian Festival of Children’s Content during the weekends and when I saw the Chinese books on display, I couldn’t resist! In the end, I bought a few sets of readers for the little girl because I would need to read to her more and to get her to recognise the Chinese words (though the latter is not so urgent).

20150603_203916I know I will be really busy during this school holiday. ;p

Chinese and Japanese Garden

This June holiday, I hope to bring Faith out to enjoy as many outdoor activities as possible. I would love to get her to explore the environment that she is in so that she could stay inquisitive and learn along the way; I just hope I have the patience to share with her! Building sweet memories, that’s part of the plan too. Initially, the family had wanted to go on a trip to Taiwan but that did not materialise in the end. No worries, we will tour our city-state instead!

This morning, we decided to visit the Chinese and Japanese Garden located at Jurong East. I had been there when I was a kid myself and another time when I was participating in a run while the hubs has not visited these gardens. It would be a good change from the usual gardens that we have visited.

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We reached the Chinese Garden at around 8am as we knew that it would be really killing to stroll in the heat if we had arrived later. We are also early risers so this timing is actually good for us. We had wanted to get Faith to skate-scoot in the garden but were told that that is not allowed. ;(

20150601_082309I’m rather impressed by the interior. It is well-kept and scenic and Faith was really engaged by the things that she saw along the way.

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My only complaint? The heat. But there is nothing we can do about it but to bear with it. Thankfully, the little girl didn’t complain at all.

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Bringing the little one to be in the outdoor as much as possible is something that I would do intentionally. Personally, I’m not one who loves to stay indoors because I believe she could learn more and be stimulated about the environment when she is in the outdoors. Getting her to appreciate nature is something I’m very mindful of and we could talk about God’s creations as we explore. Also, I don’t like her to be sheltered in air-conditioned areas for too long. It’s just not healthy.

20150601_083841The dragon girl with her Papa

20150601_083633And she willingly posed for us.
“Ouch! i’m bitten by the snake!”

IMG-20150601-WA0025We reached the Japanese Garden as we crossed the connecting bridge. There was this area where we saw a girl feed the fish and at that moment, I regretted not bringing some stale bread! Faith was really interested in feeding them but well, we didn’t have any food for them!

20150601_085132Beautifully sculpted plants. So zen…

20150601_085433She spotted squirrels and stayed in this spot for quite a while.
“Squirrels, where are you? Come down…NOW!”

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After walking for an hour, the little one was visibly tired and as she descended from a flight of stairs, she lost her balance and fell down, sustaining bruises and scratches on her right hand and face. Oh, poor girl. My heart ached for her but I have been trained to remain calm because if I had responded in panic, she would too. It must have hurt and she cried out. But thankfully, she was all calm after a minute. I really do think she has a high threshold of pain after all those episodes of falling. 😉

20150601_090740All is well again. No big deal right?

20150601_090817Manja queen.

We departed from the gardens in 2 hours’ time. It was a nice walk, really but I wish that the weather can be cooler. Of course, one shouldn’t compare these gardens with the actual ones in China and Japan. It’s a far cry to be honest but still, these gardens are a refreshing change as compared to the ones in our neighbourhood.

It would be good to pack some snacks along the way and definitely refreshing drinks are essential!

Chinese and Japanese Garden
Main Garden : 6am – 11pm (daily)
Bonsai Garden & Garden of Abundance: 9am – 6pm (daily)
Admission: Admission to main garden free.
Location: 1 Chinese Garden Singapore 619795