Trial class at British Council Open House

[Open House Preview Session]

Mention British Council and I’m sure we will think of quality English enrichment courses from preschool all the way to secondary school level by highly qualified English Language teachers. These courses deliver the same learning outcomes as the local MOE curriculum through the British Council’s teaching methodology. Since its inception, it has built a strong reputation as the go-to English experts in Singapore.

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To give you a heads-up, British Council will hold its Open House in a few weeks’ time and a key highlight of the event will be the free trial classes that parents can register their children for. Parents and their children will be able to experience the teaching methodology that the British Council adopts in their courses as well as have the opportunity to speak to academic heads. There will also be fun activities catered for families and children such as balloon sculpting and face-painting. Parents will also enjoy exclusive discounts when they sign up for an enrichment course on these dates.

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Over the weekend, Faith attended the preview session of the Open House and enjoyed the lesson tremendously. During the session, the children were treated to a storytelling session with a lesson on the digraph ‘sh’ and ‘ch’.

I had high expectations of the lesson and Mr Scott, the head of Preschool courses delivered. The kids were all ears as he read out the story and every one of them participated actively. If you were a teacher, you would like this group of children. It makes teaching so enjoyable.

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Smart board was used during the lesson and I guess the children were fascinated with it and wanted to have a try at using it. I like it that Mr Scott was a skillful storyteller and could ask good questions to get the children thinking.

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The preschool at British Council employs the practices from both the United Kingdom and Singapore to provide holistic, hands-on and concrete learning, with a strong emphasis on language and literacy. The play-based, exploratory approach is influenced by Montessori, high-scope and inquiry based learning.

Language learning is made fun with games!

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Of course, there would be serious work to check one’s understanding of the lesson!

British Council’s preschool courses focus on improving early literacy and oral communication skills for learners between the ages of 3 to 6. The courses start at Nursery 2 in which children are introduced to the alphabet and single letter phonics through the Jolly Phonics approach. Class size is kept small and there are English and Mandarin language teachers in each classroom to provide for a bilingual setting.

I am only touching on the tip of the iceberg in this post but if you are interested to find out more about the courses available or would like to get your child to experience the lesson through their trial classes during the Open House, do visit their website https://www.britishcouncil.sg/openhouse to find out more. There are different dates for the different centres. The cost of the trial class is free so do take advantage of this great opportunity!

For your reading pleasure:

:: Articles and tips that are useful for parents

:: Activities for kids

Safra Yishun’s refurbished pools

Folks in the northern part of Singapore, you are in for a treat because Safra Yishun has reopened and you can look forward to its brand new Pirate Adventure Wet Play Pool. It promises fun and excitement!

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We went for its Aloha Pool Party in late April and everyone was well entertained. There were all sorts of water activities, pool games and performances by ukulele players and dances by hula girls. Some of the kids even went for a trial swimming lesson by FINS Swim School.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASee the giant floats that filled the pool water!

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This is Faith’s favourite spot which has a small slide. She went up and down umpteen times and not grew tired at all.

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My family members had so much fun that I felt sorry for myself who was standing outside the pool taking pictures of them. In the end, I joined them.

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Yay! This mama needed to play too!

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It was crowded that day and we wished we could have participated in all the pool games but I guess we were contented with just staying at this pool.

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This girl came with stomachache and as soon as she saw the excitement at the pool, all aches disappeared. See what fun can do to the body? ;p

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Do head down to Safra Yishun if you want some family fun today!

[Thankful Thursday] The past few weeks

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These few weeks have been quite a ride. Dad was hospitalised and needed to go through an emergency operation. It came as a shock to us but thankfully the operation went well and through this experience, he realised life is not within his control and all he could do was to pray to God for mercy. Lying on the bed in ICU, he prayed and received Christ into his life. All glory to God.

It’s been more than two decades of praying for him and sharing about the faith with him. I have to be honest, that I became faithless and stopped praying regularly for both my parents. At times, there would be reminders and I started bringing both to events. Through it all, I know that even if I am faithless, Christ is the faithful one.

Each day passed by really quickly and I seem to have endless things to do. Yea, SAHMs are busy people! I survive on two cups of coffee daily and dare not consume more for fear of insomnia. I need caffeine to start my engine in the morning and when I get sluggish in the afternoon, another cup will suffice. Oh yes, this Tekika Coffee which my friend blessed me with, lifted my spirits once I tore open the packet. Truly aromatic.

And then Dan felt sick. He developed a slight cough which worsened each day. A couple of days later, he turned feverish. We took no chance and brought him to a GP and the next day, to a PD. Blood test was taken and in the end, he needed to be nebulised.

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I know this is rather common but seeing the little one go through this can be heart-breaking for the parents. Yet from this, I can be thankful because treatment was available and the hubs was all very hands-on. The sister has shown herself to be understanding and helped the mom whenever the latter needed assistance.

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A good and caring sister she is and I thank God for her. Of course, she could be cheeky and at times, challenged us but on the whole, she’s a wonderful girl!

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I’m greatly indebted to fellow mommies for their concern and encouragement. One of them, Jenn of Mylilbookworm even ordered food for me and got them to be delivered to my doorstep because she figured that it would be tiring having to take care of an unwell child so sending food to me would be practical. Am really grateful for that kind gesture.

I guess that’s much to be thankful about even though the circumstances might not look positive. God knows it all and will enable and provide.

Fatimah and her Magic Socks

[PLAYtime Series : Fatimah and her Magic Socks]

This is a performance that I would be bringing the kids to and am looking forward!

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Meet Fatimah, the little girl with a bright smile on her face and feet that cannot stop dancing!

One rainy afternoon, Fatimah meets a mysterious and magical lion that takes her on a thrilling adventure. In this newly discovered world of fun, Fatimah learns about friendship, laughter and the power of… magical socks!

Dance, laugh, sing and imagine with Fatimah in this colourful theatrical delight especially created for children aged 2 to 4. Fatimah will be showing from 28 April to 14 May and I was told children do not need to sit through the performance, but rather, participate through it!

More details about Fatimah and her Magic Socks can be found here.

PLAYtime series are adapted from books written and illustrated by local authors/illustrators. More information can be found via  www.esplanade.com/playtime

Cherry Blossoms @ Gardens by the Bay 2017

I told myself during the one-week school holidays that come this new term, I would seek to explore places with the kids more. You see, much of our daily schedule revolves around Faith. Daniel, just tags along. He would be accompanying the sister to her school and enrichment classes and then head back home with me.

And then, guilt sets in. For the mom, that is.

If I could recall correctly, Faith had playdates and ventured out more, much more than Dan at the same age. We would go out to  farms, parks and water playgrounds with her playmates.

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So I want to keep my promise and start to explore more places with him/them and today I brought them to view the cherry blossoms at Gardens by the Bay.

Okay, granted that it’s actually me who is more interested in the flowers but there is no harm in getting them to start appreciating nature, yea?

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The two got bored but thankfully they had each other as company. The cherry blossoms are really beautiful. Do visit before it’s too late ok?

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😉

Highlight of February

February has come to an end and we are marching on to March! How has your second month been?

My days have been long and filled with joy though there are still many times when frustration sets in. I have finally come to a state in which I could safely say I have settled, in being a SAHM. Yes, after four long years! All along, I have been questioning God why He has to call me out of my work to be a SAHM.

I wanted to teach! I love teaching and I thought this is what You have called me to do in the first place. Then why call me out?

I realised I do enjoy teaching both kids. Those days, when I was a teacher, my mind was filled with ideas to engage my students. Now, it’s happening too and my kids are my students now.

I got the boy to work with his fine motor skills a lot and to learn to concentrate when he’s on a task.

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I also attended a workshop conducted by an ex-colleague who is passionate about Math. The workshop on Early Childhood Numeracy has been helpful in getting me to start working with Faith on her number sense and to go deep into the concept. I hope to do up a blog post on that workshop soon!

After that workshop, I started to get her to work on her number sense more intentionally. You see, Faith got to do a lot of activities pertaining to language, geography and art which are my strength. I have not really touched on Math and Science though we include them in our daily lives. I guess from now on, I have to get her to work on them more intentionally.

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BSF commenced three weeks ago and both kids are in class as well. Dan adapted well. Praise God for that! Faith? She has been looking forward to BSF since last December so she’s happy to be back!

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Glad to be back on the machine after missing in action for a few months, all thanks to the busy school holidays. The hubs join me during the weekends (we try to make it into a routine) and I try to squeeze in a workout on one of the weekdays. The above is a rare occasion when I could meet up with a fellow mommy to work out together! Oh yes, and how could I forget to mention the Safari Zoo Run that the family participated? We had great fun!

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Family time is still very important and we try to create (hopefully fond) memories together. We have started to play more board games recently and thankfully, the girl likes it lots. Bible and prayer time is a routine now and when we skip bible reading, the girl will question so we’d better not forget!

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Recently, Faith started to pick up books and browse the pages. She has started to read simple readers on her own now and you can imagine my joy! Effort paid off! When she realised that she could read on her own, she wanted to continue to learn and read. Yay!

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This little man? He has evolved from a fussy eater to Mr Tamchiak and even refused to let me feed him. Okay, you go ahead and feed yourself. But oh, the mess! Thankfully, we have this EZPZ Happy mat. A post and giveaway is coming up soon!

So, that pretty much sums up our February. Hope yours is good!

CNY 2017

And so Chinese New Year 2017 ended in a jiffy.

It came rather abruptly too. Before we could get a hang of the new year with its new schedule, we were ushered into the year of the Rooster. This year, I didn’t manage to purchase new clothes for the kids but thankfully they received new sets of hand-me-downs which served us fine. No time to bake CNY goodies but were given tubs of them from friends and aunt-in-law. No mandarin oranges too because my mom would not be celebrating CNY since my grandma passed on a few months back so my supply of the ‘kam’ was cut.

Still, we had our reunion dinner and the steamboat dinner by my mom was a meal I always look forward to since we only have this once a year.

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House visitation is something I DO NOT look forward to because it can be so tiring but surprisingly, I find myself enjoying a wee bit this year. Perhaps it’s because the kids enjoyed mingling with the relatives (even though they only meet once a year) or maybe because they were behaving all right. I couldn’t decide.

We did have fun. And our tummy kept exercising from all the CNY goodies that we consumed. Goodness!

But the highlight of this year’s CNY has to be the meetup with the folks of the youth fellowship whom I grew up with. Though I have moved on to another church, my friendship with them stays intact.

We had our worship session just like how we used to have when we were youths, we played the same old silly games and laughed our hearts out and we still share the same love for God and with one another. They are family indeed.

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These are the two brothers whom I look up to. Both are funny to the core but when it comes to the Word of God, it’s all seriousness.

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So much fun and laughter that night.

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Because it’s the year of the Rooster, I got Faith to paint a picture of a rooster figurine and since she’s into everything rainbow, she chose to paint it with multiple colours, just like the middle rooster figurine. She still couldn’t draw well but I invited her to draw some small parts of this picture, such as the beak and the crown. The objective of that ‘lesson’ is really to get her to blend the colours, something which I want her to continue to work on. I had wanted the little brother to join in the fun by getting them to do finger printing for the bottom part of the painting aka the ground but the brother was distracted by other stuff so in the end, Faith did everything. Mighty pleased with it. 😉 With guidance, of course.

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We ended CNY with a scrumptious dinner by the aunt-in-law. It’s a yearly affair for this beloved lady who would always present us with delicious homecooked food twice for CNY. Blessed, aren’t we?

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That basically sums up our CNY 2017. Hope you guys have had fun too!

Paul Klee and his artwork

Our ‘Art education’ at home continued with Paul Klee. I have yet to find an art class suitable for Faith so meanwhile, we will have to learn what we can through books and the Internet. Normally, I will scout the local libraries for children’s books on the particular artist, read to the girl and then explore the artist’s work with her. I’m not an Art teacher by training but I can always learn!

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The book that I used for this lesson is The Cat and the Bird and the illustration is based on Paul Klee’s work. My objective for this lesson is simple. I wanted Faith to observe how colours are being used in harmony and to apply it in the colouring of the cat which I drew the night before.

Faith is in this phase in which everything is colourful to her. If you are to ask her to complete a piece of colouring work, chances are it will resemble the colours of rainbow. For this lesson, I wanted her to observe how the colours blend and we used crayons for this task. Initially, she was doing well.

While the sister was doing work, the brother couldn’t be ignored, of course! It’s doodling time for him!

“Hey! Pay attention to what you are doing!”

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Before you know it, the girl continued the colouring, this time in multi-colours. She gave me all sorts of reasons why the cat should be full of colours. I wasn’t going to fight this battle. Besides, it’s her work. I’m just going to let her enjoy the process.

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There you have it. A colourful cat. Her version of Paul Klee’s The Cat and the Bird.

We continued with the next artwork called ‘Castle and Sun’. Here, I got Faith to observe how the artist used shapes and lines to create this piece. I could have asked her to cut out different shapes using coloured paper but decided that she could spend some time working on the designs that are to be cut into various shapes as buildings. We even took out the blocks to create a ‘castle’.

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By this time, the brother was tired out and needed to take a short nap. While I carried him to nap, the girl continued to her work. We couldn’t quite finish the second piece since she had to get ready for school and had to continue the following day .

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Each of our ‘art lessons’ takes about two hours and while it can get really messy with the toddler around, I must say it is also satisfying to see how the girl has progressed. My only hope is that I will remain calm and not think about the mess that could be created. Learning should be fun!

[Friday Flips] F’s rendition of Van Gogh’s Starry Night

After almost three weeks into 2017, we are more or less settled with the new schedule. The family is still coughing our way into the nights but at least we are on the road to recovery. Mornings are precious because those are the times when the kids are fresh and eager to learn. So far, we had fun doing grocery together, exercised and enjoyed our playground time, busied ourselves in the kitchen and had an artistic morning.

Faith has always indicated an interest in art and I have wanted to enrol her in some art classes. Alas, our last school holidays were so packed (with activities and rest and getting sick) that she didn’t get to attend any in the end. Despite that, we attempted to learn about artists and their works last month and I thought we should continue what we have started.

The next artist that we learnt about is Vincent Van Gogh.

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This book talks about how a boy followed the attitudes of the adults around him and bullied an eccentric painter (Van Gogh) before realising that there is more than one way to see the world when he met the painter face-to-face. I thought this book is one that helps to address bullying and how one ought to treat others. Our girl ‘catch no ball’ (couldn’t comprehend) although she got acquainted with Mr Van Gogh and his artwork through this book.

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The next book that we read was Katie and the Starry Night which is definitely more interesting and enjoyable. We went through some of the paintings of Van Gogh such as Vincent’s Chair, Noon, The Olive Grove and Fishing Boats on the Beach before starting to work on her rendition of The Starry Night. The main materials that we used were square sponges, cotton buds and the heads of Bok Choy (because I was cooking them the night before).

Using the square sponges, she dabbed them in blue to paint the sky.

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The next stage is to use the cotton bud to create the swirls in white and yellow. This was when Dan came in. He could well have fun with it too!

After the paint had dried up a little, it’s time to put in the stars using the head of the Choy. The design is lovely, isn’t it?

Lastly, I got Faith to cut out the houses from the corrugated paper and pasted them on the artwork.

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This took us the whole morning (plus playground time while waiting for the paint to dry up a little) but we were all satisfied at the end of it.

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We love the Katie’s adventure series a lot and thankfully our libraries stock them. You can read more about Monet’s works through Katie and the Waterlily Pond!

Which artist shall we touch on next?

Linking up with

Growing with the Tans Friday Flips

Dan @ 15 months old

Dear Dan

You turned 15 months old today and in this past month, we saw you really walking independently. You gained confidence daily as you practised your walking and now you don’t need us to hold your hand that often.

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For a while, I was wondering what took you so long to begin walking and now…

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It gets easier to feed you now because you are more open to eating other types of food, and that include ours! You heavily relied on pureed food for the past few months and now you are eating porridge and even rice. You still don’t like meat but I guess I would have to slowly introduce them to you. You love bread and could have them for your three meals but of course, that won’t do! Now, it seems you want to self-feed and mama has to close both eyes for you to do that. Just imagine the mess! But it’s all part of learning, isn’t it?

We stay home most of the time and that are so many things to do such as painting, doodling, scooping of pom pom balls and threading. You love to explore every nook and corner of the house and then you will pull out the drawers and take out whatever containers you can find in there. Basically, messing up the place is your past time. Arghh…

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You love to explore, just like your sister and you are not afraid to try new things! May you continue to possess such a spirit!

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Bubbles! Who doesn’t love them? Mama loves to see you enjoy yourself and you don’t seem to be afraid of strangers, especially when your sister is around.

You love the playground a lot and enjoy these rides! When we are at your sister’s school, you will find your way to these rides, sometimes wandering off without me!

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You share your sister’s love for Sandra Boynton’s book – Moo, Baa, La La La – and got equally amused, like your sister. We could enjoy many of her books because a fellow mommy so generously loaned them to us. Thank God for her.

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You love to play with water. Maybe we should get you to go to the pool more regularly eh?

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I wish you could nap and sleep more. It’s really difficult to get you to rest and I’m not sure why. Aren’t you tired? I have to say that we are all tired out by you. Could you please cooperate a wee bit?

Having said that, we still thank God for you, a precious gift from God.

Sweet and sticky chicken

How’s first day of school for you?

For us, we have to adhere to a new routine since the girl is in afternoon session and that means she would have to do without a nap. Naturally, she came back tired and a little cranky. The boy was disrupted in his naps and that means…a fussy toddler.

4pm. I could sense their restlessness and I got a bit nervous. I know that I have to rush out dinner fast so that they could go to bed early.

Then I remember this dish which I have made and which I have forgotten to record after testing the recipe out. I made this sweet and sticky chicken years ago using honey but this time round, I decided to use Ribena and see if I could create a ‘new’ recipe with it. Thankfully, it really works well and the sweet and sticky chicken is a hit with the family.

In times when you have to churn out dinner fast, remember this recipe. You would need to marinate the chicken for at least 2 hours (which you can do so the night before). After that, it’s just putting the chicken into the oven and bake. Top it up with rice or quinoa and some greens on the side and you have a great meal. I’ve used the recipe on pork ribs too and they are equally delicious (at least, that’s what my guests told me).

Share Food Singapore made a video on this for chicken wings. Do take a look if you are interested (embedded in this post). Chicken wings are good on the menu for a party!

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Ingredients (feed 3 hungry pax)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar/ chiang kiang vinegar
1/4 cup ribena cordial
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/8 cup soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, halved
3 chicken legs
1/2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
corainder leaves for garnishing

1. Combine the balsamic vinegar, ribena cordial, brown sugar, soy sauce and garlic cloves in a large ziplock bag. Shake and squeeze the contents of the bag to dissolve the ribena and the brown sugar. Add the chicken legss to the bag and seal. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 230C. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminium foil.

3. Remove the chicken legs from the bag, reserving the marinade and arrange them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the skin is caramelised and very dark in spots, 30 to 35 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, place the marinade in a small saucepan. Bring the marinade to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook over low heat until thick, about 15 minutes.

5. Use a pastry brush to brush some of the cooked marinade on the cooked chicken. Place the chicken on a serving platter. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and the chopped parsley.

6. Serve with quinoa or rice.

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With quinoa for the more health conscious me.

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And… rice for the rest of the family

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😉

Hello 2017!


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Good morning to a brand new year! We are off to somewhere! Guess where?

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To the Botanic Gardens we go! This year, I hope that we will be in the outdoors more as a family, to learn and explore!

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Learning takes place everywhere and every moment. So don’t waste the opportunity! There’s so much in nature that we can learn. I only hope that we have the patience and knowledge to share with the kids.

This year, I want to continue to focus on relationship – God, husband, children, immediate family members, friends (new and old). So, yes, I want to make time for them. My family is important to me and I want to invest my time, effort and resources on them. I have chosen to be a SAHM and I want to stay focused on my calling and STOP thinking about venturing into other areas. It’s not fair to anyone if I don’t do a good job in the various areas that I am involved in.

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I want to give more attention to Dan this year. I hadnt’t been able to give a lot of my time to him last year and his development hasn’t been as good as the sister. There shouldn’t be any comparison but to be honest, he is spoken less to, read less to, taught less and less stimulated. There is always the guilt in me but it hadn’t been a smooth ride last year. So I hope I could concentrate on him more this year.

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Needless to say, I will still continue to work on the girl but at the same time I’ll get the girl to teach the boy. It’s time for her to impart some of her knowledge to her brother and one learns more when she teaches. Since the girl would be in the afternoon session this year, I hope to utilise weekdays’ mornings well.

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I’ll be more diligent and work on teaching and learning resources. I mean, as a teacher, I have to come up with lesson plans and related resources. Now that I’m a teacher to my kids, I should be equally diligent, if not more!

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As a family, we will still be attending BSF and this year, I hope to have small scale family devotion on the materials given by BSF rather than to be doing it on an ad-hoc basis. Faith could sit through longer stories and I want to read more biblical stories to her this year. For family worship, we could sing worship songs together. The hubs will play the piano and the rest will sing. It’s time to be intentional about teaching her gospel songs and not merely leave it to her to learn by listening.

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I want to save more for the family and that means we intentionally don’t eat out that often and even if we have to, we will go to the hawker centres and coffeeshops more often.

The other day, the hubs and I were discussing about some financial issues after a recent talk which I have attended. He mentioned that if we want to model thrift, we should eat out at restaurants LESS often. I agree.

I need to start teaching Faith about the value of money and shall start this year. Will write more on this (if I have the time).

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Direct application: So we stopped by Food for Thought for playground time and knowing me, I would normally order a drink or small bite. But today I decided not to. We will just (shamelessly) use the playground and not spend unnecessarily.

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I’m still trying to figure out Faith’s interests. I don’t think I will get Faith to have music lesson unless she specifically asks for it or that I could find a good teacher. I’m not even sure what I want F to learn. I can expose her but till now I don’t know what instrument she wants to learn although she is still keen on ukelele.

I will concentrate on sports because that is the area the adults are interested in too and thus could motivate them a wee bit. Swimming for both, hiking, frisbee, cycling, in-line skating, rock wall climbing, ⚽️…

Oh yes, they do need to play and pray more.

Personally, I want to read more and enrich myself. I do think that my language ability has deteriorated over the years. I could no longer write fluently and at times, I need more confidence to speak. Of course I’m all right when it comes to casual talks with my peers but it’s a different story if you ask me to present before a crowd. Maybe I should really sign up for a course eh?

So yea, these are my quick thoughts for 2017.

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Some food-for-thought.
[Source]Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Pre-school years

Goodbye 2016

I was telling my hubs that 2016 seemed like a blur to me. Each day, I was so busy that there wasn’t much time to pause and reflect, let alone read. I wasn’t updated on news or what’s happening to my friends because every moment when the kids were awake, I had to be with them or be in the kitchen churning out food.

Yet, I know 2016 was jam-packed with activities and memories both good and bad. I had a wonderful time teaching Faith and loathe the fact that she would be in K1 next year and before I know it, she would enter Primary School and my time with her would be minimised…by a lot. I felt sad just by thinking of that. Many times, I toy with homeschooling my kids but I also know my patience would be greatly tested and perhaps in the end, I would morph into a witch. So, for now, the answer is ‘NO’.

2016 is a year of making new friends and deepening the friendship of old ones. I would never have imagined that I could make friends at my age and that we could get along so well. But yet, God knows what I need and granted me some good company and for that, I’m immensely thankful.

I managed to get a few sponsorships and media invites this year which made my life more interesting. I’m truly thankful for these collaborations but come 2017, I would love to focus more on homelearning and reading to upgrade myself. I thought of enrolling myself in some online Montessori or early childhood courses but again, the fear of the lack of time prevents me from moving ahead.

This year, however, the hubs and I dedicated our time to learning more about raising kids when we attended the 15-week-long course (GKGW) and also a family seminar by the Tripp which helped me view parenting from God’s perspective. Parenting is tough and we desperately need God’s grace to bring up the children in His ways.

I wonder how 2017 would be like…

Memories are made of these…

How do you preserve memories? Through photos, no?

I like to take pictures and the number of them increases by leaps and bounds when the kids came along. Is it the same for you? And it most definitely warms my heart as I browse the photos taken in the past. Awww…memories!

Recently, Canon threw a cozy Christmas gathering to a group of families and gifted us with some precious presents – wonderful time with families and sweet memories in the form of pictures, the printed way.

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When we first arrived, we spent some time with the young ones over duplo and painting of cardboard boxes. Faith has always loved Lego and Duplo so it’s no wonder that she found her way to the blocks.

We were then introduced to the new Canon PIXMA TS8070 printer and were invited to have some family fun with it! Before that, each family was gifted with a picture frame that is made of of photographs of our loved ones. Oh, dear Canon, you have done it again! What a thoughtful and meaningful gift!

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We were definitely excited as we unwrapped the gift.

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How lovely! Pictures of our daily life from our Instagram account! The kids and I were thrilled and I was personally captivated by the quality of the print. We were later told that we could try our hands on the printer and to experience its ease of use. Yay!

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These are the printers that made those pictures possible! If you observe, they are not really bulky because they are designed to fit small offices and homes in form and function so they are in a sleeker form to blend seamlessly into our study or home office.

We wasted no time in printing our photos! Since many of my photos are in squares for Instagram and Dayre purposes, I’m thankful that these printers could print them without the need for resizing. Very convenient! And because the Canon PIXMA TS8070 printers are designed for easy set-up in a wireless environment, we can readily print the pictures from our mobile phones and tablet PCs in out-of-home environments such as weddings and parties. Think photo booths!

Other ideas (for own reference):

  • craft for playdates
  • homelearning materials
  • souvenirs for home parties or celebration
  • wedding
  • travel scrapbook

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Faith and I used the photos that we have printed to do some craftwork and made a photo album from the materials that were supplied to us. It was a good bonding session!

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Ta-da! Is this nice? I’m really impressed by the quality of the print! We can definitely do lots more craftwork with these prints and  could even design and print our own customised cards. Best is they are reasonably priced at $299!

The family had a wonderful and meaningful time with Canon Singapore that day. Thank you for inviting us and giving us the opportunity to ‘play’ with the printers. The following are some precious moments captured that day by the good folks at Canon. I thought I should park them here for my own keepsake. 😉

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Here’s wishing you a blessed Christmas, from the Queks!

Our family was invited by Canon Singapore and Claudia of The Loving Mom to this Christmas party. Photographs used in this post belong to Canon Singapore. The ones in squares are squarely mine. 😉

Christmas with the Queks – 2016 edition

It has become a tradition, that we dress up a real Christmas tree during that time of the year. For the past few years, we have involved Faith in the activity but she wasn’t that keen. This year, her enthusiasm showed.

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Somehow, I find that she has matured a lot over the past one year. Is it because she has an added responsibility as a sister? Or is it just an age thing? In the above, she was trying to sharpen her colour pencils and the brother meddled with them because he wanted to be involved, just like his sister.

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Busy bee…

This year, she was the main person doing up the tree. The adults were resting by the side, watching her dress the tree up. So focused but the tree was heavily decorated on one side only!

Dan wanted to help too and managed to put up some of the decorations. He was mighty pleased with himself!

Are you ready for Christmas?

Fun with scissors: Cutouts with Henri Matisse

I had wanted to sign Faith up for some art classes during this hols but because of her cough, I had to stop the plan; I don’t want her to spread germs to the other children. So, I would have to scout for ideas for art and I thought reading about the lives of artists and learning about their art forms would be a good way to start. It’s pinterest to the rescue once more and I found some interesting resources that I could use.

After listing down some artists, I searched the catalogue of the local libraries and I’m so happy that there are good children’s books on artists.

The first artist that Faith and I learnt about is Henri Matisse who was famous for his cutouts later in his life. We read these three books to get to know the artist more and all three can be found in the Junior Lending Picture Books’ section in the (selected) libraries.

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After reading, I selected some key words to go through with Faith. She could sound out CVC words but I thought there’s no harm in getting her to learn some new words.

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Prior to the ‘lesson’, I drew some squares and rectangles on a drawing paper so that she could paint on them.

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It’s interesting to observe the colours she chose and how she painted the shapes. I tried not to interfere but to allow her to enjoy the process but…

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While waiting for the paint to dry, I got her to imagine and cut out any shapes she could think of. The girl loves to cut but she often cuts the paper into small pieces. This time round, I requested that she be bold and cut big curvy shapes and guided her into cutting them. She wasn’t comfortable and wasn’t too keen to do so but at least she tried, for some.

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After that it’s pasting time! I wanted her to pair contrasting colours together just as Mr Matisse did.

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Almost done! Since she was the artist behind this piece of art, she must sign off!

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Our first lesson on the study of Henri Matisse and cutouts!

Related and useful resources:
:: Painting with scissors: Kids study Matisse
:: In the style of – Henri Matisse

 

A year older…

I turned one year older this day  and both my kids were not feeling in tip-top condition. It wasn’t anything serious but they have been coughing for weeks and I wanted them to fight it. But Faith had a pair of swollen eyes on Sunday evening, complaint of stomachache and ear ache that night and broke out in rashes all over her body yesterday. It’s time to visit the doc. Both of them.

We had wanted to visit her in the morning but we were too early and decided to go for a hike. So it’s to the tree top walk we went!

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It’s Faith’s first hike and we had to manage our expectation, that it would be a pretty slow walk.

Don’t think a stroller can do a good job and it’s babywearing for Dan! He looked displeased but actually I think it’s comfy because he fell asleep minutes into the walk.

The city girl was amazed by the nature and stopped every few minutes to exclaim over the slightest thing. Ants, leaves imprinted on the board walk, sounds in the nature, the canopy… There’s so much to explore in nature!

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This teacher in me will use every opportunity to teach. Signboards on the way are good teaching aids.

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As expected, the girl grew weary about 2.5km into the walk. But hey, that’s a good start for a 4YO!

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We had to think of ways to energise her. Singing gospel songs help! Or pretend that you are a superhero!

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We made it! But this was only the halfway mark!

On the return leg, everyone’s tired. Faith couldn’t walk any longer and needed to be carried. Thankfully, we could always treat her like a backpack.

We took 3 hours to complete the 6km walk. Tired but happy would be my description for that morning. I’ve always loved the outdoors and it’s definitely wonderful to be able to so on my birthday.

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That evening, we made it to the doctor all right. It’s viral infection, as diagnosed by the doc. The swell and rashes are symptoms of the infection. Dan’s cough was worse than Faith because his immunity was weaker.

Both are on antibiotics now.

This birthday, all I want is for my family to be in good health. Not too much to ask for eh? 😉

Oh yes, if you are keen to participate in the Safari Zoo Run 2017, do take note that the early bird rate extension is till 9 Dec 2016 and do remember to use the code SZR2017BGPRFAITH10 for a further 10% discount. This unique code is valid till 15 January 2017.

Sending sweet treats the Sophisca way

If you are looking for Christmas gifts that are practical and cute at the same time, head down to Sophisca! It is Taiwan’s very first specialty candy brand that was started in 1997 and has since established itself as Taiwan’s beloved and top confectionery retailer. Sophisca’s saccharine staples are an array of candied fruits, soft bonbons, chocolates and more!

Last weekend, the family headed down to its media preview of their Christmas collection at Marina Square and yours truly went a little crazy over their very adorable packaging. Thankfully, their prices are really reasonable so I didn’t burn a big hole in the pocket when I left.

These Christmas Reindeer and Santa gift boxes are only $4.90 each.

The daughter had a good time trying out their candies and she had reached her quota of sweet treats that day.

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These are at $11.90 each.

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This is my favourite corner. Just look at the designs on the boxes. And some are really local-flavoured with our beloved Singlish words on them.

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I purposely chose some of these to give to a Taiwanese family who will be leaving Singapore for good. They have always been fascinated by our colloquial English so I thought these are apt. There are three slices of chocolates in each box ($2.90 per box).

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Sidetrack. The girl has officially taken over the ownership of my Canon camera. So that day, she was just happily snapping pictures.

 But I got her to concentrate and pick some of the boxes as gifts to our friends.

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I prefer chocolates to candies and got this box of different-flavoured chocolates as well. Actually, I honestly think the packaging got me to part with my cash.

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So that night, we had our farewell dinner for our beloved friends whom we have met in Boston.

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They were family to us when we were all in a foreign land and naturally we grew close to one another. So that night, we had food, cakes, chocolates and laughter and sent them off with our blessing.

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So long, farewell! It’s time to say goodbye!

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Disclaimer: The family was invited to Sophisca’s media preview and were treated to complimentary goodie bags for the kids. However, items purchased as mentioned were from our own pocket.

Little Genie box – School Readiness Program

Faith had very little concept of time. By that, I mean she couldn’t tell the days in order and each day, she would ask me what we would be doing that day. Her ‘last week’ is ‘yesterday’ and sometimes it could be a particular incident that had happened some time back.

I reckon it could be because she was a tad young to understand the concept but to be fair to her, I did not teach that concept explicitly. When her constant questioning did get to me, I resolved to teach her and that’s when Little Genie Box contacted me and asked if I wanted to try out their products. Very timely indeed! Sure, why not? I shared with them my concern and they recommended that I try out one of their topics for the School Readiness Program which aims to prepare preschoolers to develop learning dispositions for classroom and school routines.

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Our box soon arrived and I was pleased when I saw the contents. It includes a lesson plan, two different types of calendar, a personalised weekly timetable, worksheets and relevant materials to complement the learning. The lesson plan is comprehensive and all I need is to follow the activities laid out in the plan.

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I wasted no time and started teaching Faith the days. I thought the print and the font size on some of the the materials could be larger since Faith was only 4 years old and went on to create a bigger version for her. Faith was eager to learn and attempt the task that was set out on the lesson plan. I was secretly happy, of course.

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Within a few weeks, she could name the days in the correct order (sigh, should have taught her earlier) and I went on to teach about the months based on the lesson plan. It was a bit more difficult for her but at least she has some ideas of the months now and could tell me which month her brother’s and her birthday fall on. The calendars provided in the box helped a lot in getting her to visualise the days, months and the weather.

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What I appreciate about the various activities is the fact that they are pitched at varying levels of difficulties. There are simple and more concrete ones like the one shown above and more difficult tasks which require Faith to spell for instance which she could not do at this current moment.

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Then, there is the timetable that saved me from Faith’s constant queries about the daily schedule. Having penned down the activities for the various days, she could then refer to the chart and eventually could tell me what she can expect for each day.

We have been working with the contents of this box for a few months now and consistency is key to Faith’s mastery of time. Perhaps, you might find that the activities could be easily created. I don’t disagree with you. However, finding the time to do so is the issue for most of us. I, for instance, have been procrastinating and could finally work on time with the preschooler when the box came along. Of course I did talk to her about the days and months but nothing beats working with the materials and this in turn, helps young children to store the necessary information in their memory.

Little Genie Box’s School Readiness Program features the following components:
:: Personal identity & introducing name
:: Handling emotions & relating to others
:: Understanding dates & use of the calendar
:: Personal safety & well-being
:: Reading time & following timetable
:: Responsibility with money & belongings

These are excellent topics to learn for preschoolers and the knowledge would be extremely useful as they enter Primary Schools. Little Genie Box’s curriculum also includes Literacy program and Everyday Chinese. You might want to read about the review of the Everyday Chinese program here.

I would definitely continue to use the contents in the box to teach Faith about time. And if you are thinking of having some learning activities with your child during this year-end holiday, I would strongly recommend Little Genie Box. Bond and learn together with your child!

SPECIAL PROMOTION FOR READERS OF RAISING FAITH

Take advantage of this promotion! For every 6-month enrolment, you will receive a free award-winning book  that is worth up to $25 .
Simply key in the promo code ‘icanteachmychild’ on the enrollment form on their website. This promotion will last till 31st Dec 2016.

Disclaimer: We received a box of the School Readiness Program for the purpose of this review. All opinions are our own. 

A letter to Faith on her 4th birthday

Dear Faith

You turn four years old today! Blessed birthday! Mama couldn’t help but be thankful for you because you are indeed one precious gift from God.

This past one year has been eventful. You were promoted to be a big sister to Dan and you did a wonderful job caring for him. Your love for him was evident. Each morning, when you awoke, you would look for him and spent the time after breakfast playing with him while Mama tried to get ready. You read to him and taught him skills that he would need. You encouraged and cheered for him when he reached his various milestones. No wonder Dan was so fond of you.

I remember I had a hard time adjusting to life with two kids when Dan was just a few weeks old and I was tough on you. I know you must have felt terrible and perhaps felt a sense of loss since you had to share Mama with Dan now.  And with so many of us giving our attention to him, you must have felt insecure. Thankfully, that period was over and as Mama learnt how to cope, things did get better.

This year, you got real chatty and must have asked a million whys. I must say Mama was exasperated and wish for more quietness at home. However, I also recognise that many of your questions are valid and you truly wanted to know more about yourself and the world you are living in. I only pray for more patience.

In March this year, I had the utmost privilege to lead you to invite Jesus into your life. What joy! Nothing is more important than this! From then on, you have been sensitive and extremely teachable on things above and asked questions pertaining to the Christian faith. I pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide you as you grow in your knowledge and love for Him.

Dear Faith, I want you to know that you have brought me much joy and love. Through you, I see how ugly and selfish I am as a person yet you have always extended your grace towards me, just like our heavenly Father. I love it when you say “It’s ok!” to assure me that you are not upset when Mama has done something that could sadden you.

This year, you asked to celebrate your birthday in school and you were not particular about the type of cake or the design. “You decide” is what you told me and when I baked you a Hello Kitty lychee chiffon cake, you were cool about it. I know you are not ecstatic about Hello Kitty, but you would just let me bake that for you because you know Mama would not be free to design a special cake for you. Thank you for being so understanding.

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I wish you could stay at this age because I really did enjoy your company this past year. You were so teachable and were my little helper. I recall the many times that you wanted to help me juice, vacuum and mop the floor, bathe and feed Dan. When Papa had to come home late after BSF, you would wait patiently in the living room while I put Dan to bed. One of those nights, you fell asleep on the sofa while waiting for me and I couldn’t help but feel bad about leaving you alone. However, I’m assured that you are mature enough to be on your own and that Mama doesn’t always have to be with you.

Perhaps, the greatest compliment that I get from you was when I asked you what you wanted to be when you grow up. Your reply encouraged me so much. “I want to be a mom like you!” I must have done something right to warrant such a response!

Thank you, my little angel for being you. We have had many conversations and I love how you make me laugh. I thank God for the privilege to be able to see you grow and develop from the time you were born. May you continue to show great zest for life and be mindful of the things of God.

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-25

Safari Zoo Run is back!

2016 is coming to an end soon and I am looking forward to the new year and a whole new adventure with the family. And I am so excited that we will be participating in the Safari Zoo Run for the very first time next year.

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Safari Zoo Run was conceived to commemorate Singapore Zoo’s famous matriarch and one of Singapore’s most loved animal personalities – Ah Meng the Sumatran orangutan, who died of old age in February 2008. Through this run, the zoo hopes to encourage family bonding and raise awareness on wildlife conservation.

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The theme for Safari Zoo Run 2017 is “Run for Wildlife” which focuses on raising awareness for wildlife conservation. Four animal icons will be featured – Ah Meng the Orangutan, Chawang the Asian Elephant, Canola the Manatee and Sunny the Hornbill. Each animal icon team supports an endangered wildlife species for which the zoo would like to raise awareness. We can do our part for wildlife by choosing an animal team to support and help raise awareness for them!

Date: 18 February 2017 (Saturday)
Time: 6am
Venue: Singapore Zoo, 80 Mandai Lake Road S729826

More information can be found on their website or facebook page.

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Of the various categories, our family would be signing up for the 2.5km Safari Zoo Family Dash in the hope of encouraging our 4YO girl to take up jogging as a form of exercise. When I told the hubs about this race, he was rather concerned. How could a 4YO run 2.5km? There would be much complaints for sure!

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Well, she may not be able to run all the way, might probably whine a little but we will be there to support and run alongside her, with her brother in tow.

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So, from now till the race day, 18 February 2017, we will be carving out time to run as a family, and at the same time, educating the little ones on wildlife conservation.Won’t you join us?

Do take advantage of the early bird sign up rates which is from now till 30 November 2016.

As a reader, you can further enjoy a 10% discount off the current rates when you register using the code SZR2017BGPRFAITH10. This unique code is valid from now till 15 January 2017 via www.safarizoo.run.

So, what are you waiting for? 😉

Disclaimer: HiVelocity Events has kindly sponsored our family with the Safari Zoo Run Race Slots so that we could experience the race for ourselves and share it with the readers. No monetary compensation is involved and all opinions are my own. 

Back to running

October marched in very swiftly. Within the first two days, we have celebrated Daniel’s birthday with our respective families. This month signals the end of the dreaded (in my opinion) first year and promises fun, and pain, for the years to come. It could be fun because I no longer have to breastfeed and feeding the boy is more convenient now. I’m definitely looking forward to more ‘exercises’ with him since he is more mobile now.

Speaking of exercise, ads, especially running ones, set my heart into flutters. Over the weekend, the hubs and I went to collect our race pack for the Salomon X-trail run and while in the queue, what was screened on the TV drew my attention.

I went back and googled the videos that I have watched.

Inspired.

I need to go back to running regularly. When Dan was younger, I gave the excuse that he needed to be breastfed and thus running outdoors with him could be a chore (how to breastfeed him if he suddenly decided to drink?). I love running. I love the scenery that greets my eyes. I love the wind that brushes against my face. I love the moments that I could think and talk to God.

While I know that things would not be the same as before, I can surely adjust my expectations and pace. I’m all for the family to join me in this journey and hopefully pass the love for running to my preschool-going girl.

It’s time.

Let’s get my running gear out and start moving!

Nudge me, won’t you?

Wordless Wednesday | Birthday preparation


I will be busy this week. We have decided to celebrate Dan’s birthday this weekend. Since I have some party decor which I have bought in Melbourne, I’ve decided to do up a mini dessert table and to invite my family over for dinner.

The hubs and I are not huge on birthday party. I mean, after all, will the 1YO know anything? However, I am reminded that we should make effort to create memories for them so even if the children might not remember much about the event, at least there will be photos which they could refer to in the future?

All right then. This lazy mom had better buck up and do something about birthdays.

Back from Melbourne

It was an impulsive act.

It happened about two months ago.

I was sleep-deprived because the boy woke up every hour and sometimes, every half an hour during the night for feed. Caffeine was my best friend and I dreaded evenings. By 6pm, both the kids would show symptoms of tiredness, especially the boy, and gave me a hard time. I couldn’t cook in peace and there would often be tension at the dinner table.

And I found myself screaming at them (the girl) more often.

I didn’t want to be a mad mom.

And I toyed with the idea of buying a pair of air tickets for Faith and me so that we could spend some much needed mother-daughter bonding time. The proposal got approved very quickly by the CFO in the family and I was very blessed to be invited by a friend to stay with her (she has close friends who are residents in the country). I just needed to buy the air tickets. And I need not worry too much about accommodation and research of the place.

So I bought the tickets and then realised … I was still breastfeeding Dan.

The past one month saw us getting Dan adjusted to formula milk and changing his sleep arrangement. It went fabulously smooth and things got so much better. He could sleep and eat better and both Da man and I could get some decent sleep. Since everything was turning out well, I shouldn’t be leaving him behind right?

Guilt set in. What a horrible mom I am. I had wanted to give up on the trip but friends told me to make good of the decision we have made and to spend some quality time with the girl.

And we did.

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Faith and I came back from Melbourne yesterday evening.
It happened to be our wedding anniversary and there is no better gift than to be with my family.

Blessed.

Faith and I had a fabulous time in Melbourne; the trip far exceeded my expectations.

I couldn’t thank Jenn and the host enough. They made the trip a very pleasant one indeed.

Will be recording some of the trip’s highlights soon.

Taking flatlay pictures

Apart from cooking, baking and exercising, another (less obvious) interest of mine is photography. I used ‘less obvious’ because many pictures that I have taken these days are quickly snapped, blurred at times and lack inspiration. I blame it on uncooperative kids. ;p

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Take a glance at my Instagram account and you can tell that it mainly comprises pictures of my kids and food. While I cannot control the appearance and sometimes the mood (they refuse to smile at the camera) of my children, I could certainly style my food better. Impressed by the flatlay shots taken by instagrammers, I attempted to do likewise and have come to the conclusion that it is not so easy to take a good #flatlay shot. An afternoon with Canon Singapore on Creating Better Content workshop confirmed that.

I went back, armed with the renewed desire to take better pictures and to give #flatlay shots a shot. The following are some pointers that I have noted:

:: Use a basic background

My wooden dining table is often used as the background and in order to have more variety, I search for towels and cloth. Little did I realise that I could actually use design paper as my background.

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This picture was taken during the workshop and you would have thought that I was laying all these props on a marble top eh? It was actually a design paper! Soo desne! I went back and bought a few of such papers for my #flatlay challenge. I try to choose simple backgrounds that don’t distract the viewer from the main subject.

:: Use natural light

I think we all know that natural light gives the best effect. Taking a shot somewhere that near a large window or glass doors is ideal because it often have a great supply of natural light. Unfortunately, my place is rather dim and I often take pictures under warm lighting. Using photo editing apps (Splice, VSCO , A Beautiful Mess, etc) will help in this case. It certainly makes sense to enhance saturation, lighting and/or warmth where possible/ if necessary with these apps.

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This is the shot I took on my dining table. Nope, I didn’t buy a marble table; I merely use a design paper and edit it to make it look better. Is this nice?

:: Have a theme
:: Think of colour palette
:: Pick things that look good from top
:: Leave space between each object

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Taking a good flatlay photo involves a lot of work, IMHO. You have to take the above into consideration and it certainly takes time. I entitled this picture as ‘A Beary Good Breakfast’ and got Faith to help make the bear design on the bread. The colour palette that I have chosen is in the shade of brown and yellow and I tried to scout for things that look nice from the top.

Alas, I feel that there is much room for improvement. I think I must continue to look for props to spice up my flatlay pic. Time to build my prop box!

:: Experiment with different layouts

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It really does take a long time to come up with a good flatlay pic. During the workshop, the participants were given props and time to come up with a few flatlay pics that they want to submit for a simple contest. You should have seen the hard work put in by them in arranging and re-arranging the props and playing with different layouts. Tough job!

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In the end, I settled for this. I tried to keep the frame full. I did my best.

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After the workshop, these are the photos that I took, bearing in mind the pointers that were given.

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Monday Blues’ breakfast

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Sometimes, when I’m at the eatery, I will try to take a flatlay shot of the food but I have to take a quick one because the husband is rolling his eyes and the girl (Ms TamChiak) is crying out for food.

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It was an enriching session and Faith and I enjoyed ourselves. The girl wanted to try her hands on the Canon camera and I think I will start her on that using my personal one. I just hope she won’t destroy it. Nah..

Thank you, Canon Singapore and Claudia of The Loving Mom for this lovely sharing session! Looking forward to future sessions!

 

#sportsforlife

It has always been a struggle to find time to exercise, for me. As Dan grows older, he demands more of my time and I find myself unable to even spend an uninterrupted 30 minutes to do a workout at home.

I look forward to weekends though since that would mean the husband is around and we could do some forms of exercise together, as a family. I wanted our children to love sports and to achieve that, the adults must model for them.

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Last Friday, we visited Decathlon and had a whale of a time. I always go ‘crazy’ over sports products and there are so many items here for various sports. We took the opportunity to show the girl how to throw the frisbee, got her to have a feel of passing the soccer ball, encouraged her to attempt the rock wall climbing and needless to say, she had fun on the trampoline.

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And we finally made it to the pool! It’s Dan’s first encounter and as anticipated, he cried when he first touched the water. But after a few minutes, he was fine!

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I managed to squeeze in some time to do a short  run yesterday after getting the kids to nap. The hubs took over and off I went. It’s a wonderful feeling, a luxury, being able to be in the outdoors, without whining kids. Hah..

Hopefully, these activities will sustain.

Have a great week, folks.

[Motivational Monday] BoxGreen for healthy snacking

Question: What do you do when you feel stressed?

I snack.

So you must be wondering, “What stress do you have? You are not working. There’s no deadline. What’s there to be stressed about?”

Tantrums. Teaching my own kid. Meltdowns. Baby crying. These are enough to stress me out and I find myself reaching out for a piece of chocolate whenever I reached my max. This, happens rather frequently. Definitely not good for the waistline

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Then BoxGreen contacted me and asked if I wanted to sample and review their products. Hello, BoxGreen. How do you know that I’ve been snacking?

In short, BoxGreen is a healthy snack subscription service that aims to promote healthier snacking by sourcing and delivering straight to the customers’ hands in the most hassle-free way possible. Their snacks are primarily made up of healthy nuts and chips and dried fruits. You choose how often you want to receive a box of 12 snack servings, select the snacks that you want and start snacking once you receive your box!

My box came a few days after I subscribed to it and I must say I love the packaging. It’s definitely good enough as a gift. Each portion is small which prevents you from overeating but the more important thing is they are healthy snacks (kinder to the waistline).

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If you are those who are very mindful of what you are eating, right down to the nutritional value, BoxGreen provides such information in the box.

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After tasting these snacks, I must say that they are really wonderful munch and I deem them suitable for my little girl. Now, I will always carry one or two packets of BoxGreen snacks in my bag because you’ll never know who might need it. The other day, I presented the snack to a pregnant mom while waiting for our kids to be released from school. She was so appreciative. And who can ignore hungry kids? These snacks really come in useful. I only wish they can be priced a tad cheaper. Having said that, I’m glad that BoxGreen actually donates a meal equivalent for every BoxGreen sold to Willing Hearts, a soup kitchen that helps the less privileged in Singapore. Well, at least the money is well-spent in this sense.

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These packets of goodies are not just good enough as snacks, they can even be used as part of your recipe. Just yesterday, I topped my breakfast of salad + quinoa + avocado + fried quail egg + honey with their Banana Pecan Crumble. The result? YUMMY! I personally thought that the box is good as a gift to others!

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Want to give BoxGreen a try? They are offering RaisingFaith readers a 30% discount! All you need to do is to sign up as a new subscriber and use the coupon code lynn30 before you checkout. Do note that this applies to the FIRST BOX only. Don’t worry. If you feel that the snacks do not fit you upon receiving your first box, you can simply cancel the subscription after that. Simple.

 

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Do give BoxGreen a go.
Snack well, folks!

Disclaimer: I was given a box of healthy snacks from BoxGreen to sample and review. I have decided to do a full post because I really enjoy the snacks and hope that you, my readers, can benefit from it. I particularly love the Shittake Mushroom Chips and Banana Pecan Crumble. 😉

The first six months as a mother of 2

[Reflections]

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Dan recently had his 6-month’s checkup and that means that I have been a mother of two for half a year! Hooray! You may think that it’s no big deal but to me, it is. Life has changed so much. With just one kid, life is a breeze. Two?

Before the boy popped out, I had many friends who asked me if I would be getting a helper to cope with household chores and looking after the kids. It’s a definite NO for me because I treasure my personal space and since we don’t live in a big place, I reckoned I could manage, somehow. Also, I think managing one more being causes too much of a stress to me so hiring a helper is out of the question.

This time round, getting the folks to help out has been reduced drastically as compared to the time when I had Faith only. Dad couldn’t help because he was just too weak; he couldn’t even carry Dan for more than five minutes. My FIL is getting old too so just two hours with an active preschooler wears him out. That leaves me with two kids, on my own.

The first two months

It WAS terrible. You may have seen wonderful pictures of us having fun and our faces beaming with delight but behind the scene, it was a lot of pain and tears – for Faith and me. I thought I had prepared Faith for the reality of a brother through talking to her about him constantly and reading her related books. I thought she was mature enough to handle the new arrival because she had told me that she was looking forward to the baby and she had been a good girl all along. The reality is, she wasn’t ready and she needed my attention at the same time when the baby needed it. I was without any help and I snapped, ALL THE TIME (ok, maybe MOST OF THE TIME).

But the beautiful thing is ‘THINGS WILL GET BETTER’. This message is consistently related to me by many mothers who have gone before me and I held on tightly to that promise like gospel truth and things did get better. Perhaps, Faith finally realised that the baby brother was here to stay or perhaps, I was more chilled about things and learnt that being present with the kids is more important that getting things/chores done.

But I still need to warn you, especially for those who are expecting the second one, that life will be rough, for the initial months and I kid you not. So, brace yourselves for the challenges to come.

On homecooked food

I am an advocate for homecooked food because I want the best for my family in terms of their health. But I know managing two kids and household chores can be demanding and I thought of the following options in terms of food:

  1. Order Tingkat (good ones)
  2. Buy a thermomix in the hope that cooking can be easier
  3. Humbly ask auntie-in-law to prepare dinner for us and pray that she would agree
  4. Eat out every other day

In the end, none materialised.

Ordering tingkat from good caterers is a very feasible option but no matter how good they can be, they will not give you the best that you want, IMHO. Will they give you a good cut of the meat? Will they use good oil? I may be wrong about them but they are, after all, running a business and until I can find one who is really interested in the welfare of their customers and are reasonably priced (remember we are surviving on one income?), I have to stick to cooking.

Thermomix? According to my friend who owns one, she finds it a real time-saver. I was almost tempted to buy except that I want my children to know that cooking is not about pressing some function keys and viola, you have food*! These days, there are indeed many efficient machines that makes life more convenient for us but I belong to the old-school group of people (please don’t judge me). I want my children to know their food source, how food can be prepared and understand the effort in churning out meals. This is how I was brought up and I’m thankful to my mom that she had insisted that my siblings and I go to the market with her to do grocery and that we help out in the kitchen. There are a lot to be learnt from these activities and I’m still learning.

*Comment is given based on my very limited knowledge of the product

Options #3 and #4 are actually not good options so they are discarded almost immediately.

So, I cook every meal except during the weekends. I may not be able to prepare many dishes and we mostly survive on one-pot meal but that is good enough. These days, I buy enough ingredients for a week on one trip, prepare them in small portions and freeze them until I need to use them. Specific ingredients for the next day are prepared and marinated the night before. And I find that thermal cookers are the best invention because the food can be prepared in advance and still is piping hot when we want to consume it. I absolutely love mine. BTW, a 1.5l is good enough for daily use.

#notsponsored

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I consider homecooked food to be the best for my family. I cook so that my children can see me in action and learn the skills as they grow older. Obviously, they have to be involved at one point or another and they are often more than happy to help, at least for now.

Household chores

No helper? It’s okay! Just lower your expectation about cleanliness and change your mindset about household chores. Attempting these chores is a form of exercise, no? In fact, it’s the ONLY exercise I do these days though I hope to carve out time for some proper workout. My stamina has dropped! Boo hoo!

Be humble and accept help

There are many who, upon knowing that I do not have a helper, asked me how I cope. Somehow, I just have to cope? I mean, there are MANY parents out there who do not have a helper like us and they do just fine. Having said that, I am immensely thankful to friends who lend a helping hand to me whenever I need it. I have dear friends who cook extra food for me to bring home after Faith’s playdate, give me wonderful snacks for me to munch on, and more recently, a parent of Faith’s schoolmate who will always invite us over to have lunch so that I don’t have to cook.

And my FIL? He comes every weekend to iron our clothes and mop the floor. It’s his way of showing love to us so we don’t bother to protest.

Be humble and keep learning

I don’t want to kid you, that there are many times that I want to quit being a SAHM, or a mother because it’s so tough. My ‘before-the-children-came-along’ life was so much more exciting and when the going gets tough, I find myself yearning to go back to that life. Yet, and it’s true that “Children are a heritage from the Lordoffspring a reward from him” (Psalm 127: 3-5) and when I sit down to ponder the Word of God and the many fond memories that He has blessed our family with, truly I can say, “I’m contented.”

Many times, I feel that God gives us children so that we can better ourselves. I realised I am so ugly and imperfect but my children will always extend their grace to me. They (specifically Faith) will bounce back after each scolding session and flash me their innocent smiles. When I’m down and out, I hear a concerned, “Are you okay, mom?” There’s much to learn from the children themselves in certain aspects, if only we maintain a humble heart.

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Motherhood/Parenthood has to be a calling, at least to me. Little lives are in our hands and I’d better make sure that I do a good job in it. There are obviously things that we (the hubs and I) have to give up and we find ourselves having to die to ourselves daily. The last question above, “Are you willing to postpone your dreams to cultivate your children’s hearts now?” poked at my heart recently and I find myself having to reply…

Yes, I’m willing, Lord.

7f18fb92f0da51cb0164c120ea817335.jpgOh, so true!

I have survived the first 6 months (yipee!) but how will the next half a year be?

 

A look at February

I’ve been meaning to blog but fatigue found me. There are meals to prepare, dishes to wash, floor to clean, clothes to wash, bedsheets to change every other day (Dan poos A LOT), homelearning resources to make, lessons to teach Faith, classes to send her to, BSF and parenting workshop’s homework to complete…and the list goes on. Life as a SAHM can be so mundane, so uninteresting and so tiring. The fact that Dan needs to be carried in the day time adds to my exhaustion and I find myself on my two feet the whole day. That terrible teething period is too painful for him, I guess.

So much has happened in February and I really ought to record them.

::::The Lunar New Year::::

I don’t have a love for the Chinese New Year (CNY). It was fun when I was a child. I remember accompanying my parents to the market to make some final purchases on the eve of CNY and everywhere would be crowded with people. My mom would buy a new set of clothes for us and we helped to do spring cleaning and decorate our home.  I love having steamboat for reunion dinner and till this day, it remains the ONE thing that I look forward to. I suspect my parents had intentionally done all these to help us create memories and to know the Chinese traditions. Sadly, we do not have such practices anymore apart from the steamboat and to a certain extent, CNY has lost its meaning. Now, as a parent, I wonder how I should help the children preserve this part of their heritage and I find myself doing some of the things that my parents did when I was a kid.

Reunion dinner at the in-laws and it was Faith’s maiden lohei, with Dan looking on with interest. Bakwan Kepiting, a dish my Peranakan aunt-in-law would make each reunion dinner, is one that I look forward to; it makes me drool.

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Home visiting. I dread it especially when you have young kids. Surprisingly, it was pleasant and somewhat enjoyable this year. Faith was enjoying the company she had and Dan was sleeping his time away. Bliss.

For the first time, I hosted my family. I totally don’t know why I haven’t done so previously. When I asked them why they didn’t want to visit my place during CNY, they replied, “Because you didn’t invite!”

Goodness! I didn’t know that we have to stand on ceremony, even with our own family.

:::: Faith @ 39 months old | HFMD ::::

The Friday when Faith’s school was celebrating CNY celebration, the principal called me in the afternoon to inform me that she had direct contact with a pupil who had contracted HFMD. My heart sank as I heard that because I have a baby at home and i wasn’t prepared to deal with a sick baby (I honestly wouldn’t know how). They had to be separated as much as possible and by that, I mean the baby would have to stay in his room the whole time while the older one roamed about in the house. Both K and I were worried because we didn’t want the disease to spread to the other kids should Faith really contracted It. We had to inform our relatives and try to distance the girl from the others. All the while, she was really active and didn’t complain of fever or ulcers until…she had two big red spots…on her nose! IS THIS A SIGN OF HFMD???

She did have mild HFMD according to the doctor. There wasn’t any fever, just one ulcer each at the back of the throat and on the mouth, in addition to a few small red spots on her foot. She’s as active as before and I’m thankful to have the in-laws to come to our place to accompany her while I took care of the baby and the household chores. Loss of appetite? Nope. In fact, it was better than before!

At 39 months old, Faith suddenly took a great interest in writing. I would print copies of worksheets on letters and the Chinese characters and leave it on the table and she would wake up or return from school and occupy herself with the ‘task’. It was a time-saver for me.

She’s getting more independent as she grows older and look for things to occupy herself when I was busy with cooking or the baby. Oh, how I love this age!

Resources for worksheets:
www.worksheetfun.com
www.fastseoguru.com

Note: It is better to continue to work on children’s fine motor skills before getting them to work on writing. Read more here.

During the last two months, I realised that Faith could memorise the Chinese characters at a faster pace and she could read a few simple readers by looking at the characters (not memorising anymore). This gives me great joy! Many times, I feel that I am fighting a losing battle (I still feel this way) because English has become her dominant language even though she started off with Mandarin. We have made little progress and I have to remind myself to continue to speak to her in Mandarin (which is more difficult for me).

The girl has been showing much love to her baby brother and I’m really thankful for that. She enjoys her music class, loves the outdoors but I’m not so sure if she appreciate artwork. We’ll see.

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And yes, I managed to bake a cake for an adorable 1YO girl! So many things have happened and it’s quite a chore to pen them down. I’m glad I could go this far, heh! February looked quite fine to me and I hope it’s been good for you!

Marching on to March now!

Pip’s PLAYbox

We don’t usually do this.

Nap time is important and I make sure that the kids have sufficient rest before going for outdoor play in the evening. Today was an exception because our dear neighbour was doing some drilling work and the noise was so deafening that it terrified the kids.

I had two wailing kids and to maintain my sanity, I had to leave the house.

Thankfully, the hubs took the afternoon off to relieve me and off we went to Pip’s* Playbox.

*Pip is Esplanade’s colourful mascot for its children’s programmes.

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We reached Pip’s PLAYbox around 2.30pm and we were the only ones present. The area has just been cleaned and all was quiet. Perfect for a peaceful afternoon!

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There are parking lots for prams and I’m thankful for a clean nursing room and two children’s toilets that are so children-friendly. Faith was telling me not to help her in anything because she could manage it all by herself (she is not that tall).

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Meet Pip!

This is the activity zone where children can busy themselves with craft work. The themes and materials vary throughout the year.

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Do you remember the Overhead Projector??? I was so thrilled to see this because it reminded me of my school days and early teaching years. However, the girl was none too impressed and after playing with it for a moment, she was distracted by…

these magnetic blocks and train tracks (from Ikea). She was working on them for a good amount of time and even invited the Papa to join her.

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I personally love it that they stock books written by local writers and illustrators and this place is really an inviting space for parents to read to their children. How about a storytelling session?

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There are little nook crannies within the PLAYbox for children to grab a book to read and in this case, having some cosy moment with the baby.

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An hour later and the crowd streamed in slowly. This is indeed a good meeting place for mothers and children alike. It’s a safe place for young kids to have fun together. I thought Pip’s PLAYbox might appeal to toddlers and preschoolers more.

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PIP’s PLAYbox
Esplanade Theatres on the Bay
Level 4
Opening Hours: 11 am to 6pm
Free Admission
Join Pip’s Club!