[Review + Giveaway] EZPZ Happy Mat

Meal times should be relaxed, fun and with joy as the family comes together to have conversations about the food on the table and of the activities that they have had for that day. Perhaps, for many of you, such is the case. However, that does not happen to us, at least for now. Because we have a toddler who is Mr Tamchiak (one who likes to eat) and insists on feeding himself.

Self-feeding is good, isn’t it? Not until you see the mess that is created!

Daniel decided that he needed to have ownership of the spoon when he turned 15 months old; he snatched the spoon from me when I tried to feed him. From then on, the mother would watch him like a hawk and try to prevent any accidents – tipping of the bowl, flying food items, etc – from occurring.

Meal times are stressful times…for me. And I always have my equipment – newspaper at the bottom of the highchair, tissue paper and wet wipes – ready.

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But meal times can be made a little less stressful with EZPZ Happy Mat. It is an all-in-one placemat with a plate that captures the mess created by the little one. This mat (15″ x 10″ x 1″) suctions directly to the table and it is near impossible for the plate to be tipped over.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that meal times will instantly turn pleasurable with the use of EZPZ Happy Mat because there is still mess but the mess is contained within the mat…

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…in this manner. So you will find me scooping the food back onto the plate instead of wasting it. Obviously eating rice on the plate will require more skill and effort on the part of the toddler and I thought the Happy Bowl (below) will make a better choice if you are having rice or soup (duh).

Images taken from MumsPick

As you can imagine, it’s much easier to clear the mess once the boy is done with his meal. I just need to remove the mat and head straight to the sink . Some of the food still drops to the floor but the amount of wastage has reduced.

I personally thought the EZPZ Happy Mat is a good investment especially if you are starting the kid through Baby-Led Weaning (BLW). Daniel was fed puree because the mom couldn’t stand the mess BLW would create. Moreover, she wasn’t informed of the existence of the EZPZ Happy Mat so…

A few things you might want to know about the product:

:: Made from 100% food-grade silicone that is BPA, BPS, PVC, latex and phthalate free

:: Dishwasher, microwave and oven safe (up to 175C)

:: Promotes self-feeding and develops fine motor skills

:: Easy to store

:: Built to last (silicon is bendable and flexible and doesn’t fade, corrode or deteriorate)

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EZPZ Happy Mat is available at MumsPick who is the exclusive distributor of EZPZ in Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines and Malaysia. Do make sure your Happy Mat has the ezpz brand name on it when you purchase one. Without the brand name, the product is sourced from another manufacturer who may not be compliant with regulatory requirements.

GIVEAWAY!

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I’m excited to share that MumsPick is offering one reader a Limited Edition Happy Mat in Berry worth S$52. Yay!

All you need to do is to

  1. Follow MumsPick on their FB Page to get updated information on their products. They have good stuff for the kids!
  2. Tag a friend, like and comment on RaisingFaith FB post on why you wanted to win this Happy Mat. I’m just curious, you see?
  3. Do follow RaisingFaith as I will announce the winner on that platform.

The giveaway is open to all residing in Singapore and will end on 6 April 2017. I will announce the winner on RaisingFaith FB page on 7 April. All the best!

Please note: Winner will have to pick item up from the Eastern side of Singapore, or top up for mail/courier.

Discount Code

MumsPick is also offering readers a 10% discount on their products. Use the code “RFEZPZ” during checkout! This code expires on 13 April 2017.

[Friday Flips] Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age

[Review + Giveaway]

I’ve been reading this book for over a month now and have been reflecting as much. It got me thinking about my own parenting style and how my views on education have changed since becoming a parent.

Beyond the Tiger Mom: East West Parenting for the Global Age reads like a research paper that is backed by the author’s own experience as a teacher in the US and Singapore, her own Asian heritage which shapes her parenting beliefs, interviews with Asian parents and educational research.

This is such a good read and one that causes parents to reflect on their parenting, education and family beliefs.

The author accurately described the mentality of the Asian moms and I couldn’t help but agree with what she wrote. Being an Asian mom myself, I find myself feeling anxious about getting my children to start reading at an early age and therefore find ways to create a math-rich home so that they could understand concepts early and find math in their daily lives. She also provided an honest glimpse into the lives of students in Singapore, those whose schedules are filled with tuition and enrichment classes. Is tuition necessary? The author managed to give a balanced view on that and causes readers to reflect on its purpose and if there is a need for their own children to go through that kind of ‘lifestyle’.

As a person who has grown up and taught in the US, the author was able to provide readers with the western perspective to parenting and education and marrying both eastern and western beliefs, she could give a balance view on them. My reflection as a mom is to question what is good for my children and how to parent them in this global age based on what she has shared in her book.

Questions which I find myself asking:
:: Is early math important and what can I do to build a math-rich home?
:: How to create a reading culture in my home such that my children would love reading
:: Phonics vs whole language – there could be a balance
:: There is value in individualised instruction, especially for those who need coaching at a pace that’s best for them but would I be found sending my kids for tuition just so that they would not lose out to their peers?
:: Our generation of children is brought up in a digital age. How can we benefit from the use of technology without getting addicted to it?

Of particular help are the tips that she gave at the end of each chapter, on how we we could build a math-rich, language-rich home, how to help our children memorise information and encourage critical thinking skills, how to supplement our children’s education, among others.

It’s truly a book to grab and read and then be thrust into a state of reflection.

About the author

PrintA global citizen, Maya Thiagarajan has lived and worked in India, Singapore, and the US. She earned a BA in English from Middlebury College and a Masters in Education Policy from Harvard University.

Maya began her teaching career with Teach For America, where she taught at a public school in Baltimore City for two years. She went on to teach high school English at some of America’s most prestigious independent schools. After a decade of teaching in the US, Maya moved to Singapore and began teaching at The United World College of South East Asia (UWC).

Struck by the different approaches to education and parenting that she encountered in Singapore, Maya began to interview Chinese and Indian parents living in Singapore. Using her own experiences as well as the stories of parents whom she interviewed, Maya wrote a book titled Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age. [Source]

[GIVEAWAY]

Book Publicity Services has kindly agreed to gift one reader with Beyond the Tiger Mom: East West Parenting for the Global Age. What you need to do:

  1. Like the facebook post
  2. Comment on why you would like a copy of the book

Simple? This giveaway is for local residents (Singapore) only and will end on 6 January 2017. A random participant will be picked and we will then be sending him/her a copy of the book. All the best and have a great year ahead!

Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy of this book and I chose to give a review of it because it really is a good read and I hope many could benefit from it. All opinions are mine unless otherwise stated.

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?

Patience needed


It was a fine evening. The weather was great and the children yearned to go outdoors.

We did that and got the girl to bring her bicycle along so that she could practise riding it.

The hubs and I took turns but I ended up getting frustrated.

Frustrated that her feet kept slipping off from the pedals. Frustrated that she kept looking down while trying to balance instead of looking straight ahead.

Less-than-encouraging words departed from my tongue and attacked her. In exasperation, she stopped in her tracks and screamed.

I have hurt her.

Oh, what an impatient mom I am. That was only her second time learning to ride the bicycle. What was I expecting? That she could get it in two attempts?

It’s time to do a bit of self-reflection.

Read, read, read

I believe we all know that reading is an important skill and many of us read to the child even before he/she was born. As a (ex) language teacher, I know it is vital that the child knows how to decode a word and therefore read before he/she enters formal school (Primary School). It is my goal that my children acquire a love for reading and so I read to Faith diligently even before she was born and continued to do so after that.

BUT… a few months back, I was overwhelmed with work and by that I mean teaching Faith, household chores, looking after a very energetic boy, etc and I was tired out. We still made it a point to visit the library and borrowed many books but those books were placed on the tabletop, some untouched. There were times when Faith asked me to read to her but I was just too tired and told her we could do so the next day…the next day…the next day. Gradually, I realised that she had lost her interest in reading and when I did ask her to get a book to read, she would prefer working on other stuff to reading.

That’s when I ‘woke up’. This has got to stop! And I started to Drop Everything And Read to her. I make it a point to read at least five books a day to her. You might think this is a low target but at times, I can’t even get past two books. Seriously!

So I persisted with my #fiveaday for a few months and am glad to say that Faith’s interest for reading is back! How do I know? She would ask me to read books to her and would stay glued to the story even though it is a long one. Now, when I ask her for predictions, she would respond based on the illustration or her own knowledge. We talk about a certain book over conversations and her eyes will light up, “Remember, the boy who….the one in the book we read yesterday?”

It does good for me too. I rekindled my love for reading and started to find time in between chores to read. When Faith saw me reading, she asked to be read to as well. Ah…we are sharing the pleasure of reading again!

I would like to share a book that helped me (sort of) get back to reading for pleasure, and not just for information.

img_0614Found in the Adult Lending section
Call No. 011.62 HUN

This book talks about using books to help children grow and lists some of the best-loved books for children from 0 to 14 years old. However, there is only one copy available in our library and I’m currently holding on to it (as of 21st October). It’s quite possible that I would fork out $$$ for it. 😉

Here’s sharing with you ten ways to raise a reader (adapted based on this book):

  1. Restrict screen time drastically.
  2. Keep the computer, ipad, phones under control and where they can be monitored. Don’t allow too many hours on pointless games or in chat rooms.
  3. Have books and other good reading material within easy reach, an enticement to read.
  4. Let your children see you reading.
  5. Read books aloud together regardless of age.
  6. Talk about books together; play games together.
  7. Have well-lit rooms with comfortable chairs that invite reading.
  8. Balance activity schedules with reading time. Let your kids know the library is as important as the gymnasium (sports).
  9. Encourage reading in bed with good lights to do so.
  10. Visit the library often, and listen to books-on-tape when travelling.

So, I say..

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Linking up with

Growing with the Tans Friday Flips

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.

Faith’s first art class

Faith has often expressed an interest in painting and would ask me to do art with her at home. I’m not trained in this area and could only work on some simple forms of artwork with her. So, when growingwiththetans asked me if I would be interested to get Faith to attend some art classes during the school holidays, I agreed readily.


She can be a tad shy when she’s with new friends. Thankfully N gor gor was there. We signed the kids up for Flower Vase (Finger Painting) at Artflock studio.


She was rather apprehensive at first because she has not seen this art teacher before. So, you can expect her to be rather quiet.


Once the lesson started, the kids were all on the ball. See how serious every one was.


While the children were hard at work, the mums were busy catching up with one another over brunch. I like this location a fair bit because there are some good cafes around and that means “caffeine, here I come!”


Came back and they were at the last stage. Such beautiful art pieces! I could never do such a work with her.


She was all smiles and I think she enjoyed herself.


Her artwork is the only one with a pink background.


The artist and her masterpiece.


So this concludes her first art lesson. When I asked her why she didn’t choose purple as the background since that’s her favourite colour, she replied,”I thought pink is your favourite colour?”

I’m not sure what that means. Did she choose pink because I like it? I’ll be honoured if that is the case. 😀

She did enjoy the class and when I asked her if she wanted to go for another lesson, her reply was an enthusiastic “yes”.

At this age, I’m still trying to find out what she is good at. She seems to be interested in a lot of things which is good. But how do you tell where her talent lies so that you can help her develop it? I’m not keen to crowd her childhood with enrichment classes but if she is not exposed to such an opportunity, how will we know?

Oh well, I’ll just use the school holidays to enrich her then. *shrug shoulders*

Staycation with little ones

I don’t know about you but we have had little luck with staycation. Whenever I read blogs about how fun staycation can be for other families with young kids, I couldn’t help but envy. We had our fair share of hotel stays since Faith came along but none came close to being “excellent”. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that the hotels aren’t doing their best to make our stay pleasant; it’s just us. I personally find staycation to be a tad tiring until perhaps, the kids are older?

Are we the only ones having such ‘bad’ experience?

Last Friday, after Faith had her music class, we zipped to Amara Sanctuary Resort for our staycation. The girl knocked out once she was in the car. Too tiring, I suppose, and we had a late check in.


Kachang puteh and their signature drink, something familiar and refreshing.


The boy was surprisingly alert and active at 4pm while the sister continued to zzzzz… her way to the room in the stroller. Had she been awake, we would have gone exploring the hotel premise quite immediately upon checking in.


We waited for her till she awoke from her nap. Refreshed and happy the way I like it. There’s less chance of dealing with a cranky kid and we definitely do not need that on a staycation.


Before we could do anything interesting, it’s dinner time. I made an appointment for a massage at night because it’s such a waste not to have such a luxury in a resort, isn’t it?

We didn’t have any fancy meal but I’m come to a stage where I’ve learnt to be contented – that if I see my loved ones enjoying the company of each other, that’s enough. Good enough.

And we had that.

Evening. I went for my massage session while the hubs tried to put the kids to bed. I returned, and learnt that he has just gotten the baby to sleep (after an hour of attempt) and the girl? Waiting for me to come back and sleep with her.

Life with young kids…

The following day, it rained. It always, 90% of the time, rains when we are on staycation. I couldn’t understand the logic but I have already managed my expectations so I wasn’t too upset by it. Had our breakfast which was nothing to boast about. Once the rain got lighter, I beckoned the girl to go jalan jalan (explore) with me.


Let the boys have their sleep. All of us didn’t sleep well the night before because Dan had been waking up a few times that night.

Life with young kids…


I love the resort. It is tranquil and I thought it is a good place for a short retreat.


It’s a haven for nature lovers. If I was to come alone, I would have gone for a morning jog at the gym, cool down with a walk around the premise and refresh myself with their signature drink at the hotel lobby.


Air is fresh and this architecture lovely.


And we found a peacock feather on the way.


The pool is so inviting and yet we could only gaze…


…or dip our toes in it.


Oh, all right. It’s not too bad after all. We met the resident peacock and its young.


Back to our room and it’s more viewing of the black box and eventually some work on her own. Life with young kids. You really ought to pack stuff for them to do when you go places. When kids are bored, you are doomed.

So we didn’t get to use the pool but thankfully, there’s the bath tub.

She spent half an hour having a splashing good time in it.

Contentment.


With that, we packed our bags and got ready to head home. Faith must have been happy for she kept asking us why we couldn’t go home that evening, how she wanted to go home and that she didn’t like to be away from her humble abode.

Gah… What is wrong with (our) staycation?


Thankfully, we had a very satisfying citron and chocolate mille crepe at Lady M and that made my day.

Another staycation? We will try again.

Dan’s first experience with Bellamy’s Organic

Life gets really interesting once a baby reaches 6 months old. During our last visit to the PD, I was asked which brand of milk powder I wanted to try on Daniel. A few options were given and in the end, I chose the one that I grew up with and which the older one had used – Dumex.

I didn’t immediately use that can of formula milk powder because Daniel was diagnosed to have baby eczema by the PD and the latter had suggested that I watch my dairy intake since that might be the cause of the condition (he’s on total breastmilk). Although his condition is under control now, I thought it would be better that I source for an organic baby formula instead and hope that he would react well to it which is the main reason why I participated in the Bellamy’s Organic Experiencer Project.

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The subject

It is not difficult to like Bellamy’s Organic when I read up on its mission –

“to provide a pure start to life for babies and children everywhere and we are passionate about promoting healthy eating practices amongst children.”

It resonates greatly with me because that is what I desire for my children as well and I use organic ingredients in my cooking as much as possible. I certainly do not want my family to consume too much harmful chemicals! So starting the young ones with organic food is the way to go for me and I’m appreciating the fact that Bellamy’s Organic produces only 100% organic foods.

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Daniel has been on total breastmilk until now and he latches directly to the milk source so getting him to try the milk using the bottle has been a challenge. He was resistant to the bottle and in the end, I had to feed him using the spoon. It seemed that he noticed the difference when he took the first few spoonfuls and it didn’t take long for me to understand why. I tried the milk myself and realised that it is not really that sweet. My breastmilk must have been sweeter! This works for me since I dislike formula milk that is too sweet or contains artificial sweeteners.

Thankfully, there is no rejection from the boy and more importantly, no adverse reaction (i.e. allergies, constipation, etc) to the milk and that means he is not allergic to cow’s milk! You can imagine my joy! This is his first experience with formula milk (apart from the ones he drank in the hospital as an infant) and I’m happy that it is organic food that he is starting off with.

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Since Dan has started on solid foods, it was definitely a welcome move to get him to try Bellamy’s organic baby porridge which is organic oats blended with organic grains. It has added iron but no added sugar or salt. Adding the organic baby formula, this makes a very healthy and easy meal for me to prepare. Initially, it took the boy a while to get used to the taste and perhaps, texture, but after a few days, I am happy to report that he could finish the whole portion that was given to him. It’s definitely a far cry from the few teaspoonfuls at the beginning stage.

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Now, I could even rope in the husband to help since there is no more resistance from the boy anymore.

You could say that I’m very satisfied with the products and progress thus far and I went a little further and purchased the food pouch for Dan to try. You need to know something. I dislike these ready-to-serve baby food because I bought some food jars from other brands for my girl to try when she was around Dan’s age and when I tasted the food, I stopped myself from giving it to her. It had some weird taste to it and didn’t taste natural. If I find that a certain food tasted weird, I wouldn’t want my child to consume it, would I?

Having gained confidence and assurance from Bellamy’s organic formula milk and rice porridge, I decided to give its food pouch a go at it. I had the banana apple porridge and it tastes very similar to the original food. So yes, you can be sure that I would stock up on these because it promises convenience for me and nutrition for my kid!

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So I find myself becoming a believer of Bellamy’s Organic products and went on to purchase the milk rusks for my teething boy.

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At the end of the day, we all want our children to grow up strong and healthy, to be able to have a strong immune system and to grow up choosing the right food to consume, all the way till they reach adulthood. To achieve that, it has to start with providing the children with a healthy diet, one that is filled with wholesome, nutritious food from an early age. I’m glad to share the same beliefs as Bellamy’s Organic and from this experience, it is obvious that they truly care about the well-being of the young ones. Admirable. You have gained for yourself a loyal fan now.

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Do you have a photo of you and your child that is especially precious to you? You are invited to share that photo at Bellamy’s Organic Facebook Page and do let them know why the memory of that photo is held dear to you. You can stand a chance to win $200 TANGS shopping voucher + $50 Bellamy’s Organic Hamper. It is truly a Mother and Child’s well deserved treats!

Contest ends 25 May, Wednesday. Don’t wait anymore!😉

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Disclaimer: We are given a box of Bellamy’s Organic milk powder, pasta and rice porridge to sample for this experiencer project, as well as supermarket shopping vouchers. All opinions are, as usual, mine.

 

Dear Daniel (@ 4 months old)

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Dear Daniel

You turned 4 months old today! And mama realised that she hasn’t been recording much of your development. It’s not that you are less precious than your sister. It’s just that Mama is learning how to handle both of you and the learning curve is super steep. Now that things have gotten better, I’d better lock some of those memories here.

I remember during your first month, I asked the confinement lady if she was tired since she had to wake up in the middle of the night to bottle-feed you and her reply was,”He’s easy to take care of. Cry so softly and it’s like whimpering unlike some of the babies who scream. He’s considered gentle to me.”

I laughed at her comments but it’s so true. I have not really heard you cry that loudly. The only few times that you did was when you were hungry in the car and when I showered you. Since then, I make sure that you have your fill before we go places.

You take to the bottle well which is a relief for me since Papa is doing the night shift and that means I do not have to wake up in the middle of the night to feed you. I hope you are not giving him a difficult time! He has to work in the daytime, you know? But he has graciously offered to do the night shift because he knows I need the sleep or maybe he’s worried that I would harm you and Jie Jie if I don’t have enough rest? *Just kidding* On the average, you wake up 2 times for milk according to Papa and we didn’t bother to sleep train you since by doing that, you might wake Jie Jie up who has school the next day. We certainly hope you will grow out of it in due time, just like your Jie Jie.

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I want you to know that you have an awesome sister who treasures you a lot. Whenever Mama asks her to look after you, she would never refuse me because she just wants to spend time with you and take care of you like a good Jie Jie. She wishes that you would grow up quickly though because she can’t wait to play with you.

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You are very predictable and adhere to the same routine each day. You nap every 2 hours and have a longer 3-hour nap in the afternoon before retiring for the day at 7pm each day. In terms of bedtime, I must say you are much better than your sister. I don’t have to sing you songs or rock you to sleep. You just, well, fall asleep. Because of that, I could spend the evening with your sister. What a wonderful brother you are!

Today, you flipped and I missed you in action as your sister was asking me to play with her. I got distracted. Sigh! But it’s a neat surprise when I turned to see you in that “flipped” position! I was quite sure your neck was not strong enough since I didn’t really conduct tummy time often enough for you. So, I was surprised and literally cried for joy.

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Mama likes the way you observe your surrounding and this shows that you have a curious mind (colloquially we term it as ‘kaypoh’) and I absolutely love it when you flash that smile of yours whenever we chat you up. So adorable. Stay that way, will you?

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Mama will try to record your milestones and development diligently from now on. It has not be an easy 4 months but I’m reminded that I can always count on the Lord for strength daily. May you grow up to love the Lord and seek Him always.

Love
Mama

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.

Tuesday thoughts: Loneliness

Someone’s feeling lonely. It’s not me. I’ve gone past that stage, at least for now. It’s Faith.

In recent months, I have observed that the little girl loves company and would jump for joy when I told her that we would be meeting so-and-so. Even when we are going around the neighbourhood, she would greet the people she meets and tries to befriend new ones especially at the playground and library. She has grown out of the solitary play mode and increasingly loves to hang out with people.

Bad news for me, huh?

That means she gets bored at home more often because her mother doesn’t always have time to think of new activities to engage her. Thankfully, there are the weekly playdates and co-ops and the occasional swimming sessions with her cousins. However, these might not continue the following year since her playmates would be in preschool and there would be fewer opportunities to go out with them.

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So I did the unthinkable (in my case). I went to shop for schools for her.

I really didn’t want her to go to school until she turns 4 years old. She is, after all, still so young! She needs to play and enjoy her childhood. Besides, I don’t think we are doing an awful job in our homeschooling effort. However, since she is born in the popular year of the dragon, I thought that I should start looking for schools just in case there are no vacancies left by the time I decide to put her in school. I should at least put her on a waiting list or something, that’s what a lot of mummy friends were telling me to do.

In the end, I visited two schools. The first one was none too impressive although it seems like a well-known preschool. The moment the marketing executive (yes, not the principal!) told me that they emphasize on academic excellence, I lost complete interest. I want a preschool that focuses on building the children’s characters, where each child’s uniqueness is respected and that they can learn at their own pace. The second school fits my criterion to a tee. It’s not a well-known school and in fact, the preschool is rather young but as I spoke with the principal and visited the premise, I was won over.

That is the preschool for Faith. And on the spot, I decided that Faith would go to school the following year.

After leaving the compound, I started to have doubts and was uncertain if I have made the right decision. On one hand, I would want to continue what we have been doing. I can always find a new group of playmates for her and we can always go out and learn stuff together. On the other hand, getting her to go to school might do her good too since she can have more friends and learn from the wonderful teachers and principal in that school.

We shall see.

For now, the decision is for her to go to school.

So, yes, Faith is going to school. *sobs*

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Homeschool or preschool?

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

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

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

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

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Faith, with her completed lion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The cycle continues…

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

Milestone

Today was just another ordinary day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#22MO #firsttimeparent

Ready for more sports?

There is nothing more joyful than to see the little one enjoying what she is doing. It’s no surprise that Faith is better in terms of her physical abilities. She started walking rather early and has a good sense of balance (maybe because she’s short!). Now at 22 months, she could walk a fair distance (from our place to the playground at the reservoir) and run steadily.

Today, we had our playdate at the new sports hub and two of the kids brought along their skate-scooters. Faith tried scooting and in no time at all, could scoot! You can imagine my joy!

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I have always wanted her to be able to do that and am ever ready to spend on the scooter. The time has come! Skate-scooting is a good form of sports because the kid needs to have hand-eye coordination and a sense of balancing. Always good to sweat it out too!

Apart from that, we have been getting the little one to swim. Although she was afraid of the waters in the beginning, she wasn’t afraid of getting her head under the water now. Yay!

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I’m still waiting for Faith to be taller so that she could try on her balance bike which she has won through a contest! Yea, triathlon is very much on my mind. That’s the grand plan. Haha!

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Disclaimer: Opinion does not reflect that of my hubs. It’s purely mine. 😉

Reflections on Language Power 蓝格子, 跑啊!

I left the theatre with  a thankful heart.

Thankful that I had spent an afternoon attending a most inspiring talk about the power of language and to be wowed again by the beauty of the Chinese language. Yes, Chinese and I thought I had a most wonderful lesson in years conducted by the very eloquent and unassuming speaker, Eeva Chang.

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I have ‘known’ Eeva Chang since I was a young kid, having listened to the radio programmes on Rediffusion during those early years. It is perhaps how I started to learn to speak in Mandarin in the first place since our family only communicated in Cantonese during those days and right into our Primary School years. Being able to see Eeva on stage and listen to her speak in crisp, clear Mandarin is a real treat in itself.

Eeva started off by sharing about her background and illustrated how the power of language could change lives and society by drawing examples from renowned figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Jack Ma (Chairman, Alibaba Group), to name a few. Indeed her own life and success can be largely attributed to her language ability and … her voice. Thus she urged the audience to do that ONE thing upon reaching home – to do a recording of our voice and listen to it for our voice has a face to it and we can use our voice to make an impression on others. Our voice can determine or change our destiny and indeed it has, in Eeva’s own life.

The following are three points that spoke to me:

Language is not inherited but imitated

Eeva illustrated this point by getting the audience to match the language spoken by two children to that of their respective parents just by listening to the recording. It clearly shows that the child will learn to speak in a way that is similar to his parent(s) for he first learns the language by listening. Language is not inherited and having a good language environment is crucial for language acquisition. In her years of working with educators, Eeva observed that many children are afraid to speak in Mandarin but are more conversant and confident in English. She attributed that to the lack of a rich Chinese language environment in Singapore.

I concur with Eeva on that and as parents, I think we have to make extra effort in our speech if we want our child to learn to speak well. I have been speaking to Faith in Mandarin with the (hopefully) right intonation and I have friends who asked me why I have to speak in such a manner. The above is exactly the reason why I do that. As a language teacher myself, I know full well that the child imitates how the adults speak and we have to make effort in speaking properly. That definitely applies to English too. Speak to them in standard English for this will impact on their writing ability in future. They will learn Singlish in no time at all since our language environment fully supports Singlish. Don’t leave the job of speaking well to the teachers. It has to start with us, parents.

And, no baby talk please, for the younger ones. We are just NOT helping them by doing that.

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The importance of joyful learning 

This is nothing new to us, that learning takes place when children (or adults) find a topic interesting and will naturally be motivated to want to find out more information on their own accord. Interest is thus generated and children don’t have to be forced to learn. They will find that learning can be enjoyable and desirable results (be it tangible or intangible) can be achieved.

Makes sense?

But how often have we asked our children to learn something that we deem as beneficial but which they dislike? Self-assessment is required here, dear parents. An easier method is to ask your child how he feels about attending certain classes that you have planned for him. If he likes it, that’s great! If not, why?

Learning must result in application. If not, why do we have to learn? Similarly for children, they must see a need to apply their knowledge and skills before setting their mind on acquiring them. The ability to apply is an achievement for them!

Visualisation in language

What do the above mean? Simply put, it means getting the person to visualise an image(s) when we mention a word(s). A word has an image and meaning attached to it and the word comes alive to the person.

An example was given. Eeva asked a local girl how old she was and the little one replied, “Five years old.”

However, when she asked a Chinese girl the same question, the answer was, “I am six this year and I am going to school next year.”

This illustrates that the number 6 has a special meaning to the latter girl and it is not just a number to her. More often than not, when we teach words to the children, we fall short of getting them to understand and visualise the words so that the children could use them effectively. They are not just words on the cards or boards but they have an image and feeling attached to it.

Another example to illustrate the same point was given. In getting the child to construct a sentence using ‘good girl’,

#1 student wrote, ” The sister is a good girl.”
#2 student wrote, “My sister helps the old lady to cross the road. She is a good girl”

#2 student thus can visualise the words ‘good girl’ and that translates into his writing.

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I left the theatre feeling thankful that I was given this opportunity to hear her speak. It came at a time when I was on the brink of giving up speaking to Faith in Mandarin. I used to be strong in that language but because there is little need to use it once I entered tertiary education, I found myself getting weak in the Chinese language. So, communicating with Faith in Mandarin can be a difficult task at times when vocabulary is limited.

Still, the language does occupy a special place in my heart. I’m not sure about you but when I listen to certain Chinese songs or poems, I could feel a tug at my heart. And when I hear good Mandarin being spoken, my heart is lifted; it almost feels like you are listening to someone singing. I want Faith to acquire the Chinese language and to achieve that, it has to start with me.

Things that I want to improve on is the way that I communicate with her. I would need to explain more in detail of a certain word to her and not just, “This is xxx.” Visualisation is so important!

I would also need to mix less of English with Chinese (I have a tendency to do that!) and to start learning more Chinese words! Thankfully, I have friends who are passionate about having their children learn Chinese and having them come together during playdates is a good way to get them to communicate in Mandarin too! Another way is to listen to the Chinese radio stations so that both Faith and I could listen to good spoken Chinese.

Last words: A social entrepreneur with a passion for the Chinese language

This last bit is not about the talk but the speaker herself. I was moved by Eeva’s effort to continue to fight for the language which is her love. She bought over Rediffusion at a time when many thought that it was a dying radio station (at least I thought so) and revived it. Read more about the history here. She continued to exhort educators and parents to bring Chinese alive to the children through educational talks and shows. She did share that it was difficult to get sponsors for this talk show because many companies believed that not many would be interested in such a show and the inevitable question arose, “What is there for me (to benefit)?”

I sighed at such a remark.

Does money have to be tied to everything we do? Can it not be for passion or because the society can benefit from it? Businessmen would probably laugh at my naive remark above and that’s probably the reason why I am not a businesswoman in the first place. I think I will turn bankrupt in no time at all. But then again…. sigh!

I’m grateful then for the few companies that came forward to support her cause and I find myself doing likewise.

I’m actually interested to get Faith to attend any suitable courses organised by Eduplus, a school founded by Eeva. Alas, there is no such course for her because she is too young! Oh well, Faith has just got to wait and learn from her mother in the meantime.

Disclaimer: I was invited to the Eeva’s Language Power talk show in exchange for a blog review. No compensation was received and opinions are mine.

Language Power 蓝格子, 跑啊!

I read linguistics in school and after understanding more about brain development with regard to language, resolved from then on that I would want to raise bilingual child(ren) if when I have a family. Thus, in our household, the husband speaks in English and I would communicate with Faith in Mandarin .

Early childhood is the easiest time to learn multiple languages. Babies are born with billions of neurons (brain cells). They spend the first few years of life building trillions of synapses (connections) between those cells. For language especially, these first few years are the most “sensitive period” in their lives when they are primed to learn language. At 6 months, human babies are able to differentiate between any sounds that human beings make. But as children age, they begin to “prune” some of the synapses they’ve built. Connections that are important get reinforced, but things which they aren’t using in everyday life may get cut.

It is my desire that Faith grows up being an effective bilingual. While it is relatively easy communicating in simple Mandarin with her when she was an infant, I found it increasingly difficult to do so now as I would need more vocabulary in my daily conversation. What’s making it more complicated is the fact that I am also teaching her using English and I’m not sure if I am on the right track anymore.

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So, when a friend told me about this talk called ‘Language Power’ (蓝格子, 跑啊!), my interest was piqued. In the talk show, the speaker, Eeva Chang, would touch on the following (and here, I attempt to translate a few of them):

1。我会让你看见你是否有语言力量
(The participants will discover if they have language power)
2。你会体会到, 你的孩子或自己是否用了最好的方式与语言相处
(The participants will experience if they or their children are using the best method in language development)
3。我们会一起明白, 在新加坡学习语文真的如此痛苦吗
(The participants will understand if it is really that difficult to learn a language in Singapore)
4。你有机会听见自己 是如何在”运用”着自己的声音能量和语文能量。
5。你的家庭语言和学校语言到了几年级开始分道扬镳?
6。我们的社会是个语言视觉化的社会吗?
7。为什么语言视觉化可以让人的理解度大大提升?
8。新加坡的小学生最直白的心里话, 在那天会告诉你。
9。语言是遗传还是学习来的?
10。你知道,我们一直在违反语言学习的黄金定律吗?

The above are questions that I have been asking myself too and I thought it would be beneficial to hear her thoughts on them. If you don’t already know Eeva Chang, here is some information about her.

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After her university graduation, EEva was awarded the Golden Bell Award (Taiwanese Broadcasting Award’s highest accolade). She then left Taiwan to come to Singapore to fulfil her dreams. She has not left since.

The multi-talented EEva was also a winner at the ASEAN Literary Prose Awards and was also named the Best Producer at the Shanghai International Television Broadcasting Awards show. She was a Programme manager at 100.3FM as well as a presenter and programme producer at FM 95.8 and Rediffusion. I listened to her when I was a young kid and probably learnt Mandarin through that means.

On the education front, EEva was a professional trainer at MOE’s teachers training programme for 8 years. She started her own school EDUPLUS about 20 years ago and has since helped countless students in building their strong foundation in the Chinese language.

This event is the culmination of her years of experience as a Broadcaster and Educator.

Interested?

When: 20 Sept 2014, 3-5pm
Where: Resort World Theatre, Sentosa
Tickets: You may purchase your tickets from Sistic or call Rediffusion at 62888 3321 to save on the booking fee!

You can also look out for more information on her facebook page.

20 minutes in the loo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. It’s all about joyousness

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

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

2. Less is more

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

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

3. Go faster

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

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

4. Be more sophisticated

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

5. Find out what your child likes

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

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

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

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

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

Great things happen when you put kids with their parents.

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

Rainy day on an outdoor playdate

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

What a dampener!

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

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

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

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Lester and his mummy.

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How long can they be content with the small playground?

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“Mama, I’m bored!”
Mama panicked.

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

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

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These pictures make me smile.

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

No screen time before 2YO

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

This article prompted my writing.

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

Well, I want to take back my words.

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

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

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

I didn’t like what I saw.

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

What is going on in her brain?

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

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

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

Now, she did not ask for it anymore.

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

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

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

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

They are really that intelligent, you know?

 

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

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

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

read

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

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

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

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

Is that socialisation?

Is that what we want?

Can little kids learn socialisation from kids their age?

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

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

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

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

Nobody says parenting is a breeze.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In a nutshell,

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

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

Related readings can be found here.

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

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

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

(Handmade) Toy of the moment

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

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

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

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

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

Bringing up Faith: The 2nd year

Raising children in a society like ours can be really stressful. I remember when Faith was in the womb, I was advised to register her in schools so that she could be on the waiting list. It’s the year of the dragon, mind you! Lots of babies! I soon forgot about this issue and did … nothing of that sort.

Now that she is at an age when she can be admitted into playgroups, the stress-level is on high again for me. Mothers whom I know, both acquaintances and friends, were placing their kids in schools and my FB page was filled with how happy or tearful the first day of school was. I look at Faith, “No playgroup for you okay?”

I’m penning my thoughts on this page because I need to remind myself of why we (both the hubs’ and I) decided against school for Faith at this current point in time. She’s still young. She’s supposed to play, to be curious about things around her and be given the time and opportunity to explore. And because I am a SAHM, I can do more with her both at home and in the outdoors.

At the Fisher-price workshops that I had attended, I was reminded of my own parenting goals (for these early years) – that Faith will grow up to be an independent child, know God and respect others. These are important to me. I’m not very concerned that she has to know her numerals or alphabets now. For goodness’ sake, she is barely two years old! These will come later, for sure, and I’m not really interested in flashing cards at her. I want her to be out in the open, to appreciate nature, to have a sense of wonder of the environment she is placed in and eventually know Jesus as her Lord and Saviour. I don’t like the idea of her being in school so soon, to be honest. Abhor the idea that she has to learn within the four walls. She has many years of that in time to come. For now, she is good learning at her own pace with me at home or during our regular playdates. More importantly, I want her to learn the values that our family believes in because once she is grounded in them, she can make sound decisions (hopefully) while she is growing up.

20140605_150001But I’m not always this resolute. During the June holidays, I signed up for a week of language enrichment for Faith. The one week of lessons centred around Dr Seuss’ stories and each lesson comprises storytelling, art and craft and singing. I had to attend each 2-hour lesson with Faith and I am thankful for that because I realised how Faith is not ready for such a structured lesson.

She listened to the stories all right but many times, she wanted to explore the new classroom she was in, to interact with her new friends. She got restless easily too but thankfully, the teacher understood that young kids have very short attention span and introduced many short physical activities in-between.

At the end of each lesson, I was tired. Tired from having to get her to sit down to listen and to perform the tasks that she was asked to. My throat ran dry from words of encouragement to her. In the end, I decided that such a class may not be suitable for her, for now.

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I have to be fair. She did enjoy her time playing with bubbles and surprised us with the word one fine day (we don’t use the word at all). Perhaps I have high expectations for the school and perhaps, this school does not have the right kind of curriculum for her. It’s after all, a one-size-fits-all programme for children ages 18 to 36 months. What do I expect?

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I have to remind myself to chill, that sometimes not doing much for her can be good. By that, I mean not crowding her daily life with activities. Boredom can be good for her because creativity can bloom in such situations. I also need to remind myself that it is not ‘how much more earlier’ that is the solution but it is ‘how different earlier’ that is the answer.

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I like what I’m doing with her now. We had moments when we learn at home but many times, we go out and have fun.We have our regular playdates and I remember vividly the enthusiasm that she displayed when we went on a excursion to the National Museum with her playmates, the sparkle in her eyes when she was playing with water at Jacob Ballas, the concentration she had when she was observing people in the park and the emotions she shared when she saw a crying child, just to name a few examples. Through all these, I got to understand Faith more and hopefully will realise what her talents are and help her thrive in them.

There are many moms who are homeschooling their kids and I particularly love those who advocate play as learning opportunities for young children. And the more I read about early childhood, the more excited I become.

These are three Internet resources that I like: 

1. http://lessonslearntjournal.com/

2. http://www.1plus1plus1equals1.net/

3. http://playfullearning.net/

And I love this excellent yet simple read about the Waldorf approach to early childhood education.

Here is an example of a day in the Waldorf kindergarten. For my  own reference in planning my own homeschooling activities for Faith.

The following are some notes that I have taken from the recent PlayIQ workshop organised by FisherPrice.
Some food-for-thought for me:

– “Play is not trivial. When children play, they’re doing important work.” ~ Fred Rogers

– “Children learn best when they have opportunities to have hands on experiences” ~Dr Jerlan Daniel

– Between the ages of 0 to 4, unstructured play is better than adult-led structured play. During the process, they would need to learn about boundaries and rules would need to be in place.

How toddlers play:

– Natural born explorers –> driven by intense curiosity
– Need safe, toddler proof environment
– Free time to investigate and experiment with toys and play items
– Get down on the floor!
– With others, solitary to parallel play
– Be enthusiastic and positive about your toddler’s curiosity and accomplishments (and minimise defeats)
– Play alongside you as you do chores –> provide life-like items for play
– Have conversations and encourage communication
– Learning through repetition (e.g. same story read over and over!)
– Read daily!

Vaby the box and so much more!

Last Saturday, our family was invited to a pre-launch of a newly start-up company – Vaby. What’s that, you might ask. It stands for Victory Baby and it provides a one-stop solution for all baby products and services as well as a new discovery online shopping destination for mothers. As new mothers, it can be really confusing and daunting to be bombarded by the many products that are available in the market. Vaby understands that and aims to make life easier by offering the best selection of products, speedy delivery and enjoyable and easy-to-navigate shopping experience for their customers (us parents).

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The pre-launch was held at The Playhouse (awesome place, I tell you!) and we were introduced to the Vaby Box which features relevant sample-sized items and discount vouchers for parents to try out. This is an interesting concept and a helpful one too in the sense that parents can try out the product samples before making the decision to say, buy the full bottle of shampoo for the kid if they like it. Less wastage as a result, no?  This box can pass as a great gift too and is available through subscription but currently Vaby only has the mummy / pregnant mummy and baby sample box at $18.90 per month. In time to come, there will be three different boxes, specifically for mummies, babies and toddlers.

I forgot to take a picture of the contents because the little girl was too excited to play at the outdoor and indoor playgrounds and the adults were busy trying to know more about Vaby. 😉

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And not forgetting the scrumptious brunch, courtesy of the Vaby team!

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We received a Vaby box with a Korean-style’s dress for Faith! How thoughtful of them! I’m sure the little girl would love the soft material of the dress!

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Vaby is going to have an official launch on 28 June 2014 and you can be part of the party!

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All you need to do is sign up as Vaby’s member to enjoy special discounts on the products and services (don’t worry, the sign-up is free). Members will then be invited to attend the official launch at The Playhouse (7 Rochester Park) happening from 2-4pm. Members who “like” their Facebook page and attend the official launch will bring home the Vaby Box (one box for each member)!

Do hurry as there is a limit to the number of members to be invited.

Check out their website and Facebook page!

There will be a give-away after the official launch, so stay tune!

Disclaimer: Our family was invited to Vaby’s pre-launch event, and we appreciated the brunch, dress and transport allowance that were provided by the Vaby team. All opinions are mine. 

#holidayfun – Indoor playgrounds & some lessons learnt

These days, it has been raining and we decided on indoor playgrounds for our playdate. We went to the Fidgets World @ The Grandstand on Wednesday. I’ve heard good review from C who has been there a few times and I hope Faith would love it though I very much prefer the kids to be out in the open. Oh well, what can we do since it’s raining?

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I appreciate that it has a big space and therefore the playground has quite a lot of equipment that could entertain a kid for long. They have a small art studio for those who have creative minds and a baking area too!

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Art and craft studio

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Baking studio

We thought that the crowd would not be large but it so happened that the preschools in the vicinity are going there as part of their holiday programme. Arghh… so we had peace until about 30 minutes later and that’s when things got interesting. The playground sprang to life with happy voices of children and the stamping of feet. The toddler area was much quieter as compared to the other areas but the former was soon filled with young children who came with their parents (few) and domestic helpers (a lot).

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So, our little girl was just playing by herself, picking up the balls and putting them back into the proper place (Goodness! I must teach her how to PLAY!). She was contented just doing that when a boy about the age of 2 years old came and went charging at her, pushing her to the ground. I was like, “WHAT on earth is he doing?” Faith was more shocked than physically hurt and started crying. The domestic helper quickly asked the boy to apologise in which he did and went off to play. I thought this was an once-off incident and since this does happen in a playground, I told Faith to be ready to receive such actions from the children since it’s all part of playing. But honestly, I was a little taken aback. Does the boy have to do that? There is so much space but he just came charging at her and shoving her to the ground.

And then, the same boy had to do the same thing to her again and again. I was peeved! Each time he did that, the helper got him to apologise but in the end, the educator in me couldn’t take it anymore and I asked the boy in the face to apologise to Faith, and not the toys!

The cousin came and explained to me that he had already apologised but I told him that the little boy didn’t know what he was sorry for and he remained quiet. My senses came back and then I realised that he’s a boy with a lot of energy in him. He probably didn’t know that what he did was wrong. He did express his apologies but does he really mean it? It’s so flippant!

You may think I’m over-reacting since the boy is still so young. But I believe kids as young as him or even Faith can understand if you take time to explain. They are really smarter than we think they are. Of course, it also depends on the personality of that child but letting certain behaviour go ‘just like that’ is a no-no to my parenting or teaching philosophy/beliefs. More often than not, kids can understand and if we teach and model the right behaviour, they will get the idea. That’s what I have derived from a decade of working with children. No need scientific research to prove that.

This is actually a teachable moment and I seized it to explain to Faith that such behaviour will exist in a play environment and what we can do is to avoid the boy and play somewhere else. She did so which I’m glad. Anyway, I don’t think she’s that fond of the indoor playground; she prefers the outdoors.

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Lunch was at the site itself and they serve decent food. C brought her boys homecooked healthy food! Well done! Faith ate the blueberry muffins baked by her auntie and she finished them all, leaving only a small bite for me.

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Fidgets
200 Turf Club Road
#03-10 The Grandstand
Singapore 287994

The next day, Faith and her cousins went to the airport for an outing. We had wanted to go to the beach but the weather wasn’t kind to us, AGAIN! Thankfully, the airport has indoor playgrounds and it’s no surprise at all, that they are crowded with kids from the preschools. Sigh!

The small playground at T3

The small playground at T3

The bigger and more attractive playground at T1

The bigger and more attractive playground at T1

Despite being crowded, I’m thankful that the children were more polite and would give way to others even though they were all very engaged in the play. Very rough! And I’m also a proud auntie because my older nephew was looking out for Faith in the playground. 😉

Before the crowd came

Before the crowd came

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We ended with a mini picnic just outside the playground. Simply joy!

Where shall we be exploring next?

😉

#holidayfun – National Museum of Singapore

Play is in!

This got me all excited because in the month of June, my mother friends whom I have grown up with since youth days are coming together to plan outings for our kids.

C and I sat down to plan the places that we want to visit and come up with a list – Airport, National Museum, Indoor playgrounds (in the event of rain), Gardens by the Bay, Cafes (such as Eat, Play, Love), Jacob Ballas, Botanical Garden, Farm visit, etc.

Our first stop is the National Museum of Singapore and I must say we enjoyed the visit especially since it coincides with the Children’s Season – more activities catered to the kids.

We were there at around 9am since we didn’t want to meet with the crowd and once the kids were inside, they were captivated by the various stations found on the first floor.

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Faith loves balls and this station is one of her favourite. Initially she just threw the balls in any fashion she liked until the ‘gor gor’ (brother) advised her on what to do and I’m proud to say that she could aim the ball at the designated hole! Sheer luck? I say NO! 😉

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Remember the game – pick up sticks – that we used to play when we were young? This is the adapted version in which the ‘sticks’ have velcro on them and the kids will create the shape or canopy of the tree using those sticks. Faith obviously didn’t understand anything but was just fascinated by what the velcro can do.

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This is the enlarged version of the five stones and Faith and her little friends do not have the energy to do well in this station. Faith got tired of it within minutes and moved back to the ball game.

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I love The Salon, the station where children get to do some craft work and this area is beautified by cardboards! The older kids were excited at the station and they got to decorate their own cardboard house using materials that could be purchased for $2. The younger kids just sat around watching their older siblings do the job. Wonderful!

IMG-20140602-WA0020The mama was trying to encourage the lil one to play with craft but she just wanted to observe.

We had our lunch early at 11am at Food for Thought. We love the branch at the Botanical Gardens but couldn’t say the same thing about this one at the museum. They had the details of our orders mixed up and the folks who came after us were served first. Also the servers wore stressed-out expression. Oh well.

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While waiting, we kept the children busy with these…

20140602_124408After lunch, we continued visiting the other stations. This is Rouleaux – Paper Art. C’s sons like craft and the older boy got down to work very quickly. Not bad for a boy his age! The other kids just joined in doing various stuff like our lil girl who just opened and closed the cap of the glue stick.

20140602_125740The kids were in here for just 5 minutes. They used light to draw on the screen.

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This is the station where children learn about local food. Surprisingly, the boys were very engaged with ‘cooking’ and occupied the area for a long time.

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The children had an absolutely fun time at the museum and we have not visited ALL the stations! But since the kids were visibly tired (nap time was looming), we decided to call it a day. I must say the result would not be the same if it wasn’t a big group like today. The kids were learning from one another and having fun interacting.

IMG-20140602-WA0018All these are born in the year of the dragon. Going up the flight of steps together. Cute eh?

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Do visit the National Museum soon before the Children’s Season is over!

Drypers Drypantz – Our choice for a premium quality diaper

Of all the parenting workshops that I’ve attended, one key question was posed – What is the goal of parenting?

For me, it is important that Faith grows up being a joyful and happy child and one who loves learning. Isn’t it rewarding to see wonders in your child’s eyes and smiles on her face?

I do.

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At 18 months old, Faith is one girl with boundless energy and curiosity that promise to burst each day. She loves the outdoors and will not fail to explore the environment she is in. Each day, I make it a point to bring her out. It could be a trip to the market, a short walk at the park or an outing with her play-dates. There you will see her running about, climbing up and down and surely enjoying herself! Thus it is important that she is dressed comfortably for these activities and this definitely applies to the diaper that she is wearing. The ideal one must be able to absorb urine well and yet keep Faith’s dry and comfortable (no irritation please!) and be of good fit.

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We find that in Drypers Drypantz.

Drypers Drypantz fits Faith snugly and this has assured me that leakages will be minimised, if not, an issue I would not need to be bothered with. In fact, we didn’t encounter that problem. Each morning, though Faith wakes up to a full diaper, her shorts are still dry. I guess the Activ-Core™, which is the absorbent core, really does its job well in absorbing urine and  at the same time prevents flow-back, thus promoting long-lasting dryness. Sometimes, Faith poos in the morning before I could even change her diaper and  surprisingly, the full diaper still holds the loose stools well with NO leakage!

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What’s more important is that Faith’s sensitive skin doesn’t show any reaction to the diaper and I believe I could attribute that to the natural plant extracts (Vitamin E, Chamomile, Olive Extract, Aloe Vera) that promote skin health and keep Faith dry and comfy. I also appreciate that the improved Drypers Drypantz has a new, softer, outer cover so it won’t look bulky when Faith is wearing tights.

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The little girl is kept dry and comfy throughout the day as she goes about her exploration each day. I find myself less stressed too about the need to change diapers because I know Drypers Drypantz will do its job well. Drypers has kept its word in providing ultimate comfort for Faith and is also partnering with us in bringing up a joyful and happy child!

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If you are looking for a switch in diapers, the newly improved Drypers Drypantz is my strongly recommended one to you! It’s our choice for a premium quality diaper without having to pay premium price for it!

For the month of June 2014, with every purchase of 2 packs of Drypers Drypantz,  you can receive a $10 FairPrice voucherAll you need to do is to email:

1. your proof of purchase (scan or snap a picture of it!),
2. your personal details (name, address, contact number, your child’s name and date of birth) and the code [LYNNLLY] to sg.contest@sca.com.

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Disclaimer: Faith received three packs of Drypers Drypantz for the purpose of this post. She has been using Drypers diapers since we made the switch in mid 2013 and we have been satisfied consumers. All opinions are mine.

Fisher-Price® Play IQ Workshop

Carrie Lupoli is back! Yay!

If you don’t have a clue of who I’m referring to, she’s one of the more engaging presenters I’ve come across in the many workshops and conferences that I’ve attended. Last year, I had the privilege of attending the Joy of Learning workshop by her and this year she is touching on the topic on PLAY and how it is important in developing healthy brain. It’s definitely a topic that I’m interested in because I believe in the power of play and am looking forward to what she will be sharing.

Four areas of content will be covered at this Fisher-Price® Play IQ Workshop:

1. Introduction and Goal of Parenting
2. Play IQ – The Theory
3. Play IQ – The Benefits and the Basics
4. Play IQ Learning Tournament

The workshop is open to parents with children up to 5 years old and expectant mothers only. It will be held on  31st May 2014, Saturday, from 9.00am to 2.00pm. Registration starts at 8.45am.

Venue: Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital. 38 Irrawaddy Road, Singapore 329563

Cost: $50 per person (inclusive of light refreshments). Each participant will receive a goody bag worth more than $100 and a chance to win Lucky Draw prizes.

To register or if you need more information, you can email tofisherprice@asiaprwerkz.com

I’ll be attending and hope to meet some of you there!

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