[Friday Flips] #BabyLove: My Toddler Life

[Review + Giveaway]

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#BabyLove: My Toddler Life is an attractive picture book that depicts the life of a toddler in a technological age in which his life is recorded on social media.

Told from the viewpoint of the child, this story talks about his daily life with his mommy and the fun and learning both of them share. Seeing his mommy constantly using the mobile phone to take pictures of their daily account and posting them on social media, the toddler gets curious about the device and picks it up when mommy is not looking. He then fiddles with it and takes his own selfie, intending for mommy to share on social media. When his mommy finds him using her phone without permission, it’s the perfect teaching moment and she reminds the child that what matters most in life is time together filled with love and attention.

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[Source]

When I read this book for the first time, I thought this is actually targeted at parents as well and I can totally relate to the mommy because I do those activities all the time – recording what we do together and uploading the pictures for memories’ sake. Yet, there is a clear message to us all- to put down our phones when we are with our children and enjoy the moments with them.

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I love this book for its simple, rhyming narrative. The story isn’t long which is helpful for young children but the meaning is clear. Moreover, its bright and colourful illustration will certainly entice readers. Faith and I had a great time as we read and discuss this book together. Sorry, there are no pictures of us because we just want to enjoy that moment.

Good for children age 2 to 5 years old.

[GIVEAWAY]

Book Publicity Services has kindly agreed to gift one reader with #BabyLove: My Toddler Life. What you need to do:

  1. Like the post on my facebook page.
  2. Tag a friend whom you think would be interested in this book.

Simple? This giveaway is for local residents (Singapore) only and will end on 16 February 2017. A random participant will be picked and we will then be sending him/her a copy of the book. All the best and remember to put down the phone and enjoy your time with the kids! 😉

Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine unless otherwise stated.

 

Blending of CVC words

Faith spent the whole of last year (in school) working on the blending of CVC words and I thought I should just record the resources that I used to help her with that for Dan’s sake.

We started off using Jolly Phonics for the individual sounds and then slowly worked on blending. Obviously, consistency works. In the earlier part of last year, I wasn’t that diligent and because she couldn’t blend well, I was rather discouraged and got her to do so only when I remembered it. Gradually, she got better, thanks to the effort of the school and that’s when I started to be more consistent.

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I’m sure many of us are familiar with the wonderful website of The Measured Mom. I found myself hardworking on a particular day and decided to print these booklets for Faith. The sentences in these booklets are simple and highly achievable for Faith which is good because we want to build confidence in her (when she could read the books by herself).

One fine day, as I was shopping at Robinsons, I came across this set of cards from Leapfrog and knew that I had to purchase it. Faith has a leapreader and I thought it would complement her learning (independently). The cards were a great help because each day I worked on a specific set with her and it didn’t really take long to complete the exercise. Because we did that everyday, it became a routine.

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After she got better with the blending, we moved on to Bob books. I have a slight preference towards them because there is a little more storyline as compared to the ones which I downloaded from the internet. Each story is short and manageable and when the child finds that she is able to read the whole book by herself, she got motivated and wanted to read more. That happens to Faith. Before we start on each book, I went through the related set of words with her. This set of cards was gifted to me by a friend (hand-me-down) and some of my friends have asked me how they could get hold of it. I’m afraid I don’t have the answer but I have made a soft-copy of the set and they are available here – cvcwords-2.

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I have arranged the sets based on their sounds and it would be good to print each set on a different coloured sheet of paper, laminate and then cut them accordingly. In this way, they can last longer. 😉

Oh yes, still on the topic of Bob Books, do you know there are free printables that are available online? This Reading Mama, another great site, has a good range of Bob Books printables that we can use and they can be found here.

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Another set of readers that I used is the Fitzroy readers which I would use after Faith got more confident in blending the various sounds. For these readers, each story is longer and IMHO, the beginning reader might find it more ‘tedious’ to complete the story as compared to the Bob Books.

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Faith attends a Montessori preschool and I try to use the method in my homelearning effort as much as possible. I stumbled upon a great website which provides us with the necessary online materials for teaching using the Montessori approach. The question lies in whether I would have the time to create the materials and in using them faithfully. *shrugs shoulders*

Now that the girl is going on to consonant blends, I find myself playing catch-up and trying to relearn as much as possible so that I could teach her at home. *pant*

There are many phonics resources in the market and from the internet and many are good. I have learnt to use those that I’m comfortable with and be consistent with them. Consistency does pay off in the end. 

[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.

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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Friday flips | Learn Chinese Books – Shapes

I’ll go straight to the point. I love this set of Learn Chinese Books.

I stumbled upon this series of books during a book fair. The lady who recommended them first introduced Taoshu Learn Chinese Books and then shared with me this set of books that is based on ‘SHAPES’, an animated TV series produced by Peach Blossom Media. Squares, circles and other basic shapes are used to retell famous folktales with humour and wit. I thought the graphics were interesting and might spark off some creativity in Faith and bought volume 1 whose stories centre around friendship and kindness.

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We went home and started reading. The story was so interesting that the girl asked to read another book. Before we knew it, we have read all six titles in one go.

Thankfully, our local libraries carry these titles and the kiasu me borrowed what I could find for volume 2 and 3.

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What I like about these books:

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I can try my best to articulate and speak properly in Mandarin but in terms of word recognition, I fail. I could still remember the basic words though but anything more than that, I would have to look up the dictionary for its pronunciation and meaning. I always welcome hanyu pinyin and these books have included hanyu pinyin for the more difficult words and phrases.

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And if you are one of those who really cannot make it in terms of reading Chinese, they provide hanyu pinyin for the entire story!

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Don’t understand what you are reading? Fret not, there’s the English translation for you! Faith got me to read the English version after reading the text in Chinese.

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What I like about these books is that there is a moral to be learnt for each story.

So yea, do look up these books when you are at the library and I’m sure you will enjoy reading them to your kids too!

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Friday Flips | A is for Australia & Are We There Yet? 

It has always been a practice, that when I travel, I would purchase a (Chinese or English) book from that country and read it when I am on the plane, train, bus or taking a break in the hotel room or cafe. It is no surprise then that I bought books from the recent Melbourne trip but nope, this time round, they weren’t solely for my consumption but for my kids as well.

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Sharing two awesome Children’s books about Down Under – A is for Australia & Are we there yet?

I’m not sure if we could purchase them from the local bookstores or borrow them from the libraries. Last I check, they weren’t available from the libraries so I made it a point to hunt down these books after I saw an Australian Instagrammer sharing one of them.

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A is for Australia by Frane Lessac is a factual book about the country and we could explore the A to Z of it – from Bondi to Kakadu all the way to Taronga Zoo. I admit I do not know much about Australia and this book gives a summary of the wonderful places that can be found in this beautiful country.

Did you know that….

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Faith and I are exploring the different countries in the world (part of our Geography homelearning curriculum) and I thought these two books will help in giving her more facts and knowledge about the country.

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This book is  slightly easier to read but also contains facts about the country. Faith loves to play ‘I-spy’ and I thought this is a great book to bring along when we are on the go. I love the illustration too!

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This page is certainly something she could relate to.

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I bought these two books from the souvenir shop at the Melbourne Museum. There are lots more wonderful books found in there but I could only afford to bring these two back. If you have interesting books on the various countries, please share? I would love to read them to Faith!

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Friday Flips | Windblown

How many of you will pack some activity materials for your kids to work on as you go out with them?

I do because I find them useful in ‘entertaining’ young kids and this is especially so when they are waiting for their food to be served during mealtimes.

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Normally, I will pack sticker books or some colour pencils and a small notebook for Faith to doodle. Along with that, a book or two are good choices too. Recently, I saw this book on the library’s bookshelf, flipped the pages and knew I had to borrow it.

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Windblown
by Édouard Manceau

“‘Shhh. . .’ said the wind.
‘I blew and blew as hard as I might.
I toppled the tree found by the frog,
shaped by the snail,
that the bird made into paper
that the fish cut into the pieces
that the chicken saw lying around.'”
— from the book

This story tells of seven scraps of paper blown along by the wind. On each page, the scraps create an animal who claims to be the owner of the scraps. The chicken claims they are his, the fish claims them too and so do the bird, snail and frog. Finally, the wind claims the scraps and blows them with one gust to the reader. “They are yours now too. What will you do?”

As you can see, this story screams for us to create something from the seven scraps of paper. So, I cut out the shapes (you can print it off here and laminate) and went through the story with Faith. With each page, the girl recreated the animal using the scraps of paper. You can bring along a piece of blank paper and have the child complete the picture by drawing the lines. In response to the last page in the story, I invited the girl to design a creature based on the scraps but she chose to work on the frog instead.

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I know it’s a safe choice and I respect her decision.

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I think her brother wanted to join in too.

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I decided to stretch the activity further by asking her to paint the picture since she kept asking me when she would be going for another art class. Moreover, we have just read Mix It Up and I thought it would be a good follow-up activity to the story.

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The activity actually became really fun when painting was involved. So I reckon this book is good to bring along to engage the minds of the young ones when you are out and as you go back home, you could continue to work on it like what we have done.

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I’m actually pleased with the outcome and frame the picture up.
This is a good home learning activity and we took about an hour to complete it. 😉

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Friday flips | Little Miss, Big Sis

It must be tough being my daughter.

Maybe because I’ve no help at home, I expect Faith to be able to take care of herself, dress herself, feed herself, etc and I find myself unable to tolerate any ‘accident’ from her.

I forgot that she’s just a 39MO girl and that her motor skills, be it fine or gross, are still developing.

The other day, she peed out of her potty, thereby dirtying the floor and she got screamed at. I had cleaned the toilet twice that morning and thinking of having to clean it again irritated me.

I rushed out dinner that evening, thinking that I could finally relax since the hubs would be back soon and the girl had to knock the bowl of soup over. Oh, the table and the floor! Oh, oily stuff! Oh my! 

I lashed out at her, “How old are you already? Are you still a baby? Can’t you eat properly?”

I lost it. Awful mom!

She had to endure my madness that day and I felt like a terrible mom. Oh Lord, I can’t do it anymore. 

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Little Miss, Big Sis by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Peter H. Reynolds

When I regained my sanity after a much-needed jog, I realised that this girl that God has blessed me with is indeed a wonderful gift. This book ‘Little Miss, Big Sis’ tells why.

She’s my great supporter when I was pregnant with the boy and together, we received her brother with joy.

She adores her brother from day 1.

Her love for him never wavers, no matter how much scolding she got because of him.

She sings to him, knowing that he will appreciate her songs.

And yes, this is true.

Not only does she supports her brother, she supports me by helping out whenever I need it. It could be simple things like getting a handkerchief to clean the drool off her brother’s mouth or clearing up the bathtub after cleaning the boy.

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When I saw this book in the library, I knew I had to borrow and read it to Faith. The words are simple and the illustrations clear. Young children would be able to understand the story easily. Faith could identify with the experiences in the story. The above picture was taken rather spontaneously when I was reading to them. The girl was giggling all the way.

I think it’s only right to commend her for a job well done. She is truly a Little Miss, Big Sis.

I thought this book is good for girls who have been promoted to be big sisters to their siblings. We could also help them to anticipate what is to come as the baby grows. Manage their expectations, I say.

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Pip’s PLAYbox

We don’t usually do this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Meet Pip!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas cheer for the kids

It started off with a simple plan of getting a few kids to learn baking since a friend’s daughter wanted to learn how to bake a cupcake. I didn’t want to mess up my own kitchen and asked her to book a function room in her condo. Then we thought we should just extend the invitation to the rest of the kids in our CG and in the end, from three girls, we had 12 children and 2 babies.

It’s highly ambitious to get the children to do hands-on baking and in the end, I decided that I should just do the demonstration and get them to decorate the cupcakes themselves, with the help of their mothers. The cupcakes were baked and the Italian Meringue Buttercream made the night before. I probably could use the cupcakes baked on the spot but since I have not tested the oven, I decided not to risk and bring along the cupcakes as a form of a back-up plan.

For this post, I will list some of the things to look out for when planning such a programme for the children.

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:: If possible, check that the oven is in working condition and get familiarised with it before the actual day.

:: Choose a recipe that is straight-forward and easy to follow, for the sake of the kids.

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:: Randomly pick the kids to help in the various stages, especially the ones who look bored. Since they can’t do the hands-on themselves, just getting them to help a bit here and there would sustain their interest.

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Before the kids decorated their cupcakes, I did a demo with one cupcake so that they would know exactly what was expected of them.

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:: If it helps in classroom management, rearrange the kids in their seating positions. Familiarity with each other (for the kids) may not be good for the facilitator. Get the older kid to sit with the younger one so that the former could render assistance.

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So pleased with their work!

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I had wanted to go on with decorating the gingerbread cookies which I had baked the day before but in the end, I abandoned that idea. I was getting tired! In the end, I just hand out the cookies to them so that they could bring home and eat. And yes, they devoured the cupcakes on the spot.

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We went on to get the children to work on craft using styrofoam cones and pipe cleaners and pom pom balls, all sponsored by a fellow mom.

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You would have thought that the children were tired after the cupcake decorating session but nope, they were more energetic than ever. Thankfully, this backup plan worked! Look at how motivated they were in completing their Christmas trees.

:: Always plan backup activities apart from the main one.

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What an expression! This girl doesn’t like to be posing in front of the camera anymore!

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After the craft, our lunch had not arrived yet. The kids were getting restless and thankfully, I had a book with me and fished it out and read to the kids. It’s the nativity story.

:: Always bring along a book for it will always come to be of good use. Reading is fun!

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Lunch came just as I finished reading the book. Thank God! The kids went for a short waterplay session at the kids’ pool outside after lunch and then headed home after that.

I felt so refreshed after hosting this gathering with my CG-mate. In a way, I want to return the favour to all the mothers present because they have blessed me in one form or another.

It is really more blessed to give than to receive.