Tuesday, July 27, 2010 ;
8:22 PM
During the flu bug outbreak 2-3 weeks ago when everyone in church, in the kids' schools and elsewhere were coughing and getting the sniffles, we had 1 child sick, then another, then another, then myself.

Myself being sick was the worst. I'm sure all moms know what I mean. When the kids are sick, it is extra tiring but we can still take it, just sleep less, care more. When we are also sick, oh man, with a headache or fever, a drippy or stuffy nose, a hacking cough, yet still have to drag feet to cook, do chores, and take care of the little ones, who are also extra clingy or don't sleep well at night.

So amidst all the sickness and exhaustion, with Dh still in USA, there were so many kind souls rallying around us. Some sent us cards. Even Dd received a card addressed to her. Some offered help. Some bought things for us, or cheered us up with smses.

Then our good friend and the kids' godmom cooked a fabulous chicken soup for us one Sunday evening. We are so blessed we live near her too! Their godpa was the one who walked over with the thermal pot.

I'm guilty of not cooking something to put in the pot when I returned it to her!

Here's the porridge with carrots and goujizi in it. The kids lapped it up. There was plenty left over for me to be full too! Yum.

21 July
Racial Harmony Day

ds1's school asked the kids to wear any traditional costume to school for the celebrations. So I reused the Malay costumes my mom bought them for UN Day in their school last year.

Didn't manage to snap a pic of ds1 in his costume. We were in such a rush when it was time for him to get to the school bus. This is ds2 in his costume, and he's waiting for his school bus.

Incidentally, right after this Wed, he had some ulcers in his mouth. 3 to be exact. And his classmate has HFMD so we thought he had surely gotten it this time! So we kept him home on Thurs and Fri, but turns out he had no more ulcers, and those 3 healed, and he didn't have any spots on his feet or hands. Neither did he run a fever, and we were so paranoid... It was a relief though.

Cos for the whole of Wed night and Thurs, I kept checking him, and kept having to remind him not to touch dd. I was very afraid dd will get it, more than anything. I told both boys that if they got it, they'll understand it is painful and will force themselves to drink more water, rest more, eat various things like jellies or ice cream to soothe themselves, but if Dd got it, she will just cry non stop, can't sleep, can't drink milk (too painful) and then she might be dehydrated and be in danger. Of course it will mean I have utter torture too, if dd cries non stop and doesn't sleep or nurse.

So thank God they didn't get it.

So she is still a very happy baby, laughing away (in the day) in her exersaucer. Somehow, she is either afraid of the dark or night time. She cries very badly at night. Very irritating of course.

Dh is very funny. He has to work in the day so normally I tell him to sleep and he doesn't have to get up to help me if he hears dd cry at night. I do everything. So one night, he must have heard all the loud wailing and angry crying from dd that lasted quite long. She wouldn't nurse, didn't stop crying even when rocked or even when I sling her and walk around or sing her fav songs.

Then suddenly she stopped crying cos I turned on the tap to wash my hands. She sometimes likes the sound of water (doesn't work everytime).

But Dh rushed out of the bedroom and startled me. Turned out, he thought I was so irritated by dd's crying that I strangled her. hahahaha... (So he wanted to come check and rescue his daughter.)

I think he must have been reading a lot of newspaper articles or watched too much TV/ movies.

Or maybe sometimes I express my frustration a little too much. hee. During the day I'm duly rewarded for my hard work at night though. Dd would be all smiles, laughing as I talk to her, cooing and gurgling in her sweet voice in response to diaper changing, nursing etc.

I guess life is like that. There are always ups and downs, there are always obstacles or hurdles. I just have to cross one stage at a time. This stage, it is her unexplained crying.

Then there'd be the terrible twos. And then puberty, hormones and moodiness... Rebellion during the teens??

We just have to focus on the happy things. Don't keep thinking, "why is my child like that". Try and look forward to the next day, when things might be so much better.

That's why I think being a parent has made me become a much better person, a better Christian and a better teacher. :-)

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Saturday, July 24, 2010 ;
8:45 PM
18 Jul

We left home to pick up our bil at my sis' place at around 5.15pm and headed for the airport. He was going to the UK for a course and may not be back for some time.

When we reached the airport, there was a long queue for check in. Gradually more and more church friends arrived. This is the group pic we took.

By the time he went in to the transit lounge to board the plane, it was already 8.40pm. The kids were famished. We took the SkyTrain to T3 for dinner at XinWang Hong Kong Cafe. Of course I drank the Yuanyang tea again, Dh and I love that. My mom finds the taste weird. haha.

Although we have passed through the Terminal 3 several times, back from Utah, back from Beijing in the past... we have never leisurely strolled through it nor used the facilities because everytime we are heading for home, we are laden with lots of luggage and have family waiting for us outside.

So ironical right, with one of the world's best airports here, and we've never enjoyed the facilities... So this time, Dh and I decided to just walk through the basement before going home.

The kids ended up the biggest winners. While Dh and I just browsed, they had so much to play with. And they didn't even stop to watch TV or play with the computers or the playground.

This is one of the stations where both boys did some woodblock rubbing.

And then they so wanted to sit on the Tallest Slide (in Sg?). Anyway, it's 4 storeys high and they only allow kids above 1.3m. Both do not qualify, of course, and have to play on the similar but only 1 storey high slide. That has a min height requirement of 1.1m.

Both went 2 times, because there was quite a queue, even at 10pm.

This is the "Tallest Slide".

This is what the baby was doing while her brothers were playing on the slide. :)

It was a fun day although it ended way past the kids' bedtime! We're quite particular about their bed times now that they have school, so we can't do this kind of thing often for sure!

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 ;
12:24 PM
We make kite flying in the park a ritual now. Have to get the boys out of the house, and it is relaxing and fun for dd also. Kite flying not only allows my kids to run around a lot (they like to run even when there's no need to), it helps keep them away from near-sighted work, which is very good for maintaining ds1's eyesight.

He is already overtaking Dh and I in his myopia, so we need to make sure he doesn't read too much or look at the computer. Being outdoors more solves that problem.

Also, somehow, when I look at all the kites high up in the sky, flying freely in the wind, I just feel very good. I go home refreshed, even though the day might have been very tiring.

Here are some pics. It's hard to see the kites in the pics, but when you're there, it is totally mesmerising.

Not sure if you can see all the kites in this pic below. There were at least 30-40 that day. One of them in the center, slightly towards the right of the pic, has a very very long tail, several metres long. Very spectacular.

These pics are taken on various days. Since the park is beside our apt, we go there several times a week. As long as it is not raining. Last week was good. This week is pretty rainy, so we didn't go much.

ds1 with his eagle kite. ds2 chose a shark, which didn't fly that well cos of the shape. So Dh bought another one for him, a tiger fitted into a triangular kite. I noticed that either triangular or diamond-shaped kites flew the best.

Dh and the boys with the eagle kite. We tried out many different kites. Some rice paper ones, very small and connected together, some plastic ones, those sold for $3, and then the eagle, shark and tiger. Still the eagle and tiger are easiest to launch and fly high. Those are $15- $18. Still really reasonably-priced considering the size and the materials.

Close up of the kite (manta ray?) I mentioned earlier, which when it was on the ground, had such a long tail the boys were openly oohing and aahing at it. Really very pretty when the tail is flapping about in the sky.

The boys are very funny. Their dad does the hard work of getting it to fly really high, and then they take turns to fly it. And they act like they are very professional. So amusing. When there was not much skill required to do what they are doing (maintain the kite up there when the winds are so strong). Look at ds2's stance and both their expressions. ds1 is holding on to the thread. We were afraid they'd let go or drop the spool at first, cos the force was really great when the kite was tugging so hard against the spool.

Now Dh has gone and bought a roughly $15 big round spool to contain all the thread. That allows us to reel in the thread and let it out much quicker. Cool.

Then last Fri, we invited our friends from USA, here on summer hols, for kite flying together and a pizza picnic. The kids had such a blast together. Flew the kites till it was dark. When all the kites with lights start flying.

Here they are playing wildly near the canal, which was raging just earlier during a thunderstorm. So I got them to move away from it. The other pair of siblings are 4 and 6 yrs old. That makes the 4 of them, 4, 5, 6 and 7 yrs old in a group!

Besides kite flying, they had lots of fun playing hide and seek too. While we adults laughed ourselves silly watching how kids at this age prefer to be found than really hide.

Without fail, once the seeker finishes counting, and just turns around to try and look for the others, one after another, the others will shout out, "hey I am here! hahaha!". So funny.

Kids, when they play without focusing so much on winning (or the objective of the game), find it much more fun!

Something to take home for me actually. Cos when the boys make up their own games and ask me to play with them, I sometimes lose my patience. Usually of course I might have been very tired out by the baby or by chores, or I might have many other things lined up, waiting to be done. Then they are so eager and enthusiastic about their new game.

So I have to sit down and play with them, only to find their rules very haphazard and there is seemingly no objective or aim. Like some card games they came up with. Or board games. After they explain how to play, I would be like, ok, we play like this, then? What?? They say, "just play like that, carry on, continue...".

I would be like, "but what do I need to do in the end to win?" (cos maybe i just want to the game to end soon. their games can be endless if there is no objective)

They'd be like, "erm, dunno.... just play... it's fun anyway".

I usually would give up and leave them to it themselves. I think I should just relax sometimes and play, even if it is meaningless to me.... They just find it fun, and maybe having the chance to spend some time with their mom is good enough.. I should treasure this time when I have it.

Kids nowadays mature so quickly. During our time, it was when we hit our teens that we didn't want mommy or daddy to tag along, that friends matter more...
Now, I think it is more like age 10.

So with ds1, I have only 3 more yrs.... That's a short time.
I also need to equip him with all the good values, as much as possible, before he listens more to his friends... Yup, hope I can remind myself!

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Tuesday, July 13, 2010 ;
10:22 PM
I also thought I should sometimes blog about what the kids learn in school. Any interesting stuff, for example.

It can be a record for them and perhaps give other parents some ideas.

For overseas parents, they get ideas on how Singapore schools teach. For homeschooling parents, they might want to try such things out with their kids at home. For parents with younger kids, they might know what to expect when their kids enter school here too, or they might want to do such things with their kids now as well, to prepare them?

Just like a lot of moms who blog about their recipes and food. I stopped blogging abt stuff I cook cos now I cook very repetitive stuff. I cook the main meals and it almost always just consists of rice with a veg dish, a meat dish and perhaps a soup. And it is the same boring stuff, no need to blog. And I don't follow recipes for everyday cooking, I just add stuff in and cook.

So hard pressed for time to get meals on the table already, no time to take pics or even to remember what I added and how much of each ingredient. :-)

But I still set aside time to ask the kids about school and what they did in school each day, so these I can remember. And I hope to be free enough to record some of the interesting stuff.

In case they one day say school is boring, I can dig up these posts and show them, hey, no, look at all these you did. So interesting!! :-)

Recently ds2 started learning Chinese poems. Some Tang ones, some other old poems (古诗)- 1 per week. The teacher does a very good job of getting them to remember the author, the title and the poem itself. And I thought they just recite for fun and sometimes I will ask ds2, what is the meaning of the poem? And he will explain to me!

I took English Literature in school so for myself, it is also a learning journey. I only know a few famous ones, from mainstream chinese lessons, and I hardly know how to explain them. But Dh took Chinese literature and he can appreciate and add in the interpretation when ds2 forgets anything. I find these very interesting.

And very often, each poem has some kind of value or moral to teach. For example, 2 weeks ago, they did 悯农。It is about the poor farmers who labour and toil under the scorching sun to plant the rice, dripping each drop of sweat into the soil as they plant. Who knows with each meal and in each bowl of rice, each grain is worth so much time and effort?

I love the teacher so much for teaching them this poem cos now I recite it every time I see something left on their plates> very good for making them finish up their meals properly.

Still on the topic of Chinese, ds1 had a change of teachers after the June hols. He now has this new male teacher, who, from his daily description, seems to be fresh out of NIE (teacher training college).

Why do I say that? Cos he has a lot of fresh and interesting ideas but he is also inconsistent in his discipline methods. Haha.

Maybe he feels it is more interesting to have different punishments each day but when ds1 describes them, it seems to be too inconsistent to have an effect. But I normally don't complain or speak to the teacher unless it is a serious matter.

For eg, one day ds1 said all the naughty kids had to squat under their chairs and the teacher will walk to sit on their chairs while teaching the lesson and sometimes will use the book to slap on the side of the chair. I asked ds1 if his classmates were scared or laughing, he said most of them felt like laughing, it was more funny than scary.

Then another day ds1 said the naughty ones had to stand in the metal cabinet and the teacher will close the door. I said out loud to ds1 that I didn't like such punishment methods. I asked if his friend felt afraid in the darkness, and if the door was locked. He said the door wasn't locked and his friend was not afraid.

I wonder, for the more mischievous boys, would they purposely misbehave to try out these "novel" ways of being punished?

So far ds1 hasn't been punished yet. We'll see what he gets when he does.

On the other hand, the teacher rewards good students handsomely. He seems to have a lot of candy. I don't like that either, but ds1 said he received a coconut candy for being very good the other day.

However, I was a new teacher once, and new teachers should have their own space to try things out and make mistakes. He did have some good stuff.

He tells the kids a Chinese story every other day. Especially when there are many Chinese periods together in the day. ds1 loved those stories which usually revolved around some big bad wolf. He can come home and tell me all the stories (partially in English though!!). But it's good cos he is very enthusiastic and it gives me many opportunities to encourage him to retell them to me in Chinese.

Apparently the teacher acts out the stories as he tells them animatedly too, cos ds1 will mimick those actions very well and he does look comical. I asked if the class all laughed at those parts and ds1 said they all did.

They are also having presentations and performances this term, it seems. Every Tuesday the classes gather together and those who are prepared will go on stage to present either a song, a Show and Tell item, a poem or tell a story.

I think these are excellent ideas. Now, the focus is on speaking skills, and these indeed help students learn the language much more effectively and in a fun way too.

ds1 thought of his item on his own. He wanted to sing and act out a song. It's quite funny, and he enjoyed doing it.

The final thing for this post: ds1's school's PAL programme this term is on bouldering. That's the glorified term on the parents' letter but when ds1 described what they did, it's basically rock-climbing and learning to belay and observing safety. It will culminate in a fieldtrip to Hindhede Park in Bt Timah Nature Reserve.

They asked for parent volunteers for the field trip. I thought it sounded like a lot of fun so I signed Dh up for it, haha. He's keen anyway...
If he takes pics, I'll post them.

ds1 loves all these extra stuff. It's what makes him like school so much.
This morning, he forgot his water bottle, and Dh was free and going to take the car to work anyway, so he offered to bring it to school for ds1. Later I asked him what was ds1 doing when he spotted him in school. Dh said he saw ds1 with his arm around an Indian friend, queuing up to buy mee soto together in the canteen.

They were talking and laughing heartily. It wasn't his usual Malay recess partner. Hmm, looks like ds1 is enjoying himself immensely in school, making many friends from diverse backgrounds. We are happy for him. May he continue to love school so much all his life.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

10:03 PM
Dh is back! Finally, we have him in Singapore for at least a couple more months before he travels again, perhaps end of the year.

We have had a couple of lovely family outings - mostly just to fly kites at the park beside our place or meals out/ games night at home, but they become very treasured cos he has been away for so long.

He was also surprised that just in the space of 2 months, the kids have grown. Of course, most noticeably the baby. Babies develop the fastest in their 1st yr of life, so he was so pleasantly surprised to see her sitting up, to wow at her new teeth, and marvel at her semi-crawling in a backwards direction on the floor.

But of course, when he left for the Europe trip, she was just 3mths old. Now, after the USA trip, she is already 5 months old! 2 months make a lot of difference in a baby's life!

I just read in today's papers of how a father got jailed for causing his baby to die due to his rocking her too violently. He had wanted to make her stop crying and go to sleep.

Now this kind of shocked me. I mean, I probably don't have the strength of a big man, but ermmm, any SAHM who has to be with a newborn ALONE at home 24/7 can testify that, she will always have moments when she is so frustrated at the incessant crying that she will rock baby harder than usual.

I mean, I definitely have done that. The papers did not describe anything else he did besides rocking the baby harder. Then, oh my, I could've been jailed. I must thank God that my baby didn't die when I rock her harder than usual to make her sleep.

I've also almost always put her down to sleep on her tummy. That's also a big no-no in the medical textbook. It may cause SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). I did that with ds1 and ds2 as well. But mostly with ds2 and dd cos it was with these 2 that I started having no domestic helper and having to live alone without any help from mom or mil.

If you have tons of chores to do, and baby's other siblings to care for, other schedules to follow (like older kids' meals and school times), then you just cannot afford to have baby NOT sleep. Their naps are precious time for us to get stuff done. For my kids, they sleep longer and better on their tummies, so I just have to do that, but I walk past the bedroom and check on them regularly just to make sure their airways are not blocked.

And there is such a thing called colic. For parents who never had babies with colic, don't bother reading this post because you will not believe what I say anyway.

Colic is defined as continuous crying without apparent known reason. It can occur at a certain each day, every day. It gets better from the 4th month onwards, usually. All my babies seemed to have colic.

Maybe I just have difficult kids?? But yes, little princess also drives me nuts with her night time crying. It is really non-stop. It can go on and on and gets so bad she will choke and vomit milk out as she cries. It is also scary to watch her puke all the milk out. 1st time parents would have rushed their babies to the A&E at the hospital. It is just that ds2 was also like that, so I just know I have to bear with it. Keep carrying her around, talking to her soothingly and sit with her in my rocking recliner and rock.

Yeah, and many nights I get so sick of her screaming in my ear that I rock really hard with my feet, while patting her rather hard on her back as well. My mom claims I pat too hard cos she can hear the sound. When she can hear the sound of patting so loudly, it means it is too hard and I am damaging the nerves at her spine in the back. Well, now you know where I got my imagination from, definitely my mom.

But anyway... so the solution for these problems, in order not to have parents jailed frequently, would be to have some kind of rest and outlet, some kind of help.

I don't feel so bad if my mom helps me in the day by watching dd a while, so I take a nap. On those nights, I feel more energetic and feel good enough to last a long night with her crying.

I also feel better with Dh at home, even though he may be sleeping in the other room (cos he has to work, not cos he is lazy and refuses to help me). Cos I know anytime I can't take it anymore, I can wake him up and let him take over. Just this thought is enough to keep me going.

I guess the tragedy in the papers could have been avoided if the guy had someone else at home?

In any case, dd is much better now since she is older, and can use up more energy during the day by semi-crawling around and doing mini-push ups. This helps her sleep much better at night. Phew.

To all parents - we just grit our teeth and bear the first few months right? Those are the toughest. After that, it is an easier ride. (Those parents with teens might disagree... :-))

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Monday, July 5, 2010 ;
4:12 PM
26 June
12.30pm - 1.30pm

ds2's Parent Meet Teacher session

I had my mom's help, thankfully, and she stayed home with baby. Initially there was no need for ds2 to go with me, but when he heard I was going to his school, he insisted on going. A call to the school principal okayed that, she said he could play in the school playground. Ok then...

When we reached, I had to wait a while, so I stayed in the playground and played with the older sibling of ds2's classmate and his friends. 3 of them piled up on one end of the see saw to balance my weight. They laughed and laughed when I pretended I was super fat and heavy. Aiyah, kids...

Ok, so I met with the main teacher and the Chinese teacher. Overall, it was a glowing report. Naturally, they save all the best things to say during the PTM.

I was first shown his portfolio.

Here are some sample pics.

For Math, number bonds up to ten:

For Chinese: songs, rhymes, various activities like skit scripts they did, some writing and other worksheets and craft work.

Crafts and projects and stories revolving around the themes they cover. This is a short story they wrote.

Every Mon after lunch, they have FastracKids activities. This is something from the topic where they learn about cultures and customs around the world.

Activities they do in LetterLand. Even though ds2 can read many words, he did so by whole word recognition, purely from remembering the words in books I read to him since young. So it is still important for him to learn this in school. It is not repetition and he doesn't get bored learning how to pronounce words he already knows because he is now learning the phonetics and it will help him sound out words he has never seen before.

The funny stories used to teach digraphs and blends and so on are so entertaining that ds1 (who has never done phonetics through the Letterland method) and I will ask ds2 to retell all of them to us.

2 eg.s I attempt to retell are here. I don't do it justice cos I don't know if I am telling the full story but it's just very interesting.

For eg, why do we spell words like "kick", "pick" with c and k together? Both c and k produce the same "ker" sound. And why put c before k?

In Letterland, each letter has a character. K is kicking king who loves to kick and the kids are shown a k with the king's head and body within the K and the legs and kicking outwards.
So "c" has to be placed before "K" because curious cat does not want to be kicked by Kicking King, ouch!

(if you put the cat after the king, the king's leg (k) will kick the cat (c))

Not sure if I am clear enough here.

Then there is the story for "sh" and how to pronounce this sound.

"S" is silly snake I think, and "H" is the Harry Hat man.

Harry hat man doesn't like noises and Silly Snake hisses all the time "ssssss" (make the sound for the kids).

So when Silly Snake is placed before Harry Hat Man, he will turn around and tell Silly Snake to keep quiet ("shhhhhhh" sound produced for the kids).

That's how they learn the sounds in a fun way.

There are tons other stories, all quite funny.

This is craft done after the Hungry Caterpillar story. And they learn about metamorphosis where the caterpillar transforms into a butterfly.

Another short story writing segment. I will type out what ds2 wrote, but it doesn't make too much sense at this point. He just wrote whatever came into his mind, I think. Not much logical sequence to me.

"One day the astronaut went to the moon and Jupiter came out together with an alien with six eyes. Then Uranus came out too and I floated on the moon. The Earth kept spinning around the moon. I went back to my spaceship and blasted back home."

This one was done for Chinese, he said. Learning about garden animals in Chinese.

After that, I was given a report.

I'll try to list some of the categories in the detailed report, so it will be useful for my own records in future, to see how he progresses.

The progress evaluation report:

Broad categories reviewed -
1. Gross motor skills e.g. hop on one leg with even gait
2. Fine motor skills etc one handed cutting, cut food with knife..
3. Auditory discrimination. e.g. Identify words with similar short vowel sounds as the model
4. Auditory memory sequencing. e.g. name the months of the year in sequence, pronounce correctly words with 5 syllables..
5. Language Classification. e.g. indicate how situations are the same or different like in an emergency
6. Language Association. e.g. Name a situation described in terms of feelings; respond appropriately and logically to open-ended Qs
7. Social-emotional development. e.g. say home address, work independently, work cooperatively, accepted by peers...
8. Math skills. e.g. Complete number sequence with missing digits (0-30), number bonds up to 10, write the date...
9. Chinese language. E.g. sing and recite rhymes, explain the content of the rhymes, write characters with correct strokes, write own name, communicate verbally in Mandarin to teacher and peers, reply verbally in Mandarin to Qs posed, enjoy stories, retell stories...

So the teachers will put A, I or O in the boxes next to the skills or items. A for "is able to", "I" for "is beginning to" and O for "not able to".

No prizes for guessing which category ds2 had "I"s. He didn't have any Os at all, at least. But he had 9 Is under Chinese (and another 6 As).

For Math and Language (refering to English), he had As. Certain things, he had Is, like Identify from choice the picture that represents the meaning of a sentence. He can't interpret meanings as well, i.e. sometimes he doesn't fully understand a situation.

For social-emotional devt, he had all As. Not a surprise cos ds2 has always done well in this aspect. More so than ds1. ds1 being more headstrong and stubborn, can sometimes rub people off the wrong way. But ds2 mostly has very good EQ and gets along very well with others.

The final overall note from the teachers:

Main tr:
J is a pleasant and soft-spoken boy. He is a fluent reader and is able to attempt more advanced readers on his own. He is able to recall and apply prior knowledge to his work, completing given tasks independently. His acquisition of general knowledge is commendable, and he shares these readily with his friends and teachers.

J has a vivid imagination evident in the way he creates his models from Lego bricks and the different characters he infuses in his play.

A joy to have in class!

Chinese tr:
J 在上个学期的华文学习中,华文认读,华文书写方面表现很好。上课时能够认真听讲,积极回答问题,期待他下个学期的优秀表现!

What the main tr reflected to me during the meeting was basically that he is very endearing, sociable, obedient. His reading is very advanced, way beyond the level of his peers. He often shares extra knowledge with them. She asked me where he got all those knowledge from. I said probably from the books he reads or from his older brother.

She said his memory is excellent. Sometimes she quizzes them on stuff she taught 2 weeks ago and he would be the only one who can remember. Hence, there was once she rewarded him with 2 lollies. I recall him coming home with lollies but he didn't tell me what they were for. Nice to know he is also doing very well in school! Sometimes, people around Dh and me tend to praise ds1 more. Upon comparison, many people usually feel ds1 is smart(er). Perhaps just because he is more vocal and more confident.

I was kaypoh (busybody/ curious) and asked what was the answer he gave that earned him the reward. It was the name of a constellation, apparently, when they were doing Outer Space. The tr mentioned Canis Major, but then now I am not so sure if I got it correct. Maybe Teck can help, if he reads this. The constellation like a dog, I think.

She said it had been 2 weeks since she taught that, so she was surprised he could recall. At home, we definitely do not talk about constellations since I don't know much about it, so I am happy he is learning all these in school.

About stuff he can improve, she mentioned him being more on the quiet side. I think she doesn't want to label. But I can think of words like "shy", "introverted" and "reserved" or even lacking on confidence. The tr didn't say any of these but she said when ds2 is amongst his good friends and teachers one on one, he will talk a lot and talk loudly, but once it comes to whole class discussion, or his turn to present his topic, he will talk very softly, or he will be happy to listen to what everyone has to say and not want to speak up much.

I will work on that at home, asking him for his opinion more. And he needs to be able to say it freely without his elder brother interrupting. That almost always happens at home when they are together. Older brother dominates the conversation and will comment on whatever he thinks, which is why he just listens, I guess.

The other thing is his reluctance to try different fruits or veggies. Generally, not an adventurous eater. Both teachers (they take turns to have lunch with the kids each day) say ds2 never cries in school and is always attentive, cheerful and happy, except when he is asked to eat something he doesn't like, then his tears will flow.

I wanted to laugh at that. Cos that is what happens at home too. Anyway, the school serves different fruits everyday, and when it comes to honeydew, papaya etc, he hates these and would refuse to eat. However, teachers try to ensure all the kids eat the fruits, so he would be given an extra small piece. Both teachers say he will hold the piece of fruit with his fork and dangle it around till it drops on the table or floor then he will quickly announce that it is dirty and then promptly picks it up and throws it away. (Oh man, really so like him)

So they have then served fruits to him on a plate. The rest of the kids still just eat from a communal dish. Now he has no excuse, sometimes he will comply. When he does eat it, the teachers and all his friends will applaud him! So he has come to try some papaya and honeydew now.

I told the teachers I am thankful they are working with me. They said they both used to dislike the same things as him when they were young so they can understand. I also try my best to introduce different foods to him in a non-threatening way. In this aspect, I am most eager to see progress!!

I think this is the bonus in sending him to a kindy that also operates as a childcare (didn't expect to gain help in this area when I sent him to school). Having his friends to eat one meal (lunch) with him, and having others reinforce what I tell him at home (that veggies are important and good for him), seems to make him trust me more and make him be more receptive to food outside his usual repertoire.

His school won an award (amongst preschools in Singapore) for healthy eating/ lifestyle thingy, and I have scrutinised their menus, so I am very satisfied that the food they serve is nutritious. In fact, the variety and portion is more than what I can offer at home!
(For a small household like ours, we usually buy and cook only 2 kinds of meat each week. I can't possibly buy pork, beef, chicken AND fish each week and cook up many different types of veggies for a meal. There'd be wastage and doesn't make economical sense. But for a large school with many branches, they can buy and cook in large quantities so they can offer a very varied menu.)

The other thing I like is, the teachers always eat with them, the same food, at the same table. They sing a song (to be thankful about the food they eat) before eating and then converse with each other as they eat. They don't sit in a row but in a group, almost in a circle. That's very motivating for ds2 when he sees the rest eating different veggies and so on. He also gets to enjoy his meal a lot while he talks with his friends and teachers.

I also like the big family feel. He knows the kids in K2 (all their names) and he knows the little ones in Nursery and Playgroup as well. I saw him so gentle and loving with 2 little girls from Playgroup. They were perhaps only 2yrs old? He called them by their names too. On his school bus, there is this little girl, very very cute darling. The school bus driver says he will entertain her and sing songs to her on the journey home.

Of course, some of them are really family. The principal's grand daughter is in the Nursery and the music teacher's son is in the toddler's class.

I also appreciate ds2's teacher smsing me every single incident that happened in school right away.

One time she smsed me after lunch telling me ds2 complained of a tummyache. She put some oil for him already but did not have bowel movement so she asked me to monitor him when he gets home, to see if he was better.

She also cleaned ds2 up once when he didn't make it in time to the toilet, and she asked his friend to lend him a pair of shorts (ds2 didn't bring spare clothes to school that day), and she also smsed me. She assured me he didn't cry and that he went back to his activities happily.

When he says something funny or cute, or when he does something nice, she will also sms me. And she checks the comm book very faithfully everyday.

Initially we thought we would take ds2 out and place him in the kindy just downstairs where our apartment block is when there is a vacancy but now we have changed our minds. His school is really fantastic and we have every wish to let him finish his kindy education there.

We'd definitely send dd there when she is 5 as well. :-)

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Saturday, July 3, 2010 ;
12:47 PM
19 June

We went to watch Toy Story 3. Before that, we first attended a talk at Focus on the Family, which is also at JP. It was free, and they gave out a large goody bag. In the goody bag, amongst many useful things, was a thick hardcover book by Dr James Dobson, "Solid Answers". I have several copies of his books already, always a good read, even though a little old fashioned sometimes.

Angeling's family was there too, as well as Mary's helper cos Mary's family was vacationing in Taiwan and her helper resided at Angeling's place as a guest.

We all enjoyed the talk, refreshments and then the movie. During the talk, the kids were well-entertained by staff from Focus, and they played parachute games, did some craft based on the Toy Story movie as well.

The talk was on Movie Magic and how parents can use movies to bond with our children, and engage them, or teach them important values.

The movie was the Golden Village within JP too. Very good deal. This was my good friend L's last gift to me. We enjoyed ourselves, and I know she's happy to see that too, from where she is.

Thank you, L. It would have been even more enjoyable had you been there. But I know you are also comforted in a better place. Thank you.

24th June

Finally able to bring the kids to the zoo! dd's first time and for both boys, the 1st since she was born! Yeah, her birth really changed our lives --- made us so much busier (but happier too, lah).

We didn't spend a long time there. Just enough for the kids to walk through the Fragile Forest, feed the giraffes, catch a show and splash in the water play area.

We reached at 11am, slightly late for the morning giraffe feeding. Kids a little disappointed, so I told them we'd stay till the afternoon feeding (1.35pm).

So we went to the Fragile Forest. And then to Kidzworld. Ate KFC for lunch. So crowded at KFC cos the machines were all down and the cashiers had to take orders with pen and paper, and tally our totals with the calculator! Some were not sure of the prices of the different food items too, having been so used to letting the machines do everything.

Then we caught the Animal Friends show which featured heavily on dogs, cats... Pets that kids love, I guess. At the end of the show, the kids could go down and pet all the animals. Look at the hordes rushing down. I wonder if the animals got scared... Both ds were only interested in petting the German Shepherd so we were done pretty quickly.

Then I let them play for 30min at the water area. Too many kids. There were even a few groups from schools, so it was pure chaos. I prefer to go when there are no hols!

At 1.35pm we walked quickly to the Giraffe habitat. Phew. Managed to get there in time.

The giraffes sure have long tongues!

Dd was crying pretty bad by the time we were leaving. She didn't sleep well, what else... So my mom drove while I had to nurse her in the car. I much prefer to drive, but I am just thankful my mom can help me, otherwise we couldn't even go.

Dh, please, come back soon!

25th June

ds1 had his 6 mth follow up at the NUH Eye Center at the Biopolis.

Sigh... his degree increased again. Although expected (cos doc said kids increase 100 degrees per year on average), I still feel heart pain. That his eyesight was deterioriating and we are almost helpless, and that we have to pay for new lenses again.

Doc said to wait another 6 mths would be too long for him. He'd have to strain to see for 6 mths in school, so we better correct his lenses now.

Since she has confirmed he doesn't have lazy eye, astigmatism or other serious ailments, she said we need not see her again unless his degree increases at a rate higher than 100 deg a year. From now on, we will just visit the optician once we think he can't see well again..

I keep reminding ds1 though, to keep a distance from his books. He likes to read and draw too near... I also just bought some bilberry supplements. And have to cook more soups with carrots and goujizi. Must try hard, what to do?

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

12:05 PM
Ok, how did we spend the last week of the June hols?

I let ds2 stay at home too, so both brothers can play together to their hearts' content.

Then, I also had the weekly visits to my in laws'. Dh is not around, so I have to go with the kids alone. My bil and sil's kids seem really busy with school work and CCA so they don't have time to visit my in laws'. Hence, it is just us now, we seldom get to see them.

One thing nice about my il's place is the garden and the birds chirping... It's where the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is, so there is quite a lot of wildlife. Yep, monkeys and squirrels and lizards...

Fil loves to lie down outside and he suggested playing chess with ds1 there. I thought it made a very idyllic pic and looks like a good photo op, so I snapped a pic of the grandfather and grandson, engaged in a game.

(in case you are wondering... in the background, that used to be a pond but my fil decided to fill it up with sand/ soil after he grew tired of cleaning it out all the time.)

The park beside our block of apartments has somehow gained a reputation across Singapore as a good place to fly kites. So kite-flying enthusiasts and professionals gather there to fly their magnificent kites. Although we can view the kites every evening from our windows, the most attractive displays are usually during the weekend evenings.

There would be so many kites, they fill up the entire sky. Some fly so high and so far they look like real birds because they become specks. Both boys were so surprised when one of the men beside us reeled in his kite and it was actually gigantic. But when it was flying way up high, it was just a speck! (good lesson on near-far proportions for the boys)

This pic below doesn't do justice but it's what I can manage cos I was slinging dd at that time.

Oh yes, when the sun sets, it becomes really magical too, because the kites flown then are those with tiny flickering lights. So it fills up the sky with many "colourful stars". Even dd loves to look at those lights.

Now I often bring the kids there, just go down for a short walk. It is so beautiful...

This pic below, is one rare time dd slept when we walked over to JP. I was so thankful and glad that I just had to document it. What a fatso... Not very ladylike either...

Another sleeping one. ds2 didn't want to take his nap after we visited the library. Insisted on finishing up ALL the books he borrowed. He wouldn't listen to my explanation that we can keep the books for 3 weeks! He just had to read them that very day.

Since it was the school hol, I gave in and let him be. Later when I walked into the living room, I saw him, succumbing to his exhaustion. That stubborn little boy!

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Thursday, July 1, 2010 ;
2:02 PM
Gatherings with old friends (highlight of my June!):

14 June

Met up with Dan, her son Dylan and Law at JP for brunch. Dylan is so sweet. While we adults we talking, he played with dd and made her laugh!

It was great catching up with Dan and Law, and we also went shopping for a while after brunch. Dan brought gifts for all of us, me, the boys and dd. Dylan has grown so much and he speaks very well, it's very cute to hear him talk non stop.

So glad they came all the way from the East of Singapore to meet up with me, else I wouldn't have had the chance to chat with them. It was Dan's precious day off from work too.

16 June
8.30am - 2pm

A very very old church friend whom I haven't seen for years came to visit me with her newborn. She hadn't been attending services at our congregation for 9 years? I got into contact with her again because I met her cousin at L's funeral wake.

Since her baby daughter is about 1+ month younger than mine, I suggested we should meet up for a baby date. :-)

Her hubby lectures at the NTU so he dropped her off at my place.

We walked to JP together to send ds1 to his Tien Hsia camp, bought breakfast and walked back to my place.

Then it started pouring cats and dogs, so she couldn't leave when she intended to. Which turned out good in a way cos we got to talking for such a long time, as we nursed our babies, changed their diapers and made them nap. And we had an early lunch of golden kiwis and rice dumplings and KFC Portuguese egg tarts.

When her hubby came to pick her up, my other batch of guests had started to arrive and they got to know each other. We arranged to meet up again at her place in July.

Then my old friends from HC started to come. Also from all parts of Singapore. And for Teck and his family, it was a precious gathering because they are only back in Singapore for a few days and then will be in Wisconsin for the next 3 yrs without returning to Singapore for a visit! Teck is doing his PhD there.

It's always lovely at these gatherings because not only do we get to catch up and reminisce about old times, we also get to see how all the kids in the group have grown. This time there are new additions too!

Here are some of the kids who are watching Toy Story 2. Thanks to Law who helped me operate my DVD player which I thought had been spoilt for a long time already.

A new addition, little baby Ethan. So cute and gazingly lovingly at his mom here.

And everyone brought so much food, we had such a feast! We never go hungry with Mag around, she brought the most! Cw's in the foreground, happily laughing and eating away. Can see Law, Teck in the background, and Eric as well. Lk's somewhere in the kitchen too.

There was a lot of laughter and jokes too. Certainly brightened up my otherwise mundane routine. With Dh out of the country, I lack adult conversations too. Would be great if we can do this often.

Law, Mag and her kids were the last to leave at about 5.30pm. The kids all played together really well. Such a wonderful gathering.

18 June

This time it was KH who specially took leave to come visit me and she brought her ds2. (btw did you know Old Chang Kee delivers too?)

However, since I had to walk ds1 to JP for his camp, I bought an assortment of Old Chang Kee snacks home. Fishballs, pineapple tart, chicken mushroom puff, curry puffs. Also bought the popular KFC egg tarts.

So glad I bought the fishballs. Little Brendan loved them. He has a good appetite and will eat anything KH offers him. He would sit in the highchair and occupy himself throughout our chat. Very well-behaved.

Jerry was supposed to come as well but he couldn't make it. However, I did meet up with him on Sat for a short while because he bought the Young Parents stuff at Marina Square for me. (I couldn't go out shopping at all cos of the 3 kiddos and their various schedules.)

KH is juggling many things now. She is working full time at MOE, does not have a helper, and is going to move to her own place soon. She also brought her son to my place, taking the MRT all the way from Kembangan.

I am so blessed to have so many good friends. It is because of them that I got to enjoy such an enriching week.

I am also happy to see everyone of them so happy and doing so well in their careers, their lives and with their families.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

11:23 AM
Just before the June hols, ds1 told me he would have 4 whole weeks without school.
I said, yeah, so good right? What do you plan to do with those 4 weeks?

He thought and said, you mean I have to stay at home for 4 weeks! I'd be so bored, I can't play with my friends?!?

After some discussion, I agreed to let him have 2 weeks of camps and 2 weeks at home. I thought he would have holiday homework so that might occupy him during the other 2 weeks at home. I said I might bring them to the zoo or museum but no promises, since DH is not in Singapore and we have to work around dd's nap schedule.

The problem with dd is she is easily excitable. If we go out, she remains highly alert and stimulated by all kinds of things, even if the noise is not loud. When there are loud noises, she is even worse. She would not sleep at all.

So she'd be increasingly cranky as the day wore on and cry and fuss. Hence, I usually prefer to go out for only short stretches.

ds1 was excited at the prospect of camps. I surfed and asked around and saw some good recommendations on some parenting forums. So I gathered all the info and placed it in front of him. He finally picked the Discovery Vacation camp, Tien Hsia Chinese camp and a 1-day Sg Buloh Young Naturalist camp.

For Tien Hsia, he had gone in Dec before and enjoyed it thoroughly. That time, it was his first time so I didn't sign him up for the full week. Since he liked it so much, this time, I let him go for the week of 14th to 18th June.

On the 1st day, they went to Sentosa to sit on the sky ride, ride on the luge and walk the nature/ jungle trail and dragon walk. Everything was conducted in Chinese, but in a fun way. By taking them out and using the language in a meaningful way. I feel that is a more natural way of learning a language rather than memorising the grammar rules or writing thousands of words to practise the strokes. For kids, of course, they learn better when they see it is useful and when it is hands on.

2ndd day they went to the Malay Heritage center which was something like a museum. I am not sure if this is new cos I've never heard of it till he visited it. The teachers gave us photos and they do look good. They learnt a lot about the Malay culture, in Chinese. I thought that was pretty interesting.

On the 3rd day (16th June) they were brought to the Orchard Tien Hsia center where all the kids did craft together (making a beautiful photo frame) and then recited poems to each other, like a performance. They also have half a day of language learning indoors, with emphasis on speaking/ oral skills. Unfortunately that day it rained so heavily that the entire area in Orchard road was flooded (yup, when the boutiques were rained in and the Hermes Birkin bags were damaged). So the kids ended up back in Jurong late cos they were stuck in the horrendous jam there.

Day 4 was so fun for ds1 cos they went to Pasir Ris Farm to pet and see lots of animals including mice, hamsters and so on, then they could try their hand at fishing. Whatever they caught, they could bring home and ds1 caught 17 small fish! When us moms were there to pick them up, one of the other moms was horrified and asked if she could leave the fish with the teachers, she did not want to bring them home!

The last day, they went to Genius R Us (apparently it is famous but I haven't been there or heard of it) and had a baking workshop. They played around with fondant and decorated cakes beautifully. This is the pic. Each slice was so big I couldn't finish mine. ds1 was very sweet, he said one for ds2, one for me and one for waipo (my mom) but can he share with us, please? Of course my mom let him have hers.

The camp at Sg Buloh Wetlands was incredible. It was sponsored by HSBC and organised by NParks to create awareness and love in kids for their natural surroundings. They learnt so much about mangroves and the flora and fauna within.

Best of all, it is almost free. We just paid fifty cents for a passport where they can collect stamps once they complete an activity. They get a day's meals, a tee shirt and lot of fun. However, they did ask if we would like to make a donation to the Garden City Fund, and most of the parents did, it was just $5.

This is for kids aged 6-10. This is ds1's group. He's the only P1 kid there.

But apparently he was so forthcoming with his contributions that the group leader and organiser came up to me and asked me his age, and told me he is really very smart and good in science.

I just smiled and said thank you, cos I didn't know what they were referring to, but I asked ds1 in the car later and he said he answered many Qs correctly, including one which was thrown open to the whole class but no one could answer. It was "What is the longest snake in the world?" or something.

I don't even know. Even though I am a Biology teacher, yes, but I don't know every single fact like that.... Anyway, that's just cos he reads and absorbs such facts. Not a real measure of smarts. If anything, it would be just that he loves such stuff and likes to talk about it. And probably has a good memory.

(Why I say this is : my mil helped me drive and pick ds1 up together cos after that we were going to her house for dinner. And she heard the organiser praise him. She went back and told my fil other people said he is so smart etc etc and he heard it, and his head swelled very big....)

This is the passport and the badges they all earn at the end of the camp. He had 2 friends at the same camp. Mx and Py. But they were all split up into different groups cos they wanted a good mix of ages in each group.

ds2 as well as Mx's sister and Py's brothers also managed to have a walk around Sg Buloh thanks to their elder siblings going for the camp. It was a great outing.

In the morning, after dropping him off, we passed by Hay Dairies on the way back, and we stopped to let ds2 see the milking of the goats (just nice, from 9am to 11am). We bought fresh goat's milk and pineapples home. Yup, somehow they were selling organic pineapples too.

7th to 11th June
Discovery camp

Coincidentally, Dh and I had volunteered, together with the rest of the BSc group in NIE, at this camp. We were all undergrads then and were organising the graduation dinner for our seniors. We saw this as a chance to raise funds, so all of us signed up for 2 weeks to teach at the camp (assistant teachers cos the main tr has to be a trained qualified teacher with MOE).

When I was helping out as a student, I remember thinking that the camp was priced too high, and that the activities could be done at home. I remember thinking even, that, when I had kids, I would do these at home with them and not spend money unnecessarily.

So it was really funny that ds1 should choose to attend this camp. Although I managed to get a discount by forming a group with other parents, I do still think that I can do those with him at home. However, he would lack the interaction with others, and he would lack an opportunity to perform.

The final thing that convinced me that the money was well-spent was that it sapped his energy during the day, making him far less able to use it at home to jump on the couch or think up one of his messy experiments... It allowed me to have gatherings with old friends peacefully and catch up on housework. It also gave me free time to relax and not constantly think of how to entertain him or what lunch to give him. And hey, to buy me time, effort, energy and sanity, the price or cost would be in the millions. So the $300 for 5 full days, 3 meals, lots of activities and social interaction is very very worth it.

And honestly, with dd so needy now, I wouldn't have done all those with him during the June hols.

They went to the Botanic Gardens/ Jacob Ballas Children's Garden on Tues and a mushroom farm on Thurs. The rest of the days they did science experiments and crafts. On the last day, at the end of the camp, they put up performances that sum up what they have learnt.

This is ds1's group's performance. They are all in P1.

I happened to meet my ex-colleague there. Priscilla's son was in the P2-3 group. However, she has quit her job to homeschool him so she sent him to these camps for social interaction and to conduct some experiments she might not have the equipment at home for.

After ds1's group performed, ds2 had no patience for the rest of the items. Since it was held in Raffles Girls' Pri, he decided to try their playground which was right beside the performance venue in the canteen.

After the performances, the camp commander gave out prizes to the group with the best performance and Priscilla's son's group got it!

Then they announced the best group in terms of behaviour and learning attitude and ds1's group got it! So they both are very happy boys...

There was a girl who was extra nice to ds1 and she lingered behind to talk to him and say goodbye, so we exchanged addresses. I told her she can be his penpal, if she liked. She didn't know what's a penpal. I think that term belongs to my generation huh???

Nowadays there is no need for snail mail. I guess our kids would understand better if I said, ok, exchange Facebook profile names, you can FB after this to keep in contact!

So anyway she was such a sweet girl and I was so taken by her that I asked them to pose for a pic together.

I don't know what's their relationship but ds1 was so gentle and nice to her too. She is taller than him though.... haha.

Then some boys were playing on the piano (can see in the background) so ds1 stayed back to listen to them before we all headed off - ds2, my mom (who helped me drive cos dd wailed non stop in the car), dd, myself and ds1.

I am glad ds1 enjoyed himself so much. I would keep quiet for the next hols though. Unless he asked for the camps, I would not volunteer to sign him up... Hopefully by that time, I can bring them out more often too, since dd would be older then. :-)

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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