September 28, 2008

Back with a vengeance

K has recovered and is back with a vengeance. He has regained his healthy appetite and astounds me with how much he can eat...just this afternoon, he finished half of my japanese hotpot soup. I guess this mum is really hard to please; I get all worried when he does not eat enough and start to fret if he eats too much.

Soup tod

18 months seem to have opened up a vocabulary spurt. For the past one week, he has said plenty of new words and I am usually bowled over when I those words that he hasn't been taught before. One of which is 'chocolate'; the other three syllabus word apart from "umbrella'. It is interesting how he is able to recognise 'chocolate' in its different permutations; ice cream, bar, ferrero roche, cake. cookie and brownie.

His antics are getting quite amusing. Last night at dinner, when we were served the chocolate lava cake for desert, he pointed to the cake and went "chocolate". Then I said, "Ok, I will let you try a little." He showed his delight and sniggered loudly with his hands covering his mouth, i.e., 偷笑, and his expression looks something like this :

K is getting to be a real helpful tod. He will close the sliding door when we ask him to :

And K's new flavour of the month? Introducing Zac (name after Zac Posen; Yiyi's one time celebrity crush for like 2 months) or otherwise known as Baby Mo-mo, Grand-dad's new addition to the family. With this adorable 3-month old sable-white shetland sheepdog in the house, looks like K is no more the baby of the family :)

September 25, 2008

The $250 diagnosis

It's tough when K gets sick. Just when he has been having a healthy appetite the last few months and progressing well with his growth, a illness has to come along and regress things a little.

Spent like $250 dollars this afternoon on his visit to a paediatrician. Makes me wonder how credible the doctor is when he spends like less than 2 minutes in consultation with his patients. Within 1 minute he asked me some questions about K's condition, then in less than 10 seconds, he checked K with his stethoscope, while K started crying his lungs out. Then gave the diagnose that K has got bronchitis.
There was no advice given, for example, avoid cold drinks or citrus fruits or ensure that the K rests more.

The pd probably thinks that I am a very well-informed mother that knows how to manage without any professional advice, or he is really seasoned, to the point of being nonchalant. I believe that there there is such a thing known as an over-diagnose in an attempt to overcharge.

We went home with the neubeliser, the 'quintessential' torture device for a toddler, which was rented to us at $10 a day. There must be some other way to clear the phlegm. Anyhow, the pd has scheduled another appointment to fleece me again with a follow-up '2 minute consultation' next Tuesday.

Heard a rumour that the S'pore Baby and Child clinic, which has branches in Glen E, TMC, Mount A and Mount E has been bought over by some group, whose main focus now is to ensure a healthy profit. So that explains why K visit to the pd cost me like 30% more than usual.

It's time to start looking for a new pd, one that truly cares for the kids and not one who is more concerned about lining his own pockets.

Numero Uno Preschool Review - Arise Kindergarten

I am an advocate for preschool children to learn through play. So naturally, the first preschool that I will review needs to be in line with my personal belief.

Arise Kindergarten @ Church of S'pore

The Philosophy of Arise Kindergarten (from website

"...every child is a unique individual who has the potential to become a confident and independent person, enthusiastic about life, when given a caring and conducive learning environment to grow in. We are therefore committed to provide developmentally appropriate learning experiences that are meaningful, interesting and enriching to all children, to enhance their disposition to learn..."

The website further lists the teacher and student ratio as; 1:8 for Pre-Nursery (as per MOE guidelines). The ratio of the older preschoolers seemed very encouraging at 1:13. Furthermore, all teachers have a Diploma in Early Childhood Education.

My first impression :
The kindergarten is located in the basement. This was initially my concern as there is no windows in the rooms that allowed any natural light. The pre-nursery and nursery areas were partitioned by shelves, kindergarten 1 and 2 in were in separate rooms. The environment is bright and cheerful, conducive for learning and most importantly, the children all seemed quite happy and contented being there. I also notice that there is an assistant teacher for the pre-nursery class, so that makes the ratio 2:8.

Did a quick browse at the schedule - I like it that the kids have a substantial time spent in outdoor play, and on certain days water and sand play is incorporated. Music and movement is another daily activity. The menu also seemed rather appetising with, beehoon, fishball noodles, chicken porridge and claypot rice listed as some of their selections.

Some of the queries answered by Mrs Hong, the principal during my 20 minutes visit of the pre-school :

1) Does the child need to be toilet trained when he enters pre-nursery?
- There isn't a need, as long as they are in training pants. The teachers will assist them during toileting. Besides when the child starts seeing his friends without their diapers and can independently go to the toilet themselves, he will usually start to learn to do the same as well.

2) How much time does the children spend in free-play?
For pre-nursery, about 50% of the time. During pre-school age, children learn the best through play. There are different learning corners where the children can help themselves to the manipulatives, books and toys.
(She was pleasantly surprised when I asked this question, as she told me most parents are more interested to find out if this is a 'writing' school).

3) What discipline methods do you use for the children? Any time-out used?
Positive reinforcement, we will catch and praise them when they are doing good. Time-out may be used when the child bites or hits his classmate. However, very rarely teachers here use time out.

4) Do you have dramatic play corners in your school?
Yes, as you can see (points to the area), this few weeks' theme is fairy tales, so we set up costumes for them in the dramatic corner. (Plus points for this, most other pre-schools do away with the dramatic corner)

I subsequently found out that the pre-nursery class is for children 3, going on to 4. But she pointed 2 children in particular that were 2+ years old.

5) Any issues that you have encountered for the younger ones to join the pre-nursery class?
Usually we will see if the separation anxiety is still there after 3 or 4 days. If the child still cries none stop after a few days, we will determine that the 2+ year old child is not ready to join the programme. These two kids were alright after 2 days or so (refers to the 2+ year olds), as long as the parent does not mind that the child repeats pre-nursery the next year.

6) Is chinese language fully integrated into the programme?
Most of the children who join the kindergarten have little knowledge of the chinese language, some don't even speak the language. But we fully integrate chinese into the programme, through songs, rhyme as well as during music and movement.

Mrs Hong then asked, "Are you a teacher or in this industry ?" Guess my questions probably gave away that I seem to have a little more knowledge than the average parent. I had to admit that I was in the early childhood industry as well (sheesh...cannot keep it under wraps). I was interested to find out more about their language and literacy programme, but was a little shy to probe further. Maybe next time.

Overall review of the pre-nursery programme : 7/10

September 22, 2008

Bored toddler with the bug

Kyle is down with the flu (again). This time round I am the culprit as likely the bug was caught from my recent visit to a student care centre last Thursday. I curbed the bug from 'flourishing' when I took some vitamin C when I started to experience some sniffles, however that did not stop it from infecting Kyle. Sigh, I wonder what can be done to prevent spreading those germs to him? Maybe taking daily doses of Vitamin C will reduce instances of becoming a 'carrier'?

I really pity those mothers that have to put their kids in a childcare and the stress that they have to undergo, worrying for and taking care of a child that is ill. For some working mothers, the childcare option is the only choice available, especially when domestic help is so unreliable nowadays. Some of these childcare centres are breeding grounds for infections and it will take a child with extremely high immunity not to fall victim to these infections.

Lately, my mom has been telling me to put Kyle in school. Just because he seems extremely restless and bored during those hours that he is at mom's place, when I have something to attend to. He often gives me that certain look when I have to leave for my lessons in the evenings or morning appointments, begrudginging waves goodbye while not looking at my direction.

Most mornings when I am at home with Kyle, we usually spend our time playing dough, bubbles, ball, reading, doing art..etc. And he seems content and not at all restless. It is simply not possible to ask for an alternate caregiver to keep the toddler busy with the same sort of activities.

I suppose toddlers this generation are demanding more attention and craving for more activities that will hold their interest. So unlike kids from my generation, when a simple toy set can keep us busy for hours and mom can just attend to her chores or take a breather by watching tv programmes. Must be due to the Omega 3 pills that mothers consume during their pregnancy.

Anyhow, the preschool hunt starts this week. I initially thought of putting Kyle in preschool only when he turns 3 in 2010. However, looking at the tight commitments that I will need to manage in his first week of school (which is also the start of my 1st week of my practicum), I have decided that he should start school when he is 2 and a half, in Q3 2009. So being a k.s. parent, the search has to start now.

Next up, a run down of my first preschool review : Arise Kindergarten at Hindhede Road.

September 15, 2008

Ma-ma, bubbles and art

These words were said to me this evening, 'Night...Ma-ma.' It was right after I said his bedtime prayer, kissed him on his forehead and said 'Goodnight.' He deliberately removed the milk bottle teat from his mouth, said those words, then put his bottle back into his mouth.

Sigh...such loving words to hear from my little boy, who have spent the last 6 months calling me 'Ta-ta'. Keith and I have came to a conclusion 'Ta-ta' was a sort of acknowledgement like 'Hey you' or 'Aye'. For a past few months, I was content to be reduced to a mere 'Ta-ta', while Keith gloated in Kyle's many variations of 'Da-da'. 'Pa-pa' and 'Dad-dad'. Every one whom Kyle is close to has a proper name. Even Kyle calls my helper 'tee' (for auntie) or 'bel'.

As for his choice of play materials. He does not have much affinity for train sets or toy vehicles, really not atypical for his gender. Little interest in pretend play as well, although he likes to use the cups from the cooking set and he gives me the other cup. Then exclaims 'cheers' very loudly when his cup meets mine for a toast and proceeds to 'drink' with gusto. He loves his golf clubs, tennis and hitting and throwing balls, even play dough is used as a golf ball.

Kyle surprised me with his attention span this morning; a full 45 minutes spent blowing and bursting bubbles. Kyle spends most of his time in the mornings blowing bubbles, painting, scribbling with crayons or play dough, playing at his water table, depending on his interest for that day.

He tried brocolli 'tree' printing today and he seems to have gotten over the uneasiness of having paint all over his fingers.

and he painted this:

This printing activity was suppose to be part of introducing the letter 'T', however mommy could not find the time to complete the felt letter T this week and plan the other activities for the letter 'T'. Besides Kyle seems so busy with all his other interests, so I have decided that we will take a short break from LetterWeek activities.

Last week, he painted this. He often looks at his creation (which has been put up on the fridge), claps his hands and makes the happy birthday song gestures. Maybe it does look like a multi-coloured birthday cake with lighted candles in an abstract way.

I will be trying out some other more open-ended art activities for him to explore textures and colours soon, since he seems to enjoy doing art. I intend to go slow in introducing him new activities that will get his hands dirty, don't wish to turn him off the messiness of art so soon.

He asked to try on Keith's and my sunglasses while we were in the car on Sunday,

i) Sport golfer style with Keith's Oakleys

and ii) Metrosexual chic with my Raybans

He is getting a little more adventurous lately, which reminds me that I might be able to try to convince him to wear his art smock the next time when he does art.

Kyle's Happy Birthday

Kyle will be 18 months on the 17 of Sept, which incidentally, is my birthday. We had early celebrations at Nana's place, and like usual, everyone's birthday is also Kyle's birthday. Grand-dad and Nana sang him a birthday song with a candle on a burger and he got another birthday song, right after everyone sang a birthday song for me.

Love that look of anticipation on his face while we were singing his 'birthday' song. He always asks for me to sing the 'Happy Birthday' song and it has to be complete with the action of blowing out the candle and clapping, right after the song ends.

One more birthday song for Kyle from Rachel T on Vimeo.

Kyle plays tennis

The 18 months old Tennis Toddler from Rachel T on Vimeo.

September 9, 2008

Every calling is great when greatly pursued

I always had big dreams for my life and career played a big part of it. Somehow, that path was steered away by a greater calling; being one-half of a parent.

Parenting does give me alot of joy. However I never expect that it can be such a huge change agent in my life. Many lifestyle adjustments have been made since the onset of Kyle's arrival; less time spent with hubby, little time for myself and friends, even time to be a couch-potato have drastically been reduced to almost zero, not to even mention time for exercise.

All that just because I want to be around for Kyle whenever possible. It is hard for hubby to convince me to leave Kyle alone in the afternoon with the helper, so as to go for a foot massage or movie with him. The reason why I am so particular about spending as much time as possible with him, is because I leave him to be taken care of by the helper at night. As a result, he ends up running to her most of the time when he feels sleepy or needs comfort, and sometimes that makes me feel that I haven't really done my best as his mother. I always try to convince myself that he will eventually grow out of this dependence on the helper.

Nonetheless, this little guy always make it very clear that he prefers my undivided attention all the time. He often act up when I am at the computer, playing the piano, reading a book or doing any other thing without his involvement. So it is almost impossible to do anything else besides interacting with him when he is awake.

I wonder whether it is just Kyle to be demanding this way, or it is normal toddler behaviour. I do know that toddlers are egocentric, so this could be just a manifest of the egocentric focus of the toddler.

I have been making a point not to smack him unless it is absolutely necessary. As he seemed to have learnt that physical aggression may be a solution to getting his way, and I think that he has modelled that after my discipline attempts. Although I still believe that when I spare the rod, I will spoil the child. Not certain that I can take that bit about the 'rod' literally though. Most of the time just a fierce stare or a stern voice is enough to do the job, however I am starting to see a stubborn streak emerging.

I see so much of Keith and myself in Kyle. I am learning everyday as a parent and this journey doesn't seem to get any easier by the day. All I know is that I need God's wisdom and direction daily to be the best parent for my child and be a conscientious steward of this next generation.

September 7, 2008

Can every weekend be just as exciting?

This weekend must have been pretty exciting for Kyle. It started with the piano that arrived on Thursday. He loves sitting by himself at the piano and playing the keys, and often asks for his 3 favorite tunes to be played; Incy wincy spider, Happy Birthday and Wheels on a bus.

Then he was allowed to stay up an hour past his bedtime on Friday night, at 10.45 p.m., for part 1 of Grand-dad's birthday celebration.

As for Part 2 of Grand-dad's birthday celebrations on Saturday night, Kyle got to sing Happy Birthday 4 times and had the chance to blow out a lighted candle twice, one of which was presented to him on top of the cheese platter. Looks like we will be celebrating Kyle's 'birthday' another 4 more times (since we have another 4 more birthdays leading up to the end of the year) before he turns 2 in March '09.

He got to enjoy his milk in daddy's cuddly lap this afternoon, while taking in the greenery and the serene view of the eco garden's lake in Botanic Gardens.

As well as got to feed the turtles a whole packet of cream crackers! Actually it was dad who seemed more occupied feeding the turtle the crackers than Kyle. Although I must admit that it was quite a sight to see the turtles scrambling on top of one another to get to the crackers.

Like always, he will refuse to take his nap whenever the helper is off for that day. But it was no struggle to get him to sleep before 9 p.m. this evening, must have been totally pooped out by all that excitement this weekend. Hopefully he sleeps till later in the morning and spends next few days taking longer afternoon naps, which will give mommy the much needed 'me' time.

September 6, 2008

Kyle's First Letter Week

I have never really got Kyle to memorise the letters of the alphabet or teach him how to sing the alphabet song. I did not see how he will benefit by learning the alphabet in the correct sequence without learning the phonetic sounds. Besides, getting him to focus on a learning activity without keeping his hands busy will be a total waste of time.

I noticed some interest in the alphabets when he started to point out the letters that spelt out his name on the door. He will often request that I read out the letters to him, also he seems to enjoy flipping through my books and always asks to sit on my lap when I am reading the newspaper. Furthermore, I think watching Sesame Street's alphabet video clips online also encouraged his interest since this boy is 'tech-crazy' (he simply loves computers and mobile phones). However, it is still a challenge to finish reading a book to him, as he always seems to be in a hurry to turn the pages to the end of the book.

So it was really not too difficult to introduce these new activities, since he loves to be kept busy all the time. There is really no pressure for him to learn, especially since these activities make the most out of his interest in novelty, discovery and most importantly, his physical involvement.

To start with, I created a concrete 'phonic alphabet'. While introducing the letter, I focus on the sound of the letter, and not its name. For example, saying "e-e-elephant" and not "ee". Since this week letter is S, it is "Silver Ssss". I show the letter to Kyle, encourage him to touch and feel the letter then I say to him, 'This letter makes this sound, Ssss".

The silver letter S, covered with aluminium foil

We went on to do a pasting activity. Pasting pictures of things and animals starting with 'Ssss' on a drawing paper with the letter S; snake, sun, sand, sink, sock, seal, sandwich. The word sandwich was made even more relevant when we just had a sandwich lunch. I made sure that I emphasized the 'S' sound in S-s-sandwich when he ate his lunch.

Then Kyle got a little too over-enthusiastic with the markers and created this.

He went on to paste colourful sticker dots to create a spotty snake. Was not able to sustain his interest for long as the stickers were a tad too small for him to manage. I will have to get larger sticker dots for Kyle to complete this activity later this week.

He then asked for "doh, doh", which is one of his favorite activities.

I started to roll the dough into snakes, but he requested for the dough to be rolled into balls.

Spent some time throwing and rolling the ball, then finally ended up using a yellow dough ball as a 'golf ball'.

The outcome? Although it did not go the way I planned (which happens most of the time anyhow). By the end of these activities, Kyle could recognise and say the "Ssss" sound when he is shown the letter :)

September 2, 2008

My babies

I ran out of patience and could not wait for the P85 digital keyboard to arrive in October. In a moment of weakness, I committed more money for a better set; the YAMAHA Clarinova CLP 320. So much for being the 'voice of reason' the last time. This time round, I convinced myself with these reasons;

1. This week will be the most apt to get the keyboard delivered, since I will have the time to play the keyboard

2. My schedule in October will be too tight since I will be starting my programme in Edelweiss kindy and will not have the time to explore the equipment

3. The dark rosewood colour of the keyboard will look better with the furniture in the hall, rather than the stark black shade of the P85

4. The digital photo frame, and a few other photo frames need a new home, and the space on top of the Clarinova is wide enough to double up as a mantlepiece. Unfortunately (ahem), the photo frames cannot be place on top of the P85, since it is so small and portable.

5. Most importantly, Kyle's music appreciation experience has to start asap, I am wasting precious time to have to wait for 2 more months for the P85 to arrive.

So I had to get the Clarinova. This 'baby' will be arriving this Thursday morning, can't wait...

As for my real baby, Kyle the toddler. He will be approaching 18 months in about half a month's time, and I am amazed by his language development versus a month ago. He is now able to pronounce more words, a far cry from the barely audible language attempts during the last few months. Although 'NO' seems to be the most frequently used word.

(turn on the volume for the full experience)

After church on Sunday, while we were outside the 2nd floor of Carrefour. Kyle pointed to the Barney kiddy ride and wanted to steer the steering wheel. Keith put put a coin in to start the ride, and my comment to Keith was, 'Don't bother to put money in, he usually will want to get out of the ride when the thing starts moving.' To my surprise, Kyle actually started turning the steering wheel and was utterly thrilled by his first moving kiddy ride. He has finally conquered his fear of a moving kiddy ride!

We went to the Jacob Ballas children's playground this morning and introduce Kyle to sand. Once again, he seem disgusted with the texture of sand and kept casting wistful glances at the water fountain area. No matter how I encouraged and showed him how much fun I was playing with the sand, he was not convinced and shook his head. (Note to self : Remember to buy sand to fill his water/sand table). Maybe the environment at home will be more conducive for his next sand 'encounter'.

We ended up spending the next 40 mins at the fountain area. He had a whale of a time at the water fountain. Didn't seem to mind the water on his head, although I still don't understand why he is always so irate when we try to wash his hair when he take his bath, despite Bel or me telling him to close his eye when his head is under the light shower.

When we got home, he refused to take his nap, which is rather often these couple of weeks. So he ended up blowing bubbles with dad. Capturing such moments of the two of them together are truly priceless...