November 30, 2008

Of birthdays and presents

K is the resident candle blower for all the family birthday celebrations. The little boy has acquired the skill of blowing lighted candles (without any spittle from his breath), after numerous afternoons spent bubble-blowing with Mummy.

We celebrated dh's birthday on Friday and Saturday. Initially dh mentioned that he was not keen to have any cake for his birthday, but ended up buying himself a cake, so that he could get K to show off his candle blowing skill at his mom's place on Saturday.

Dh and I spent some couple-time on Friday night celebrating his birthday over dinner at The Prime Society, a cosy steak place at Dempsey Road. Pretty pricey at $100 per head, but great ambience, relatively good food and good service.


Loved the candelier-like lights and the wall art, which gave the establishment an art-deco feel.


Dh and I shared a brownie which the service staff presented to him with a lighted candle, given to us on the house. It was nice for them to take note when I mentioned to them that 'it will be birthday celebration' when I called to make reservations. So for the great service, we will be back...since dh is a major steak-eater.


So what is dh's birthday present this year? I planned to give dh his birthday present at the end of the night, however, I just could not resist when K wore his b/w car t-shirt in the afternoon. When K saw the pic, he look at his t-shirt, then glanced back at the painting and started to cry. He was not consoled until dh explained to him that it was a painting of 'Dada and Kyle.' Probably he was confused to see this painting of a kid looking like him and wearing his t-shirt.

Of course dh loved the painting, although the first question he asked was, "Why does K's lips looks like that?" My answer to him was "Haven't you noticed how K's lips look like? The artiste Paul Koh who created this piece of painting was quite accurate in depicting K's pink and luscious lips :P

Dh remarked that this is the best present he has received from me. Well, I guess I outdid myself this time, it is going to be tough to think about what to buy for him next year. Maybe another painting from Paul, this time of the three of us? What can I say, I am not exactly the most creative when it comes to birthday presents.

November 28, 2008

No frills playhouse

I got a refrigerator box 3 weeks ago, and the fridge does not come with it.

I have no plans to become a karung guni part time. Although, I suppose some people in the mall who saw me carrying the box probably thought that I was just a cheap housewife trying to earn some extra change from the karung guni, besides giving him my old newspapers.



Thanks to my advanced estimation skills, I had this great plan to load the refrigerator box into my car and then drive the car below to my apartment block. However, never did I expect that the box could barely fit into the car. I tried for like 2 mins turning the box vertically, then horizontally. Then I had this mild epiphany, that the refrigerator box is longer than my car and the width is too broad to fit in the car door...truly my Mr.Bean moment...

I carried the box back to the first floor of the mall, while stopping for a few minutes to rest my arms and to catch my breath. Along the way, got stared at by many people in the mall. Although the box was made of corrugated cardboard, it was not light and walking 500 meters home from the mall with a huge box was quite strenuous. On the way home, I told myself that it will be the last time I will be carrying a refrigerator box home. Well, there is always dh who can help the next time...

I spent about 1 and a half hours cutting out the roof, doors and windows and made a recyclable playhouse for K.


Inside the house, I pasted 2 tap lights and hung a clipped-on fan on the roof as it can rather stuffy when K closes the 'door'. The playhouse can be easily folded and kept for easy storage, much more space saving than the $300+ plastic playhouse that are sold at Toys R Us.

I was thinking of pasting some wallpaper over the exterior to make it look brighter, although it seems K does not seem to mind how it looks now.

November 25, 2008

20 months

K turned 20 months last week. He is starting to express himself more efficiently, often surprising me with new words every other day. He loves to be read to every night before bed time, his recent favorite is 'The Ear Book' by Al Perkins, that has alot of sound effects.

K always makes sure that his toy Mickey is seated in front of the book and he will attempt to read the book Mickey. He will make relevant sounds effects on cue from each page.
He gets absolutely thrilled by his ability to blow off lighted candles from the birthday cake, which he recently demonstrated at Uncle Nick's and dh's birthday celebration.

The fussy eater surfaces once in a while, usually during meal times at home or Nana's house. He never seems to have any problem finishing all his food when we are out eating. I am still rather puzzled by that.

He chooses to sign to indicate that he prefers to be carried than walk by himself. I often get arm-aches after carrying him for a few minutes, as this toddler is getting really heavy.

He will rather be carried,walk or run but not sit in the stroller, the stroller has been relegated to being a push trolley for bags and other stuff.

Once in a blue moon, he turns into a cranky and difficult toddler. I am starting to see little glimpses of the terrible two's behaviour...still keeping my fingers tightly crossed that terrific two's will show himself most of the other times.

November 24, 2008

Home sweet home

When we got our flat, I really disliked this 'breakfast counter' thing that the previous owner put up. I always felt that it was a white elephant since the outside of the counter did not quite face the dining area, but the hall.

I have finally found a use for the 'breakfast counter'. This year I am able to put up the Christmas decorations since I have the time, the house is less cluttered with no more other furniture that looks out of place and no one will comment when I put up these other frills in the house.

Since this year is planned to be a budget Christmas for us, I managed to get this mini Christmas tree and decos from Spotlight and Daiso. Will only be looking at a real fir tree once we have more space in the house. Regardless, I think these Christmas decos do create some Christmas mood for the home.

This year has not been the easiest year, with all the upheavals that dh and I have been experiencing so far. However God has been always good to us. Despite the recession setting in, I know that our family will be fully taken care of during these times. All we have to do is to rest in Him and let God be God.


"For this is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord;

I will put My laws in their minds and write them on their hearts;

I will be their God, and they shall be my people." Hebrews 8:10

More zoo excursions?

The last time K went to the zoo was in Feb. From our previous visit dh signed up for the Friends of the zoo membership, as he was quite certain that we will be back very often since we only lived about 15 mins away. However, we only did manage to take another excursion to the zoo almost 10 months later, oh well...

I took this pic of K and dh about 10 months ago.

This pic of K and dh was taken on Friday...

It was a beautiful morning and K was thrilled to have yiyi and uncle ed who joined us at the zoo. The little boy refused to sit in his stroller the whole time and had no qualms asking to be carried.

K simply refused to wear his hat and dh was rather concerned that the top of his head felt rather hot, so he covered K's head with the towel. K is at this stage where he will just refuse to have anything to do with hats.

We brought K to the waterplay area in Kidzworld and the small fountain kept him busy for about 20 mins before he started to get bored. I wasn't too keen on the other areas within the waterplay area as it was mostly filled with murky water.

Did not have much time to see the shows or check out the kids kampong within Kidzworld. Looks like we will have to schedule more visits to the zoo before our membership expires in Feb '09, right dh?

November 20, 2008

What kind of parent am I?

Reading sections on a text on Child Development: Middle Childhood to Adolescence got me thinking how tough it is to be a parent, as well as what is the kind of parent I want to be for K.

One of the key take outs I got was that various parenting styles can have a huge impact on the child's development from early childhood all the way to adolescence. Authoritative parenting style is preferred over Authoritarian and Passive parenting styles.

Been talking to Nana (my mom) about how the first two years of the child is the toughest for a first time mother and that it gets easier on care-giving as the child grows older. Probably true in certain areas since the child will be able to communicate his needs with more developed communication skills. But it does get tougher when his cognitive skills become more developed and there is psychological conflict that the child will encounter with his own independence vs the expectations of parents. There you will get temper tantrums, crying fits and stubborn streaks of obstinate behaviour.

Prior to reading up sections on the topic of discipline, I used to be a firm believer of the cane and was ready to whip up the tool. This practice has been ingrained in me, since the cane was my worst nemesis when I was growing up. It all seem natural to consider this discipline method for my own child.

I had this idea that scaring my child into submission; hitting furiously on the table with the cane, creating loud 'thwacking' noises. While intermittently hitting the child's legs and screaming at him to "stop this", will be able to create desirable behaviour in my child. Well, I am seriously mistaken and so are many generations of parents before me. As this method only promotes immediate compliance and not lasting changes in behaviour.

I know I have an obstinate child on my hands, when he cheekily smiles at me and sniggers in response, when I raise my voice at him when he misbehaves, . "It's not funny," I will sternly add. He then turns his head away from me, starts looking elsewhere, refuses to make eye contact, then hums a song to himself and pretends that he is occupied elsewhere. He is only 20 months and he knows how to 'keng'?!?

I will hold him by his shoulders, and say, "K, look at me now." He struggles for a while to escape from my hold, while I repeat, "You stop now and look at me." He then starts to cry, turns to look at me and that's when the reasoning starts. So far that discipline method works when I have to set limits and discipline K. This will work with the "time away" method once he gets older.

I will always have to remind myself that I need to reinforce desirable behaviour by giving attention to positive behaviour and not the negative ones. Well, this mother has been reformed.


"Look at what I have painted on the wall..."


November 18, 2008

Family time

Dh took some time off today to spend some family time with us and we had an enjoyable afternoon together. After a scrumptious lunch at Akashi Tanglin, we went into Kenko Fish Spa at Tanglin Shopping Centre, as dh was certain that K will be very thrilled to watch fishes nibbling the soles of his feet. I was not too keen to join in, since I did not enjoy my last experience at the fish spa. I much prefer scrubbing my own feet with feet exfoliator, than experience the strange sensation of fishes nibbling at my feet.

The fish spa experience kept K occupied for less than 10 mins, since he was quite thrilled by the fishes in the pool. After which he just wanted to leave the shop to "walk, walk".

Dh tells me that I should just come by in the late mornings to get a foot massage and bring K along. Sometimes I think Dh over-estimates his son and thinks that this 19 month old will be able to stay occupied and quiet somehow, while I get a 45 min pampering treat. Dh, how about trying it out one of these days? Then tell me whether it is possible to enjoy your massage and not be distracted by an active toddler.

I might get a pleasant surprise again and dh may not encounter any problem having a foot massage with a toddler in tow. The last time dh surprised me with a passport photo of K, when he brought K to the nearby mall to buy lunch back. Certain things just seem so effortless for fathers, while moms struggle to get the same things done
.


After dh's fish spa session, we sent K home for his afternoon nap and returned to Kenko for 90 mins of foot reflexology and shoulder and back massage. It was heavenly! The last time I had a foot massage was almost 1 and a half year ago. Dh and I used to frequent Kenko almost weekly. Now it's so hard to find any leisure time to do any of these sort of pampering activities.

In the evening, we went to the club to let K enjoy some water play, while dh spent some time at the golf driving range.

K loves water fountains and always exclaims loudly whenever he sees them in malls. I am hoping for good weather this coming friday as L and I have planned a playdate for Alex and K at IMM water fountain area.

November 15, 2008

Companions

I met a long time friend, M with her 8 month old son Cayden for lunch this afternoon. M and I went a long way back. I have known her since we were in primary 5, went to different classes in secondary school, lost contact while we were in college, then met again in Melbourne during our university days. Despite not keeping in touch frequently these past few years, we always seem to click really well with one another and have endless topics to talk about.

Somehow our paths always crossed and it is great to be able to maintain this friendship.

K met Cayden for the first time this afternoon and he did not seem too sure how to approach a baby much younger than he is. I got K to pose for the camera with Cayden and his expressions seem to have implied these responses:



Mum: : "K, hold Cayden's hand."K : "Do I really have to?"



K : "I am holding his hand now, hurry and take the picture."


Mum: : "K, smile for the camera."

Just one of his many variations of a smile.

Probably K was thinking that baby C is not very interesting, since he seemed to be sitting in his stroller the whole time.

I think it is great to provide this socialisation opportunity for K to get up close with a younger child, since he only gets to interact with other toddlers around his age or older children. So M, we really should be meeting up more often :)

I am still not convinced that it is time for dh and I to "have another child to be K's companion." I like status quo and don't plan to change anything for the time being. Besides, I want to be able to have the freedom to travel with dh and K, go back to playing golf and diving, starting an exercise regime (my lousy excuse for this is that I cannot find any time). Now I just find it impossible to squeeze in any of these leisure activities, when spending quality time with K is my priority.

In other words, I have no leisure life to talk about when I am just a mother of one. Some parents make it seem so simple to have so many children. I am simply just not a very good multi-tasker and life will only get some leisure balance once K starts nursery.

November 13, 2008

Learning playstations

Just wrapped up one of the most important modules for Early Childhood Education; Learning through Play. Its been real hard work but I never had so much fun doing any project, extremely tedious but strangely therapeutic.

My team's final product : 3 learning playstations for the theme Food for K1 childre

1) Maths Corner with the pizza activity.
Objective :
- Learn numeration, counting, matching
- literacy skills by recognising the words of the various pizza toppings.

Extension : Socio Dramatic play can be encouraged by throwing in some plates, cutlery and toy cashier machine.

2) Science Corner with i)Textures of different types of Bread, and ii)Smell and match the Spices activity

i) Textures of different types of Bread
Objectives :
- Literacy objective : Learn the names of the different types of bread
- Explore some texture words for bread; soft, hard, rough and flaky
- Match the shapes of the bread with the texture

Extension : Visit to the bakery, or a cookery activity to bake their own bread

ii) Smell and match the Spices activity
Objectives :
- Explore the sense of smell by smelling 10 different types of asian spices
- hand eye coordination to match the correct spices with the numbers
- literacy skills encouraged through learning of the names of the different spices and the scents
- Learn about the types of food that use these spices
Extension : Visit a spice garden, taste different types of food with the various spices


3) Dramatic corner with Fun with fishing and barbecue
Objectives :
-Encourage socio-dramatic play and engage in literacy acts
- Counting and sorting of 'pretend food'
- Practise fine motor skills while fishing and barbecue-ing

We had a fishing pond complete with fishes and prawns, fishing rods attached with magnets and pails for collecting the catch.

A child sized barbecue pit with trays of pretend food, all labelled to achieve literacy objectives.

Kudos to my team member Pam, who painstakingly created the 'wire mesh' of the barbecue grill by gluing together rolls of aluminium foil.

I can't ask for a better team, we had great team dynamics and I must say we are a group of fairly creative and inventive people. Thanks Phebe, Pam and Tan Tin for a job well done!

There were a total of 6 teams who presented their learning stations, and our team were one of the three that presented a dramatic corner. It takes alot of creativity and effort to create a dramatic corner in a preschool class, but the benefits acquired from the children interacting with it is well worth it. Children learn pro-social skills, interaction skills, cooperative skills, engage in literacy acts and math activities and learn about the topic of interest, while at the same time, having alot of fun. Who ever said that playing is a waste of time?

Really liked this other dramatic corner; a Mama provision shop using recycled boxes for shelves and used cartons of real products, this team's theme was Recycling. Maybe it's time to keep the used milk cartons and cereal boxes when I am done with it.

Another dramatic area of an airplane for the theme of transportation.


Another team even went to the extend of bringing their pet dog, hamster and goldfish for the theme on animals. However, the content of their play activities was not anything new that felt that I could learn from.

Some other teams chose to go with the route of 'if you are not so sure how to score points with the content, confuse with the elaborate backdrops and games.'

I really hope to see more of this sort of effort put into actual preschool classrooms, not too confident that they are many teachers who will make that effort for their children in their class. Well, I am certain to have learning through play activities as a key philosophy for my school (if ever, I do open a kindy or enrichment centre in the future). Only teachers with passion for their jobs and want kids to play will need to apply.

November 11, 2008

In the company of friends

It has been a busy and tiring weekend. I have been feeling the fatigue since Saturday, as I got up at 4 a.m. on Saturday morning and made my way to my friend place, as I was one of the 'sisters' for the wedding. This will probably be the last of the weddings that I will be one of the 'sisters'. I am glad that dh and I never considered going through that fussiness of the wedding customs when we got married in '04.

It was K's 2nd wedding dinner in a month and this time, he had more fun with Alex's company. The two tots were walking up and down the stage, sharing the limelight with the bride and the groom.

He got a chance to pose with the bride and was only too eager to flash his cheeky smile...

(Face of bride have been blurred in respect of her privacy)

Even got to hold a professional photographer's SLR camera and view the pictures that were taken.

He definitely enjoyed himself at the wedding dinner, judging by his reluctance when it was time to leave with dh. For sure, I will want to schedule a PG soon for Alex and K to meet up in the next few weeks, since they both seem to enjoy one another's company. Especially since this sociable boy loves to be in the company of his toddler friends.

It was PG tuesday this morning, but it was more like a playdate, since we only had the company of Ben Yi and his mom, as the rest of the moms and tots could not make it today. K and his friend spend some time at water play, along with some snatching of toys, tugging and pulling of one another's t-shirts. The toddlers did not exactly got along the whole time, but I am quite sure K enjoyed Ben Yi's company.


November 5, 2008

Art and the cooking craft

Dh was baby-sitting K last night and when I returned home, he showed me this pic that he took of K's chalkboard. He has gladly contributed to the chalkboard by drawing 3 more items that starts with the letter 'S'. According to his interpretation, the other letter S words are...


'Si Kuay' - Watermelon in Hokkien

'Sio Kway' - Roast Chicken in Hokkien

'Sio Su' - Want to bet? in Hokkien (although I question if it is even necessary for a toddler to be learning about making 'deals' with people).

Dh is quite original with his methods of educating K and he is definitely a better artiste than I am. Well, for sure K will get to learn some of his dialect roots from him.

As for my latest 'craft pursuit' these few weeks, I created this Pizza learning activity for pre-schoolers to learn numeration, counting and matching. The crust is made of recycled cardboard from a box that I got from the deep-fryer. The various toppings of cheese, onions, salami, mushrooms and tomatoes were cut-outs from coloured felt.

Some of these toppings are not very good depictions of the real thing; the onions ended up looking a little like calamari rings, and in real life, no one leaves the green stems on the tomato.


This is my version of the homemade pizza. Unfortunately, I don't have any interest in cooking, unlike other mummies who are able to post delicious pictures and share recipes of their gourmet creations.

Maybe it is time to seek tutelage from the grand mistress of her kitchen, K's Nana, since K is starting to show signs of boredom with my recipes.

November 3, 2008

'Mr. child actor'

K is looking so grown up nowadays...it is hard to believe that it was barely a few months ago when he just started to walk. He even knows how to pose for pictures, I was surprised when dh showed me this photo that he took of K yesterday, when we were preparing to go for cousin C's wedding.


It's interesting how dh and I can have this little boy that is so sociable, when his parents are not extroverted or sociable people. K loves to perform his 'tricks', especially in front of an audience, pose for pictures then demands to see his pictures from the camera, dance and show off his various facial expressions. Our helper, Bel calls him 'Mr. child actor.' He does the most dramatic imitation of 'choking' by pressing his throat and then coughing, when we tell him that he is not suppose to put certain items in his mouth, as he might get choked by it.

There is never a dull moment with K. He is a funny little person.

We made a little excursion to the airport this morning. Dh wanted to create some anticipation for K's first flight on an airplane to HK in December. While we were at the viewing gallery, K did his 'inspector' pose, complete with both hands placed at his back, when he was looking out to the airplanes
.

Then exclaiming loudly when he saw the airplanes, gesturing with one hand and with the other hand still placed behind his back...

This evening, when I described to Nana (without demonstrating) how he posed while looking at the airplanes. Mr. child actor flashed me a cheeky grin, demonstrated his 'inspector' pose in front of Nana, while trying to look at himself in the mirror. He obviously loves it when we talk about him.

I am only reminded of his age when he starts to talk. His communications skills are still limited by his verbal and language abilities. However, I wonder what Mr child actor will be like when he turns 3?

Victory dance

K's victory dance with hands placed behind his back