Sunday, June 30, 2013

Thoughts on June

Thoughts on June
The month long holidays that I had looked forward to is over in a flash, faster than a blink of my eye. It's a month of ups and downs, of joy and sadness, of happiness and anxiety, of relaxed moments and stressed minutes. One day I am thinking, what a great holiday so far, I'm can't wait for the rest of it. Another day, it feels like the world is tumbling down, and I think: God, you really know how to throw curveballs to disorientate my life and set it off balance.

This holiday, I spent much more time home learning with EV, focusing on alphabet recognition and formation, and Chinese. There were lots of play and craft time too, such as having fun with pipe cleaners and straws, recycling toilet paper rolls, playing with dough and salt to get away from the haze or pretending to be butterflies or super heroes with a blanket. We even made smiley toasts together!

Toast cover

EV joined her first holiday art programme at heART Studio, and surprised me with her creativity. We spent lots of time outdoors too, at The Grandstand and Gardens by the Bay. The haze didn't dampen our mood, and we went to play at Happy Willow indoor playground, and the newly revamped children's library My Treehouse.

Front picture

Yes, all was good. Till we received news that DaddySay would be officially retrenched in Dec 2014. Though it is still a year and a half away, it is not welcoming news and it means that we really need to start watching our spending. Just in case that his company decides to let him go earlier. Some of our plans need to be adjusted, and we just need to adapt.

Then dear AA was hospitalized because of seizures. He spent several days in hospital while the neurologists tried to find out what's wrong. We did all the tests we could do, including MRI and lumber puncture, but nothing specific could be found. He has to be on medication, and constant monitoring. So far, there has been relapse, phew! This new development means added medical costs, which isn't something we like to have given our financial situation. But it's a fact and we have to face it. We will have to get by, by hook or by crook.

Still, I'm glad for June. It was fun and stressful at the same time, but it reinforced the meaning of family to me. In difficult times, the family sticks together and looks after each other's back. I'm grateful that DaddySay, EV, AA and I were not alone. We had our parents, siblings and even our helper and aunt standing by us to give us the support. Thank you. It means a lot to us.

What are your thoughts on June?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Play Learning Tuesday: Pipe cleaners & straw labyrinth

Today, we will be sharing a simple DIY activity that will help with a child's logic, perception and motor skills. It was one of those days when mummy didn't plan any specific activity, and decided to just let things go its own way. 

Labyrinth cover

So we went in search of recycled materials that we could use, and found some straws, pipe cleaners and a styrofoam board. I cut the straws into sections and bent the pipe cleaners this way and that. Then I put the pipe cleaners through the straw sections, and pushed the ends into the styrofoam board. 

And there we have it, a simple straw and pipe cleaner labyrinth! I bet this can keep AA pretty occupied too.

Labyrinth 2

What fun activities are you doing with your kids this week? Do share!
What fun activities are you doing with your kids this week? Do share!

What is Play Learning Tuesday?
Play Learning Tuesday is a weekly linky hosted by Toddly Mummy where bloggers are invited to share their child-friendly play, learning and craft activities. Taking part for the first time? You might like to read the guidelines here first.

Toddly Mummy

Linking up with:

Tot School No Time For Flash Cards Activities for Children Lessons Learnt Journal Kids Co-Op Tuesday Tots

Monday, June 24, 2013

Kids' Day Out @ The Grandstand: Kiddy Fun, Art Grain & My Kid's Spa

My family often frequent the new The Grandstand (formerly Turf City) even before its makeover. Well, actually, just one particular establishment there - Ah Yat Seafood Restaurant. In all honesty, we never really checked out the other parts of this mall. So when we were offered the chance to visit the new The Grandstand and the various shops on the fourth floor that are targetted at kids, we grabbed it.

Grandstand 1 front cover

Kiddy Fun
So on a fine sunny Saturday morning, DaddySay dropped us off at The Grandstand, and together with another mummy blogger, our hosts (The Grandstand and brought us to the first stop of the day - Kiddy Fun. As with any new environment, EV was a little hesitant at first, but she immediately brightened up the moment she set her eyes on the indoor playground. While she was working through her internal uncertainty, I led her in, took off her shoes, brought her to the playground itself and bam! She was off faster than a bullet, you would never guess she was feeling unsure just the second before. She made a beeline for the balloon play area, and couldn't stop shrieking in delight with all the balloons flying around her. It's brilliant what a few balloons and an electric fan can do to a kid.

Grandstand 2 Kiddy Fun

We haven't brought EV to many indoor playgrounds, to be honest, as we didn't want her to get too used to playing indoors. We also didn't want to spend the money. I mean, why pay for an indoor playground when you can play outdoors? But with the haze, yes, I think we will be spending more time at indoor playgrounds, like Kiddy Fun, which is very near the grandparents' home. After all, I don't think the kids like being cooped up within four walls for too long; neither do the parents either.

Kiddy Fun has several soft play equipments that make it look like a children's carnival, such as the tea cup ride, the see-saw heli-marine (as it looks like an oblong submarine with helicopter-like rotars at the top), the mini merry-go-round of sea mammals, the swing-about ride, the find-my-way-out maze below the balloon play area, and even a vertical tunnel that tests a kid's flexibility and sense of adventure. So many fun play things for kids between 1.5 to 8 years old, and EV couldn't stop running from one to another. But she soon discovered her favourites - the see-saw heli-marine, swing-about ride and the balloon area.

Grandstand 3 Kiddy Fun

Besides a special area just for babies below 1.5 years old, complete with slides, ramps and climbers, there is also a wooden blocks area that is sure to tickle any kid's curiosity. EV discovered the ball bit and the air-cushion play area and couldn't stop bringing stray balls from the latter to the former.

Grandstand 4 Kiddy Fun

Art Grain
Next stop: art school Art Grain. The folks there had already prepared a room for us, so it was great that we did not have to wait very long. The theme of the day was dinosaurs and shades. I knew EV was going to enjoy this session, as it was painting, and she had also recently taken a liking to dinosaurs.

The teacher first explained about shades and how to create them. Then EV was asked to choose a paint colour. Surprise! She chose green instead of her favourite blue. Then on a paper plate covered with clear wrap, the teacher created four different shades of green by adding different amounts of white paint. She explained that EV was to paint different parts of the dinosaur model using different shakes of green, and then EV started doing her thing.

Grandstand 5 Art Grain

I must say, EV was pretty good at this, ensuring that every part of the dinosaur was painted. She has a love for hair dryers, I discovered too, as she was insistent on blow drying her and her friend's dinosaur. 

Grandstand 6 Art Grain

Before leaving, the teacher secured the dinosaur on a black board, and sprayed a layer of protective lacquer. EV named her dinosaur Victoria. 

Grandstand 7 Art Grain

My Kid's Spa
Our third stop was My Kid's Spa, which specializes in massage services for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and older children. It occupies a corner on the fourth floor, and the moment we stepped in, we were welcomed by a very open concept with a bright chill-out area on the left and a cosy play area on the right. Behind the play area is where the massage activities take place, with a nice foot spa corner and back massage seats that are designed just for children.

Grandstand 8 My Kids Spa

By this time, EV was getting tired, and she was not that keen to do any massage. She was more attracted by the television in the play area. However, just before we left, she suddenly decided she wanted a massage. She got a quick one for her legs. Any longer, and I would have to carry a sleeping EV to our next stop.

Grandstand 9 My Kids Spa

If you are planning to bring your kids to check out The Grandstand, do note that the area outside Kiddy Fun is open air. The toilets are also located around the same open air area. Art Grain and My Kid's Spa are located in the air-conditioned area. While the weather is expected to be clear these few days with low PSI and PM2.5 readings (based on National Environment Agency's health advisory), please remember to be prepared with masks and lots of water.

Stay tuned for the second part of our visit to The Grandstand, where we will share some yoga poses and yummy dishes.

Disclaimer: We were invited by and The Grandstand to attend the Kids' Day Out @ The Grandstand event. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions and images are my own.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Indoor fun away from the haze

We've been having really bad air days in Singapore, and the kids have been kept indoors. It's been a challenge keeping them occupied and entertained, because, well, we adults have just that much energy, compared to the boundless energy that the kids have. With the weekend just around the corner, and the haze being here to stay, here's sharing some activities that will keep little ones entertained and happy.

Play with Salt
Grab a whole pile of salt, lay the floor with newspaper or a mat and then let your child pinch, crush and build salt hills. Write letters on pieces of paper and hide it under the salt and this extends to an alphabet activity.

DSC07842 edited watermark
Tuck into some play dough food
Make play dough cupcakes, ice cream, pizza, anything you can think of. How about some pineapple tarts?

DSC07047 edited watermark
Toast the rainbow
Take some food colouring and toast and make a rainbow toast!

DSC05690 edited watermark
Do some painting… with tea
Grab some teabags, paper, and start painting away. It is that simple and curious little kiddos will have a ball doing this.

DSC05802 edited watermark
Pretend play with mattresses
Make a house using mattresses, like what EV is doing here. Take blankets and transform into a princess or super hero. Just let your imagination fly!

DSC04842 edited

Hope you and your kids will have fun. In the meantime, do remember to drink lots of water, take lots of Vitamin C, and close those windows!

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Amazingly Still

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Holiday art @ heART Studio

I have heard so many wonderful things about heART Studio from the other mummy bloggers, and finally I got the chance to witness just how awesome it is. Thanks to A Happy Mum, EV won a 'Painting Fairies' holiday art session at heART Studio.

Front picture

So on a rainy Wednesday afternoon, EV and I braved the weather and made our way to the studio. We were slightly late due to the rain and traffic, and when we arrived, it was still drizzling. The cab stopped just outside the shophouse building where heART Studio is located and while I was paying the fare, a lady from the studio came with an umbrella and offered to bring EV in. I was impressed with this caring initiative and started to have an inkling of why this studio ranks so high amongst my mummy bloggers.

The class had already started, but the two teachers - Teacher Syafiq and Teacher Elma - did not let that prevent them from paying attention to EV and trying to connect with her. Walking into the classroom, EV was extremely unsure and was looking around observing the whole environment. Both teachers were patient with her. Teacher Elma helped her put on her apron, while Teacher Syafiq explained what they were doing that day. Thought still unsure, EV gamely sat at the table and listened intently to Teacher Syafiq's instructions.

The classroom had a square window that allowed me to look in and observe the class. At the beginning, EV kept looking out at me. I gave her two thumbs up and many big smiles, and gradually, I think the painting became more interesting than mummy. I was able to leave her in the class and go for a walk at the nearby Thomson Plaza.

E drawing  cutting

When I came back and peeped in again, I was amazed by what EV could do. She was putting clay pieces in a plastic bowl, heating them up with a hair dryer, squeezing the clay together, and then making a star shape using a cutter, all by herself! If I was doing this with her at home, she will probably ask me to help her every step of the way. Here, she was so confident and independent with each task, I couldn't help but feel proud of what she had achieved. Also, her fairy painting was nothing short of amazing in this mummy's eyes.

It was clear that EV had struck a connection with both Teacher Elma and Teacher Syafiq. She really likes them, even playing catching with them after class.

Yes, catching! heART Studio has a wide, uncluttered corridor, which allows kids to freely run around without the fear of bumping into anything. The whole environment is very cosy and calm, and it is clear that a lot of thought has been put into making sure the studio is a safe place for kids to roam around. What I like about it is that the studio has three separate rooms for the three main programmes it conducts - Little Dali for kids from 3 to 4 years old, Little Picasso for kids between 5 to 6 years old, and Young Van Gogh for older kids 7 to 12 years old. There is also a room at the back with sinks installed at just the right height for kids.

I was so impressed with heART Studio, its environment and teachers, I signed EV up to paint vehicles and sculpt a robot. Here is EV with her creations.

E works

Each of these sessions was taught by Teacher Syafiq. I like his calm and patient approach with the kids. He guides, but gives the kids space to exert their own individuality. He is funny and approachable, and EV has really taken a living to him. When we stepped into the studio for our most recent session, the first thing she asked was 'where is Teacher Syafiq?'. On the way home, she proudly proclaimed 'I like Teacher Syafiq'. Looks like you've got yourself another little fan, Teacher Syafiq. :)

heART Studio
101 Soo Chow Walk
Singapore 575385
T: 6554 7563

Disclaimer: The holiday art sessions at heART Studio were either part of a giveaway conducted by A Happy Mum or were fully paid by me. No monetary compensation was received for this review, and all opinions and images are my own.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Play Learning Tuesday: Peek-a-boo 'Candy Crush' Father's Day card

Father's Day is just around the corner, this Sunday, in fact. So the kids decided to get their hands dirty to make a card together just for their man. The big question. What card should they make? The job of coming up with the grand idea fell on mummy, and I immediately thought of Candy Crush.

Card cover
Now why Candy Crush? That's the game that daddy is so crazy over at the moment. These days, and for the past several weeks, Candy Crush is his fourth best friend, after his wife, kids and work. He's so good at it, he's almost finishing the whole game. That's almost 300 levels, me thinks. So what better theme to make the card with?

So I started the whole project by preparing a tri-fold card out of cardboard paper, and cut out a square on the front page. Then I prepared felt 'candies' following the colours and shapes of the candies in the game.

Then it was over to the kids.

AA's job was to colour the inside of the card. He is using Playon Crayons, which fit into his little hands nicely.

Aaron drawing

EV was responsible for pasting the felt 'candies' to the larger felt piece. She also helped AA with some of the colouring, though half way through, she started role playing with the crayons.

Elizabeth pasting

EV also wrote the message inside for daddy, and it was done with some help from mummy.

In just a short afternoon, the card for daddy was done. EV insisted on giving the card to daddy today, successfully putting daddy in a jolly holly mood for the rest of the day.

What are you and the kids making for Father's Day?


What is Play Learning Tuesday?
Play Learning Tuesday is a weekly linky hosted by Toddly Mummy where bloggers are invited to share their child-friendly play, learning and craft activities.

If you would like to link up and share your posts on Play Learning Tuesday, please read the following guidelines first.
- Please link up any posts featuring a play, learning or craft activity.
- Feel free to link more than one post.
- Please don't link giveaways.
- Please grab the Play Learning Tuesday badge from below and include it at the bottom of the submitted post, or somewhere on your site.
- Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas on Play Learning Tuesday!

Toddly Mummy

Linking up with:

Tot School No Time For Flash Cards Activities for Children Lessons Learnt Journal Kids Co-Op Tuesday Tots

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Smiley Face Egg-in-the-Hole Toast

I seldom get the chance to make breakfast for EV or AA, as I have to go to work extremely early. So since it is the holidays, I whipped up breakfast for the both of them today.

Toast cover

Today's breakfast was extremely easy to make - all done in just half an hour. And it needed very few ingredients too.

- Bread (any kind, one slice for each smiley face)
- 1 egg (beaten, for two smiley faces)
- Ham (any kind)
- 2 whole blueberries
- Cherry tomatoes (2 slices)
- Butter

1. Cut out two round circles for the eyes and a curved shape for the mouth. Spread butter on the bread.
2. Heat some butter in a frying pan, and put in the bread, buttered side up.
3. Slowly scoop in the beaten egg into the eyes and mouth, making sure that it does not overflow over the bread.
4. After 2 to 3 minutes, turn the bread over and fry on other side.
5. Place two blueberries on the eyes, one on each eye.
6. Slice the egg in the mouth area, and slide in the tomatoes.
7. Cut the ham into a small triangle, and place it in the middle for the nose.

'What's that? What's that?' was EV's response when she saw the toast, and she was wildly enthusiastic about the blueberries and ham. AA wanted to have a taste of it too, and was excitedly watching me prepare the toast. He fell asleep though, as he was up early at 530am, and missed his smiley toast. He will have his another day.

Elizabeth eating

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Friday, June 07, 2013

My Tree House: the world's first green library for kids

A few months ago, when we visited the Central Public Library at Bras Basah, the library was having an activity to vote for a mascot for the new children's section. Nothing much was revealed, only that the newly revamped children's section would be environmentally friendly. There were five animals to choose from - rabbit, crocodile, squirrel, fox and chameleon. We voted for the squirrel, looking forward to find out what this new library will look like.

Last week, we were invited to visit the new My Tree House, the world's first green library for children. And our first reactions? Wow!

Front picture

We were greeted by this beautiful entrance, which evokes a magical sense of forest adventure and is a great way to entice young children. EV and I walked into the newly designed children's section. and we got yet another surprise. At the centre of the section is the 'tree house'. That was just the beginning of the many green features here. 


While EV was intently listening to the story, mummy had a chance to check out the rest of the new section.

So just how green is this library? Think of over 3000 recycled plastic bottles painted in green and yellow to create the 'canopy' of the tree house, recycled materials for the tree trunk, bookshelves, ceiling and wall boards, as well as LED lights. 

Recycled stuff

What's really amazing is the collection of books. A whopping 45,000 books, 30% of which are green-themed, non-fiction books on topics such as animals, plants, nature, weather, water, environment and recycling. Perfect for parents to educate their children about the world around them.

The new design also incorporates many interactive features, such as a shadow play wall installation set in an enchanted forest which prompts environmentally friendly questions and receives answers through shadows. There is also the weather stump, which shows real-time weather information such as temperature, wind speed and rainfall, based on data collected by the Meteorological Service Singapore over a 24-hour period at the Marina Barrage Station. 


There are also two eReading kiosks which allow kids to read eBooks or play educational games.


We also like the warning signs around the tree house, to warn children not to climb and to be careful of their heads. 

Warning signs

Opposite the tree house is a very cosy reading area. With a big mushroom as the centerpiece, book shelves lining the wall and comfy cushions all around, it makes a great chill out area for both kids and parents as they find their favourite books. Check out those jigsaw puzzle-shaped cushions. Great as stools, but I think that children will end up playing with them instead of sitting on them. Similarly, children will end up climbing on some of the structures in this area, like what EV is doing here.

Mushroom reading area

But that's why I think the new revamp will be a big hit with the kids. I mean, they are not going to be obediently searching for books, or sitting there reading or listening to their parents reading to them. Kids being kids, they will get fidgety and distracted. These stools and structures become handy distractions to keep them entertained for a while, before they are ready to focus back on the task at hand. Of course, we as parents will be close to make sure they do not hurt themselves or disturb other fellow library users.

What is really inspiring are the many crafts and structures made from paper and cardboard, such as the paper windmills and butterflies at the book shelves and these cute origami animals.

Craft cats

And this gigantic Super Mario Bros structure too.

Super mario bros

So creative! Really makes me inspired to do more crafts with EV at home. That's not all. Move to the main library area and one will see two red robots, a giraffe and a rabbit, complete with a carrot. Yup, there is EV trying to feed the rabbit.

Bunny  red robot

At the lobby on the first floor, there is a big gigantic tree made of cardboard with a hanging monkey inside it, several cardboard vehicles, and another big robot. EV almost went crazy with those cardboard aeroplane and helicopter and car; I had to pry her away from them.

Monkey at first floor

My verdict? The new children's section is so fun, I want to go back again! I'm sure EV feels the same way too. Hmmm… we might just sneak in a visit this weekend, since our current books are due soon.

Oh yes, which animal won? The squirrel, of course!