Underwater World Singapore

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We wanted to bring the kids to the Underwater World (UWW) a few weeks ago, when we met up with Kai Jin and his family at one of the resorts in Sentosa, but it's very long queue, so we didn't get in. We got that in our mind and so we decided to bring them there on the Christmas Day.

We left home before 9am, but we stopped by at the famous prata place near NUS, but was greatly disappointed. Arrived at the UWW slightly after 10am. Considered early birds and no queue yet. We noticed there is a promotion going on (which may explain the crowd) for locals, whereby adults only have to pay children ticket, i.e., only $14.90 instead of the usual $22.90. But I didn't bring my NRIC along, as usual, to prove that I am a local, so I didn't get the discounted price.

Anyway, we were there just at the right time. Let them explore a bit of the "open" exhibits on the ground level, which the kids were quite excited about. Then it's time for the Dolphin show. We managed to get a seat at the front row. The show was pretty okay, but Hao Re didn't seem to be very interested. Xi Yu enjoyed it more, I think, and she clapped her hands along with her Baba (as she was sitting on Baba's lap). The pink-greyish dolphins are very cute but I think the host was not very good, which made a whole lot of different.

Then we went back to the main building. Oh my! It's so crowded! We can hardly walk and not bump into people! Managed to go one round standing on the rotating thingy. Hao Re was not excited at all. In fact, he looked rather bored. And it's so crowded that we thought it's better to leave. And so we called it a day. I think we only spent about 2 hours there in total.

It will be a long while till we go back again (when we really run out of places to go like this time).

Have lunch at our (now) favourite Sakuraya Japanese Restaurant at West Coast Plaza. There were two big bouncing castle in the foyer. It's for shoppers to redeem for free play when they have spent at least $80. Our lunch wasn't close to that amount, and so the dotting daddy bought a few pieces of clothes for the kids so that Hao Re can play (most importantly, we have promised him that we would let him play once we finished lunch and we have to keep to our promise, haven't we?!).

Hao Re had a wild type climbing up and down. He was very rough, and I guess he learns that in the childcare. He mixed around with other older kids by pushing them down, and to chase them around. He dared to challenge kids who are about double his size! Luckily he didn't annoy any of the older kids and didn't get any punch :-)

All of us were totally exhausted!
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Xi Yu turns 16 months on 21th Dec 2010

I was supposed to post this last night. But......

..... it's a bad night - the little princess fell off bed, faced up, and knocked her head real hard on the floor, a loud "BANG!". Cried very hard (must be so painful as she seldom cries that much). After being pacified, she started running on the bed (the reason why she fell), again! I tried to change their routine by letting them read books in the bedroom than to watch TV in the living. Very B.A.D. decision. Both of them got super excited after 2 books and after light off, they were very energetic and running around and on the bed, laughed out so loud until she fell and then both fell asleep. Sigh!

So here I am. One day late to update her monthly development - 16 months already!

Well, everything's pretty much the same, except she has grown bigger (heavier and taller), indicating she eats well, drinks well and sleeps well!

The biggest "achievement" would be that she has successfully toilet trained (by her nanny) for the "big business". She can tell us when she wants to poo and able to do it on a potty or on a toilet bowl. At her nanny, she gets her to sit on potty for both pee and poo, but for us at home, we haven't started the peeing part yet.

She walk so well. She can run fast very fast. Walk/climb up and down stairs independently. Slide down from a slide regardless of the height. And already learning how to jump with 2 feet! What an active girl!

(side note: we were at a playground one evening. We were there for barely 5 minutes or so, an auntie sat next to me said "wah, you girl is so active, she is very, very active!". Because within that few minutes, she already climbed up the stairs and slided down a few round already. And when I told her she's coming 16 months, she was very surprised :-))

Continue to speak more words. Can call Baba, Mama and Gorgor precisely to the right person. Started to speak other 1 or 2 syllabus words.

Say "nanananana...." when she wants to get something.

Say "nooh-nooh-nooh-nooh...." to indicate no while shaking her head.

Make "oh-oh-oh-oh" sound when she sees a picture of a chicken.

"Ah-muuuuu" for cow.

"Roar" for everything else (lion, dinosaur, giraffe, elephant etc).

And "A-bit" for rabbit.

Know how to point to nose and ear correctly.

When her brother is sleeping, she would her index finger near her mouth and make the "shhhh" sound :-)

When her brother had done with pooing, she would point to the poo and and say "yeeeeeeek", accompanied with a funny facial expression :-)

She does the "ai-ya" sound when we ask her to.

Sometimes when we ask her to laugh, she would do "ha, ha, ha".

Very independant. Able to play on her own for long hour. She had a minor bout of separation anxiety for only a short while (luckily!).

Being the second child is somehow different. Blame the mummy who 1) doesn't have enough time for her, 2) is lazy, 3) is not so eager to do the stuff since she had already "experimented" that with the first child.

I haven't really started to train her on self-feeding. Though she is able to hold a spoon/fork well and able to scoop food from the bowl into her mouth. But far from being able to totally self-feed. Mummy is scared of the mess this time round.

She whines a lot, I mean I lot! I think it's the girl and second child syndrome. Bad thing is it gets on my serve. And so I scolded her for whining (ya, I know, bad mum, don't judge me, I hate whining babies). She doesn't cry when she falls, but she whines for every little thing. Hope I am able to keep my cool and shower her with more love and so she becomes less whinny.

Very scared of her gorgor at this point of time. Hao Re pushed her to fall, and beat her a few times. Made her very scared of him. She would run hiding behind me (and started to whine) whenever Hao Re goes near her. Even when Hao Re was genuinely wanting to give her a hug/kiss, she also freaked out. But at good times (rarely, for now), they both play together well. No matter what, Hao Re loves her very, very much!

Still likes books, a lot. And she sometimes tears a page or two, though seldom "eats" book now. And also doesn't mouth things that often now, thanks goodness.

Her favourite "toy" right now is the iPhone. If nothing else can keep her quiet or sit down, just give her an iPhone, play a Barney clip on You Tube and she would just sit there and watch. The down side though, is that she wouldn't want to let go of the iPhone and wail to have the clip played over and over and over again. iPhone is especially useful when she runs out of patient to sit in the high chair when we are having meal :-)

Like the new simply puzzle set that we bought for her, and she can do it (putting the animal into the right slot). We didn't really buy any toy for her at all. Everything is already there (from Hao Re). But I think that doesn't matter at all.

Some people said (including her Baba and her nanny) said she looks grumpy at times. Hope to see more of her smiles, hear more of her laughter.

So ya, she is growing well and fast.

Stay healthy and happy, my little girl!
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Stay home Sunday

Super duper lazy day for mummy

Hubby has to work. Initially he thought can complete his work in half a day. But at the end he only reached home at close to 10pm, on a Sunday! What's life?!! He said he might be busy in the coming weeks and now gave me notice in advance :-( I need a lot of time in adjusting our lifestyle and my expectation (of a family life), but I think I just have to try hard, very hard.

Anyway, back to the Sunday. Hubby had to take the car, as they sent his mum, sister and nephew to the the coach back to Malaysia. Weather was groomy. Mummy was tired and lazy. Xi Yu was having a bit of diarrhea. It's all set to be a stay at home day.

And so stayed home we did. Didn't go out at all, not even to the tiny playground 2 blocks away, stuck within our 4 walls the entire day, except when I was too sleepy around noon time, that I brought them down to get my coffee (double portion!) and came back home straight. Then I realised I forgot to have breakfast!

Didn't go to the market/NTUC to do grocery shopping either. Just cooked lunch and dinner for Hao Re and myself with whatever I can find from the fridge. Didn't cook anything for Xi Yu as she was having diarrhea and lost her appetite. She didn't eat porridge that I cooked for her on Saturday when we reached home from the outing. My sister-in-law kept saying it's because I didn't add any soy sauce or salt, and kept bugging me to add in some, she even tried a bit of the porridge and salt it's yucky (duh!). I said no. Then my mother-in-law joined in trying to persuade me. Till I told them off with a very stern voice, "I am very strict with the kids' diet, I say no and I won't add any seasoning till they are older. It's not the porridge as it's exactly the same ingredients I used as the week before, it's because she's not well". Then the nagging ended right away. They gave her all sorts of biscuits to try out, and some junk food, and I already kept quiet and didn't say anything.

Okay, back to the stay home Sunday again. So the kids just entertained themselves throughout the whole. And I have the excellent baby sitter to help me. No, not a human, I am talking about the TV. The TV was on A LOT. A lot more than the usual limit. It's totally off limit on Sunday. But well, I just have to let go, as I was very tired, didn't have any energy left to do things with them.

The day just passed like that. Play, TV time, eat, nap (for Xi Yu only), TV time, play, eat, TV time, play, TV time, play....... I was just not in the mood to do anything. Just sat on the sofa to watch them. And thank goodness the kids were so well behaved!

The only exciting thing we have done was to have a bubble bath! I ordered a bottle of the California Baby's "I Love You" bubble bath and the kids were kept happy for about half an hour in the toilet. And man, it smells so nice that it lifted my mood a little :-)

After dinner, I have a deal with Hao Re that we would go to bed when the sun has set. And he agreed. Probably because he didn't take nap for the whole day. And off we went to bed at 7.45pm, and before 8.45pm, both of them have started snoring already :-)
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Orchard Road, Sentosa, Singapore Flyer and Hippo River Cruise

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Being a tourist for a day

My mother-in-law, sister-in-law and a 12 years old nephew came to Singapore for a short visit (very short indeed, arriving on Thursday morning and leaving on Sunday morning).

Both Hao Re and Xi Yu "accepted" them almost immediately. Hao Re can address them correctly after being told once. And they enjoyed their accompany for the next few days. When I fetched Hao Re from school on Friday, the first thing he asked me was "where is my cousin?" (in Mandarin) :-)

On Friday, they just stayed at home and exploring our neighbourhood, as I don't have any annual leave left while hubby was very busy at work (also not many leaves), and they were not confident to go out with public transport. Between my MIL and SIL, they had swept and mopped the floor, done ironing, etc, and my SIL even cooked dinner for us,  They just couldn't sit still and enjoyed their holiday :-)

As a "reward",
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A short trip to the Singapore Zoo

Hao Re (kinda) planned for the activities!

Resting at home on Sunday morning and afternoon, to recover from the "damage" done by the crazy schedule on Saturday. Then we were off to the Zoo at about 3pm. Ya, ya, I know, it's really no surprise that we went to the zoo, again :-)

First, Hao Re wanted to take a picture with the parrots. And so we did. We didn't bring our camera today (all the photos posted below was taken by iPhone 3GS), so photos were taken by the Zoo's photographer, but because of the long queue, we didn't get to see the photos.

He was looking at a brochure during the car ride and he said he wanted to see a porcupine (actually it's hedgehog on the book, and he couldn't differentiate between the two). But we didn't know where the porcupine or hedgehog are kept in the Zoo (or if they have any). So we took the Tiger track rather than the normal route.

After tiger, we visited the pygmy hippo. It's so cool to see there is a baby pgymy hippo! It is so cute!

Then we arrived at the Kangaroo exhibit. And to find out a token feeding session was going to start soon at 4pm. We waited a few minutes for that and we got queue number one :-) The kids were thrilled with the experience. Though it's second time for Hao Re, but this time round, he understood exactly what happened and enjoyed feeding the kangaroos. For Xi Yu, aiyuh, this little girl was not scared of anything! Though the Kangaroos were relatively big (as compared to her size), she went straight to pat on the kangaroo, wanted to give it a hug, wanted to ride on it(!). She is just too daring.

Xi Yu busy bullying the Kangaroos, Hao Re busy feeding them, Baba busy taking video clip, Mama busy taking photos :-)

The keeper was so nice to offer to take a family photo for us! And they gave us plenty of time to do the feeding, didn't rush us at all! Xi Yu was quite rough that I was a little worried she might annoy the Kangaroo and get a kick!

It's a very nice thing to do! You should plan for this if possible. It's a minimal fee of $5 (you can donate more, of course). Two sessions per day - 1pm and 4pm. They only give out about 10 queue numbers per session. If you don't want to miss it, be there about 10-15 minutes earlier. There is a wash basin and soap nearby after touching the Kangaroos. Very considerate.
When we walked pass the amphitheatre, Hao Re insisted that he wanted to watch a show! But there was no show going on. The next one (Splash Safari Show) was at 5pm, and we were already there at about 4.20pm. We have to follow his request because he didn't take nap the whole day and would get very cranky if his request wasn't met. Besides, it's not something too demanding, was it :-)

Daddy bought ice-cream to keep the boy happy (actually the ice-cream was for me, according to daddy). And you are right (if you spot it), we sat on the splash zone!

See how sweaty and how red her face is! She has been walking/climbing the staircases from the bottom to the top of the amphitheatre a few rounds, no kidding! And she didn't want to sit still, kept moving for at least 30 minutes, this girl never gets tired, so have to ask Baba to "lock" her......
The photo on the right was when she saw me taking photo, she wanted to grab my iPhone! She is a big fan of iPhone (youtube) now!

Finally the show started. It's a good thing they changed the location from the previous to here, as the previous one was way too small and it's always overly packed with people. But maybe due to the logistic issues, there is only ONE sea lion throughout the whole show, unlike to previous one, where we got to see other animals too.

But for Hao Re, it's probably equally interesting. And because we were at the SPLASH ZONE, he got all excited when we were splashed by the sea lion, fun, and luckily we didn't get too wet :-) Because there was only one sea lion, the show was pretty short too, can see that Hao Re hasn't had enough.

Then we wanted to go home. But Hao Re said he wanted to see a panda!! We are very sure there is no panda at the Singapore Zoo. But they have the panda picture on the advertisement panel, so he said he wanted to see a panda (see, who to blame?!). After some talking, he settled with polar bear. But the exhibit was closed for renovation! Made him very unhappy. Brought him to see the rhino which are right next to the polar bear exhibit, he got all moody and whining. We wanted to stay a little to watch as there were 2 rhinos started to fight! But Hao Re didn't let us watch. After another round of negotiation, he settled for proboscis monkey, one of his all time favourite animals. We were happy with this, as the proboscis is near to the entrance/exit :-)
After visiting the proboscis, he wanted to take some photos at this photo booth. He knew how to make different faces for me (guess whom he learned from?) :-)

Hao Re and his many faces. Ops, sorry to make him to pose with the girl head, I thought it's funny :-)

And after this, he was kinda happy and we were allowed to leave home peacefully (with a tiny bit of whining).

I quickly cooked dinner, fed the kids, we have our dinner and it's already 8pm. And then Hao Re told me he wanted to go to bed. I thought he was joking but he was not. He drank a bottle of milk and fell asleep within 5 minutes or so. Poor boy, no nap for the whole day, must be very tired already.

Xi Yu managed to catch about 1.5 hours of nap after her early lunch at 11am. And she didn't nap for the entire day. With all those walking/running/climbing stairs etc, she still managed to hold on to 9+pm, and fell asleep very quickly without any messing around :-)
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Our first trip to Pulau Ubin and ExplorerKid Indoor Playground

Fun, fun and fun!!!

On Friday evening, the hubby suddenly proposed we should do something different on Saturday, like hopping on to an island. With the very last minute suggestion, think Pulau Ubin is the best option for us. So, off we went!

We spent about 4 hours on the island and it's fun! Now, enjoy the photos (courtesy of hubby who did up these nice collages, so I can post this quickly!)

(Note: photos not in the sequence of time)

Top: Xi Yu enjoying the bumboat ride.
Bottom: Remember I posted a couple of months ago on how much Hao Re wants to row a boat? He was so happy and excited going on this bumboat ride!

Me and my little girl during the boat ride to the Ubin Island. It's a short 10-15 minutes right. Very simple and small bumboat, luckily not bumpy at all.

Left: Arriving at the Jetty. The kids were distracted by the wave hitting the wall than to look at the camera.
Right: Me and Hao Re posing in front of this beautiful lake. Too bad they have blocked the access, else a picnic here or just a quick sit down here would be wonderful (Xi Yu was sleeping on the bicycle at that time)!

On the way to Chek Jawa, Xi Yu shared the bike with me while Hao Re with Baba. And we swapped on the way back as we can see Xi Yu was very tired already.

These photos were taken at House No. 1 Chek Jawa. It's a British Colonial style house. It's very well maintained, looking out to the sea and with some information for the visitors. We didn't go to the viewing jetty because Hao Re said didn't want to.

These series were taken on the top of the 21-metre high Jejawi Tower, except the one Hao Re was drinking milk. Yes, no joking, we somehow managed to climb up (and down) the 21-metre (about 6 to 7 storeys) tower with 2 young kids! Power huh! Hao Re was snacking and he was so sweet to give one to meimei. The view is so-so. It's supposed to be a platform to spot birds?

Then we walked on the mangrove boardwalk, where the kids spotted some little red-pinkish crab (don't know what their name), some mudskippers, the unique Nipah trees, some fishes, etc. It made the trip all worthwhile when Hao Re got excited when we tried to look for these creatures!

Left: Hao Re and Baba on the bumboat ride.
Middle: Waiting for the boat a the Jetty.
Right: Xi Yu totally knocked out. Hubby has to ride the bicycle with one hand and let Xi Yu sleeping on his other hand. They (or the sleeping baby) attracted some many people looking at them!

Left: On the mangrove boardwalk.
Middle and right: On the bumboat ride back to the main island.

Then we went for our seafood lunch (nothing special though and it's not cheap either). And then bid farewell to Ubin. It's a nice trip to get know to the nature. The only down side - Hao Re got a few nasty mosquito bites (and that got to blame ourselves for not bringing the repellent).

We will surely come back, one day!

Then on the way heading home, I suggested that we should make a stopover at Downtown East, to try out the Explorer Kid Indoor Playground, since we drove all the way from the west to the east. And to satisfy Hao Re's forever craving for playground.

It's huge. But with dimmed light, which I totally don't like. For me, an ideal place for kids should be all bright. The big space is nice for the kids to run around, but that also means parents have to chase after the kids like mad :-( The ball pits (one for above 3 years old and one for below 3 years old) are excellent though, much better than other playgrounds. And good thing about this playground is that it seems to be well maintained, it looks clean and feels clean. But the thing is - the kids love it all the same! But for me, I would preferred the FREE outdoor playground at the Pasir Ris Park.

Hao Re at the ball pits and my little girl exploring the playground (you can see from the right photo how dimmed the lights are).

After this crazy schedule, Hao Re knocked out at 5.30pm during the car ride home till the next morning! Skipping his dinner and shower :-) Poor little man, so tired out by the crazy parents. But my little girl, huh, I tell you, she is ALL VERY ACTIVE till passed 9pm, only taking 1+ hour nap during the bicycle ride and over lunch at Ubin. She is really one tough chili padi!
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Fun time at the Polliwogs

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~ ~ A very special day for my little Xi Yu ~ ~

As I posted earlier, Xi Yu is taken care by a Supernanny, not the famous Supernanny you saw on the TV, but a real life supernanny who is so capable taking care of the kids, and shower them with genuine love and care (unlike the supernanny on TV who stresses so much on discipline, discipline and discipline!). Not only that, she is so healthy that she didn't fall ill in the past 15 months, she was not sick for even one day. According to her, she hasn't been ill for almost 4 years! So I don't have to schedule any day off to cover for her sickness, how great is that!

Friday,10th Dec 2010, was the very first time she asked for a day off, as she has a medical appointment to do some checkups. I am more than happy to let her taking a day off. So I have a day to bond with my little princess, without the little big brother fighting for my attention.

First I prepared porridge for her lunch. Made a nice one since it's a special day for her - salmon, broccoli and button mushroom in home cook lotus root soup stock. She loved it!

Then we headed to Dr Keoy's clinic for her MMR and chicken pox vaccination. We decided to poke her two times instead of giving her the new MMRV (MMR + chicken pox in one jab), as I read that the MMRV vaccine had stopped production for a few years and only re-introduced to the market in 2009. I wonder what had actually happened during the few years, and didn't want to subject my girl to any risk. This brave girl didn't cry at all when two needles went in one after another. Dr Keoy joked that she must be so "thick skinned" that she won't cry after falling down, which is true!

It's her 15 months assessment as well. Dr Keoy commented she grows very well. And asked if she started to call people by name. Xi Yu can call us correctly - Baba, Mama and Gorgor, and that's a yes to Dr Keoy's question. He didn't ask about the physical development as Xi Yu showed him how well she can walk, how she can pick up a biscuit, toys etc. If judged by the statistics, she is a real big baby, all over 90th percentile for the 3 measurements, as below:

Weight - 12.5kg (95th percentile)
Height - 82cm (90th percentile)
Head circumference - 47.5cm (90th percentile)

Then we supposed to meet the daddy for lunch as I want the little girl to have some special time with the daddy also. But hubby SMSed to say there was a meeting scheduled over lunch so we have to cancel the lunch date, duh! I decided to head to the Polliwogs at East Coast Park. When I just arrived, hubby SMSed again to say the meeting has been cut short and he was free for lunch now, super duper duh! I have to say no (though I really wanted to let them bond) since it's a pretty long way and it's Xi Yu's lunch time already. We have our lunch at Waraku Japanese restaurant. I have my ramen and Xi Yu has her porridge. The lunch was surprisingly peaceful and enjoyable, though I have to multi-task to feed her and have my noodle at the same time.

Then we went in to the Polliwogs, which is just right behind the Waraku restaurant. I have prearranged with some mummies to meet up here. In total, we have 8 mummies and 8 young toddlers (of Xi Yu's age) and 4 older kids (the siblings). It's nice to meet up though I wonder if Xi Yu appreciated that as she was on her own pretty much most of the time. That little Xi Yu was soooooo active that she ran, climbed, crawled, jumped, did all sort of kung fu at the indoor playground for a non-stop THREE long hours! And that made me very tired too. And she refused to take a nap so she became a little cranky but still wanted to play!

After the fun, we headed home. Xi Yu immediately knocked out in her car seat before finishing off her milk. The poor girl must have been so tired!

Picked up Hao Re on the way home and that ended our special bonding day! It would have been perfect if the lunch with daddy was not cancelled for nothing. Oh well, there is always next time! Dear Yu Yu, Mama promises we will do this again!
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Mum's cooking is the best, or.....

......simply because he loves the routine?

It has been more than a month since my parents left and meaning I have been cooking dinner for Hao Re (and myself) for the same period of time, with some occasional breaks if hubby gets to knock off work early.

So we have been stuck to the routine - pick Hao Re up, then Xi Yu, then go home, then watch TV, then do some craft, then milk feed, then sleep.

On Tuesday, I broke the routine because I have to return some books and a DVD to the library, which had been overdue for 1-2 weeks already. I didn't tell him in the morning, probably that's a mistake.

After I picked him up, I drove to the opposite direction of our usual route. He immediately noticed it and our conversation began:

HR: 妈妈, 为什么走这边? 我们去那里哦?
ME: 我们要去shopping centre.
HR: 我不要去shopping centre,处我要去找妹妹, 然后回家.
ME: 我们先去shopping centre, 去吃东西, 然后去library, 然后才回家.
HR (in his upset tone): 不要, 我不要去shopping centre, 我要回家.
ME: 我们先吃饱了才回家.
HR: 不要, 我不要先吃饱, 妈妈回家煮给皓皓吃.
ME: 妈妈没有准备东西煮, 我们在restaurant 吃啦.
HR: 不要, 我要妈妈煮, 妈妈煮汤汤, 还有煮mushroom, 还有饭饭, 还有面面..... 妈妈煮啦.
ME: 妈妈没有切好mushroom, 来不及煮.
HR: It's okay. 皓皓帮你切啦, 皓皓切mushroom, 切菇菇, 然后妈妈cha cha cha (炒菜的声音).
ME: Okay, 改次皓皓帮妈妈切.

And we arrived at the shopping centre not long after that. He refused to get down. But after a little bit more talking/persuading, he was okay to follow my planned schedule - have dinner then go to the library, but not in a very good mood. And ate very little at the Sakae Sushi.

There were a few other days when I suggested to eat out, Hao Re said the same thing to me, i.e., ask me to go home and cook for him. A demanding boy, he is!

It's true that Hao Re eats better and more at home if I cook for him, indicating he does like my cooking? When my mum was here, we followed the routine quite well, but he didn't eat much. Funny thing is my mum cooks much better than me. For me, due to the time constrain, I can only cook 1 simple meat + veg dish, which is usually stir fried. But Hao Re seems to like my cooking more, just like how much I like my mum's cooking. It's true that mum's cooking is always the best, ya :-)

But then if hubby is coming back earlier and have dinner together with us (at a restaurant), Hao Re won't protest and he would eat well and relatively okay amount. This indicates he doesn't really have to eat the food that I cook.

Maybe it's both the routine and the food.

My mum said no matter what, it's a good thing that he eats well at home. So her conclusion is I should stick to the routine and cook dinner for him every night! Okay, I will try, son, but no promise :-) So far, it's still managable, thankfully, and I feel good to be able to do this. I will try very hard to keep this going.
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Arty Crafty #8 and #9

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A card for Baba and a Donkey head

We have done a (Mister Maker inspired) craft on Monday and another on Wednesday.
On Monday, we attempted to make a pop up card for daddy. The pop-up is a birthday cake (in case you couldn't figure out what it is). And the front page was traced by Hao Re. The Baba was so touched. No, he didn't tear, but I can tell he was thrilled to receive the first ever card made by his darling son (and no, it's not his birthday either).

Hao Re did the tracing all on his own. I suddenly thought of adding in this word tracing thing to make it fun, since he can trace so well and seems to enjoy tracing now. You can see the "S" and "T" was a bit fainter than the rest of the words, that's because he drooled as a results of full concentration on the tracing work, and one drop of saliva fell onto the word "S", that's why it's smeared and subsequently the "T' was affected too. The green and orange scribble on the bottom left corner was Xi Yu's arts work!

For the birthday cake, I drew the cake for him (ahem, yes, that's how well I can draw), he did the colouring with highlighters and then cut it out on his own, while I helped him with the pasting.

Hao Re's first hand made card for Baba :-)

And then on Wednesday, we made this very nice Donkey head. Pretty easy to make. We made use of the cereal boxes (those small individual packs). Hao Re did the painting. This time round, I let him blow dry the paint using a hair dryer. Oh boy, that made the little boy so excited, added more fun to the session. Then we did some mixing of the paint too, we mixed black and white to achieve the grey colour. It's great fun. After painting and blow drying, we work on the eyes and the ears. To "enhance" the quality of the craft work, I drew the eyes, ears and teeth, and then Hao Re did the colouring and cutting, and then I did the glueing, team work ya :-) And then the Donkey is ready! You can slot your hand in to make the Donkey talk, nice and simple craft, don't you agree?

During this period, I gave Xi Yu some Cheerios in a bowl, and she happily played/ate it for about 30 minutes before starting to complain :-)
A Donkey head - production of the mum-and-son team :-)

Hubby is again busy this week. So I guess we would be doing more craft on Thursday and Friday.

Sometimes I am not sure how much I should guide/help Hao Re - is the end result more important or the process more important?

If I don't help at all, he would be very happy to do whatever he wants to, combining all the ideas that he saw on Mister Maker, but at the end, he made nothing, but have fun.

If I help him out, we would be able to make at least one craft that we just watch on Mister Maker, but would that stop his imagination and/or creativity?

I don't know. Maybe just helping him a little can solve my struggle for now? And I should adjust the amount of help from time to time.

Luckily, it's fun either way, so it's all good :-)
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It's the end of year 2010 already.......

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It's the time of the year when people are busy with shopping and preparation for Christmas.

It's so different for us. We don't celebrate Christmas. We don't buy Christmas presents. We don't decorate a Christmas tree. Though we enjoy the special ambient that Christmas has brought (not our neighhourhood though, mainly the shopping malls). And the kids enjoy admiring the Christmas trees at the shopping centre.

There are lots of free shows at major shoppping centres all over the island. You name it, they have it - Sesame Street, Barney, Toy Story, Strawberry Shortcake, Thomas, Dora, Spongebob, Hi-5, and the list goes on. Though we were tempted to bring the kids to see show of these shows, but when we thought of the crowd and the queue, we would rather bring them to the good boring playground :-)

It's the time of the year when most childcare centres or kindergardens were/are busy with the "Graduation Concert".

It doesn't happen to us. We were so happy to find out that the currenct childcare that Hao Re is attending doesn't make the graduation concert a big thing. We were only affected when they closed for half a day on Friday to do some decorations at the centre in preparing for the concert which was held on Saturday morning. Non-graduating students and parents were not involved. Phew! Save our money and time, and not that the concert would mean anything to Hao Re.

And so, ya, it's the year end. Life's going on as usual. It also means Chinese New Year is drawing nearer and nearer, and that's what we are looking forward to :-)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!
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Swimming, cycling and playground-ing

A great Sunday!

We, again, have breakfast at home (should do this more often). Just simple bread and instant coffee. And I quickly cooked porridge for Xi Yu to bring out for her lunch. I usually don't bother to bring food out for her, usually she survives on milk when we are out. But seeing how much she enjoys eating home cook porridge, I decided to make an exception today. I got the tomato + onion + salmon + cod fish porridge ready before we left the house at 9am.

We headed to Sentosa, to the Siloso Beach Resort, to meet Kai Jin and his meimei, Kai Ann and family. They came down from KL to visit Singapore. So happy to meet up with them. This was the first time we met Kai Ann the cutie. The kids have great time swimming at the pool. I got to see Kai Jin "diving" stunt for real :-) Xi Yu loves the water. Hao Re has lots of fun too, but because we haven't brought them to a pool for a few months, he was kinda scared of the water and hold on to us so tightly for his dear life. After almost 2 hours(!!!) soaking in the pool, the kids refused to get out! Have to literally drag them out. Xi Yu immediately knocked out after we changed her and put her into her stroller.

Our little swimmers

We then headed for lunch. We then headed to the Underwater World. To our surprise, there was a very long queue at the ticket booth. Very long, I think would probably take 15-30minutes to get a ticket, no kidding. It's school holiday. We decided to give it a miss. So sad, otherwise to visit the Underwater World with Kai Jin and his family would be so much fun as his parents are the pro with the water creatures, Kai Jin's mum swam with the shark at the underwater world before, how cool was that!!! Oh well, not that we have a choice. So we bid farewell to them.

Super cute Kai Jin and Kai Ann

The day was still very young and we didn't want to head home, yet, plus the weather was so nice, hard to get a non-raining day nowadays. So we decided to go to a park. Asked Hao Re if he wanted to cycle and he excitedly said YES. We asked him to take a quick nap and we would bring to cycle. He promptly fell asleep :-)

When he woke up, we were at the Pasir Ris Park already :-) I have heard many good review about this Park, especially the playground. We have been here once, but we were at the other end of the park, and I didn't know about the playground at that time (as Hao Re hasn't gone crazy about playground at that time yet).

First we did some cycling exercise. This time round, hubby was walking/running to keep an eye on Hao Re, while I shared a bike with Xi Yu. Though this was the only second time Hao Re cycled (first time at East Coast Park), he did it so well, amazing! He cycled to my speed, he can control the wheels so well, can make turns easily, and he really enjoy it!

Cycling at the Pasir Ris Park (bicycles were rented, adult $6 per 2 hours, and kid $2 per 2 hours).

When we reached the playground, I was like "Oh WOW!!!" They have installed so many play things at this park, like a showroom to showcase all the stuff you can find at all the parks around the island! It's just WOW! Hao Re was very cool though, he insisted to find a place to park his bike before running off to play with the slides.

Hao Re and Xi Yu trying to get on to the top of the slope by different means :-)

Next was to walk through this "suspension bridge" thingy, to reach to and to jump/climb on those black thingy (not sure what it is). There were many kids playing here initially. It's funny to see how Hao Re tried interacting with them. He talked but I was not sure if other kids understood him.

Hao Re and Xi Yu has a go on this "bridge".

And then Xi Yu moved on to this main play area, with a big structure with a few (six, I think) slides attached to it. I lost count of how many rounds she had gone on. She was just un-stoppable. Climbing up the stairs, and then sliding down. This little girl has learnt how to slide down from a slide without help, and not only for small slides, mind you, to her, the height doesn't matter at all, she handles height very well! She was so over-excited at this place. She perspired so much and laughed so much!

Climbing up.........

And sliding down...........

Hao Re had a go on the above slides also. But obviously that was nothing too challenging for him. He went on to try something else. Like the one below. He tried the same thing at the playground at IMM many months back. That time, he needed my guidance and help. But this time round, you know what he told me? He said to me "妈妈, 我们玩这个啦. 妈妈你不用怕的, 你不会玩我教你玩拉!". And so he got on that and completed the challenge without me helping him at all.

The very adventurous Hao Re (see how the elder girl was not as confident as Hao Re :-))

Then he moved on to do another challenge. To climb up this rope thingy. He was very patient this time round. He took his own sweet time and completed climbing from one end to the other end.

Taking on another challenge!

And not only these, the park has other things to offer too! These are like about 50% of what they have. So yes. The playground is GREAT!!! If it's not because of the distance, we would definitely come back here very often. But because of the distance, we think West Coast Park is still our best choice. But if just comparing the parks, Pasir Ris Park wins hands down! The playground is very well shaded (we were there about 3pm and we didn't feel too hot), you have the nice sea view, there are other parts of the park you can explore, like a staple where you can ride and feed horses (we are yet to try), etc.

The kids have spent almost 2.5 hours running around the park. And Hao Re still refused to leave.

I think we might have made the kids gone a bit too far today - 2 hours of swimming + 30min of cycling + 2 hours of playground-ing, that's 4.5 hours of solid physical work out! But they didn't complain :-)
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A "Discovery" Day

(Note: You can skip and read the end part of this post if you only want to know what I have discovered today. The rest was just me "reporting" how I spent the whole day at home with the kiddos).

It's a day that I was doing "solo" as in staying at home alone with 2 kids. Surprisingly, it hasn't been bad at all. In fact, it's been so good that I was a bit shocked to realise how much my kids have grown up already! They were so independent to play on their own, as long as they know I was around. No whining, no complaining and no crying from the kids, plus no scolding, no shouting from the mummy. PEACE!!!

We had our breakfast at home. Then I ran down to the wet market to quickly buy some food for the weekend while hubby was still entertaining/playing with the kids on the dinning table. Hubby then left for work. I cooked porridge (pumpkin and salmon and a century quail egg) for Xi Yu's lunch and cooked the lotus root soup for all. Played with them for a while, and then fed Xi Yu her porridge at about 10am. Hao Re was very good in playing some imaginary games with her plastic toy car. He was very much into this toy car that day that he "drove" the car to everywhere he went, the toilet, the living, the kitchen, etc, and sometimes talked to himself :-)

At about 11am, engaged my "part-time helper" aka the TV for the very first time of the day, as I have to keep Hao Re away from me so I can make Xi Yu to take her morning nap. Surprisingly one watched TV quietly, and one took for her nap obediently! I knew it must be a good day for me from the minute onwards :-)
While Xi Yu was sleeping, I prepared Hao Re's lunch (lotus root soup with rice, added in salmon and green fresh vegetable), fed him lunch, and Xi Yu woke up while I was washing up. Quickly poured down my lunch and then played with them.

Can't remember what we do exactly. A bit of drawing, painting, doing puzzles, reading books, some more TV time, etc. Sometimes I let them play on their own, sometimes I played together with either of them. They still cannot play together, either Hao Re would bully Meimei or Meimei would annoy Hao Re (by snatching thing from him). Still have to keep them separate most of the time.

Time just passed very quickly. Tried to make Hao Re to take a nap, no luck, though he was sleepy (eyes almost closed when watching TV) but he would jumped up and made himself awake the next minute. Xi Yu took her afternoon nap at about 4pm. I quickly took the chance to cook her dinner (porridge with the lotus root soup as stock, plus cod fish and broccoli).

Then we went downstairs for the outdoor fix. Just went to the very simple, small playground two blocks away from us. The kids enjoyed it though they got bored quite fast, as there is only 1 structure for them to climb up and slide down, nothing else. Still, the kids made do with that and have fun and lots of laughter for about 30min.

Went back and it's shower time. No choice but to take shower together, all 3 of us. Then it's dinner time for Xi Yu. When I was feeding her dinner, Hao Re asked to have a pack of cornflakes. He has been lugging the few boxes of cornflakes with him since morning. And he obediently waited until I said it's okay to open up and eat. He had that for dinner (didn't want to "force" him to eat the rice).

And then hubby came home. One day's gone just like that!

Only on a day like this, a peaceful, enjoyable, relax day, I got to learn something new about my kids. And that truly made my day! We have been bringing the kids out for fun almost every single weekend, good for a change, I suppose.

Xi Yu is toilet trained for pooing!
Xi Yu's nanny has been telling me for the past 2 weeks that Xi Yu is able to tell her whenever she wants to pee or poo, by either pointing/going to the toilet, or by bringing the potty to her, or by lifting up her shirt. I didn't get to testify this until today, and it's TRUE! She was not only showing me once, but FOUR times (pooed 4 times) that day! See the photo below, when she wants to poo, she would lift up her shirt so high that you won't miss her clue, then she would find me, point to her tummy, make some noise (nothing specific, yet). Then I would say oh you need to poo poo, let's go to the toilet, quick! Then we run to the toilet together. I by pass the potty and put her onto the toilet bowl straight all four times. Then the same on Sunday, pooed once in the morning before we went out and once after dinner at home. No more pooing on diaper! Hurray!!!

All thanks to the super capable nanny who takes such a good care of her. I always wonder how can she manage to take care of two kids (Xi Yu and another toddler of 4 years old), cook for the family (her husband and 2 teenage boys) and still find times to do these "extra" (e.g., toilet training) things. She uses cloth nappies on Xi Yu since 2 months old, and hand wash all her clothes and nappies. Plus she still has time to do reading and playing appropriate games with them. She even borrows about 5 books for each kid  from the library on a weekly basis, so every week they have 5 new books to read (and she reads to them!). She cooks really yummy and nutritious porridge for Xi Yu, and the lunch is always different from the dinner. And her house is always cleanand tidy, she mops the floor every day, and she has so many toys (that she still keeps for her children many years back) that I think it's more than a childcare would have, and she rotates the toys. She doesn't watch TV. When she has to on the TV, it's on the children program. Plus many other amazing stuff that she does, all SINGLE-HANDEDLY! She is just amazing! I only took care of the two kids for one day and I already talked so much about it (shame shame!). Guess we are just very lucky to find her :-)

Hao Re can hold a pencil and trace the picture well!
We believe in unstructured learning. We think learning should be fun and should be through playing or something the kids like to do. So on this note, we don't do flash card at all, we don't do worksheet, and there is nothing planned for them to do at home. We buy books and workbooks for them, and toys as well. All of these are within their reach easily. So the kids pick up whatever they want to do/play on their own. Sometimes we would help them by suggesting a toy to them, but most of the them, it's initiated by them. It doens't really bother us how much they have or have not learnt, because sooner or later, they will learn.

Back to Hao Re. On Saturday, when Xi Yu was taking nap and I was checking my Facebook on my phone, when I turned around, I saw Hao Re sitting on his chair with a pencil and a workbook. I continued with my Facebook. When I finally had enough of FB, I went to check on Hao Re. And to realise he was doing tracing, and to my great surprise to see him holding a pencil and tracing the picture so well! Probably have to link that to the fact that he attends a childcare on a full day basis, so more or less he has to do a certain amount of worksheet including tracing, so he learns it there?

At that very moment, what came to my mind was that how fast he has grown up, and how I wish he could have still be playing with toys and worrying about writing later (that's how we spent our wonderful childhood). And at that very moment, I felt very bad for not being able to stay at home to care for them, but have to send them to a childcare/nanny instead. Not that it's bad for him, but I just wish he can spend his childhood with no/minimal pressure and really enjoy his childhood. I can only console myself that as long as he is happy, it doesn't really matter what he does and doesn't do, right?

Dear Yu Yu and Hao Hao, Mama and Baba love you lots and lots and lots! Please continue to grow happily and healthily!
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How to handle "Terrible Twos"?

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Just exactly one more month Hao Re will be 3 years old, and so we will be saying bye-bye to his "Terrible Twos", and welcoming his "Terrible Threes" :-)

Nah, don't get me wrong, I am not going to complain how terrible Hao Re has been in the past year. To be very honest, it hasn't been that bad at all, and we have enjoyed very much seeing him growing up the way he is for the past year. Of course there were "bad time", but he is just a human who has emotion and feeling, there were definitely tantrum throwing and all. It's part and parcel of the growing up, isn't it?

It is actually important for the parents to understand why 2 years old kids are often labelled as terrible, to acknowledge the changes during this time, and to have a correct mindset when handling them. And I think mummies (and daddies) should face the "Terrible Twos" positively, especially this is the critical period of child rearing.

Why are 2 years old so terrible?

They are, in fact, not so terrible. And there are reasons why the adults think they are terrible.

When kids are approaching 2 years old, some earlier, some later (usually when they are learning to communicate with the adults) they seem to change their behavior suddenly, usually to the worse (in the parents' eyes), and that’s why it got the name of “Terrible Twos”. But if you take a deep breath and observe them from a distance, you would see the sudden change of behavior is due to the fact that they realize they have a say of what he wants to do/eat/drink/sleep/play/etc, rather than follow what their parents told them to, or in another word, they want independence, and they want to test out how much they can reach. Is this a bad thing? It’s certainly not. It’s a good thing. It shows they are growing up. I would rather worry if the kid is being too obedient :-)

I remember Hao Re threw most tantrums when he was at the age of becoming more vocal, he talked a lot but we couldn't made out what he said, he thought he already told us what he wanted but didn't get it, because we couldn't understand what he said, and that made him very frustrated! In situation like this, it's really hardly the child's fault nor the parents' fault. But parents sure need a lot of patience going through this period. Acknowledge that he needs something, and try to understand what he wants by offering him different things and continue the conversation till he gets what he wants. Some said giving in to the child would make the child a spolit brat. We don't give in every time, but most important is to acknowledge his request.

We have heard and talked so much on growth spurt when the baby suddenly wants to eat/drink more or suddenly wake up for night feeds. I think we can relate a “growth spurt” to the psychological development too. It’s the period when they suddenly able to or want to do things independently. Imagine, what would the impact be if parents do not recognize this "growth spurt" and do not provide the necessary guidance and support for the child to grow? Or worse, what if a parent prohibits a child from growing up? It's a passing phase just like the growth spurt. And expect to have a few round of "growth spurt" throughout the year.

It’s a phase that a child has to go through. So, why not face it positively, handle it diligently, give the full support to your child, spend more time on him, put in more patience, have a calm and cool temper, smile and guide your child along. And don’t forget, this is also the time when they learn at the fastest speed. They pick up everything you do and say. Everything! If you can’t hold your temper and start to shout, be prepared to have a child who shouts often and bad tempered. On the opposite, if you are showing them a good example being gentle and not to be agitate easily, it’s highly possible you will have a child of good temper.

And don't forget the fact that each and every of the kid is unique, each has his/her own temper, character, his way of commincation, his way of doing things, etc, etc. Those we read from the books/magazines/internet are good for reference but hardly any we can apply on Hao Re without "modifying" it.  Reading on parenting stuff has been helpful to us, especially when comes to times when there was sudden change of behaviour, we could then think and try to understanding why he behaves so by referencing to the information we have read. The more we understand Hao Re, the better we are to deal with him.

To simply label or to blame each tantrum throwing as "Terrible Twos" won't solve the problem and won't help the kid grows. There is really no such thing as "Terrible Twos". Each and every of the growing up is different and we are to handle it all the challenges with lots of love and care.

Hao Re has been a really great boy, considering he welcomed a baby sister this year and has to learn to share everything with his little baby sister. He has really been wonderful.

"Terrible Threes" is coming soon and I look forward to seeing what awaits!
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