Archive | January 2010

Alphabet Wall: Making…j is for jar

I’d been thinking about doing a papier-mâché craft for some time but don’t relish the idea of standing and stirring starch mix over a hot stove. I mean, if I’m spending time stirring something over a stove, it’d ideally result in something to eat, haha! 😛

Anyway, simplicity is my vade mecum, and stuff requiring more than ten steps or ingredients, I abhor. So here’s my wonderbee version of a ten-step parent AND toddler friendly papier-mâché jar craft!

Part I: 1-minute papier-mâché mix
You will need: Old newspapers (lots!), plain flour, water, a jar or cup.

1. With your child’s help, spread your floor with newspapers. 
2. Tear up strips of old newspapers and set aside.
3. Mix 1 part flour to 1 part water. Stir with your fingers till there are no more lumps in the mix. Quick, hey? 😉

4. Dip the strips of newspaper into the flour mix and paste over your jar/cup. Keep on pasting till you figure you’ve got enough layers of newsprint (about seven?) to make a reasonably sturdy papier-mâché jar.

5. Leave it out to dry in the sun for a couple of days. (sorry we have so few pics of this process. First my hands were too sticky to handle the camera, and then I was too busy scrubbing dried and caked flour mix off the floor and our hands!!) 

Part II: Jar decoration
You will need: Crepe paper, scissors, glue, craft foam, stickers or other embellishments.

1. Pop the cup or jar out.

2. Normally, most people paint the papier-mâché craft, but I chose to wrap it in crepe paper this time. It was just…neater.

3. Cut out the letters j, a and r from the craft foam.

4. Have your child paste the letters and decorate the jar further with stickers or any other form of embellishments he or she would like.

5. Jars were used for several different purposes in Old and New Testament times. For Bible lesson ideas, you could:-

  • Compare and contrast what people used jars for in biblical history versus what we use them for in daily living today (e.g. contain dry grain or liquids, versus ink markers! 😉 ).
  • Compare and contrast with objects we use today for the same purposes (e.g. water bottles). 
  • Read John 2:1-11 with your child, a popular Sunday School story of Jesus’ first miracle.

10 steps, 10 items, easy peasy! 😀

Note to parents: Up until recently, the story of Jesus turning water into wine had always been to me, very simply, a miracle of water to wine. However, when I went to look it up again as the object lesson for this week’s alphabet craft, the phrase “stone water jars, the kind used by Jews for ceremonial washing” caught my attention to go delve further. Click here if you’d like an interesting read on the significance of the jars.

Notes from the schoolroom

With a very busy start to the year, and then Chinese New Year approaching really soon as well, we have had little time to focus on our art and craft activities, but I really hope to get this back on track.

However, whilst alphabet craft has taken a backseat in the last two weeks, the maternal grandparents should now be relieved upon reading this post that their daughter has finally decided to get off the lazy seat started initiating some kind of training on stringing letters into words, phonics and writing! 😀

I am very keenly cognizant of the fact that our decision to not put our daughter into a formal preschool program until next year, has implications on DD’s childhood development journey especially when compared to her age-peers. Having said that, everyone has their own needs and circumstances that drive the decisions they make, and this is not meant to be a statement blog about when is the right age to start a child in a formal preschool.

Our decision is based on a personal conviction that at the tender age of not quite yet three, she should be allowed to develop at her own pace and use the 12 months to discover her own strengths and talents along the way. There will be a time and place to buckle down to serious work, but for now a child should be allowed to enjoy childhood and all its inherent benefits.

The itsy-bitsy spider – entirely drawn and coloured by DD herself one morning while I was clearing up after bathtime.

Part of the reason why I have not started earlier on this is also because I subscribe to the belief that for any kind of skills development, a child should begin when she shows clear signs of having an interest or being ready. I think this calls for some wisdom on the parent’s part.

Certainly, we shouldn’t allow a child to walk all over us in the decision over when is a right age to start training a particular skill, but the truth of the matter is that if he or she is clearly not mentally or emotionally inclined toward applying themselves to learning the skill in question, but the parent chooses to persist, it then turns into a battle of wills and a showdown of whose patience can stretch further, or whose persistence can last it out. And we have to ask ourselves, is it absolutely unremittingly crucial that we start this now, or can we revisit it in a few months’ time?

So anyway here we are, at a point in time, when DD has recently started pointing to certain words on cereal boxes or signages and asking us, “What word is this?”

This is an activity sheet I drew up using the memory verse DD’s Sunday School class have been working on  (Deuteronomy 6:5). At first, I thought I would just let her colour the hearts, and read the verse to her, using the phonic sounds of the letters. But she decided to turn it into a “find and colour the letters with the designated marker colour” activity, which I happily went along with. And then it further developed into a “trace the letter” activity. It is very early days yet but I was very pleasantly surprised at how it turned out. 🙂  

Good reminders

Ecclesiastes 2: 24-26 ~ A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God.

Ecclesiastes 4:6 ~ Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.

Once in a while, it’s good to have timely reminders of God’s perspective on work and life.  I came across these verses in my scripture readings for today.

Truly, real happiness is in receiving one handful with peace in heart and mind, than acquiring for oneself a double portion through much strife and sometimes unrequited pursuit.

The red rhino

Me: Look dear, a Red Rhino!
DD: What?
DH: A Red Rhino.
DD: Where?
Me: Never mind…we drove past already…
DD: Daddy, where is the Red Rhino?
DS: Rhino!
DH: Behind our car, in the car park.
DS: Car!
DD: Daddy, where is the Red Rhino?
Me: We’re way past it. No more.
DS: No more!
DD: Daddy, where is the Red Rhino?
DH: Went to eat some green grass…
DS: Grass!
DD: Why did the red rhino eat grass?
DH: Okay. The Red Rhino is not a real rhino. It’s just the name of one of the Civil Defence vehicles.
DS: Defence!
DD: Why…
DH: Oh LOOK! (pointing at MRT track) A red train!
DS: Choo choo…train!
DD: Daddy, why is the train red?
DH:
Me: La la la la la…

What is the Red Rhino? 🙂 ~ A brainchild of SCDF Commissioner James Tan, and known affectionately as the “Red Rhino”, the Civil Defence’s Light Fire Attack Vehicle is an all-terrain vehicle with a small pump and monitor turret capable of seating 4-5 responders. It is seen around the country parked near to Fire Posts, and is designed to traverse off roads to aid in firefighting of densely built-up areas without road access which conventional Pumper-Ladders may not be able to reach.  The Red Rhino was designed and conceptualised in Singapore.

All SCDF’s fire stations, except Jurong Island Fire Station, offer open house to members of the public to learn more about the SCDF, roles and functions of its firestations and firefighters every Saturday from 9 – 11 am.  Click here to find out more.

 

A morning in the countryside

So yesterday evening when I was thinking about what to do this morning with the kids, I came across the website for the Kranji Countryside Association. When I suggested driving to Lim Chu Kang to the hubby, he said, “Sure!” without a moment’s hesitation.  I love him so much, and not just because he is always such a great sport to accommodate his wife’s mad ideas… 🙂

We’ve been reading Eric Carle’s “Pancakes, Pancakes”, and it has been a great book to teach DD that ingredients to make pancakes go through a process from original source to our kitchen cabinets.  Now, while we don’t have traditional millers and millstones and water wheels here in Singapore, I did know that we have dairy and vegetable farms, but never knew where they were located.  Till now! 🙂

Can you believe these two pictures were taken in Singapore?  It looks and feels like we’re driving in Australia all over again, except for the very intense heat and humidity!

Our first stop was Hay Dairies.   Hay Dairies produces and distributes locally processed fresh goat’s milk, and you can buy it fresh the day it is milked.  Visitors are able to view goat milking demonstrations from 9-11am every day and walk into the pens to view the goats.  It is not a very large compound, so it turned out to be a fairly short visit.

DD finished up about 150mls of chocolate goat’s milk in two minutes! DH and I tried it and didn’t care very much for the taste ourselves and DS wouldn’t even give it the time of day, cold or straw notwithstanding.  So with that, I mentally struck off my list the option of enlisting chocolate milk to solve our milk spoonfeeding bugbear….sigh.  😦 

But it was rather interesting to know that the milk we just drank had just been processed and bottled that very day.

Next, we made our way to Bollywood Veggies, just a short drive away.   They have a lot of banana trees on their farm.  Some look like the regular bananas we see off our supermarket shelves…

And some others look like nothing we’ve ever seen before!

It was a very educational trip, I learnt a lot myself.  Now I know what a fig tree looks like, the next time I come across it in the Bible!

We also had a quick but informative little chat with Ivy Singh-Lim, the co founder of Bollywood Veggies and the one who started the Kranji Countryside Association, and then left with some home-baked banana bread for cell group later in the afternoon.  Altogether a very interesting morning.   😀

*Admission into Hay Dairies is free for individuals and small families (less than 10 people).  Group visits with more than 10 people require prior booking and special charges.  Opening hours are 9am to 4pm daily Mondays to Sundays.  Click here for directions.*

*Admission into Bollywood Veggies is $2 per pax, children below 12 and elderly above 60 enter for free if visiting as a family.  Opening hours are 9am to 6pm daily Wednesdays to Sundays. Click here for directions.*

Jurong Bird Park in pictures

Last Saturday, we joined another family at the Singapore Jurong Bird Park. It’s been YEARS since I last visited (I think I was eight at the time and my 13-year old cousin was our family’s “tour guide”!) and so I had absolutely no recollection of the place except remembering that it look a couple of long bus rides to get to the place from Thomson. 

Anyway.  Here are some pics we took. Enjoy. 🙂 

Birds of Prey show - don't stick your hands out!

So many delightful flamingoes

Seen a hornbill up close lately?

Shh...and look up there!

Imposing iguana that frightened the girls and fascinated the boys

The world's tallest man made waterfall. Uniquely Singapore.

Look at those vibrant colours!

A little bird whispered in my ear...

 

 

The park is a great place for a family outing. Compared to the Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park’s road circuit is much easier to cover within a half day’s visit.  

Its Splash-n-Slide station is smaller and less crowded than the Kidzworld one at the Singapore Zoo, which was great for a mother of a two young toddlers like me.  Less big kids to worry about, smaller space area to keep an eye on, but same amount of fun to the children anyway. 😉 

And I enjoyed being reminded how beautiful, fascinating and majestic birds can be. It is one thing to see many different kinds of animals, but quite another to be faced with such a myriad of species within a single definition of just one of God’s creations. 🙂

(hair)-raising boys

Saturday January 9
Today, I discovered the new thrill of hanging onto the edge of the ball tent and leaning backwards till I lose my balance. So this is what “free fall” means!

Cool.  😎

 

I figure I’m still pretty safe.   Tumbling headlong into soft plastic balls in a ball tent is technically still in an enclosed, regulated, child-safe environment.  Right? 😉

And Mommy didn’t stop me. Well…not until the point I decided standing on Jie Jie’s tummy helped me reach the basketball hoop better.  -__-

 

Sunday January 10
I don’t understand the fuss Daddy is making. Last night I heard Mommy and Daddy talking about encouraging discovery.

I am discovering.

Just now, I managed to walk a few paces backwards, before falling down.
Now, I can walk backwards all the way round the back of the sofa, before falling down.
If I keep trying, I’ll soon be able to walk the whole perimeter of the living room backwards!  And just maybe, I won’t fall down!

Anyway, aren’t they always telling me if I fall, just get up, dust myself off and carry on? 

 

Tuesday January 12
Let’s see. I’ll just climb onto this little ledge here, wave my arms back and forth, like so, to get a little momentum and we have LIFTOFF!!!  

!! * K E R S P L A T * !!

Oogh. These slate tiles in Grandpa’s driveway hurt big time. Ha, but lucky for me, God must have sent an angel to cushion the fall.  God sees everything!!  😀

Again, again! What, Daddy? *No more jumping off ledges, stick to flat ground.*

Sigh. Bo-oo-o-oring…  😦

 

 

“…one of the scariest aspects of raising boys is their tendency to risk life and limb for no good reason…His mom has to watch him every minute to keep him from killing himself.” ~ Dobson, Bringing Up Boys

Truer words were never spoken. Sigh.

For our 17-month old

The Little Boy Thou Gavest Me
Author: Louise B. Eavey

Dear Lord, I bring to Thee my son
Whose tender years have scarce begun.
In this wee frame I know full well
A living soul has come to dwell
Who needs Thee now at childhood’s gate,
Ere he shall grow to man’s estate.
I covenant through hours apart
To pray for him with fervent heart,
To teach Thy Word with winsome voice
By day and night until his choice
Be but Thy blood for sin’s deep stain,
And my small son is born again.
Then onward shall I pray the more
And teach Thy precepts o’er and o’er,
That he may grow, each boyhood hour,
By Thine indwelling risen power,
Lord, some small boys with none to care
Will never hear a mother’s prayer;.
Prepare my son with love aflame
To reach them with Thy saving name.
And make him, Lord, a polished tool,
A learner in Thy highest school.
A mother’s part seems, oh, so frail!
But Thy strong arm can never fail.
To teach, to pray, to stand are mine;
Expectantly I yield to Thee
The little boy Thou gavest me.

My daughter, the big sister.

She has had to grow up so much in the past year.
Giving in and learning to be independent while mommy attends to the younger one’s needs.
Sharing not only the toys which all used to belong to her just a year ago, but also learning to share her parents’ previously undivided attention.
Obeying the disciplinary boundaries outlined for her, despite probably perceiving baby brother appearing to get what he wants when he cries for the better part of his first year.

I am very proud of her. For someone less than two years old to display that level of selflessness and maturity.

We didn’t anticipate having children this close in age gap.
But God knows and sees and has a greater plan. And I think in His wisdom, He saw the potential for her to grow through these precious life lessons so much more than what DH and I, in our limited view could have given her, even with our fullest dedicated attention for a year or few more months of her being the only child.

In a few days time, her brother will be the age that she was when he was born. And I hope that he will follow his sister’s example in this regard.

Alphabet Wall: Making…i is for ink

DD received a number of marker sets for Christmas gifts. Admittedly, daughter was tons more excited than mother…because it was a new medium for her art and craft time, and a new medium for me to worry about falling into the wrong hands, i.e. those of her brother!

So the markers sit on the highest shelf, out of sight (we hope!) to the children and accessible only to mommy and daddy. Ah. You wouldn’t believe the number of things we have piled on the high shelves…but that’s a post for another day.  🙂

For now…you will need just an artblock sheet and said markers.

1. On your artblock sheet, draw the letter i.

2. Hand the markers to your child and descend into free art territory. (These Ikea markers are plenty useful to explain inking as an art technique, thanks Auntie Winnie!)

3. Done! Stickers are optional 😉

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell…
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.
Lyrics and Composer: Frederick M. Lehman, 1917