By the time you read this post, we’ll probably be boarding the plane for a seven hour flight back to Singapore, from a long-awaited holiday in Melbourne, Australia.
It has been a different experience to spend Christmas away from home in Singapore, and all the usual festivities (which I never realised how much I’d miss till now). But it’s also been great for us to be able to spend Christmas with my mum, who joined us on the trip, when otherwise we’d not be back in Malaysia to celebrate together.
On the cusp of a brand new year with brand new challenges…and I’m feeling a mishmash of emotions.
It’s hard to put it in words but it’s like having butterflies not just in the stomach but all over!
I don’t know what 2011 will hold, but I know its in the best hands of a Heavenly Father that I absolutely and resolutely trust.
So to echo the words of Paul the apostle, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
There is a joy in the journey
There’s a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom for those who obey
And all those who seek it shall find it
A pardon for all who believe
Hope for the hopeless and sight for the blind
To all who’ve been born in the Spirit
And who share incarnation with Him
Who belong to eternity stranded in time
And weary of struggling with sin
Forget not the hope that’s before you
And never stop counting the cost
Remember the hopelessness when you were lost
There is a joy in the journey
There’s a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom for those who obey
And freedom for those who obey…
~ Michael Card
Two Fridays ago, DH and I went out to catch a late night movie.
As we popped in to their bedroom to say goodnight and bye, DD turned to me and said, “Mummy, I give a ring. Be careful with it, it’s a glass ring. Don’t break it.” And she slipped a pretend ring onto my finger.
“Okay, thanks sweetheart.”
“Mummy, I give you money.”, declared DS. And he walked up to me and put some pretend money in my palm.
“Wow, thank you both. I’ll take care of the ring…and the money will come in useful to buy popcorn to share with daddy.” They both looked very pleased.
I thought that was it, and then DD gave me a hug and said, “I give you a kiss.”
Not to be outdone, her brother got back up and rushing over to where I was, also hugged me and said, “I also give you a kiss.”
And then they happily bade us goodnight and went back to listening to the story their grandmother was reading.
I’m full of warm and fuzzy. Can life get any sweeter? 🙂
We visited Jurong Bird Park last Saturday to check out its newly refurbished Penguin Coast exhibit.
The park has just acquired some African penguins. Also known as jackass penguins, they are one of the few species of penguins that live in tropical conditions and are housed in an outdoor exhibit where you can get pretty close up to view them.
Image credits: www.photobirds.com
To accompany the launch of the new exhibit, a whole host of events was lined up, including a Penguin Wonderland, penguin party, feeding sessions, a snow fountain, face painting and crafting activities like sand art and penguin craft.
As a family, we don’t care very much for face painting, mascots or long queues for entry into a party, but there was a really interesting Penguin Corner where they displayed a preserved penguin. You could examine a real set of feet and flippers, which I personally found very interesting.
I really think that children in Singapore are very fortunate. There are ample opportunities for experiential learning, and the national parks and library board are always coming up with wonderful holiday enrichment programs.
So it was a bit of a shame that the Penguin Corner was a little off to the side. The majority of people were bustling round the sand art area, and the mascots. Oh well, our gain anyway as it meant we didn’t have to crowd with people and the children could take their time mustering up their courage to touch the exhibits.
Did you know…
The bones of the penguin’s flippers are flattened and broadened, which forms a tapered, flat shape suited to swimming.
Each flipper is covered in short and stiff tiny scale like feathers, arrayed in a uniformly overlapping fashion and very densely packed to help keep water away from the skin. Tufts of down on the feather shafts help provide further insulation from cold.
Penguins have more feathers than most birds, about 100 feathers per square inch!
A penguin’s legs are short and set far back on the body to aid in streamlining and steering while swimming. Their feet are webbed and have visible claws.
- Penguins’ feet and flippers are kept warm through a really nifty solution. The muscles that operate their feet and flippers are not located in the feet and flippers, but deeper in the warmer regions of the penguin’s body. This means that it doesn’t matter if the feet and flippers get really cold as they can still be operated normally by regions that are fully functional and at normal body temperature. God has designed a heat exchange blood flow process that ensures that warm blood entering the feet and flippers flows past cold blood leaving. So by the time the cold blood enters the rest of the body, it has been warmed up. No fear of frostbite!
What do you do with the white crayon in the pack? Find some dark coloured paper! 🙂 We didn’t have any black, so we made do with blue.
We started a Christmas countdown on Sunday night. At bedtime, we gather on the bed and read about the birth of Jesus, and then each child gets to open one of their presents from under the tree.
We’ve only begun the practice this year. I feel it’s a lot better for the children to take the time to appreciate each individual present and its giver, and remember to give thanks for them in their bedtime prayers. We also remind the children that the ultimate gift giver is God, and His gift to us of His Son Jesus, that very first Christmas, is the greatest gift of all.
However, the following amusing conversation ensued on Sunday night, which underpinned all the more the importance and DH’s and my responsibility as Christian parents to impart the accurate picture to the children of the true meaning of Christmas. 🙂
Me: …And so, the wise men followed the special star and they found the baby Jesus, and Joseph and Mary. They brought gifts…
*three minute explanation about how Santa is a fictitious character and blah blah etc etc*
Me: So, who gave the best gift of all?
DD and DS: God! (hooray, model answer. I pass the test as a responsible parent. 😛 )
Me: And who is God’s best gift to us all?
DS: Me!! (eek. spoke too soon… :-P)
This craft is quite uniquely Singaporean, in that, the material used for the background of the letters is the zoo’s souvenir shop paper bag packaging. Personally, I think it’s really nice to be able to pay tribute to the fantastic design of the packaging, and recycle the paper bag in a meaningful way as well. 🙂
You will need the following materials: Artblock sheet, Singapore Zoo paper bag (or coloured paper and assorted pictures of zoo animals), scissors, glue.
1. With the scissors, trim out an uppercase Z and two letter O’s from the paper bag. I tried my best to maximize the number of animals I could get from the bag on top of cutting out the letters. The whole bag was used to make two sets, one each for DS and DD. I also added some more animal pictures salvaged from an old sticker book.
2. Paste the letters onto the artblock sheet.
3. Paste on the animals…and you’re done.
1. Bring the family to the zoo during one of the busiest times of year. Forget to bring the appropriate identification that should accompany the corporate pass, and spend 15 minutes negotiating, then begging and pleading with the admissions counter staff, while trying to remain calm, collected and in control, in front of your children. Mental and physical warm up to get the brain actively working, and with gesticulations, allows light neck and upper arm gross motor movements.
2. Rent a wagon. Place bags and kids inside wagon and take turns with your husband pulling the wagon across bumpy boardwalks and up and down slopes. Full arm, cardiovascular and leg muscle workout.
3. Scan the map for showtimes, and make a subconscious decision that the mission for the day is to make it for all but one of the shows within the morning half. Brisk walk or run while pulling wagon for an active cardiovascular and full body workout.
4. Arrive at the third showtime, and find all seats taken and only limited standing room . Park wagon a fair distance away. Carry the children so they can get a view of the elephants. Crane your neck, tiptoe while balancing your child and trying not to tip over onto the person next to you, to achieve that little bit more viewing height. Weight training for the upper body and upper arms.
5. Lunchtime. Run past milling crowds to get to said parked wagon a fair distance away, and attempt to pull wagon nearer to designated lunch spot. Unpack lunch while trying to chase son up and down steps to get him to sit down. Works lower leg and calf muscles.
6. Agree, upon popular request from children, that as an extended afternoon workout, your program should comprise the following stations in the following designated order: manatees, Rainforest Kidzworld carousel and pony rides, and finally, giraffes. Click here for map to view the route. Brisk walk or jog in afternoon sun works up a good sweat. Second cardiovascular and full body muscle workout.
7. Join the queue for the horse carriage ride, because you know, you’ve already paid for the value ticket to all three rides (oh joy!). To distract the kids and stop them from climbing down the stairs right into the path of the horse carriage, bring them on a circuit walk around the farm animal exhibits. Repeat as many times as necessary to pass time while waiting for queue to move. Full body muscle workout, but thankfully, at a more relaxed pace.
8. After completion of afternoon workout program, begin warm down routine and trek back out to zoo entrance/exit. Stop many times along the way, carrying the kids up out of the wagon to see animals that they can’t see at wagon level. Optional supplementary upper body and upper arm weights workout.
9. Warm down (or was that cool down…) by browsing in the souvenir shop at the exit.
10. Plonk everyone and everything into the car, turn the airconditioning up, take a deep breath, drink water to replenish expended fluids and sink back into your seat. You deserve a good rest after all that hard work!
Always remember to drink sufficient water, slather on sunblock in outdoor activity…and discontinue exercise and seek medical attention if you should experience any discomfort or pain. 😉
Next week: Repeat all steps except no. 1 in Jurong Bird Park. 😛
Some mornings when I leave for work, the kids say this to me.
And DD has said it more than once, especially after I have had the opportunity to spend an extended time at home on leave.
A couple of weeks ago, my firm organized a Bring Your Kids to Work Day.
So I figured, why not, and brought DD.
They had an extensive program planned with popcorn and candy floss on the menu, a DVD showing in an auditorium, scented candle making, shrink art caricature, glamour shots, balloon man, clown and magic show.
But before all that, life at work still had to go on and she sat quietly by my side, drawing pictures of horses, giraffes and a wildebeest being attacked by three lions (uh, yeah…I’ll save that explanation for another post…), as I went through a couple of meetings.
That all done and out of the way…when we’d gotten ourselves a balloon horse, taken some fun photos, gone round to all the art and craft stations and finally sat down with our food, I felt the need to bring reality into the picture and tell DD that none of these really happened on a daily basis at my office. (Bummer!) 😛
The truth, my dear, is that mummy spends the day going through many meetings, like the ones you sat through, and working on spreadsheets and documents all day on the computer. (Booooring!) 😉
Writing this out now, I remember how I really enjoyed the occasional visit to my mother’s office as a little girl. And sitting at her desk with wide eyes admiring all the paperwork she went through, and how she helped resolved people’s issues on a daily basis.
No balloons or fanfare, just regular business-as-usual work days, but I thought it was all so cool, and my mum was so important. But most of all, I liked just sitting beside her at her desk, sharing her teatime snacks and, just hangin’ out with my mum.
I don’t know if I could attain for DD, what my mum did for her little girl, but that little girl, now all grown up does hope and aspire to it.
That is, to let her own little girl know that mummy doing important looking stuff at work might be cool, but ultimately…for me, just being with her, whether at office or at home…is gold.
And I hope she thinks the same way. 🙂
December has a knack for being one of the busiest months of the year, for completely inexplicable reasons. I mean…it’s supposed to BE a holiday season.
When I think holiday, I think relaxation, slowing down the pace, lazing with a book. But no no no, here I am rushing around like a madcap, cramming work deadlines, missing mealtimes, getting home late…arrgh. I can’t wait to go on leave.
Fortunately, we had this drafted up and ready in a drawer, for these kinds of busy weeks, so we pulled it out.
You will need the following materials: Some uppercase letter F’s cut out from coloured paper, (scissors), crayons, artblock sheet, glue.
1. Ask your child to draw his or her favourite farm animals on the artblock sheet. For a younger child, you can ask him or her to pick his or her favourites from a book and draw it for him or her.
2. After they are done, apply glue onto the letters and paste in a row, to form a fence.
The ornaments are ready
The place has been prepared
Strings of lights and holly
Are draped across the chair
The family’s all together
I know where they must be
Everyone is searching
For the perfect tree
***********The perfect tree, Grew very long ago**********
And it was not decked with silver, Or with ornaments of gold
But hanging from its branches, Was a gift for you and me
*******Jesus laid His life down, On the perfect tree*******
Mother wants a straight one
The children want it tall
Dad just hopes that somehow
He can get it down the hall
Soon they’ll gather round it
As proud as they can be
But when they’re looking at it
I wonder if they see
With all the celebrations
Sometimes the truth is lost
That every step this baby took
Brought Him closer to the cross
~ The Perfect Tree by Ray Boltz