Archive | November 2011

Kids Say: Sleepless

With Christmas fast approaching, our nights are spent on sorting through purchases and lists and wrapping gifts. And this is obviously not lost on the kids; with shopping bags piled in a corner of our room, the rustling of tissue and wrapper, snip-snip of the scissors and squeeeak of the cellophane tape.

As we fold, wrap, label and paste, DH and I can hear them. Chatting and giggling together. Plotting believable excuses.
Followed by the ever so slight but distinctive creak of a door opening.
The pitter patter of tiny feet.
The tuft of hair belonging to the head peering round the door frame, and the swish of a blanket giving away their hiding spot.
You can feel the excited vibes emanating from the pillar.


“Yes children, what is it?”

Shy sidelong smile from DD. And a cheeky chortle from the boy.

And then comes the list of “valid” requests and reasons for stepping out of bed. 

“Daddy, I need to pee…”

“Mummy, I’m thirsty”.

“Daddy, I need to go to pee again…”

“Mummy, my foot is itchy…”


And thereafter emboldened by the permission to venture out from behind the pillar…they lose not a single moment in excitedly clambering onto our bed, leaning over the edge, eyes gleaming with curiosity.

“Mummy, what are you doing?”

“Wow! What’s that? Can I play with that game?”

“Is it a puzzle?  Is it for me?  Can I open it now? (No, sorry). Okay, then how about tomorrow?”

“No. You will have to wait till Christmas. Go to sleep, dears.”


Sigh, Christmas. With all the sleepless excitement and anticipation it brings.



“I need to go to pee again…”

Accompanied by a hopeful smile.

Here we go. Again.

Bookmark Monday: 2011 releases

I love when we find new releases in the library that still have that crisp new look and feel, and the new book smell still lingers when you thumb the pages.  Below are some new ones we’ve found. 

With double the borrowing allowance for the school holiday period (19 Nov 2011 to 31 Jan 2012), it’s an even better time than ever to stop by your local branch of the National Library to check out its latest offerings.  For our family of four, that means 48 new and old favourites we can potentially cart back home and enjoy for 21 days!


“AGAIN!” – by Emily Gravett.

About a little dragon named Cedric, who, as all little ones go, has a favourite bedtime book that he wants read again…and again…and again…and AGAIN!
A hole right through the last page and back hardcover and sleeve provides a foretaste of the very funny incendiary story that lies within. 

It appears simple at first look, but from our personal experience, turned out to be a useful tool for teaching early readers what exclamation marks are – (not uppercase “I”s or lowercase “l”s), how they are different from question marks, and the expression each lends to a word or sentence.


“The Highway Rat” – written by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler. 

The Highway Rat is a ‘baddie’ and a ‘beast’ – he robs all the animals of their food – a leaf from the ants, clover from a rabbit, nuts from a squirrel, hay from his own horse – all foods that he himself hasn’t much appreciation for, but just wants it for the sake of being the rogue that must have it all.

Eventually, the animals grow thin and hungry while he grows ‘horribly fat’. One day, when he tries to rob a duck that has nothing, he states that he will eat her instead. Thankfully the clever duck outwits him and rides away with his loot to return it to all the animals. 

Scheffler always embeds humorous little references to his other book collaborations with Donaldson.  Don’t forget to spend some time treasure-hunting the last page illustration. 🙂

Inspired by the poem “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes,  a deeper appreciation and enjoyment of this book can be gained for both parent and child if the parent first familiarizes himself or herself with the tempo and metre of the original poem.

Note to parents: Click here for more details on school holiday programmes run by NLB Singapore.

In my world: Fun with plastic blocks

We opened up this box of “Made in China” Lego-lookalike blocks, a gift from one of the past Christmases. The set is pretty cute in that it comes with pieces such as a toilet, bathtub, and tiny cooking pots and cooking utensils.

DD immediately gathered all the accessories and declared she was going to build a house.
I liked how she used the bathtub and some single blocks to construct a shower head!


Sometimes in the middle of cleaning the rooms, I discover little gems left behind by the children. This Friday series was started with the intention of celebrating the imagination and creativity in a young child’s world…and hoping that it’ll bring a little ray of inspiration and joy to your day, as it does mine.

Art with Daddy: Pop Art

It’s always interesting as a parent to observe how each of our children is unique in his or her own way.

DS’s illustrations are always themed around animals, predominantly dinosaurs; and he has a signature pop-art kind of style, where each creature overlaps the other in some way.

However he doesn’t have the patience for colouring, always preferring to only use a selection of different types of pencil leads.  So DH offered to add some colour to his picture.

Pencilwork by DS, colours by DH.  My personal favourite? The shell-shocked orange fish. 🙂

Soap and Pepper

I’ve been wanting to post this up but didn’t have the time till today (Thursday) to take the pictures.  But I’m backdating this to Wednesday anyway just cos I’m particular that way…. 😛

So here it is. With thoughts about washing and soap fresh in our minds from Bookmark Monday, I wanted to share this simple little experiment and Bible object lesson that you could easily try at home. Here is how it goes:-

You will need: Paper, marker pen, cellophane tape, a toothpick, a clear plastic container or glass bowl, water, pepper, dishwashing liquid.

1. Cut a piece of paper and label it “God’s Word”. Tape it to the bottom of the container.

2. Fill the container with water. This is a picture of a believer who hears God’s Word and puts aside all filthiness. You can see “God’s Word” clearly.

3. Now shake some pepper into the container. The pepper represents our sinful wickedness and filthiness, such as the times when we fight with our siblings, don’t watch our words or deeds, etc. “God’s Word” is now clouded over by the pepper.

Try picking up the pepper with the toothpick. Does it work? This shows what it’s like when we do things our way.

4. Now dip the tip of the toothpick into the dishwashing liquid. Stick the tip into the middle of the water and see what happens.
🙂 When we put aside all filthiness, we can clearly see God’s Word.

**Sourced from “Boy, Have I Got Problems!”  Discover 4 Yourself Inductive Bible Studies for Kids – James, by Kay Arthur and Anna Arndt.**

Why does the dishwashing liquid repel the pepper?

The pepper in this experiment helps to make the surface motion visible. It does not in itself contribute to the repelling motion.  The motion results from the reduction in the water’s surface tension when the dishwashing liquid is added.

Surface tension is the result of the strong attraction between molecules in a liquid. Water has an unusually high surface tension compared with most other liquids because water molecules are very strongly attracted to each other. This strong attraction allows you to slightly overfill a glass with water, and allows some insects like the water strider to walk on its surface.

Dishwashing liquid is a member of a chemical family known as surfactants (short for surface active agents). Every soap molecule has two distinct ends called the head and the tail. The tail strongly repels water while the head is strongly attracted to it.

When you first add the dishwashing liquid to water, the molecules scurry across the surface with their heads down and tails sticking up. Once the surface is full, the remaining soap molecules begin forming small droplets called micelles by joining their tails.

Dishwashing liquid heads are attracted to water, but not nearly as strongly as water molecules are attracted to each other. This is the reason why the dishwashing liquid reduces the surface tension of water. Water molecules on the surface pull away from where you add dishwashing liquid.


When I take a bath
I think about the Lord
And how He washed away my sin
Let me tell you more
He washed my face so I could smile
And tell the world I am His child
Jesus fills me up with hope
And washes me with super soap
~ “The Bath Song” by Rob Evans 

Bookmark Monday: Wash Your Hands!

I don’t know about you, but having to bring our kids to public restrooms sends me into stress overdrive –

the fact that a million other people use the toilet, the fact that a large percentage of that million don’t use the toilet potentially don’t use the toilet responsibly,

the fact that I have to manage two sets of curious eyes and hands querying the tiles on the walls, the toilet paper dispenser, the wastebin,  etc. while I try and wipe the suspect toilet seat and line it with tissues to the best of my ability before they sit on it,

and oh good grief…their need to balance themselves by putting their hands on the toilet seat!

Ask our kids and they will probably tell you they don’t get why mummy goes into raving “Don’t touch the …” naggy mode each time, and insists on scrubbing with soap afterward till their palms squeak.  But they’ve learnt to accept it, bless their little hearts. 😛

When we found “Germs! An Epic Tale on a Tiny Scale”, written by Martin Howard and illustrated by Colin Stimpson, we totally loved the book because after reading it, both DD and DS (well actually DD more than DS) remember my “Don’t touch anything!” liturgy a little more often.

Targeted at the 5-12 year old age group, Germs! is a laugh-out-loud, really rather irreverent but very highly relevant story about Sam, an unwilling germ soldier in Queen Bacteria’s Army who finds a welcome home in King Antibod’s Giant Protection Squad. And the importance of always washing one’s hands.

What I like about the book…

The bright lime green and lemon yellow cover illustration…and how it looks like a laundry detergent soap box design.

The hilarious battle rallies.

I don’t know but I’ve been told
The germs of Toy-o-let are bold…
We make bottoms go all runny
‘Cos for germs it’s really funny
One two three four, one two three four, one two three four…

The highly over dramatic battle scenes.

The soapy soppiness midway in the thick of the germ war.

And the corny, warm and happy ending with a public-service healthcare and personal hygiene message.

An entertaining read for the whole family to enjoy, let loose and have fun hamming it up with the drama and corniness…we did! 🙂

Family art: Acrylic leaf prints

Inspired by Cave Baby, and a whole lot of falling leaves in the neighbourhood… (apologies, the image is dark as the weather’s been really grey and stormy for days on end…)

Extremely messy! But also extremely fun 🙂

Love the textures when the paint has dried.

Kids Say: Seriously, mummy…

So one of the mornings, I have some extra time before leaving for work. Since DS loves reading together, I suggested a half hour reading with him and asked him to pick his selection from the shelf.

As he was making his choices, I threw in some title suggestions.
One of which was…
“How about Jack and the Flumflum Tree?”
“No, not FlumFlum Tree.”
“Oh why not? It’s a funny story.”
“I don’t want funny stories. I want to read good books.”  {emphasis his}

Right. Got that.
No funny silly words.

Last Sunday, as we were leaving church and saying goodbyes, one of our friends waved bye to DS, and remarked to us that he was the most serious looking little boy he’d ever met.
No kidding. 😉

Bookmark Monday: Winning Collaborations

I love it when good authors/illustrators come together. It makes for really winning books that entice readers to keep on returning to pick it off the shelf, and request repeated readings.

Both Julia Donaldson and Emily Gravett need no introduction – they are already highly awarded and acclaimed picture book authors in their own right.

We borrowed this book twice from the library, after keeping it for two weeks, DS asked for it again.

Cave Baby lives in a cave, filled with paintings of a sabre-toothed tiger, a hyena, a hare, a grey woolly mammoth, and a big brown bear. But when Cave Baby gets hold of the paint pots and adds his own little take on his mom’s paintings, his parents are cross at the mess, and his father tells him “If you don’t take care, a mammoth’s going to throw you to the big brown bear!”.

That night a mammoth really does comes and take Cave Baby away. Worried that he is going to be thrown to the big brown bear, Cave Baby hangs on for the ride, as they pass a sabre-toothed tiger, a hyena, a hare and finally reach the mammoth’s cave.

To his surprise and delight, he is allowed to paint all he wants. After the mammoth takes him safely back home, he settles happily into bed, dreaming of all the animals, except this time the bear is now a small brown bear. It’s a simple story that celebrates the joyous, colourful and messy creativity of children and babies.

Oh, and don’t miss looking out for the subtle references to the “big brown bear” in the pages! 😉

Bookmark Monday: Mirror Mirror

One for the more advanced reader set this week.

A book on reversible verse, or what author Marilyn Singer calls reverso, it challenges the typical way in which we read poems, i.e. down a page.  Per the explanatory notes on the back page, when you read a reverso down, it is one poem.  When you read it up, with changes allowed only in punctuation and capitalization, it is a different poem.

In this book, Singer has used the reverso format on fairy tales to tell two sides of one story.

Take for example, “Have Another Chocolate” based on Hansel and Gretel.

Fatten up, boy!
Don’t you
like prime rib?
Then your hostess, she will roast you
Have another chocolate.
Eat another piece of gingerbread.
When you hold it out,
your finger
feels like
a bone.
Fatten up.
keep her waiting…


Keep her waiting.
fatten up.
A bone
feels like
your finger
when you hold it out.
Eat another piece of gingerbread,
Have another chocolate –
Then your hostess, she will roast you
like prime rib.
Don’t you
fatten up, boy!

Employing contrast and symmetry to create split images of the two sides of the poem, illustrator Josee Masse provides a perfect visual complement to Singer’s verbal compositions. 

A truly enjoyable book with potential to demonstrate to young learners of the language usage and versatility of punctuation and capitalization. And definitely worth the investment for the personal collection.

I was intrigued by Singer’s encouragement note to the reader to try creating a reverso for themselves…and spent a couple of minutes attempting one of my own for Bookmark Monday. I know it is nothing very incredible, but it is a start, and I certainly did have fun!


Bookmark Monday:
a book.

A book
Bookmark Monday