Archive | January 2012

In my world: Treasured moments

Sweeter are chocolate treats out of a hongbao (Chinese New Year red packet) when shared with a sibling… 🙂


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.

A happy new year

My dragon "yee sang" (raw fish salad) platter. Shredded carrot was used to form the Chinese character for dragon.

Delightful mandarins-a once a year indulgence

My all time favourite Chinese New Year plant

Lo hei! Reunion dinner with my parents and brother

Chilly Monday morning drive back from Malaysia to Singapore

Wishing you a great start to the Year of the Dragon too!

Enter the Dragon

Tomorrow heralds the arrival of the Lunar New Year. It’s the Year of the Dragon. Unfortunately in the past week, we haven’t had much time to do any crafting with the kids, but they’ve been coming up with some interesting stuff of their own!

To our Chinese readers, may you have a Happy and Prosperous, Peaceful and Healthy, Year of the Dragon 🙂

In my world: Pipsqueak dreams

Maybe she’ll be an artist, illustrating beautiful books and winning Caldecott medals (although I worry about that artists don’t earn quite enough to provide for their aging traditionally minded Asian mothers….but that’s a separate thing altogether… :-P)…

Or maybe she’ll be a colorist with some big league animation studio or production company and be part of the team that churns out the coolest box office hits ever to hit the movie circuit.

Or maybe she will be an author, dreaming up captivating fantastical worlds filled with  exoticly named characters who spend their days in exciting and perilous landscapes and adventures! (do authors make more money than artists? :-P)

Ahh…how farfetched a mother’s daydreams can go over a stash of sheets coloured with pipsqueak markers….


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.

Bookmark Monday: The Mystery of the Monkey’s Maze

I like mystery stories. And I like humorous stories. And when they’re combined into one, it really makes for a hilarious Saturday morning read.

Seymour Sleuth is a detective…but not just any detective…the world’s greatest detective. With his assistant Abbott Muggs, he travels the world solving mysteries. He dislikes air travel, loves his food immensely, has an appalling sense of direction, and will never trust an elephant with a trunk.

It is February 23, 2:26pm in Singapore. Seymour Sleuth is in the midst of practising his famour Mystery Curry Rice with Peanut Butter and Pickles (eugh…) when he receives a note asking for help from Maurice Tann whose mother, Dr Irene A. Tann, the great explorer is in danger from someone who does not want her to find the legendary Black Flower of Sumatra.

Agreeing to take the case, Seymour and Abbott are hurried into a Borneo Airlines flight by Maurice and the adventure begins.
I’ll leave you to find out for yourself why he doesn’t like to fly, and what it is about the elephant with the trunk. 😉

Written in a journal scrapbook style typeface, as a self-read this is probably more for older readers. As a read-aloud for listeners, our preschoolers enjoyed the humour, and it always helps to ham up the drama just for the fun of it.

Seymour’s “Notes on the Clues” and “Notes on the Suspects” is laid out in a fairly systematic manner, and young sleuths should also pay close attention to the illustrated pictures to figure out the whodunnit. 🙂

Art with Daddy: Windy Whimsy

I’d like to be

Yes I would

Sitting in an old-fashioned steam train

With open sided windows

Chugging past a verdant landscape

As the wind tosses wild strands of hair onto my face

Leaving a cool springtime tang on my skin

And warming the soul within.

Copyright reserved – iwonderbee

Field Trip: Penang Butterfly Farm

I’m glad we made ourselves get out of our hotel room at 4pm to make the drive down to Teluk Bahang. We’d just checked in to our rooms after a rather sleepy and long car journey out from Taiping, and it was truly tempting to just sprawl on the bed and veg out.

Finding out that the Butterfly Farm closed at 6pm, we thought the timing was just about right, as we could leave directly from there to go for a hawker fare dinner on the beach afterward. 😛

It was a magical experience. DH and DD held butterflies on their palms for the first time.  This is a New Lacewing on DD’s hand.

I have to admit I was too chicken to try. Still am, haha.

Penang tourist attractions maintain a differentiated pricing structure, tourists pay a higher price whereas MYKAD and MYKID holders (Malaysian citizens) pay a subsidised price. So Malaysian citizens, do not forget to bring your MYKAD as there is a MYR 9 difference which can buy you a plate of char kuey teow, a bowl of curry mee and cendol for dessert with some change left over!

We arrived just in time to join a free nature guided tour which turned out to be an immensely educational experience. I wished I had brought a notebook but it was probably not possible to take any notes with DS clinging onto me, so I tried my best to remember snippets from the commentary. Tough…

The Penang Butterfly Farm was established in the 1980s, it is a live butterfly and insect sanctuary. Behind the scenes of the public exhibition, is a research and development facility dedicated to breeding, conservation and nature awareness of butterflies and insects, with particular focus on the conservation of the endangered Yellow Birdwing (Troides Helena).

On our tour, we were shown the four stages of a butterfly life cycle, from egg

to larva (this is a New Lacewing caterpillar)

to pupa (chrysalis)

and imago (adult butterfly, I forgot to ask which species this is).

Butterflies come from the order of Lepidoptera, which means “scaly wings” in Greek. Enlarged on a microscope, these are the scales on the wings of a butterfly, it is like what our human skin is to us.

This is the image of the scales under a microscope.

Image Credits: Penang Butterfly Farm

These scales can detach from the wings easily upon touching them, so we were told to not catch or hold a butterfly by its wings as the powdery substance left on our fingers are actually the scales fallen off, which can negatively impact the butterfly’s ability to fly.

Our guide also showed us an example of mating butterflies in the garden. The male attaches itself to the female and the two may remain coupled between an hour to overnight, depending on the species.

When a mating couple flies, it is usually the female who bears the weight of the two, and does most of the work in the flying. Hmm, lazy males!

The farm also houses insects in both its greenhouse as well as an indoor education centre. Outdoors, we were shown a Mexican Redknee Tarantula

and a black scorpion.

And some 30 cm long millipedes that the Nature Specialist explained were really harmless and misunderstood.

Misunderstood I can understand, I won’t harm them but I’m still running far far away if I encounter any of these foot-long crawlies….brrr…I have shivers down my spine just writing about it…

Can you spot the stick insect amidst the twigs?

Here it is, on my mum’s hand!

In its indoor education centre, visitors can view a huge collection of spiders, beetles, bugs and frogs. Kept safely behind glass walls, phew!

At the end of our tour, we were each given a little container with a butterfly inside that had just freshly emerged from the pupa and was ready to fly. You can open the container and release the butterfly into the air.

DD was so excited about this, she was given a second container.  That was fun! 🙂

For the educational and informative value, I really would like to go back again, but I have to say the entrance fee is a rather prohibitive factor.

Whilst I acknowledge that I really shouldn’t complain given the favourable exchange rate between the SGD and MYR, hopefully in future, the farm could find a way to either provide more value in the experience, or lower the pricing a little more.

Getting there:

Penang Butterfly Farm
No. 830, Jalan Teluk Bahang, 11050 Penang, Malaysia.
Tel: 60-4-8851253

Bookmark Monday: Great Grapes, Titanicat!

These books with stories based off historical events caught our (DH and me) eye at the library so we borrowed it just to see if the kids might just take to it. They’re not quite keen on lengthier read-alouds yet, but I liked them enough to recommend them on Bookmark Monday.

Story aside, I love how the illustrations for each book are delightfully old school, providing the reader an engaging complement to the written word.

Titanicat – written by Marty Crisp, illustrated by Robert Papp

Written by Marty Crisp, an award winning writer of books, and a newspaper journalist for 30 years, Titanicat is based on the memoir of Titanic stewardess Violet Jessop in 1997, recounting that a ship’s cat had given birth to a litter of four kittens before the Titanic was launched, and was on board with those kittens in the early spring of 1912.

This report was followed by an article in the Belfast Irish News by reporter Anne Hailes, who in turn interviewed an ex-reporter Paddy Scott, who said that in the 1930s, he’d spoken with an Irishman who claimed he’d crewed Titanic’s trials and was assigned the care of the ship’s cat. The cat got off in Southampton, taking her kittens with her, and the young Irish sailor followed, missing the opportunity to sail with Titanic, but gaining his life in the process.

Dr. Welch and the Great Grape Story – written by Mary Lou Carney, illustrated by Sherry Meidell

So I’ve heard of Welch’s Grape Juice but never actually bought a bottle of it to try. Maybe I will now that I’ve read the story of how grape juice came about. 🙂

Inspired by the discoveries of Louis Pasteur about fermentation, Thomas Bramwell Welch, a dentist by profession, dreamed of making a drink for Holy Communion that was not alcoholic in nature, so that everyone could enjoy a grape drink that was non alcoholic, and people affected by alcohol could partake of communion freely without fear.

Dr. Welch succeeded in creating the “unfermented wine” as he called it, but it didn’t take off, as the church was not interested.

Six years later, Charles Edgar Welch, his son, restarted efforts to make and sell grape juice. Being a shrewd promoter and manager, he founded the Welch Grape Juice Company in 1897 in partnership with his father, and today, you know the rest of the story.

Welch is the world’s leading producer of grape products – juices, jellies and jams. And communion in most Protestant denomination churches in the modern age today uses…grape juice. 🙂


In my world: First week of school

Shoes. Socks. Hankies. Water bottles. Uniforms.

Dawn. Alarm clock. Rousing. Stirring.

Toothbrush. Toothpaste. Too much (oops!). Gargling.

Breakfast. Change. Hurry flurry fasterly quickly. Goodbyes.

And off they go.

My daughter – confident big sister, eager to introduce her little brother to her teachers.

My son – in his still-room-to-grow new uniform, pulling cheeky faces at me, thinking nothing of classes and only of the playground.

The beginning of a brand new year of school, and routine.


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.