Archive | February 2012

Celebrate

Find a smile. And pass it on. Today.
To someone next to you. Or faraway.

Read His Word. Break fast at springs of living water. Be refreshed.
Speak His grace. To your family. To a neighbour. To a new-found friend.

Pull some funny faces with the kids. Share some laughs.
Snap a picture. Set it as your pc or phone wallpaper.

Find joy. And peace. And love. And pass it on. Today.

*****

Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.
~ 1 Chronicles 16: 8 – 11, 34 ~

Bookmark Monday: Dogs vs. Cats

From the illustrator of My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes, comes the lovable Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy.  So who is Hairy Maclary?  He’s a little black terrier (looks to be, although this is never confirmed by the author…) created by Kiwi author/illustrator Lynley Dodd, with a ten book series to his name. 🙂

Dodd has oft been compared and classified together in the genre of rhyming prose similar to Dr Seuss.

However, unlike Seuss’s distinctive phonics focused style which leverages the use of nonsensical words to complete a rhyme, Dodd uses real words in her rhyming prose.  But not just any regular kind of words we’d find in books targeted at the early reader audience – no, the long and expressive kind, e.g. bumptious, cacophony – not the usual candidates in a preschooler’s vocabulary.

Don’t get me wrong now, I do like Dr Seuss books, and there is many a time and place for laughing out loud and having fun with nonsensical and made up words.  But I do also want the children to be at ease and not intimidated by the “big words” that help build their vocabulary because they require the reader to understand their context of usage in a passage.

And Dodd successfully attains this in an easily approachable manner for pre- or young readers.

A friend of ours introduced us to Hairy Maclary a couple of months ago.  So in our trip to the library last week, we sniffed out a couple or two of Dodd’s books in the shelves and borrowed them home for the next few weeks.

Here are two we’ve enjoyed – the first, introducing and chronicling the adventures of Hairy Maclary and his friends Hercules Morse (as big as a horse), Bottomley Potts, Muffin McLay, Bitzer Maloney and Schnitzel von Krumm (with a very low tum!).

And in the second, it’s Cats 1, Dogs 0 (actually, I think it seems to always be the case…) as you follow Hairy’s chasing of Greywacke Jones, Butterball Brown, Pimpernel Pugh, Slinky Malinki and Mushroom Magee. But along comes Scarface Claw, the toughest Tom Cat in town.  Who gives, not as good, but before he gets…and chases Maclary all the way back to home!

In my world: Stuck on you…

Does any home with young children ever escape the sticker-on-wall phenomenon? 🙂  But I’m so not taking these down – they bring a new meaning to comic relief!

DD’s wall – They started out on the back of the polka-dotted horse but I’m pretty sure those joyride-loving little forest friends have been moving a centimetre higher a day.

DS’s wall – one hungry t-rex + one pack of construction stickers + one cheeky little boy =…

*****

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.

Give us this day

The inviting aroma of toasting bread wafts out from the kitchen.

How wonderful the blessing of a home-made loaf of bread from friends.

For a husband hurriedly getting ready to leave for work while the sky outside holds firmly onto its deep midnight blue hue and all the household is fast asleep and still, save for the low hum of the electric ceiling fans.

For two preschoolers, tumbling tousled, out of bed, roused by a mother’s water-chilled palms, rubbing the sleep out of their eyes, clambering onto the chairs at the dining table and watching with anticipation as the jam jar is set out and pats of butter sliced into a dish.

Chilly morning. Warm breakfast. Satisfying crunch of floury crust. And springy white crumb. Covered in sweet, sticky, yummy strawberry jam. And golden yellow melting butter.

A husband’s growling stomach settled.

Children stepping out the door, putting on shoes, each gleefully munching on their third helping.

A wife and mother’s tired spirit encouraged.

Two arduously slow-passing weeks attending to the demands of the workplace, and too precious strands of time desperately gripped with all might to preserve the sanctity of the needs of home.

Our friends, they could not have known, that their thoughtful gift became much more than just bread to us, on several levels.

But God must have known. He always does.

*****

By his hands we all are fed.
Thank you, Lord, for our daily bread.
God is great and God is good,
And we thank him for our food.

*****

Bookmark Monday: Love, Family and Chinese Characters

Learning Chinese is an academic rite of passage almost every child in Singapore must go through sometime in their preschool life.

As parents, admittedly, DH and I aren’t incredibly disciplined (or rather, that should readare incredibly ill-disciplined‘) in our efforts to develop an appreciation for Mandarin with as much fortitude as we do for English. And so it is that we keep reminding each other that we “really must do something”, “really must read to them”.

Adding to this is the challenge of my having never studied Chinese, and so at my present age in life, it’s a tremendous mental obstacle.  I don’t want, don’t feel like doing it, but I must.  The inadequacy burns me most fiercely especially when they come home from school, singing Chinese songs and repeating random phrases they’ve learnt, to me, which I can’t decipher, and can’t repeat accurately to DH, when he returns from work, so that he can actually do something with them. 😦

So anyway.  Start somewhere I must.

So DH has been looking for some story books on Chinese characters, where the artwork is based on the shape of the Chinese character itself, (sort of like a Chinese version of Word Art 🙂  ) demonstrating the etymology of the word, i.e. how it evolved from the original pictogram representation to the regular traditional or simplified script that is commonly taught in schools today.

Personally, I like these, because by understanding the etymology, it helps me remember the character a little better. Some books are more artwork than story though, so we were glad when we found The Magic Brush, written by Kat Yeh and illustrated by Huy Voun Lee; as it is rich, both in storyline and illustrations.

The artwork for this book was created with cut-paper collages, known as jian zhi.  A Chinese folk art, passed down from generation to generation, jian zhi uses paper cutouts to create symbolic representations of words, showing the inspiration from where the character design originated.

A heartwarming story steeped in key tenets of Chinese culture – love, traditions, filial piety, and respect; and an effectively constructed introductory primer to first level Chinese characters, The Magic Brush is about a little girl named Jasmine, and her baby brother, Tai Tai, and of how their grandfather, A-gong comes to stay with them in spring and introduces Jasmine to a beautiful world of imagination and wonder through Chinese calligraphy.

All through spring and summer, they paint and write and dream wonderful worlds, created through the pictorial representations of the Chinese characters A-gong teaches Jasmine to write, bounded only by the limits of Jasmine’s imagination.

However, A-gong falls ill in the autumn and eventually passes away. Day after day, Jasmine mourns his passing.  But when one afternoon Tai-Tai abandons his nap and finds his sister sitting in the chair where their grandfather always sat, holding A-gong’s paintbrush, Jasmine decides to introduce Tai-Tai to the calligraphy that A-gong taught her, and together, with A-gong’s paintbrush, they recreate magic…just as their grandfather had said.

In my world: The Dewey Dinosaur system ;-)

*****

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.