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Bookmark Monday: All about Singapore

I had wanted to allocate one Bookmark Monday segment for covering Singapore history and its road to independence. However there aren’t any books (I haven’t found them and I’ve asked the librarians but if you know of any, please drop me a note!) for young readers, and the most elementary that I have found is in the Primary Four level Social Studies syllabus. But that’s for another post…

For this week’s post, as an alternative to the printed page, I thought I would list a couple of events that have been organised in celebration of Singapore’s 47th National Day, that we ourselves are thinking of checking out.

  • TimeOut has published a short article listing four activities for kids in Singapore this month. Click on this link to find out more. Among the listed activities, is free entry to the Istana on 5 August, art and craft activities at the Arts and Heritage Village and complimentary entry into the Istana Building (otherwise priced at $2) if your child participates in the On-the-Spot Art competition.
  • The National Museum of Singapore, in a collaboration with the National Archives of Singapore is displaying an exhibition titled 45-65: Liberation, Unrest…a New Nation at its Stamford Gallery on Level 1.  This is a free admission exhibition running till 18 November.  It’s free, it runs for some time, I don’t have to be asked twice. 🙂
  • And for the entire month of August 2012, the National Heritage Board is offering free entry for Singaporean citizens and permanent residents to the permanent galleries of the following museums – Asian Civilisations Museum, Memories at Old Ford Factory, National Museum of Singapore, Peranakan Museum, Reflections at Bukit Chandu, Singapore Art Museum and Singapore Philatelic Museum.

To all our Singaporean readers, Happy 47th National Day!

Bookmark Monday: Papa’s Pastries

It’s been a whirlwind of activity in the past two weeks for the whole family with school field trips, meetings, projects, deadlines, and my brother’s wedding! So the blog’s been quiet, but thank you to our readers who have faithfully still been checking back for updates.

A couple of weeks ago, we found this Christian-themed book, “Papa’s Pastries” written by Charles Toscano.

Miguel wakes to early morning rain dripping through the family home’s leaky roof. Outside, he overhears his father praying as he packs the pastries he has made to sell at the market, asking God to provide a new roof, firewood and clothes for the family so they can survive the winter.

Accompanying his father to three neighbouring villages to sell their pastries, at each village, Miguel gets increasingly anxious when they are unable to sell anything as the villagers are equally facing hard times and have no money to buy the pastries. However, Papa remains positive and even gives away his pastries to needy families, one in each village.

When they reach home in the evening, the anxiety of the family is heightened by the empty bag and empty pockets, but Papa calmly tells them that kindness is far more valuable than money.
Cold and tired, Miguel wonders about this as he tosses to sleep, how kindness will provide them the things they themselves need.

The next day, he awakens in surprise to the sound of the roof being repaired! It’s being fixed by one of the villagers that Papa gave pastries to yesterday; turns out that he is a carpenter and has come to repay Papa’s kindness.

Close to the woods, another recipient of yesterday’s pastries busily chops firewood for the family, and in the house, an old lady that they gave their last pastries to before going home is measuring and cutting cloth to make new clothes for Miguel’s brothers and sisters.

Although they earned no money yesterday to buy what the family needed, God had sent them today exactly what they needed.
And at the end of the day, Miguel prays to God, “Thank you for your loving kindness. And thank you, Lord, for my Papa. Amen.”

Although written in a very simplistically heartwarming manner, we found this book to be valuable – as a reminder to ourselves that most times, it is us who complicate matters by thinking too much and trusting too little; to be thankful for everything God has blessed us with, to be compassionate toward others, and to always trust God our Provider.

Impossible to please

“Noooo, you wouldn’t!”

What does one do with a stubborn unbelieving three-year old?

As DD and I settle down for bedtime, I can still hear our son echoing the irritating refrain he’s carried all day long as he now challenges his father’s instruction to brush teeth first as a pre-requisite to a bedtime story.

And I breathe a sigh of respite, somewhat relieved that it’s DH handling him and not me, because that same little boy has been issuing me and his sister the same challenge all day for the past couple of weeks.

“I WILL read you a story AFTER you brush your teeth. Don’t you trust that daddy and mummy will be true to our word, especially when you know we always carry out what we say we will do?!”

And then right there, in the stillness, in the darkness – it hits me.

“No, you wouldn’t!”.

In spite of a track record of miracles, open doors and promises written in black and white, in His Word.

Now. I think I’ve done enough time on the daily journey with God to know better than to challenge Him outright.

But the murmured “can-we-be-sure”s.  The just-in-case Plan B’s which are really more Plan A’s subjugating His plan to the background.

The not outright but subtly positioned “No you wouldn’t”s that would grieve His spirit equally if not more. The dissenting voice of unbelief, masking itself on the surface as an “I believe” while really charting its own course.

Really, that’s me challenging His faithfulness as well.  That’s me in the shoes of my little boy with the furrowed brow, stubbornly delivering  the same refrain and frustration to my Father.

And we who require of our son to trust and obey the word of his earthly, fallible parents, should we not also trust and obey in our divine Heavenly and infallible Father?  Even more fully so…?

*****

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” ~ Hebrews 11:6

*****

Bookmark Monday: Easter readings

This week is Holy Week.
I’d planned some Lent craft activities in the calendar, but have been so consumed by the daily rushing and rumbling of keeping household and work life running, I fell behind.
But it is amazing how God’s Holy Spirit can use an innocent heart (and His kingdom belongs to such as these!) to precipitate a diverted perspective into needful action.

*****

“When we get home I want to read my Bible.”
“Okay.”
“When I read my Bible, does that make you and Daddy happy?”
“Well…Yes. But more importantly, God is happy, dear.”
“Jesus is happy too?”
“Yes. God and Jesus are happy.”
“Mummy, I want to read my Bible every day.”

*****

Exchanging raised eyebrows and cryptic glances, DH and I wonder what to make of this little exchange.

It feels like we’ve been suddenly drenched in a surprise rainshower of heavenly glory.
And we’re still doing a double…triple take in slow motion.
(And I’m still not satisfied with the way I’ve written this…words fail me as I grasp for the right nouns, verbs, adjectives and find them not.)

It’s been percolating in my mind all Sunday.

What do you do with all that shining shimmering golden – suspended, glimmering, twinkling – all around you?

We don’t know what brought it on, we don’t know how long this moment will last, and we just know we have to make something of it, but we don’t quite know what…

For two evenings now, she’s taken out her Bible, curled up in blanket and pillows and flipped open a page.
She’s read of Moses and the Israelites wandering in the desert, and the walls of Jericho, and Zacchaeus.

And as she carefully placed her Bible back onto the shelf on Sunday night, I figure this is great, but we probably need a little more direction and a little less random.

So I’ve put aside our original plan and weaved together a new series of readings that we’ve just started. There’s no art-and-craft planned. No accompanying activity.

But then…maybe that’s all not necessary.

Only what is needed is to sit at His feet and soak up His words of life…

 

** Our readings are taken from the Learn-to-Read-Bible by Heather Gemmen, published by Faith Kidz (Cook Communications Ministries). **     

  • Palm Sunday – “Hosanna! Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem” Luke 19:29-38
  • Monday – “God’s Plan – Jesus talks about His death” John 16:16-28
  • Tuesday – “The Lord’s Supper” Luke 22:14-20
  • Wednesday – “Jesus Prays in the Gethsemane” Luke 22:39-46; Mark 14:32-42
  • Maundy Thursday – “Jesus is arrested and tried” Luke 22:54, 23:2-5; John 19:6
  • Good Friday – “Jesus dies on the cross” Luke 23:33-34, 46
  • Saturday – “Jesus is alive! Can it be true?” John 19:40-42; Matthew 28:5-8
  • Easter Sunday – “Jesus is risen and He will come back” John 20:11-18; Luke 24:36-43; Matthew 28:19-20 

*****

Break now the bread of life, dear Lord, to me,
as once you broke the loaves beside the sea:
beyond the sacred page I seek you, Lord:
my spirit longs for you, O living Word

*****

Bookmark Monday: My heart is like a zoo

“My heart is like a zoo- eager as a beaver, steady as a yak… ”

A colourful picture book of twenty zoo animals, each of the brief descriptions of an animal is linked to a primary emotion – eager, steady, hopeful, silly, happy, snappy, angry, bothered, gloomy, peaceful…

Written in simple and clear text accompanied by neat and colourful pictures, this book provides a useful base to talk to our children about feelings and emotions and how we can use words as a effective way of expressing both positive and negative feelings.

As an English language teaching tool, you could also talk about the adjectives and how they can be used to describe an emotion in deeper detail, e.g. crafty as a fox…frightened as a rabbit…jumpy as a frog…quiet as a caterpillar wearing knitted socks…happy as a herd of hippos drinking apple juice!

Using digital graphics, Michael Hall creates illustrations that incorporate layers of heart shapes to make each animal.  Which also inspires us to think of pulling out our craft supplies to go cut and make some heart shaped animals of our own. 🙂

Click here to view the official website and trailer.

Bookmark Monday: Siblings and friends

Every parent desires to build healthy sibling relationships among our children. So it’s great when one comes across books with simple but meaningful and funny, non-preachy stories about loving one another, playing together and sharing.  Stories that the kids can relate to, and will love reading and re-reading.

Here are two little gems we’ve found that are growing on us, and that we’re planning to slot into our kid’s bookshelf selection tomorrow. 🙂

Flip and Flop by Dawn Apperley

I’ll let the synopsis from the back cover do the talking because it’s worded just so perfectly….

“Flip is five. Flop is two. Whatever Flip does, Flop does too. But one day Flip wants to play in the snow with a buddy his own size. And that leaves poor little Flop out in the cold. How Flop finds a friend of his own – and a game that everyone can enjoy – makes for an endearing romp, written and illustrated with snowy sparkle.”

The MineOSaur; written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by David Clark

Our kids are in a dino-loving phase, particularly our little boy so we thought this book would make a cute addition to our collection. I think he will love this, because as I was reviewing it, he asked me repeatedly to show him the cover.

The Mine-o-saur is a dinosaur who doesn’t want to share, so he goes around, taking away toys that the other dinosaurs are playing with, and roaring “Mine! Mine! Mine!” Oh what a pest he is to the others.

However, he eventually reaches a point where he has claimed all the toys in the school playroom and playground for his own, and comes to the realisation that it doesn’t matter squat to the other dinosaurs, because with or without toys, they are still able to carry on laughing, playing and having fun.  And that is the value of friendship and sharing, a valuable takeaway for him, as the story ends on a happy note with the other dinos forgiving him and welcoming him to play and share together.

Kids Say: Snail bread

Last Thursday, I had to purchase cold medication for DS, so he came along with me to the clinic. As we left the doctor’s, from inside the building we saw our bus just leaving the bus stop. So we had fifteen minutes to spare.

As we were visiting a friend’s home for a playdate that afternoon, I decided to use the fifteen minutes to pop into the neighbouring bakery to buy some pastries for her.

I’d finished picking what I wanted when DS’s eyes fell onto the cinnamon rolls and he called out, “Mummy, look! Snail bread!”

“Mummy, can I have snail bread? Please? Pleasepleaseplease…”
Figuring there was no harm, I picked up one from the shelf and placed it on our tray.

“Mummy, can we buy one snail bread for Jie Jie?”
Okay, one for Jie Jie.

“And one for Mummy”.
Hmmmm, son, these cinnamon rolls cost $2.80 a piece…”It’s okay son, mummy doesn’t…”
“And one for Mummy!”
Oh…ummm…alright.

“And one for Daddy also.”
As I hesitate, he tugs earnestly on my sleeve.
“Mummy, and one for Daddy also.”

Another $2.80…four rolls…adds up to $11.20.
I know. Mighty expensive for four bread rolls.

But as I paid the money, I looked down at my little boy.

The happiness shining through in his face. The ecstatic glow in his eyes as he clapped his hands, rested his chin on the counter and peered excitedly at the rolls being put into paper packages.

“Yay! Snail bread!”

Bless his heart, he just wanted to make sure everyone in the family could share the joy of “snail bread”.
He was so excited he insisted on carrying the purchases for me all the way to the bus stop, onto the bus, off the bus, and on the walk back home.

In that morning, I watched my three-year old stand taller, shoulders squared, walking purposefully as he took on the important task of carrying “tomorrow’s breakfast” back home for the family.

In that light, I guess…paying three bucks a pop per cinnamon roll isn’t all so bad an idea. The amount of money spent is less of an issue compared to the opportunity to allow him to bless others with a thoughtful heart.  How could I not encourage that? 

And so we all enjoyed generous portions of the tastiest “snail bread” we’d ever had, for Friday’s breakfast. 🙂