Monthly Archives: February 2010

Some things never change

I remember going to Chinatown with my mom as a young girl, there was a small open space between 2 buildings and an old uncle used to have a few battery operated cars /motorcycles for rent. For $2 , you could ride around the little area for 10 minutes. It was a huge treat for my brother and I and we would always plead with my mom to let us have a ride.

Fast forward twenty plus years and though the old uncle isn’t there anymore, the battery operated ride-ons still are. These days the cars and bikes are looking a lot more realistic and some even come with remote controls so that parents can help their kids steer.

We found a little race track at the basement 2 car park of T3. They had various cars, even mini F1 cars and 2 Harley Davidson bikes.

Ally started off in a little pink beetle. And quickly decided that the Harley was way more fun.

Max waited patiently for her as always.

Besides the nicer looking cars and motorbikes, it now cost $4 for 10 minutes, talk about inflation!

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Polliwogs

Took the kids to Polliwogs today and surprisingly it wasn’t too crowded. Sad to say the play area is looking a bit worn and tired. The air conditioner wasn’t working very well and the entire area was really stuffy. I noticed several kids and adults were able to enter without wearing socks even though it states clearly that socks have to be worn at all times.

Some child managed to bring a stack of news papers into the toddler area and proceeded to make a huge mess. No one noticed/ bothered to clean up after him so it was just left there. I wasn’t impressed since its the area where the babies and toddlers play and you know they tend to put everything into their mouths.

The newspaper mess

I remember they use to have a few members of staff in the play area to keep an eye on the children. This would definitely ensure that every child and adult abides by the rules. The balls in the ball pit were looking rather dirty and one wonders if they are actually cleaned on a daily basis.  We’ve always liked Polliwogs cos its a great place for the kids, the play area is small enough for us to keep an eye on Ally and yet is fun enough to keep her entertained. But after today’s visit I was less than impressed with their level of cleanliness, looks like we won’t be back again anytime soon.

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Teaching the Children

Ally is at an age where many of her friends are attending school. We have intentionally kept her at home with the intention to home school her till she’s ready for K1. One of our main reasons for keeping her at home was for Ally and Max to spend time together.

I use the term “home schooling” very loosely because I don’t follow a specific curriculum. I borrow a lot of ideas from here, and here Preparatory Weekly themes for ages 2-4. and letter of the week preparatory curriculum.

We do not schedule set times for lessons, its hard to do that with Max around since the duration of his naps are never fixed. Since toddlers have naturally curious minds, we take that as a starting of point for our learning. Ally usually asks ” What are you doing Mama?’  and ” why mama?” at least 20 times a day. Depending on the situation, I let her get involved if its age appropriate. For example, she likes to come into the kitchen when I’m preparing meals, sometimes she helps me wash the vegetables, other times she measures out cups of rice. We count how many carrots we’re washing, the different colors of the vegetables/fruits and how much liquid is needed for the soup. This isn’t always possible since there are times I’m rushing to get a meal on the table. Other times we’re interrupted by Max who is usually very good about entertaining himself.

The kids go almost everywhere with us, we don’t have a helper at home so they follow us to the supermarket, the bank…etc I’m proud to say that Ally knows how to behave properly when we’re dining in a restaurant. She will say ” please” and ” thank you” to the service staff and always greets the hostess at the front door.

Every bath time is an opportunity for water play. Old plastic bottles, an inexpensive scoop and a plastic bath are perfect for hours of water fun. Painting is limited to the bathroom as well, makes clean up a whole lot easier. Sometimes Ally decides that her paint brush is a drum stick and her plastic tubs are drums, she will happily transform herself into a one man band, singing and drumming to the beat.

Ally and her "top hat"

One of her many art creations

Even Max joins in the fun

I know many parents are always worried about their children falling behind academically. Honestly, there are moments when I wonder if I’m short changing her by keeping her at home. The Singaporean in me starts to feel this kiasu twinge, thank goodness for my dear husband who is always reassuring and comforting. He was raised in a totally different education system, no pressure is placed on the children to excel at a very young age. The children he went to school with might not be as academically advanced as a Singaporean child, but they were mature and street wise beyond their years.

Its so easy to get caught up in the rat race that our dear country is so famous for. Parents are willing to shell out their hard earned money to send their children to the best enrichment classes around.  I personally have nothing against enrichment classes, but I don’t believe in hot housing my children. I remember an incident at our neighbourhood playground, we had taken Ally there as usual and we met another little girl and her father. She was about Ally’s age and was just standing at her father’s side, unsure of what to do with the playground equipment. It was only with the father’s coaxing and instructions did she start playing. It made me sad to see that there are some children who have to be taught to play.

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Monkey See, Monkey Do

What do you do when you have an extremely active toddler ? Find a safe place for him/her to run off their energy! There are many great parks where kids can just run, kick a ball or ride their bike. But the torching sun doesn’t always make outdoor activities pleasant so we decided to enroll Ally at a gym. She has been attending lessons once a week for about 3 terms now and absolutely loves it. We like the fact that she’s learning new skills, improving her balance and co-ordination and most importantly, making use of all that excess energy.

Waiting for her turn

learning to do a forward roll

Straddle

Jump!

What goes up......

Must come down....

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Trip to the doctor and other thoughts

For most children, a trip to the doctor is often unpleasant. It’s either for an injection or medication cos they are unwell. Luckily for us, Ally loves going to the doctor. She has follow ups every few months so it’s so much less stressful for us when she finds it a pleasant experience.

One thing we never do is scare her by saying ” the doctor is going to give you an injection” usually we say ” the doctor just wants to see how well you’re growing” Depending on the situation, we would role play possible scenarios regarding what the doctor might do at her check up.

Daddy and Ally role playing

ENT ( Ear, Nose and Throat) checkups are the most difficult, she has to sit very still to allow the doctor to clean her ears. Sounds easy? Not quite. The child usually has to sit on their parent’s lap in this huge chair , kind of like a dentist’s chair. Then the doctor shines a bright light at the ear and takes out his tray of metal instruments. It is extremely scary for a child. Usually I take her to all her appointments, but she had an ENT appointment a few days after Max was born and we decided it would be in his best interest not to follow Ally to the hospital. That visit was a disaster, Matt and Grandma took her and they ended up waiting so long that it ate into her nap time. By the time it was her turn, she was tired, hungry and grouchy. Needless to say she wasn’t very cooperative and it all ended in tears.

Anyway, I digress. We took her to her pediatrician today to get some medication for her cold and fever. The clinic was relatively empty and there was just one person before us. While waiting for our turn, two twin boys about 10 years old, decided to play catch in the clinic. They were running up and down, making a nuisance of themselves while their parents were in the consultation room with their younger sister. I turned around to give them a LOOK but they didn’t really care. Usually I try not to lecture other people’s children, if the parents were there I would have just asked them to keep the boys quiet. Anyway, when the parents came out, the boys were still behaving badly and the parents didn’t even bat an eyelid. After the nurse told them that the clinic wasn’t a playground, their dad laughed and said ” boys will be boys” I was fuming mad, what sort of excuse is that?! There is no reason why you should allow your children to behave in that manner, regardless of gender.

It scares me to think that my children will be mixing with other children that think they can get away with certain things, just because their parents have justified their behaviour by using their gender as an excuse. If one of those boys, as a teenager, decides to molest a girl, is that father going to defend his son by saying ” oh, boys will be boys?” God forbid if his own daughter gets taken advantage of, what is he going to say?  ” she dressed inappropriately so she asked for it?”

I know that when Ally and Max enter their teenage years, I won’t be able to know everything that they’re doing 24/7. But I do hope that we have taught them the right values and that their own common sense would guide them to do what’s right.

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Poor Ally

Ally is down with a cold, she started sneezing this morning and by this evening, she had developed a temperature. I must say she has been a real trooper, despite feeling under the weather, she has been very cheerful. Thank goodness Ally is so co-operative when it comes to all things medical. She takes her medication without batting an eyelid and even lets me suction her nose. Hope she gets better soon!

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Review of the Phil & Teds Vibe

Okay I admit, I have a stroller addiction.  I love looking at strollers as much as Matt enjoys looking at cars. When Phil and Teds first came out with the Vibe, I thought to myself ” what a great looking stroller, pity I don’t fancy 3 wheelers”  Fast forward to a couple of months later and here I am with my new Vibe. It wasn’t a hasty decision, I had spent the last month or so doing my research and reading as many reviews as I could. The frustrating thing was, all the reviews related to how the Vibe was used overseas. I could not find a single review from a local user.  So I’ve decided to do my bit and give my honest review of the Vibe.

Pros

It’s definitely eye-catching and people stop and stare where ever you go. Some may not consider this a plus point but aesthetics are important to me.

The Vibe is so easy to push and maneuver. Despite its mammoth size, it is easy to steer even with one hand.

I love how versatile the seating arrangements are, in toddler/toddler mode, one child sits in front, the other at the back. If one child wants to take a nap, just snap the double kit onto the front of the stroller and the other can lie down flat. On my date with Max, I moved the doubles kit to the front so that he had a higher view and he absolutely loved it.

Both kids seem to love being in it and Ally often comments that its really comfortable. She chooses to sit behind and even though I don’t think she gets much of a view, she enjoys the snug space.

The Vibe has ultra sensitive brakes which are set in the middle of the handle bar. Its both a blessing and a pain. If you accidentally hit the red button, you pray that you remembered to strap the children in securely. So far I haven’t had the problem of deploying the brakes unintentionally.

The adjustable canopy is a great idea, if you have a taller toddler you’re truly appreciate the fact that he/she won’t be banging their heads on it.

Cons

It weighs a ton! Well, 10kg to be exact but it feels a lot heavier.

Closing it takes practice, it needs to be folded correctly if not the side clips won’t shut. When we were at the shop, the lady showed us how to fold it but she placed the stroller on the floor. This meant that we would be exposing the seat to dirty floors each time we had to close the Vibe. Anyway, Matt soon found a much better way of doing it. Won’t go into details here but drop me an email if you want to know how.

The doubles kit is able to take up to 20kg if placed in front and 15 kg if placed at the back. But the seat itself is pretty small and even though Ally isn’t tall, her head sticks out a little.

Matt was complaining that he didn’t like the nylon straps, they feel cheap and for the price that the Vibe is going for, P & T really could have chosen a better material.

The Vibe and Public Transport

I’ve taken the Vibe on the MRT with little problems. My little tip? Go to the compartment just outside the lifts, they are the wheelchair accessible ones and have more room. I used it both during peak periods and off peak. Getting out of the train was slightly more difficult if everyone is crowding at the exit door but one look at the Vibe’s massive wheels and everyone magically scatters from the exit.

Getting into a taxi with a toddler, a baby and shopping bags is a little tricky. I usually place the children in the taxi, Ally is very good at keeping an eye out for Max while I close the pram. Its times like this that I miss my Maclaren which I can easily fold with one hand. Loading it into the taxi can be a pain cos of its sheer weight but most drivers are happy to assist.

The Vibe and Shopping Centers

I’ve used the Vibe along Orchard Road and have encountered few problems. Bearing in mind that we often go out during the weekdays, I think one would struggle a little more during the weekends when the crowds are huge. It is possible to use the Vibe on the escalators, even with the doubles kit attached. I won’t advise it simply because its a lot of weight to hold onto. This is where it can get pretty annoying cos everywhere you go, you have to wait for the lifts. With one child, going up and down escalators are pretty easy but again, because its a 3 wheeler, I wouldn’t try taking it up the escalator. It is able to fit through most aisles in the shopping centres and supermarkets.

Do I think the Vibe is worth buying? It really depends. It suits our lifestyle, we wanted a stroller that we could use for outings to the zoo, parks and numerous outdoor places. For that, the Vibe is perfect. We do our shopping when its quiet and most of the time, we get around in our car so once again, squeezing on public transport isn’t an issue. With our two young children, it made sense to get an inline stroller like the Vibe rather than a twin side by side. If your toddler prefers walking, a Vibe might not be the stroller for you. Another option would be the buggy board which attaches to most umbrella strollers.  I personally love my Vibe, we own other P &T products as well and have always been satisfied with their quality and after sales care.

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