Monthly Archives: August 2011

A Weekend Of Fun

Usually we try to stay clear of shopping centres over the weekend. With two young active children, crowds do not appeal to us at all. The best part about being a stay at home mom is being able to do the necessary shopping on weekday afternoons when there are no crowds.

Last weekend we took the children to Punggol. Sounds like an unlikely place to have fun but there is a fairly new park connector near the eating outlets. The children had fun at the small fitness corner, lots of families were cycling, taking walks and just enjoying the park.

Ally insisted on wearing her fairy wings out that day

Max showing off his arm strength

Ally was trying to make a pyramid, Max was well, helping

We had dinner at the Japanese restaurant, the food was alright, nothing spectacular . After dinner we promised the kids that we’ll take them bowling. It was our first time to Downtown East, just shows you how often we go out. It wasn’t too crowded when we got there but it sure was packed by the time we left.

The kids bowling is actually located in the main bowling alley. There are two little lanes with rails on the sides for children. Each came is $2 and you can change your coins at the counter. There was a short queue but I can imagine the place can get pretty crazy. One thing to note, it can be quite cold in the bowling alley so bring a sweater for the kids. Ally had lots of fun bowling, Max just enjoyed banging the ball loudly on the lane.

The look of concentration on his face was priceless


Ally still refused to take off her wings

After bowling we headed over to the little train ride outside of Burger King. It was a very simple ride that goes around a small track but both the kids loved it. Max kept wanting to go on it over and over again.

We joined the kids on the first ride then decided that they were safe to ride on their own. The two of them looked really cute sitting together.

It was definitely not one of our usual weekends but we all had fun. Matt and I were just saying how nice it is that the kids still think we are cool and want to hang out with us. We know it’s not going to be like this forever so we’re making the most of it while we can.


Filed under Ally, Max

Sports Day

Ever since Ally heard about Sports day, she has been practicing her running and jumping each afternoon. I kept reminding her that its a NON-competitive sports day but I don’t think she heard me. The school did a great job, as we drove round the corner, the fences were decorated with colorful balloons. She kept saying to me ” Mama! It’s a party! It’s a party!”

They divided the children into colored teams, each team consisted of kids from Pre-K up to K2. Ally was in yellow so we had to scramble to find her a yellow T-shirt.

Getting suited up

They had team cheers, clappers and the works! The kids were really jazzed up and we started the day with a morning jog around the neighbourhood.

Ally doing the morning jog all on her own, I volunteered to be a road marshall which invovled standing under a tree and holding a sign

They had several activities and games lined up for the children. There was even a Judo and Baseball demonstration which Ally absolutely loved. Parents were asked to participate and there were several parent-child races as well.

Ally doing sit-and-reach, I cleverly opted to sit this one out

Waiting for her turn to participate in the Judo demo

Snack time with friends

Showing off her medal after a morning of fun

Every child received a medal for their efforts but I’m sure the children were happier with the ice lollies and balloons that were given out at the end of the morning.

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Improving Fine Motor Skills

Both Ally and Max have never had problems with their gross motor skills. Ally in particular had excellent gross motor skills, she could crawl at 5 1/2 months and was cruising around by 6 months. Max too was an early crawler, and both walked by their 1st birthday.

Ally has always struggled with her fine motor skills, even holding a pencil is tiring for her. It’s only recently that she has gotten the hang of the tripod grip.

Without having to go out and spend lots of money on materials, there are many simple ways to improve fine motor skills. I’ll share a few favourites with you.

Water Play

Both the kids love water play, we don’t have time for it during the weekdays but on weekends, they are allowed to play in the bath tub for as long as they want. I give them an assortment of plastic bottles, containers and cups to play around with. They love pouring water from container to container and I don’t mind if they make a mess since it’s all contained in the shower area.

Play Doh

The children have received numerous play doh sets for birthdays and Christmas presents. If you don’t want to buy any, there are lots of home-made play doh recipes online. It’s great to strengthen their finger muscles and best of all, it’s fun.


This is great for slightly older children. Ally loves cutting out things, you don’t have to buy expensive cut out books. Usually I give her an old catalogue and get her to cut out “coupons” for me. Even an old newspaper will do though a single page might be quite flimsy and hard to cut through.

Art and Craft

Mama J has a great idea for simple art boxes, which kid doesn’t love stickers? I’ve found that Max and even Ally struggle with peeling stickers off the sheet but with some practice , they are getting the hang of it. My cousin bought a box of Do-A-Dot markers for the children and I think they are amazing. They are chunky which makes them easy to grip and never seem to run out of ink. I know they are sold locally but can be quite pricey, he bought theirs for only $12 US.

Household Chores

Every child likes to be useful and help out. One of Ally’s favourite things to do is to help me wash the rice. I usually leave her to it and then re-wash it again once she gets bored, same goes for veggies. If we are having baby spinach, she helps me to pluck out the leaves and separate them from the stems.

What other ways do you encourage your child to build up their fine motor skills? I would love to hear your thoughts.



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Trip To Bouncing Kids

If you live in the Northen part of Singapore or the North-East area, you might want to check out Bouncing Kids.  I happen to chance upon their website and thought I’ll bring the kids to try it out.

It’s a small play area, if you’ve ever been to Atlantis City at Delta sports complex, it’s a similar set up. However instead of being spread out, bouncing kids is a 3 story play scape. It would appeal to kids up to age 7 , in my personal opinion.

Picture is a little blurry, took it on my iphone

The place was very quiet, there were only two other little girls in the play area. Temperature checks were taken and both children were asked to sterelise their hands.  Max and Ally had a blast, some of the climbing structures were a bit challenging for Max but with Ally’s help and encouragement, he managed it all.

I love the fact that the place is quiet, I don’t have to worry about older kids pushing Max , or Ally running over any younger children. It’s also small enough that I can keep an eye on both children without having to climb up and down, in and out of tunnels.

If you’re looking for a huge sprawling indoor playground , this is not the place. But there are lots of fun elements packed into this compact three story structure. Firstly, there are your usual tunnels and rope tunnels, a suspension bridge and 3 different slides. One is a side by side, gentle enough for young ones, another is slightly longer and steeper which ends in a ball pool. Getting up to that slide is slightly more challenging, but the slide itself isn’t scary. Kids love sliding into a pool of balls and the area is well padded. The last slide can only be reached after climbing up to the 3rd story, its a twisty tunnel slide which is more gentle than it looks.  We’ve been to most indoor playgrounds and I’ve found that a lot of the slides are too fast and slippery for the younger children. Ally has gotten burns and bumps from a couple, not a big deal but not ideal for young kids.

We’ll definitely be back, both kids are hooked on the slides and it’s quite a fun way to spend an otherwise boring afternoon.

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What Have We Been Up To?

Getting ready for wet weather

Enjoying the drizzle

Looking at the leaves wash down the drain

Enjoying sand art with Daddy

Picking up the scrap paper and making a mess

Most importantly, nap times which helps keeps mummy sane

Ally has sports day at school tomorrow, she’s really excited about it and I have to keep reminding her its non-competitive! I’m be bringing my camera to snap some pictures.


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Importance of Unstructured Play

Thanks to Mum in the Making, she had me thinking of a very important aspect of our children’s lives. Unlike Mama J though, I don’t feel guilty about leaving the kids to play on their own. We don’t have a maid, I work part time from home and the children just learn to adapt and amuse themselves.

We have a house rule that Ally is allowed to watch one TV program when she comes home from school each day. Other than that, the TV is usually turned off. After a whole morning at Kindy, I know she needs some down time to just chill out.

After their afternoon naps, the children usually find something to amuse themselves with. As I’m typing this now, they have pulled out all their Legos and are busy building a town.

I know a lot of children Ally’s age that have activities lined up for them every single day. Well meaning parents have forgotten that unstructured play is essential for children. It helps them be creative, it gives them the opportunity to be spontaneous, to just be kids.

If you schedule a child from day to night, they learn to EXPECT you to fill their lives with things to do. I honestly believe children need down time as much as adults do. They need to have time to just be, I notice Ally likes to lie in her bed and day dream. At times she sings songs to herself or makes up stories with her stuffed penguins.

When the children are playing on their own, I love to sit and watch. It gives me a great insight into their characters and the innocent banter always makes me laugh. At times I’m invited to join them and I usually let them lead the game while I just play along.

Growing up our parents never structured out time, they just left us to our own devices. I remember pulling out a bucket of water one day and pouring it all over the living room floor. I then took a mop and pretended to be Cinderella. I have to give credit to my mom for not even batting an eyelid and letting me carry on my game of make believe.

Max dressed up in his riding "helmet" playing horses with Ally

Ally with her riding "helmet"

Here is a short and sweet article on why we should allow our kids to just play.  Oops, a fight over Lego has just broken out, time for me to restore peace!


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Branded Schools

Ally turned 4 this year and already the topic of which Primary school that she’ll be attending has cropped up more than once. Despite the distance that she’ll have to travel, we have decided that she’ll attend my former primary school. Not because it’s one of the “branded ” schools in Singapore, but because it saves me the hassle of deciding which school to put her in.

Many of my friends are envious that she’s guaranteed a place in a prestigious school. Many people argue that branded schools provide your child a better education and a better learning environment. With Max, we don’t have a specific school in mind for him. Since Matt didn’t go through the Singapore education system, Max is left to scrape the bottom of the barrel.

In the end, we might have one child in a ” branded ” school and the other in a regular school. Both children will be a good experiment to see if a branded school is indeed better.  Of course it’s not a fair comparison, Ally and Max are two very different children with different learning styles.

From first hand experience, I can honestly say that branded schools are not all that they are made out to be. I have met far too many principals who have this mindset ” if you can’t keep up to the standards that I set, you shouldn’t be here” These principals stress on maintaining their top 10 ranking which puts a lot of stress on the teachers which therefore create a pressure cooker environment for the children.

I was lucky enough to have a principal who cared about nurturing an all round student. Yes she wanted us to get good grades but her emphasis was on values and etiquette. She has sadly retired and I hope the new principal has kept some of the core values of the school.


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Appreciating Our Children

I am the first to admit that at certain points throughout the day I wish I had 5 minutes of ALONE time. I feel guilty when I snap at the children because I’m sleep deprived, busy or just plain impatient.

Today I just found out that a friend has lost her child to cancer. He was 11 and had been fighting cancer since he was just 4 1/2. His last week on earth was painful and he suffered like no human being, much less a child, should ever have to.

It is moments like this that make me remember to be grateful, to be grateful for healthy children. To be grateful that I  have my children by my side day after day. To be grateful that they are asleep soundly in their own beds in their own home, not in a strange hospital.  To be grateful that I’ve been given these two precious children to love and to nurture. It’s something I have to remind myself when I’m having a rough day with them, when I desperately need to find that extra ounce of patience.

Rest in peace dear Ethan, you’ve fought the good fight.

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Explaining Death to Young Children

We lost our grandfather last week, he was 93 and lived a full, happy life. My children were lucky enough to know their great grandfather, both kids loved him dearly just as he did them.

The children visited him in hospital and we explained that he was very sick. When we knew the time was drawing near, I was wondering how they would take the news of his death. Ally was barely 2 when my grandmother passed away and a few months after that, we lost Matt’s father as well. She doesn’t remember much but she knows that they are both now in heaven.

Now at age 4, she is definitely more aware. I explained to her that Great grandpa might look different. and that he might have tubes and machines attached to him. Ally takes most medical things in her stride, having been in and out of hospital several times herself. She was more excited at seeing the extended family.

We brought both the kids to the wake and they each wanted to look into the coffin. Max’s reaction was simple, he looked at my grandfather and said ” he’s sleeping” Ally knew he had gone to heaven but I guess she was puzzled why his physical body was lying there. She asked how did he get into heaven, did he take an aeroplane? Finally she decided that he took a balloon to heaven. Throughout the five days, they seem oblivious to the whole thing as they played and chatted with friends and relatives who came to pay their last respects. Ally couldn’t understand why I didn’t allow her to wear her pink dress, I just told her this was not the time and place for it. I try to be as open and honest about death as I can with the children. I know it’s normally a taboo subject and most chinese families would say ” Choy ah!” the minute it is brought up. But I want the children to understand, that is the cycle of life. Sometimes people feel that they are protecting their kids by not talking about it, but children are very intuitive. They might sense that the subject of death brings about great sadness and thus decide not to share their feelings as well since they won’t want to upset anyone.  Instead of protecting them, we might cause them more worry.

The day of the funeral itself was slightly harder since everyone was emotional. The kids were concern that my mother was so upset. But I explained to Ally that she missed great grandfather cos he was no longer with us. Max kept asking what we were doing as we walked behind the hearse on my grandfather’s final journey. During the funeral Mass, the children had more questions but on the whole were very well behaved.  I chose not to let them into the cremation hall as I thought it would be too much for them to comprehend at this point in time.

I have no doubt that more questions about death and dying will come up in the next few days or even weeks. Ally always takes a while to express her inner thoughts and feelings and I hope I’ll be able to explain it to her in a simple and honest manner. I have to admit, in our own grief, it can be hard to answer question after question and sometimes the same question several times over but I have to keep reminding myself that she is trying to make sense of everything in her young mind as well.

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