Monthly Archives: November 2011

Boys And Their Dads


Max loves to hang out with his dad, it all started about a few months ago when Mama no longer became the flavor of the month. He’s lucky to be surrounded by so many strong male influences. The majority of the time he’s with Ally, myself or grandma and let’s face it, men and women are fundamentally different. We parent differently, we play differently and we discipline differently.  Speaking of discipline, I’ve been having a tough time in that area with regards to Max but I do notice that he respects Matt’s authority a lot more. He definitely realises that Matt’s the alpha male in the household. Max adores my brother as well as my cousins who are all male. He’s always asking them to build train tracks or play with one of his many vehicles.

Matt really takes the time and makes the effort to hang out with Max. It’s important for Max because it will be through his interaction and bonding with Matt that he learns how to be a man, a husband and a father.

Hanging out and watching Ally's school concert

Safe and Secure in Daddy's strong arms

Goofing around as usual

Male bonding- I love how he is holding onto Matt's hand

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Trip To The Singapore Philatelic Museum

In a bid to avoid the crowds, I decided to take the kids to the Singapore Philatelic Museum. Honestly I wasn’t sure how interested they might be, especially Max but since its free entry for kids and just $5 for me we decided to give it a go.

The museum is pretty small, we were the only ones there which was great cos the children could take their time fiddling about with the exhibits without anyone rushing them.

There were lots of interactive displays and even if the children didn't understand the contents, they enjoyed opening and shutting the cupboards

Walking through the museum made me think of my grandfather who was an avid stamp collector. I remember seeing some of the rare stamps on display in his albums at home.

They loved the rabbit exhibit best of all

You can find out about the different exhibits from their website. A lot of it was lost on the kids but I quite enjoyed the museum. They were happy to touch the various displays and play with the computers.

More opening and closing

Max checking out an old telephone while Ally plays a game on the computer

Banging on the chinese drum

More drums = more noise

Trying out traditional wooden clogs

The kids were fascinated by the old telephones and even the typewriter. The museum would be great for slightly older children who will be able to fully appreciate the exhibits. Nonetheless, the children enjoyed themselves and so did I. Not a bad way to spend an otherwise boring afternoon.



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On A Cold Morning

One cold morning, well, cold by Singapore standards anyway, I decided to whip up a batch of prawn mee stock.

So deliciously sinful

While I was busy in the kitchen, one child was busy whipping up a meal for his various imaginary friends.

sorry for the grainy picture, taken with my iphone from my kitchen


The other was pretending to be a cowgirl, armed with her trusty steed and alien blaster.



All was good, yes there was tons of noise but no one was fighting and no one was yelling out for “Mama!” every five minutes which in this house is pure bliss. It gave me time to whip up a meal we could all enjoy.

The kiddie version didn't have the yummy fried pork fat though

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Busy Kids

With the impending arrival of Giraffe, I have had moments of ” How Am I going to juggle 3 different schedules?” Both Ally and Max do Kindermusik together on Mondays and swim classes on Wednesdays. Ally has an additional gym class on Tuesdays and the rest of the week we are free. We never do any classes on weekends simply because I hate to battle the weekend crowds. It might not seem like a lot but bear in mind they are only 4 and 2. I know children who have an enrichment class every afternoon of the week, I’m sure their parents have their best intentions in mind but does childhood really need to be all that structured?

As it is, Ally attends school 5 mornings a week, 3 hours each day. It may seem like play to us adults and mostly it is but I know she comes back tired after each school day. I schedule her activities later in the afternoon so that she has a chance to take a nap. Right now she seems to be showing a keen interest in dance, and yes, I could fit in a dance class for her since we’re free Thursday to Sunday but that would mean dragging the other 2 kids to yet another class. The solution? She either drops one activity and replaces it with dance or she waits till she’s 7 and takes it up as an after school activity. Truthfully, I’m quite happy for her to wait.

She’s at the age now where she wants to try everything, she wants violin lessons, dance lessons, horse riding lessons…. the list goes on and on. Not only does it all add up, it takes a toll on the entire family. It means having to drive her here and there, it means her siblings have to tag along and wait for her to finish class. I know some families can deal with that, I can’t. I need down time and I need afternoons where we have nothing scheduled so that we can jump into the car and head to the park if the weather is nice or just go out for ice cream if we feel like it. On days where the children have no afternoon classes, I feel so much more relaxed.

As Max grows older he’ll want to pursue his own interests as well. Logistically it’s easier to put him in classes that Ally is already doing, like gym but if his interest isn’t there then there’s no point as well. Due to their close age gap, I’m always on the look out for sibling rivalry especially if they take up the same activity. Thankfully they are usually in different classes so that’s avoided for now, and them being different genders helps as well.



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End Of The School Year

It was the last day of school for Ally and a real bitter sweet moment for me. I’m so glad that she has adapted well to school and we are very happy with her current kindy as well. Her teachers have all been so patient and caring , not to mention that there is always open and honest feedback which I truly appreciate. She is excited to start K1 next year and looking back at her school photos, it struck me just how much she has grown and matured over these past 12 months. Here are some highlights from her first year at school.

Playing with pom poms

Chinese New Year Crafts

Book week!

Water Play

Learning the days of the week

Not impressed with the texture of the paint

Independent play

Showing her classroom display to Max

More crafts

Performing at her school concert


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Go Go Power Rangers?

I took the kids down to town for some window shopping last week. We haven’t ventured down to the madness we call Orchard road for quite a while so I thought it would be a nice treat for the kids.

I didn’t realise that they were having a Power Rangers stage show at the basement of Takashimaya. In fact I  though Power Rangers vanished into thin air along with the Teletubbies. Ally has no clue who the Power Rangers are but she wanted to watch the show anyway. Since we were there, I agreed. Max was excited about it, for all of 5 minutes, Ally was engrossed from beginning to end. They chose kids from the audience to come up on stage and play a game . Ally was dying to be chosen but she was overlooked. At the end of the show she was still feeling a bit disapointed so I told her that there was another show that same evening. She made me promise to bring her back and I agreed.

Seeing how badly she wanted to get chosen, we decided to have a strategy. They would only choose 2 girls and 3 boys out of the whole crowd so I said to Ally she needed to be noticed. When they asked for volunteers, Ally jumped up and down like a Mexican bean. Turns out it worked cos she was chosen! You should have seen the look of happiness on her face. She was one of the youngest but that didn’t seem to bother her.

Up on stage with the pink ranger

They had to play a simple game and at the end each child was given a prize. Ally won a pink ranger toy which Max immediately tried to claim as his own. At the end of the show, the kids were invited to take a picture with the Power Rangers.

Honestly the show wasn’t great, I wouldn’t make a trip down specially to see them. Now that the year end holidays are approaching, lots of stage shows are going to be held in various shopping malls. The kids have already chosen which shows they would like to watch. Never in my wildest dreams could I picture myself standing in a queue of parents and kids for an hour just to watch a guy in a huge purple suit sing and dance for 20 minutes. It’s funny what kids do to you.


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A Proud Mom

Today Ally showed me what a determined and tough kid she can be. It happened rather unexpectedly, her two other swim buddies didn’t show up for class so Ally ended up swimming with her coach’s daughter. The two girls are the same age, in fact Ms V is about half a year younger than Ally but she is a much stronger swimmer.

Due to Ally’s competitive nature, everything that Ms V did, Ally wanted to copy or do even better. She managed to hold her own most of the time until it came to the duck dive. Ms V made it look so easy , so Ally jumped right in as well. Unfortunately it looked more like a belly flop than a duck dive. She ended up choking and getting water up her nose. Anyone who has ever experienced water up their noses will understand that it hurts like hell. She was close to tears but managed to calm herself down. On the outside I pretended like it wasn’t a big deal, inside I really felt for her. With a few encouraging words I sent her off to the pool again. She surprised me by attempting the duck dive a few more times and even managed a few successful attempts.

After class I told Ally how proud I was of her for trying and for being so brave despite the initial hiccup. She lamented that Ms V was still a much better swimmer than she was but I explained to her that everyone is good at different things. I assured her that as long as she kept practising she would be as good as Ms V one day as well.


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Simplicity Parenting

I remember as a  young child, a trip to the toy store was a huge treat.  My brother and I were left mainly to our own devices and I don’t think we were any the worse for it.

These days parents are busy scheduling their kids days with activites, trying to entertain them, home school them. With limited energy these days, the kids are left on their own in the afternoons. Usually they end up playing imaginary games with each other and in the process, they turn the house upside down. I don’t mind since they know that whatever mess they create, they have to clean it up later. Their idea of tidying up isn’t exactly tidy but at least they pitch in and help.

Recently I have realised that Ally has become very demanding. Not in a bratty sort of way, but she expects a special treat daily. It could be something as small as sleeping with the air-conditioner turned on but nonetheless, she expects it. And when that expectation isn’t met, she’ll sometimes sulk or whine for a bit which would result in a stern scolding from us. I kept wondering what brought about this sudden change in her and then I realised, we were giving her too much. She now expected instant gratification,  which meant ” I want means I get NOW” without realising, we have created this situation for ourselves.  A special treat used to be just that, special, then it became daily which meant it was no longer special. Now, it was EXPECTED.

I read a quote recently and it definitely applies to our current situation. “By allowing down-time, we restore balance, and the “high” moments, the camping trips, the birthday parties, the trips to the zoo, are made even more valuable.  They are anticipated.  Daydreamed about.  Remembered.  Kim explains that anticipation counters instant gratification – and strengthens our children’s inner life with patience and an ability to wait, to hold back their own desire for ‘everything now.’

I remember how excited I would be about a trip to the zoo or even a friend’s birthday party. It was a huge deal to me simply because we didn’t do it often.  Now we need to undo this mess that we’ve got ourself in with Ally. First I’ve explained to her that priviliges have to be earned. Secondly, I need to remind myself that a treat needs to be just that, a treat. Not something that is given out on a daily basis. If I examine the reasons why I’ve started giving out daily treats, I think it ties in with the fact that I’ve been more tired and spending less quality time with the kids. This in turn has made me feel guilty and therefore I let them have “treats”. Of course I can see how its all backfiring now.

I’m going to have a chat with Ally about her recent behavior and hopefully make some headway. Luckily she is mature and hopefully we’ll be able to turn this situation around.


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Holidays Are Upon Us

In two weeks time Ally would have finished her year in Pre-K. Her school report has been sent home and we are so proud of how well she has done. Not just academically, but more on the social front. She has settled down well in school and made friends, most importantly, her teacher says she’s always courteous to both friends and teachers.

We aren’t planning any holidays this time round since I can’t travel but I’m going to try to use this time to help Ally with her weaker areas like writing. While she has made great progress with her pencil holding, she still struggles to write. She shows very little interest in coloring, to her it’s still a waste of time.

I’m also hoping to help her with her reading, she is now noticing signs and starting to read short words on her own so we’re going to use this time to expand on that. I usually take my cues from her, when she shows an interest in something, I follow her lead and expand on it. Which brings us to Math.

A few months ago I started a program with her called ” Math U See” and so far, we are both still loving it. She has nearly finished the first book, today we just learned simple algebra. What I love about the program is it only takes me 15 minutes a day, very doable even with Max around. Sometimes he sits in and listens, but most of the time he would rather play with the manipulatives.

The last thing I hope to work on with her is something that is ongoing. In recent months we have noticed that she has come home from school using some rather unpleasant words. We expected this sooner or later, so it’s a daily reminder for her to use kind words and to share with her brother. Max doesn’t make this easy of course, he is now at that age where he demands his fair share. So this is something that we need to work on with both children,  to share nicely with each other and use kind words.

While entertaining the children the whole day can get very tiring, I’m quite happy not to battle the morning traffic for the next month and a half.

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Witches, Princesses and Penguins

My mom had this idea to dress Ally up in her various costumes and get some pictures taken. Thankfully my cousin agreed to be our photographer and he did a great job. Unlike Ally, Max hates dressing up but he did get his picture taken as well.

A very demure looking Ally as Sleeping Beauty

Max acting like he is way too cool for all this

In her halloween outfit

My favourite shot

Max goofing about

For Halloween this year, Ally wanted to be a witch. Thank goodness she didn’t ask me to make her a costume, honestly that child gives me too much credit. Max didn’t have a choice, I just took out Ally’s old penguin costume, altered it to fit him and that’s it!

Ally the flying witch


They both looked really cute, an American friend of ours invited us to her place which is Halloween central. The kids had a blast, Ally helped to hand out candy for close to 2 hours and they filled their treat bags pretty quickly as well.

They both looked so adorable that night, in my totally bias opinion

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