A Mom’s Review: New China Opticians, Singapore

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I usually don’t review non-homeschool or kid-related product, but New China Opticians, Singapore really made a difference.  Here’s why.

As a a SAHM with 2 young children (without help), I’m unable to do things like getting a new pair of glasses, facial or visiting the dentist very often.

However, after several chewing incidents and ripping my spectacles off my face (thanks to Elijah), my frame started to give way. Unable to park the children with their grandparents, I had no choice but to lug the children to the optician.

I dread that knowing they’ll fiddle with mirrors and will want to try on shades. A salesperson will then start to “chase” them around the shop, telling them not to break anything or touch anything.  Just too much pressure on me! Continue reading A Mom’s Review: New China Opticians, Singapore

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Teacher’s Day 2016: Paper Doily Lollipop Flowers

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Mark Van Doren, a poet and writer once said, “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery”.

Teachers play such an important role in our children’s lives.  Whether we homeschool our children or not, we inevitably have teachers some point in time.

For Hannah, these are the inspiring teachers in Sunday School, in swimming and dance classes.  They make classes enjoyable and learning fun.

As we celebrated Teacher’s Day on 2 September in Singapore, we kept our gift simple and doable by the child.  After all, it’s the child’s appreciation to her teacher right? Continue reading Teacher’s Day 2016: Paper Doily Lollipop Flowers

Dealing with Late Talking and Sensory Processing

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It’s almost 2 months since Elijah’s visit to the ENT specialist (read here).  He has been interacting with us a lot more and picking up new vocabulary; though his pronounced words aren’t clear.

After much reading about toe-walking and late talking, I thought I’d post some of the resources we’ve used and references I’ve found most helpful.  I hope it’ll be of use to someone reading this. Continue reading Dealing with Late Talking and Sensory Processing

Read Aloud Books by Karen Kingsbury: Father-Daughter / Mother-Son Bond

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Does your little girl look to her Daddy as if he’s her superhero? Does your little boy make footprints in your heart?

Written by Karen Kingsbury, this set of books make a lovely read for your little boy and girl. I love the fact that there’s one for little boys and their mother, and another for little girls and their father. It is especially useful for us! Continue reading Read Aloud Books by Karen Kingsbury: Father-Daughter / Mother-Son Bond

Heritage Fest 2016

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A belated May blog post on Heritage Fest 2016, Singapore.

Running its 13th year, Singapore HeritageFest brings to the public the diverse cultural heritage of this little city. From food trails to music recitals to experiencing Singapore’s last living kampong; Pulau Ubin. There’s something for everyone.

I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s our first year participating in Heritage Fest. We managed to catch two programmes:

Aliwal Arts Centre Open House

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Through the workshops, we learned various traditional art forms, such as the Malay dance by DIAN dancers and Chinese opera by Nam Hwa Opera.

Hannah liked the pretty DIAN dancers so much that she wanted to take a picture with them.

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If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that Hannah is a big fan of Chinese opera. She was excited to watch the opera up close!

We found out how opera singers use gestures, facial expressions and their props to express the emotions of the characters portrayed.

Here’s one opera-related activity you could do with your little one. Be sure to read these two (here, here) wonderful books on Chinese opera too!

Romance, Hope and Dreams @ Velocity, Novena Square

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Like most little girls, Hannah loves weddings! Ask her about the weddings she attended, and she’ll rattle off the names of the couple, and colour of the evening gowns those brides wore.

“Romance, Hope and Dreams” was the perfect exhibition for her to learn about the meanings of traditional wedding practices and beliefs of different ethnic communities.

Every traditional wedding ceremony had been modelled with clay.  See how intricate they are? They remind me of Alexandra Bruel’s clay pop art. Amazing.

Singapore HeritageFest happens from April to May every year. Be sure to check out www.heritagefest.sg for their latest happenings.

Late Talking: Looking Beyond the Mom Guilt and Whys

Over the past 5 months, our family struggled with a myriad of emotions.

My son who just turned 20 months hasn’t been speaking much. A lot of moms tell me that boys just develop at a slower pace. A part of me thought I was simply paranoid.

But something didn’t seem right when Elijah who was calling “Daddy”, “Mama”, “Jie Jie” (big sister in Chinese) suddenly stopped calling and spoke nothing.  He points to what he wants and scream when we don’t get him. He often try to drag us to the places he wants to go and grab our hands to show us what he wants.

As the main caregiver, one could imagine the kind of questions that went through my mind.

“Was it because of a head injury?” Elijah has always been an active child. He’s always climbing, running and prying into things.

“Could it be something I ate?” I wondered if the sashimi or caffeine I took affected my milk.

“Did I not pay enough attention to him?” The grandparents said this when they noticed Elijah’s lack of words.

A month ago, I finally had the courage to bring him to a friend who is a speech therapist for evaluation. She recommended some exercises to do with him, as she noticed he had difficulty focusing his attention.

Following that, I did more research.  I was now in “panic” mode. The red flags stated for Autism, Apraxia and ADD were relatively similar to Elijah’s situation.

I started to dread bedtime because my mind would try to reason for an answer in the stillness of the night. I was weary physically and spiritually. My pillow soaked in tears each night.

I had naturally assumed that talking would come quickly for Elijah because Hannah started talking early. By 18 months, she was already communicating fluently with us.

While I kept searching for the “why’s”, I persisted with my home exercises with Elijah. Things didn’t seem to improve after nearly a month. In fact, it seemed worse. He had more meltdowns and with that my firstborn felt left out. She started acting out more.

I tried to tell her that I needed more one-on-one time with her brother. Though it surely ain’t easy for someone whose love language is quality time to accept this.

She feels that Elijah is robbing away her time with her mother. And sometimes wish for her brother to go away. My heart broke when I heard those words.

Late talking: Siblings

I’m on my knees everyday. Asking for an answer. Praying for more love and understanding within the family. I couldn’t understand what God wanted us to learn.  I couldn’t understand why a perfect God allowed imperfection to enter into our lives. I am drained. I’ve ran out of logic.

By end of 3 weeks, I decided to bring Elijah to an ENT specialist to have his hearing checked.

The session was expensive because we didn’t seek a referral. But I knew I shouldn’t delay things. This nagging feeling of having his ears checked have been on my mind.

It turns out that it was a right decision. Elijah has impacted ear wax in both ears which affects his hearing (approx 10-20 decibels). We had the ear wax removed; terrifying experience for Elijah.

He then went for a hearing test. Results were positive. He has no hearing problems. The ENT specialist recommended a developmental pediatrician to evaluate Elijah’s development.

In the meantime, the husband reminded me of the upcoming church retreat in 2 weeks time.  I wasn’t looking forward to it having much dissonance within.

A week before we left for Malaysia, Elijah called out “Papa”.  My husband and I stared at each other in amazement.  He finally spoke something again!

I waited expectedly for more words. Nothing came.

The theme for our retreat was “Love Beyond Reason”. Dr. Peter Tan-chi of Christ’s Commission Fellowship was one of the guest speakers.  His sermons resonated most with us.  His sharing about his daughter’s tragedy; of pain and restoration were inspiring and compelling.

Did I receive a word from God during the camp?  No.  But I’m beginning to understand what Mother Teresa said:

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.

Mother Teresa

I do not know how our journey will unfold; how God will write Elijah’s life story.  Please pray together with us while we cling on to God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

P/s: Elijah called “Mama” on the third day of our retreat, right after our service!  His every word spoken becomes so precious to me…

Happy Mother’s Day 2016

Happy Mother's Day 2016

Every year, on Mother’s Day, we thank our mothers for their selflessness and love. Although, we mothers, often question our choices and how we fall short of the idealistic image of a perfect mom.

Just a couple of days ago, a friend and I lamented about the weariness of raising a family.  We wondered why we chose to leave our careers and raise children who drive us insane.  There are times when we are envious of yummy mummies who get to dress up, wear high heels and still have time to head to the gym while we, in sweat-soaked tees, chase after monkeys children in our Mary Janes.

It is an intense period of hard work: physically, mentally and emotionally.  Often sleep deprived, we continue to entertain the little people in chirpy voices, singing the same song every time they say: “Sing again, Mama! We want to hear it.” and reading the same story until we’re able to rattle off every sentence without looking at the page.

On top of that, we handle “Hulk” moments a.k.a. spontaneous meltdowns and skilful negotiations.

Throw in cleaning, washing, cooking and picking up Lego pieces.

All these at an average of 12 hours a day. Every day.

Clearly, this isn’t going to end anytime soon.  So what’s a mother to do?

God reminds me that my children are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalms 139:14)

Look past the “Hulk” moments, the fidgeting as if they had ants in their pants, and past the “you can’t catch me…” even though you specifically told them to stop…

Those little hands and legs….their heart….them.

They are God’s masterpieces.

Fearfully and wonderfully made
Source: Darlene Schacht (Time-warp Wife)

It is extremely difficult to keep thinking the good when faced with a terrible, no good, very bad day.  It’s almost impossible to think that your child is God’s masterpiece when he/she is screaming right in your face.

The good news is, we aren’t to do everything on our own.  God promises us to be the source of help. (Psalms 73:26)  God is faithful. He will never give us more than what we can bear. (1 Cor 10:13)

God is the strength of my heart
Source: be-the-change via model me girl

As for my friend and I, we concluded we would make the very same choices, when given a second chance.

So why bother having such a conversation when the choice remains clear?  I’m not sure.  Perhaps, it’s just one of those things we had to talk it out of our system. 🙂

To you, weary mom who ask yourself the same question and yet raise your children anyway, Happy Mother’s Day!

Not forgetting you, yummy mummy, Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother's Day 2016

 

Indoor Art Activity: Crayon Etchings

Crayon etchings: indoor art activity for children

The heat is on!  On Wednesday (13 Apr 2016), Singapore recorded its highest temperature in a decade this month: 36.7 deg C.

With the scorching weather refusing to let up,  we hide ourselves indoors from the blazing afternoon sun.  Keeping the children entertained isn’t an easy feat especially when I have to prepare dinner and do laundry.

Recently, I’ve found crayon etchings to be a useful activity to keep their little hands busy and burn those energy.

You will need:

  1. Bright coloured crayons
  2. Black crayon
  3. Toothpick or end of paintbrush
  4. Small sheet of paper
  5. Newspaper

Start by colouring the bright coloured crayons all over your paper.  You have to press firmly to create a thick layer of colouring. (That’s how you expand their energy!)

Place a pad of newspaper under the sheet of paper.  Cover the layer of crayon with black crayon.  The newspaper will allows the black crayon to coat evenly.  Again, you need to press firmly to coat a thick layer.

Now, lay newspapers all over the table before you etch.  This makes clean-up easier.  Remove the pad of newspaper before etching.

Design your picture by scraping the black layer with a toothpick or end of paintbrush.

I’m sure your children will feel hungry after all that colouring!  Just in time for dinner. 😉

ABC Jesus Loves Me (ABCJLM) Curriculum Review

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I’m terribly late with this curriculum review. But time has only heightened my appreciation for Heidi Franz’s “ABC Jesus Loves Me” (ABCJLM) curricula.

We’ve used all four of ABCJLM’s curricula: 2-year to 5-year. Here’s how we began:

During our first year of homeschooling (read here), I wasn’t sure if things would work out.  Hannah was then barely two.  All I knew was, I wanted a Bible-centered curriculum. And it has to be affordable.

So clueless me googled “homeschool curriculum for preschool”, and read many blogs and homeschool forums.  Then I cried.

Some curricula were terribly expensive (shipping fee not factored in)! Others were too overwhelming. How was I to do my laundry, cook, mop the floor…. I just wasn’t sure if I could complete all the things in the checklist within a week.

I prayed and prayed. There’s a tug in my heart to embark this journey.  But how Lord?

Finally, I landed on “ABC Jesus Loves Me” website.  It’s bible-centered. Check! The lessons seem doable. Check! It’s comprehensive. Check! It’s FREE!! Hallelujah!

Some friends whom I spoke to were skeptical about the quality of a free curriculum.  So I did more research. Having read many good reviews about the curriculum, I held my breath and took the plunge.

Four years on, I’m glad I took the first step.

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“ABC Jesus Loves Me” curriculum offers more than just academic development.  It teaches about gross and fine motor skills.

I especially like that it incorporates tips on basic manners, self-care and information a child ought to know. Being a first-time mom, I wasn’t sure what to teach and when without overwhelming my child. So having weekly objectives were definitely welcomed!

Following a weekly objective helped pace our learning.  I didn’t have to follow a daily lesson plan or checklist rigidly. The activities and crafts were adequate.

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Of course, I’m very, absolutely grateful that Heidi offers ALL lesson plans to homeschool families for free.

While you could have the lesson plans and workbooks printed for you,  I had several concerns.  Firstly, I wasn’t sure if homeschooling works out for us.  Secondly, the international shipping fee was is a BIG concern for me.  The currency exchange rate is another major factor.  USD$60 = nearly SGD$90 (excluding shipping fee).

Without a doubt, having everything printed allows me to have more sleep. 🙂  I might consider this option when teaching Elijah.

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Early this year, Heidi introduced the 1-year curriculum. We’re several weeks into the curriculum for Elijah.  So far so good!  Elijah has picked up basic sign-language.  His learning pace is vastly different from Hannah’s.  This new curriculum certainly provides me with much needed tips and ideas.

I find it difficult to teach Hannah and occupy Elijah at the same time.  I’ve tried setting up independent activities for Elijah but he doesn’t play on his own for long.  He’s more interested in his sister’s work!

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Having started on the 1-year curriculum, I find that I’m able to teach both children.  Hannah enjoys helping her brother in his work.  And she gets what she enjoys: more “school” time with me.

I still struggle to carve out time to prepare activities, borrow books and print activity sheets for both children.  Nowadays, I’m so drained by evening that I end up in bed with the kids. If you have any tips or suggestion on how to better manage time, please drop me a line.  Suggestions very welcomed!

Ok, I’ve digressed…

All in all, if you’re looking for a flexible, Bible-centered, quality preschool curricula, then check out ABC Jesus Loves Me.

Happy homeschooling!

Easy Easter Kids’ Crafts

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I’ve always been apprehensive about making our own Easter eggs, especially the mess I’ve to clean up if Hannah breaks an egg. That’s until I realised we could use hard-boiled eggs!

I know you must be thinking, “What have you been thinking all this time?!”

This egg crafting business is really new to me.  Here are several ideas for newbies like me:

Food Colour Dye Eggs

Mix 1/2 cup boiling water, 1 teaspoon vinegar and drops of food colour to achieve your desired colour.  Dip your hard-boiled eggs in the dye for 5 minutes. Remove and allow the eggs to dry.

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Painting on Empty Egg Shells

Daddy contributed this idea!  He made a small opening on the eggs, removed and cooked scrambled eggs for breakfast, then washed the egg shells.

With chopsticks and a cup to prop the egg shells, we left them to dry before painting them.     The chopsticks and cup helped keep Hannah’s hands and clothes clean.  Minimal clean-up effort!

Crayon Decorated Eggs

Now, this method requires some practice.  We had used crayons to draw designs on hard-boiled eggs.

I meant to dye the eggs after that to create crayon-resist effect. However, the eggs were crushed after Hannah drew on them.  So we skipped the dye.

As you can tell, we had a lot of eggs to finish for the week!

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Yarn Eggs

A friend taught us this.  Blow up a ballon to the size of your fist.  Secure balloon with a knot. Dip yarns in PVA glue (diluted with some water). Wrap glue-covered yarn around balloon.  The balloon should be fairly well covered with yarn.

Allow balloon and yarn to dry completely.  Pop balloon and remove it.

Oh, you could also use this egg to share about Jesus’s resurrection.  The egg is hollow because Jesus has resurrected!. The tomb is empty!

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Sticker Decorated Eggs

We did this on Thursday at MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers).  Simply stick stickers on a hard-boiled egg.  You could even tell the Easter story with the stickers.  Hannah chose to illustrate Jesus’s crucifixion by pasting 3 crosses.  Two for the criminals and Jesus in the middle.

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Easter Kids’ Activities

In the run-up to Easter, we recount Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection with Easter Activity Workbook.  It’s a 7-day countdown that covers Palm Sunday through Christ’s resurrection. You could get your free copy by subscribing to ABC Jesus Loves Me Blog.

We also learned about the story of the resurrection eggs through the book, “Lily’s Easter Party“.  It’s an interesting concept to recount the Easter story using symbols.

Intrigued by the concept, I shared this at our Mandarin co-op. Retelling the Easter story in Mandarin proved to be a feat!  It surely was a relief to know that the children enjoyed the Easter egg hunt and discovering the symbols.

Life Your Way and Teaching Heart provide free materials to go along with story.

Even if you didn’t get to do any craft or activity, don’t be dismayed. Take this Sunday to quiet your heart and let God speak to you. He’s the reason for Easter.

14022783319_ee3e72485b_bPhoto by Andrea Howey on Flickr

Happy Easter!