Picture This: Community in Bloom (Queenstown Library)

Community-In-Bloom-Queenstown-Library-Main-Homeschool-Crafts

Maintaining a garden seemed almost impossible.  Like more than 80% of Singapore residents, we live in an HDB flat. That means limited space. It doesn’t help that our apartment receives little sunlight too. (Does it sound like I’m living in a cave?  LOL!)

When I discovered Queenstown Library’s Community in Bloom project, I quickly signed ourselves up!

Community-In-Bloom-Queenstown-Library-Singapore-Homeschool-Crafts

We attended a session run by a fellow homeschooling mom.  It was nice spending the morning, tending the community garden with other homeschooling families.

The session began with a short storytelling.  Then the kids went on to dig into the earth and pluck weeds.

Community-In-Bloom-Queenstown-Library-Singapore-2-Homeschool-Crafts

It was conducted in a casual manner with minimal supervision.  So if you’re a beginner gardener, this might be for you. 🙂

Useful things to bring:

1. Hat and Sunscreen: The children will be out in the sun all the time. It happened to be cloudy when these photos were taken.

2. Mosquito patch: I’m a mosquito magnet so this was my must-have.

3. Extra clothing: Children will feel more comfortable after a change especially when the dirt gets on them everywhere.

4. Watering can/trowel: Bring a watering can or trowel, if possible. There weren’t enough watering cans to go around that day.

Community-In-Bloom-Queenstown-Library-Singapore-3-Homeschool-Crafts

Join the Community in Bloom project:

Day: Alternate Saturdays, from 2 Jan 2016
Time: 11.30am to 12.30pm
Venue: Activity zone at Queenstown Library, 
              53 Margaret Drive, Singapore 149297

 

Unstuck: Looking Outward

Fly AwaySource

After much blog silence,  I’m back.  From my previous post, “Sitting on a Seesaw with God“, things hasn’t changed drastically but I’ve learned a lot (and still am learning) from this period of waiting.

Look beyond our problems

I’m starting to look outward and beyond the problems at hand.  One day, when I no longer feel the weight of the problem, then perhaps I might come to realise that the problem no longer exists.

Change your thoughts and you change your world.

Norman Vincent Peale

Count our blessings

Rather than focusing on the things that I have no control over, I’ve begun to thank God for the little things.  Like rejoicing the very breath that we hold!

Give and be an encouragement

Charles Dickens’ once said,

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.

Often, I’m stumped by situations at home: how can I get the children to eat better? What can I do to make Elijah sleep through?  How do I juggle homeschool and housework when I feel so drained?

Now, I try to pay more attention to people around me.  Praying for others and just being there for another really helps put things in perspective.  And well, reminds me that God hears my prayers.

Self-care is important

Most stay-home moms will agree that we tend to put our family first and neglect ourselves.  During this time, I’m reminded that self-care is equally important.

As Elijah continues to wake up at night, I don’t get quality sleep.  To get a good head start in the morning, I’ve started to turn in early.  That means, sacrificing my blogging hours. So I need to accept that there might come a time when no one reads my blog (except for my ever supportive husband!)

Also, I’ve been watching my diet.  I try to practice proper nutrition by snacking healthily (less chocolates!) and exercising whenever possible.

God is always constant

Above all else, I remember that God is always constant.  His love endures forever.  What He says, He will do.

To you, in need of an encouragement, do not be dismayed.

Your entire life is already written out in His master plan.  Take heart!

He hears your cries and saves your tears.  God will never leave you nor forsake you.

Hallelujah!

Celebrate SG50: Museum Hopping in Singapore

Did you manage to enjoy the free admission to some attractions over the Jubilee weekend?

I know thousands waited hours for the free cable-car rides, admissions to the Singapore ArtScience Museum and the Science Centre.  As for us, we spent our Jubilee Weekend at home with a sick child. Yea, tell me about it… :/

Good thing is, we can still enjoy free attractions even after the Golden Jubilee – MUSEUM HOPPING!Visit to the Singapore Philatelic Museum

Singapore Philatelic Museum

Get to know Singapore’s history through stamps!  Check out the first stamp issue when Singapore became an independent nation.

Discover the early trades in Singapore: We got to see how life were back in the early 19th century, try on red wooden clogs (a common footwear then), and smell the spices (Singapore was a prime redistribution centre for the spice trade).

Before we left, Hannah designed a postcard and mailed it to ourselves from the museum. She was excited to receive it the next day!

That evening after our trip to the Singapore Philatelic Museum, we made a cardboard mailbox.  I’m rather proud to say that it does somewhat resemble our local mailbox. 🙂

Singapore Philatelic Museum

National Museum of Singapore

We visited the National Museum of Singapore early August during Children’s Season (end May to mid August). Like our past visit to the “Masak Masak” exhibition, Hannah enjoyed herself thoroughly.  Read about our first visit here.

Singapore National Museum

Army Museum of Singapore

Besides visiting the gallery to learn about the Singapore Army, we got to see the “big boys” (tanks and trucks) up close.

We also tried our hands at the mini Standard Obstacle Course – one of the challenges a recruit will face in army.

That was really the highlight!

Army Museum of Singapore

Singapore Discovery Centre

While you’re at the Army Museum of Singapore, swing by to the Singapore Discovery Centre for more fun.

Visit the “#My Singapore – Ours to Create” exhibition to discover what makes us uniquely Singapore. Exhibition is from 27 Jun 2015 to 3 Jan 2016.

Singapore Discovery Centre

All visits to the museums are easily accessible via public transport.  They are within walking distance from the MRT stations.

Moms with strollers, fear not! 🙂

Enjoy learning Singapore’s past, present and future!

Celebrate-SG50-Singapore-Discovery-Homeschool-Crafts

P/s: Hannah wanted to take a photo with the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew…and so we did!

Picture This: June Has Come And Gone (…Going)

Just like that we are at our last week of June!

A quick review of June…

June holidays Singapore 2015: Dinosaurs

We managed to catch Dinosaurize Me! 2015 before the exhibition closed.  Our budding palaeontologist has been reading much about dinosaurs after the exhibition.  She’s been busy discovering new dinosaurs and naming them too! 🙂

Asian Festival of Children's Content 2015

We attended the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2015 at the National Library, Singapore. ACT 3 International together with three secondary schools put up literary adaptions based on the following books:

  • Emma’s Elephant by David Seow;
  • The Forest Fable by Gelyn Ong; and
  • Fun at the Opera by Susanna Goho Quek.

Hannah enjoyed the book Fun at the Opera very much and I thought it would be interesting to see the story come alive with dance and performance.

It was also our first time listening to a bilingual storytelling of “The Wolf Khan from the DMZ: Coward Wolf Khan” in Korean and English by Rosemarie Somaiah and Jeong Jin Lim. After the session, each child received materials ( which Jeong Jin had painstakingly prepared) to create their wolf puppet.

SEA Games 2015 Singapore

Invariably, we had to show up at the SEA Games Carnival 2015! How could we miss out on all the action and fun?!

The highlight of the day? I thought it would be trying out the sports games.  I was wrong.  It was posing with Nila, the SEA Games mascot! LOL!

June Holidays 2015 Camp

Finally, we end the month of June with our church retreat. It was Hannah’s first ride in a coach bus and Elijah’s first overseas trip. It was tiring for the parents but the children (okay, child) enjoyed herself thoroughly.  She got to stay up late, made new friends, hang out with her Sunday School friends, dance and sing to sing-a-longs. 🙂  She’s already asking about the next church retreat but I think I need a “retreat” after this retreat. 😛

Picture This: Dinosaurize Me! 2015

Picture This: Dinosaurize Me! 2015 Plaza Singapura Singapore

I love it when Science is brought to the heartlands!  From now to 14 June 2015, Dinosaurize! Me 2015 will be at Plaza Singapura, Main Atrium, Level 1.  I was excited to find this exhibition through my friend.  Hannah has recently developed a liking for these giant creatures that once roamed the earth. We’ve been watching videos, learning their impossible to pronounce names and if they were a carnivore, herbivore or omnivore.

On display (see above) is the Argentinosaurus – one of the largest dinosaur ever found. It’s definitely an eye-opener for us!

There are hands-on workshops and performances for the children to learn about dinosaurs.  A fee of $5 is required for each of the following workshop:

  1. The Geological Timeline Activity
    How did life evolve on earth over billions of years? Learn this while constructing the Geological timeline
  2. Dig up Fossils
    Fossils help scientists develop hypotheses about pre historic creatures and the way they lived and behaved.
  3. Stop Motion Animation
    Create your own story of the dinosaurs and make it into an animation.
Dinosaurize Me: Geologic Timeline Activity
The Geologic Timeline Activity: suitable for ages 6 and up.

As we visited Dinosaurize Me! on a public holiday, it was packed with children and their parents.  We chose one of the three paid workshop to attend – “Dig Up Fossils”. Here, Hannah got to create a mini “fossil” using plaster of paris and a dinosaur mould.

Dinosaurize Me: Dig Up Fossils
Dig Up Fossils: suitable for ages 4 and up.

If you have young children, they’d be happy to “dig up” some dinosaur bones in the sandbox or colour their favourite dinosaurs for free.  I know Hannah enjoyed colouring her dinosaurs!

Dinosaurize Me: Digging Up Bones

Dinosaurize Me: Colouring Dinosaurs

Overall, this exhibition surpassed my expectations.  It wasn’t merely an exhibition in a shopping mall.  Children and even adults get to learn a thing or two about dinosaurs.

What’s more, we were given a handbook that discusses how one classifies a dinosaur, what palaeontology is about, more facts about dinosaurs and fossils.  A great tool for further discussion at home with the kids!

I do hope that Singapore Science Centre could partner with other shopping malls and have more of such wonderful exhibitions soon.  I can’t wait for the next “Science in the Mall” event!

Dinosaurize Me! Plaza Singapura

Reflections of a Mom: Hannah Turns 4!

Happy Birthday, Hannah

Just like that…my little girl turns 4! It’s crazy how children grow up right before your very eyes.  As I posted pictures of our birthday celebration, I looked back at those taken several months ago.  And boy, did I realised how much Hannah has grown! Not just her outward appearance, but also her budding maturity.  I guess, sometimes, we get so caught up with the everyday that we haven’t had the time to stop, look back and see the progress we’ve made.

Of course, as I reflect on the days, I can’t help but have regrets and guilt.  I wish I’m able to spend more time alone with her.  I wish I didn’t say some things I’ve said out of anger.  I wish I could take back some of my actions.  I wish I could have done more.

But what’s done cannot be undone.  I pray for strength to overcome the challenges I face within myself.  I pray for wisdom for the days ahead.  I pray for love…love that keeps us going day by day.

Over the weekend when we celebrated Hannah’s birthday with her Sunday School friends, her teachers (at least 2 of them) assumed I baked the birthday cake.  I was embarrassed to tell them that it was done by my friend.  That guilt of “I should be doing everything” haunts me every now and then.

As I search within myself.  I’ve come to realised that being a good mother isn’t about doing everything on your own.  It’s about seeking help when you need to.  It’s okay that I don’t bake or sew…and that I’m guilty of having takeouts every now and then.  But that doesn’t stop me from me a good mom.

In fact, I’m a GREAT mother to my children.  Simply because I am THEIR mother..there is no other.  No one can take that special place in my children’s heart.

Hello Hannah

As I thought about the things I wanted to pen down, the words to Lee Ann Womack’s “I hope you dance” filled my mind.  So I shall make the lyrics of the song as my closing.

To my firstborn, my little princess…

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance….I hope you dance.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances but they’re worth takin’,
Lovin’ might be a mistake but it’s worth makin’,
Don’t let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin’ out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

Dance….I hope you dance.
I hope you dance….

Crash Course: The Life Lessons My Students Taught Me

Picture taken from goodreads.com

When I became a mom, I really found it so difficult to find time to read.  I hardly borrow books for myself.  It’s always about the children. About two weeks ago, I decided I SHOULD find read books for ME.  This is my first book and I’m glad to have picked this up.

As the author, Kim Bearden shares her highs and lows throughout her teaching years, she inspires her readers to find joy and meaning in our lives.  This book isn’t just for teachers or educators.  Parents will come to enjoy this book as we are reminded to look to our children with renewed spirit.

I enjoy reading Kim’s “class notes” and “homework” at the end of every chapter.  “Class notes” summarises what each chapter discussed, while, “homework” allows the reader to put what was learned into action. So if you’re really short of time, you’ll still benefit from the book just by reading “class notes” and “homework”.

Here are my favourite quotes:

Tenacity

It is easy for all of us to become discouraged when we feel that we have nurtured a child who doesn’t respond to our efforts. But we must cling to the hope that our efforts have made a difference and that one day, that child will draw on the things that we have instilled within them.

Do you often grow weary after having episodes with your child?  It can get frustrating when your child apologises and then commits the same mistake again and again.  I have many of such days with Hannah.

Often the power struggle would leave me feeling exhausted and exasperated.  This led me to frequently wonder if I was really making a difference, and I felt unappreciated despite all that I do.

As I read Kim’s story about her daughter, I hope to believe that one day, the seeds I sowed in my little girl’s heart will take root and grow.

Crash Course - Kim Bearden

Love

As long as the greatest investment in your home is the love that you create and spread, you, my friend, have succeeded in my eyes.

Do you often get little voices in your head telling you that you’re not doing enough? Have you encountered moms (or dads) who  made you feel inadequate? I often feel guilty about not doing enough.  For instance, not attending the different co-op that we would like to attend…unable to spend as much one-to-one time with each child…(you get the picture). We need to release the guilt and stop trying to measure up with others.

When we focus on building a home with love, everything else is secondary.

Homework

  • Make a list of things you would love to hear your children say about you. Prioritise your time around the things that will yield the greatest return with your family.
  • Assess your involvement with your child’s life.  Are you there to support and guide them or are you doing everything for them?

Talent

We all have unique talents and gifts that we are meant to share with the world – we just have to be open to discovering them. You can have an impact on others that you might not have realised simply because you are choosing to focus on things that you think you can’t do instead of the things that you can do.  You have something to offer this world. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

As a parent, I hope to hear teachers compliment how well behaved my children are.  On the flip side, teachers would tell me how active Hannah is and that she doesn’t stay put for long. Sometimes I feel at loss upon hearing such remarks.  But I know she is made special.  I know she tries her best not to move in class but it takes every fibre of her being to sit still and not fidget.  It’s hard work on her part.

Rather than wishing she would be a model student sitting still, I try to focus on her gifts and talents; like her compassionate spirit.  She tells me that she hopes to have a magic wand so that she could help people recover from their illness.  Hannah is always looks out for babies and younger children in her Sunday School and co-op.  She gets stickers from her teacher for being helpful.  She likes to encourage the young children whenever they feel nervous attending Sunday School on their own.

Make a list of your child’s gifts to remind yourself of his strengths and celebrate them.  Make a list of your talents too, and reflect how we could use our gifts and talents daily.

Crash-Course-Sibling-Love-Homeschool-Crafts

How Do I Carry On?

Turned Upside Down: Homeschool Crafts

I’ve been very quiet as life’s been turned upside down.  After the Lunar New Year, everyone in the family came down with a bad bug. Baby had the worst hit.  He was terribly sick for more than 2 weeks; coughing so hard every night and unable to drink well due to his blocked nose.  We had to see the pediatrician every 2 days for suction.  Nights were long and Hannah was often awoken from Elijah’s cries.  Nobody had a good sleep for several weeks…that didn’t help with our recovery at all.

Besides dealing with sickness, we’ve been having discipline issues with Hannah.  Probably the lack of good sleep made things far worse than it is, but every day at some point, there would be disobedience or outright defiance.  People often talked about the terrible twos.  For me, it’s the frightening fours (well, soon-to-be).

Every evening, I’d be so exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally.  I have little energy to blog, prepare curriculum or as a matter of fact, do anything at all.  I’ve stopped homeschooling to focus on appropriate behaviour, getting as much rest as I can, and keeping the house clean to stop the flu bug.

Baby Smile: Homeschool Crafts

Things were seemingly better until today.  Right now, Elijah’s down with fever.  Hannah got into trouble this week.  I just snapped.

I can’t hold back my tears.  I’m at a loss.  How do I carry on from here?

I’m stuck in a rut.  Desperately searching for answers but finding none.

Happy Winter Solstice (冬至节快乐)

Happy Winter Solstice!

Today is dong zhi 冬至 or Winter Solstice Festival.  It’s known to be the longest night of the year, depending which part of the world you reside in.  Singapore is one degree north of the equator so while we still get a shorter day, it barely makes any difference.

Nevertheless, it’s still celebrated by many Chinese families here.  It’s a time to get together and enjoy the evening eating tang yuan 汤圆 (glutinous rice balls).

These brightly coloured rice balls literally mean “round dumplings in sweet soup”, and symbolise family unity.  They may be plain or filled with paste, and eaten with either sweet or savoury soup.

We bought ours from the supermarket instead of making them from scratch.  The glutinous balls were made by a local company, “Chinatown”.  We bought those stuffed with peanut paste and cooked with ginger soup base.

Winter Solstice - Glutinous Rice Balls

It was a simple family fare but we enjoyed ourselves.  No prepared activities, no lesson plans, just basking in the warmth of family.  Happy Winter Solstice!

A happy family is but an earlier heaven.

George Bernard Shaw

DIY Reindeer Antlers Headband

DIY reindeer antlers headband

It’s that time of the year again! As we count down to Christmas, we made a reindeer antlers headband to add the festive cheer. Plus, it keeps the children busy on a rainy day. 🙂

This is a really simple activity and it’s easy to clean up afterwards.  Here’s how to make the reindeer antlers headband:

You’ll need:

  • A4 cardboard
  • 1 sturdy hairband
  • 2 pipe cleaners
  • Tape
  • Glitter glue and any other decorations

Method:

  1. Draw reindeer antlers on the cardboard.
  2. Cut out the reindeer antlers.
  3. Decorate your reindeer antlers in any way you wish.  We decorated ours with red glitter glue.
  4. Tape the reindeer antlers to the pipe cleaners. Add more tape to the back of the antlers so that it doesn’t droop.
  5. Secure the pipe cleaners to the hairband.
  6. Parade your reindeer antlers headband!

DIY Reindeer Antlers Headband

Apart from the reindeer craft, why not try some of our last-minute Christmas decorations?

Our family have been counting down the days to Christmas with our Jesse Tree calendar, making gift tags for friends and families, and reading the nativity story.

What have your family been doing this advent?

Amidst the craziness and to-dos, let’s not forget what Christmas is all about.

Jesus is the saviour God promised.

From our family to yours, have a blessed Christmas! 😀