Wednesday, December 23, 2009

All the Time in the World

So much has been said about not having enough time and that life is short. Watching 2012 is certainly a consolation!


While vacation is coming to an end soon for most kids, it only began about 2 weeks ago for SW who attends full-day childcare. Although his school is still on until 31st December, I decided to let SW take the last 2 weeks off, enjoying the privileges of having more time to himself.

Having both kids at home during the day means I will be the only one without a vacation and loosing the weight I've been trying hard to gain. But putting the priorities right is important - so I made it a point to take leave too by staying away from my computer and sitting down with the kids - even it means watching Winx!

Nearly every other day of the year, we have to get up early, rush to get everything done within the shortest time possible, following a time-table that is set for us or one we've set for ourselves whilst being as productive as we can. I wonder - if Albert Einstein had led a life like ours, would he have had the opportunity to observe how light reflects and refracts while he sat with his sister, looking out into the lake? Would Galileo have had a minute to observe how a ceiling lamp swings back & forth and measured it against his own pulse?

"Mommy, do I have to go to school tomorrow?" SW has been asking me everyday since the start of his precious 2 weeks.

"Mommy, why don't we take the stairs instead?" SW liked to ask me when the lift took ages to land on our floor when we were running short of time. At the start of his holiday, I gave him the privilege of time to understand why by allowing him to climb the 11 flight of steps Up.

Kids have their special moments when it comes to sharing their thoughts. I appreciate having the time to listen and answer his questions at breakfast without having to worry about the school bus and at supper without having to rush him off to bed for school the next day.

HM and I aren't the happiest person to have SW at home. Being born with sibling makes CH naturally more sociable than her brother, and is in more need of attention. Doing things with her brother makes her happy and more settled, somehow. Although she enjoys dabbling paints with me, doing it with her brother is more fun. So I gave them the time in the world to do the things they want minus my nagging.

Taking time to paint a clay magnet the way they want it - as the saying goes - "Ya can't rush art!" (from Toy Story)

Last night, SW asked me again, "Mommy, do I have to go to school tomorrow?" When I said no, he continued, "When I wake up tomorrow morning, can you tell me I have no school so I can go back to sleep?"

I know exactly how that feels, my dear child. To have all the time in the world to do what you want and to rest enough...

As the year comes to an end, here's wishing everyone:

All the Time in the World
to do what you want to do and
to have the rest that you truly deserve!
Happy, Happy New Year!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Power of Letting Go

It is amazing how when you finally let go of something , better things come along.


After decades of working in the same company, Cousin Angeline decided to step out of her comfort zone. The new journey provided her with inner peace and gave root to a new hobby - balloon sculpting.

I never knew what balloons could do until I saw the pictures she posted in her Facebook. [I've added images of her works related to Christmas]

"I started out making simple ones like poodles after watching a clown at it in a shopping centre. After some time, I got tired of making the same ones, so I decided to take up a two-day training at a local community centre and learnt the basics. From there, it became easier to pick up other designs from books."

"How long does it take for you to memorize a design?" Cousin Angeline obviously wasn't referring to any books as she worked on the Santa Claus for CH.

"On average, I'd do twice of the same design with reference. Thereafter, I'd usually be able to remember the steps".

We gathered at mom's place so our kids could play together during the vacation. I know CH likes balloons, but I was surprised she stood to watch till the sculptures were completed. Watching Cousin Angeline at work, you realize balloon sculpting takes passion, patience, and creativity, a lot like any other form of art. Uniquely though, because of their short life span - up to 7 days, these works are meant to be given away. Hence, above all else, you need to have the love of giving. For the kids, they have to learn to accept that unlike other toys, you can neither keep nor collect them...

New prospects are opening up for Angeline, currently a stay-home mom, for teaching balloon sculpting, concert decorations & other events, social work...

Amazing isn't it? The joy of giving up a job and finding a life! Merry Christmas, everyone!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Star Drapes



The festives drape is up! There had been much trial and error as it was my first attempt at making one. I've added some small twin golden bells that go 'cling, cling' when we walk pass the drapes. That delighted the kids. They now enjoy running back and forth it, making continuous tingling sound.

There was another design which I've been wanting to make. An accessories shop at Tampines Mall uses it as their window dressing, and I was drawn to it. I decided to make it for my sister who hangs a short drape at her kitchen door, and its rings were also rusty.

I came across similar materials at Daiso, but when I went back to get them after completing my star drapes, they have run out of pink, which was the initial colour I wanted to use. Fortunately, there were 2 packs of purple stuffed in a corner, which didn't look too bad either. Not to disappoint her 3 the kids, I've also added jingle bells on the sides.

"You can remove it after christmas..." I began as I started to remove the old one. I didn't want her to feel obligated to put it up, but she stopped me.

"Don't worry, it's going to stay there!"

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Festive Drapes

It's about time I change my green clover felt drapes. The rings are rusty and some of the pieces are coming off from the kids' tugging. With the festive period approaching, what better time to source for materials!

After about an hour's browse at Daiso, I finally found 2 leftover packs of Red Felt Stars to my liking. They were hooked up high against the wall near the checkout. Got a friendly young assistant to help me using a tall ladder. It was worth the hassle. The red stars are good as I could keep them through Chinese New Year, which will fall on 14th February next year.

We don't have a family tradition of putting up Christmas tree and decorations, but those sparkling, shinny stuff are just so inviting they spell festivities! Working on my drapes gives me a good excuse to use some of these decorations...happy, happy, happy...

The red perforated stars came in 3s which would be too sparse on the drapes. I decided to get some felt sheets to work on additional stars - felts because my drapes are hung near my doorway, sort of like a divider between the doorway and the living room. They won't scratch your skin when you pass them by.

The extra stars I am sewing. The dual colours gives a contrast against my mahogany main door.



CH draws me standing on a stool working on the drapes. I like that heart she has added. And where is that kitty from...?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Bottle Tree Park


It was a gathering of old classmates I haven't had in years, and the venue picked by Amy had been ideal for many of us. Not only was it the first visit for those staying at the other end of the island, for those like me who brought kids along, we had something to keep the kids busy with - at least for a while.

Picture of a Bottle Tree taken by my friend, Jenni.


With urbanization, Singapore is left with close to zero natural places for children to play in (or any at all!). Tucked at a corner of Yishun, the kids get to enjoy lokang fishing. 'Lokang' means drain in Malay. Village children used to catch fishes in the drains. I was a village kid, but I never did lokang fishing. Perhaps my male cousins did.

We went there a couple of times for family dinner, and were not prepared for the kids to get wet. SW and CH couldn't believe I brought them there prepared with extra clothes and towels this time. It was awesome watching them and the other kids having fun!




I was amazed to learn that this park was started by 3 friends who spent more than S$100,000 buying 6 rare trees and other exotic plants from Australia in 2004.

It was also the first time we brought any live fish home. I did not believe the fish would survive a few days in such a tiny box, and I really wasn't prepare to keep them as pets. The kids were disappointed, but they witnessed the smallest one dying. That same evening, we set them free at a nearby Park.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

East Coast



With the rainy season in full stride, we were lucky to have a sunny afternoon at East Coast last weekend. We have not been bringing the kids to the beach for a while, and they missed playing in sand. With school exams over, the beach was pretty crowded, but the air was jovial.


CH is more manageable now. Despite the sand on her face and hair, she wasn't coming back to where we were comfortably seated every other minute. My lighter load without the stroller, milk bottles and diapers also made packing so much easier.

I like that Octopus in the sky. It was right above my head. Reminds me of my 3-dollar kite which I always forget to bring along.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another Math Find

CH picked this up on her own and I discovered later that it is another good book for Peg Memory, although it is much more challenging as the numbers are not printed. You'd need to count and remember the answer.

The basic use of the book as suggested by the author is learning to find each sum without counting one by one. It is a fun way to reinforce Math concepts. Every page presents a challenge, introducing children to creative problem solving. I certainly appreciate the answers given on the back pages, whilst the rhyming riddles make reading enjoyable too!

One of the pages goes like this:

Mama mia, pizza pie,
How many mushrooms do you spy?
Please don't count them, it's too slow,
This hot pie was made to go!
Let me give you some advice,
Just do half and count it twice.

The 'problem sum' comes up at the end of each riddle and young children can learn about 'half', 'twice', 'repeat', 'match', 'groups of...' etc.

SW and I were having a ball of a time, hysterically trying to recall from the first answer after every new one we add up when I caught sight of CH watching us, her jaw dropping. I suspect she did not quite know what we were doing.

Title: The Grapes of Math (Mind-stretching Math Riddles)
By Greg Tang, Illustrated by Harry Briggs
Publisher: Scholastic Inc., 2001
Skills practiced: Peg Memory, Creative Thinking, Math (counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication), English.

Content:
16 fish, 50 grapes, 22 snails, 19 ants, 15 camels (25 humps), 30 cherries, 23 empty mounds, 24 mushrooms on pizza, 40 dots on dice, 28 window panes with light, 15 dots on the fan, 33 scallops, 33 melon seeds, 30 beetles, 36 eggs.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Media Influence


SW is drawing robots, star wars, Ben 10 and Pokemon these days, thanks to the influence of media. Sometimes, I wonder where some of those characters come from, like the one above. Most of what he draws goes uncoloured. At 5, I am thankful that he is still sketching a lot. Occasionally, he surprises me with some touches of colours like the one below. It's funny how he likes to add in the arrows and signs, and how he insists that the picture is 'complete' despite some portions being left uncoloured (like the dangling fella on the left). Perhaps it's meant to be transparent? I didn't ask more as my appreciation was shifted to his use of colours.

CH Draws Me

This is CH's recent portrait of me using a highlighter. I thought my 3 year-old was drawing herself, but the bun on the head proves otherwise. Somehow, she prefers to see my hair swept back. I love that grin on the face. Still think it looks more like her...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Peg Memory Practice

When it comes to memory games, there are some books which serve the same purpose as Linking Memory and Peg Memory as practiced at The Shichida Method. I have come across some of these books by chance at the library. My children find them fun and challenging to recall the nouns in sequence like in linking memory, or randomly like in peg memory. Here is a good one I found recently:

Title: Ocean Counting, Odd Numbers,
By: Jerry Pallotta, Illustrated by Shennen Bersani
Publisher: Charlesbridge, 2005
Skill Practice: Peg Memory, Math (counting and learning about odd numbers), English

Content:
1 Striped Bass, 3 Sunfish, 5 Blood Stars, 7 Basking Sharks, 9 Little Green Crabs, 11 Northern Stars, 13 Surf Clams, 15 Limpets, 17 Mackerals, 19 Lumpfish, 21 Moon Snails, 23 Horsehoe Crabs, 25 Cunners, 27 Hake, 19 Mussels, 31 Hermit Crabs, 33 Sand Dollars, 35 Angel Wings, 37 Black Sea Bass, 39 Skate Eggs, 41 Razor Clams, 43 Pollack, 45 Whelks, 47 Pipefish, 49 Smelts, 50 Blue Sharks (Even number), 0 fish (Odd number).

Comments:
The illustration is realistically beautiful and interesting, while the short write-ups on each of the animals provide quick grasp of facts without testing the short attention span of young children. 50 items is the standard practice at one go, and is just right for 4-6 year olds.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Busy Too!


While I was busy with the closing of accounts, someone's also busy in a corner. When it gets too quiet around the house, something must be happening.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Classic Bob

It is a privilege to have a haircut by an expert. It is a rare opportunity to have it done for free. I had that privileged last night.

I've been a hair model several times, as favours, for exam purposes. However, being a hair model for a demonstration is another matter. When I finally got all my financial statements out of the way at 6pm, I was glad I agreed to the haircut. "It will be a collar-length cut". I was told in layman's term by the trainee now turned trainer.

As the 20 trainees and trainers took their seats, I was careful about meeting anyone in the eye, trying to hide my awkwardness. I was a silent observer and was contented to be so. When the demonstration began, I felt more relaxed as attention was focused on the job.

Terms like 'hair density', 'hair texture', 'jumpy hairline', 'sectioning', were like new music to my ears. Given the kind of environment, I'd be an active learner who'd ask lots of questions. But I was the model, and I wasn't expected to be asking questions. It was a free lesson for me to learn how to cut my 3 year-old's hair!

The style is called The Classic Bob. It is precise without layers. There is variation of shorter fringe. On naturally straight hair, it is one of the easiest hairstyles to manage!



Here's a quick illustration to show you my final hair-cut.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Actor Salesman

We were out at a neighbourhood shopping centre last night and I saw a familiar face at the basement carpark. It was a local actor.

I wondered what he was doing there, talking to some passer-by. After our dinner and getting CH a pair of sandals to replace the one she has out-grown, he was still there! This time, he caught our eyes and approached! I heard him stopping my husband who was behind me. With a DVD in his hand, he began to promote a film, which my husband declined to purchase. "You know I don't like buying DVDs" my husband explained to me later, which was true. But both of us felt something.

A public figure personally trying to sell you something he is a part of, at a basement carpark, without the support of other crew members or anyone else, withstanding rejections, keeping up a cheerful front and saying sincere thank yous.

That's tough for anyone, but I think more so for a public figure - the ego that he has to get past - or is he trying to get a feel of his new role in a new film? I truly hope it is the latter.

Maybe it is my empathy for the actor, or maybe it is curiosity that makes me look up the internet for the film. It is called 'Autumn in March'.

On the way out, I saw him talking to an elderly couple, with some cash in his hand. Cool. A deal. Just as our car rounded the corner, I caught sight of the impressionable teenage girl standing beside the elderly couple, beeming at the actor-salesman, gently nodding her head and flushing pink. I smiled too.

Click on 'links to this post' or the title of this post to link see webpage.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Last Lecture

My sister passed me this book, but the cover wasn't visually captivating enough for me to pick it up until recently, when my life seems to be rather aimless. I am glad I read it.

It is written by a Professor who teaches Virtual Reality in one of the most prestigious schools in the US, Carnegie Mellon. But it isn't about Virtual Reality. It is about reality - about life. From someone who is diagnosed of Pancreatic Cancer with only a few months to live, Randy Pausch tells in his last lecture about his childhood dreams, about achieving them, and how to help others achieve them. However, to prepare for that last lecture means taking time away from his family and kids, who were then 5, 2 and 1 years old . But it was an opportunity for him to sort out the things that were most important to him, and to leave his kids memories of their father and letting them know what he was like when he was alive.

As a parent, it is one the best books to get hold of. There are many lessons and wisdom to be learnt. I have jotted down some of his words in my journal. But there are just too many of them. It is worth reading the book another time. Better still, I have found videos on THE last lecture. If you do not have time to read the whole book, try to spend about 30 minutes watching this video from abc. Click on the title of this post or links to this post.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Toccata and Fugue in D minor

One day, I was playing alone in the attic and discovered some cassette tapes. They belonged to my dad.

I must have been nine years old then. Idle and curious, I inserted the tapes into a nearby portable cassette player. There must have been about twenty tapes. One by one, I listened.

I came upon a J.S. Bach, with a picture of Bach on it. The first piece was Toccata and Fugue in D minor, on organ.

I didn't listen to it for more than a few seconds the first time. I went through the rest of the tapes and came back to Bach. I let it play for a few more seconds. What a long piece of music, I had thought. Back then, I was only listening to ABBA and Bee Gees on our way to school in the family car with my cousins. Classical music* to me was totally alien.

Then came Fugue. It was the most harmonious music I had ever heard. Didn't know it was Fugue until I started learning music later on. Fugue made me fall in love with music for the first time. I stared at the face of Bach and wondered who this great person was. I liked listening to music, but I had never appreciated music like I did with Toccata and Fugue. I continued listening to the rest of the tape, but I always came back to this unique piece.

Toccata makes you feel alert and tense, demanding your attention. The notes are mesmerizingly fast and rhythmically unpredictable. Each verse is a story in itself. Fugue is romantic and beautiful it makes you want to spin and soar to the sky. Toccata and Fugue is like life itself, full of contradiction, unpredictability, adventure, tense at times, yet beautiful, humorous and fun.

I must have played that music for more than a hundred times. The tape wore out eventually. But my love of music stay on.

I found this visual piece on Youtube recently. Click on the title of this post to link. It is fun and inspiring - even to watch:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipzR9bhei_o
* Classical music is a general term. J.S. Bach is from the Baroque period.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Recommended Books

Can You Hear It?
Author: William Lach
Publisher: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, 2006
No. of Pages: 39
Included: Audio CD with 13 Tracks

This Book is highly recommended for parents who are keen to introduce their children to Music and Art. It is suitable for all ages, but young children especially, will find it intriguing as their senses are stimulated when they view the art pieces with the incorporation of appropriate music!

Many parents get their children to learn a musical instrument. However, how can parents guide their children in music appreciation? 'Can You Hear It?' is certainly one of the ways to begin with! Going beyond aural appreciation,this book introduces your child to a world of imagination and visualization! For parents, it is undoubtedly an eye-opener too!

Content:
Helpful descriptions and questions on each page assist parents in guiding their children. Track numbers are clearly indicated on each art piece to aid track selection or search.

The use of key instrument(s) in each piece of music is included in the brief description. For example in one of the pages, there is the use of Kettledrums. Not sure what instrument that is? You need no further research! All the mentioned instruments are included in the book for extra reading with photographs to show your child! And if you wish to know more about each of the Art and Music Masterpieces, the write-up is included on the end pages too!

Keen observation and an eye for details are skills which are important in creations. Activities like 'spot the difference' and 'I spy' are our favourites. We would sometimes compete to see who spots them first. When I came across this series of books, they went straight into my wish list. Not only do they provide similar fun and benefits, the books contain masterpieces that I could introduce and expose my kids to!

Other Titles in this Series:
Can You Find It
Can You Find It Inside?
Can You Find It Outside?
Can You Find It Too?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

On being a Mother

Fully immersed in motherhood, I am filled with overwhelming emotions everyday - not to mention juggling with accounts and admin work at the same time. There is so little time left to myself, yet it is so very necessary - to breathe.
Chinese language is extraordinary. The character for 'busy' is written as "忙". The left represents 'heart' and the right represents 'death'. Literally translated, it means "your heart is dead". So motherhood isn't such a bad thing for me after all, since my heart isn't dead - I'm on the other extreme in fact.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Eye Sore No. 2


A nice biscuit bucket, a pity to throw away, but quite an eye sore to have around the house.

Found some unused drawer lining sticker in my storeroom and used it as a base cover. Came across the red, yellow and orange felt flowers and thought they'd look appropriate with the yellow handle. Picked up the checkered ribbon during shopping too, not knowing what to do with it, but looks good enough to cover the roughly cut edges at the bottom.

This is now my handy container for the scrap materials!


Materials from Daiso
And the new everything for S$2 branch has just opened near my place!

Eye Sore No. 1


This is our eye sore No. 1: the CD holders in our TV console. The compartment size makes it rather difficult for us fit in any CD holder, so we have been stuck using the trays. It's been creating scratches on the furniture too.

One fine day, I decided to 'improve' on the trays did some craft work with my daughter.
We use felt on the underside to protect the furniture and use gift-wrapping tapes to cover it. Here is the end result. Now, my husband thinks it is a worse eye sore for him because it looks 'too feminine'!
All materials from Daiso

Bluffed stiches

Rare large boxes that come only with big ticket items you buy - you just refuse to throw away cos the kids love them and you find them useful too. Here's what you can do with the sharp trimmed edges of cardboard boxes - double-side tape it with a ribbon to make it look like you've stitched it!


Click on image to enlarge for clearer view, but do remember to click back instead of closing the window!

Friday, August 14, 2009

More Sketches


The Magnetic Sketch Board is one of my son's favourite. This is how he practices his strokes. It is environmentally friendlier than paper. However, you can't keep works like you do with paper, so I take pictures of them.

Top: Steam Train, aged 4

My Dad just built the fence. It was my son's first time noticing the Cactus that Mom grows in the garden. The millipede looks more like a snake..but it's cute!
Top Right: Cactus by the Fence, aged 4

Acts of Spontaneity


My son loves to draw. He'll draw anything he sees. I love this attitude! When I was younger, I'd say things like 'I can't draw this' or 'I can't draw that', and I'd stop there without even trying.Couldn't recall when I'd stopped giving myself such messages. Perhaps when I was asked by my son to draw his favourite train? Perhaps when I had to show him how to draw something which I'd never drawn before? Perhaps that's the reason why he rarely says 'I can't draw...' ?

Top Left: Ocean, aged 5


Right: His first bird: Flying Bald Eagle, aged 3.



Monday, August 10, 2009

Bougainvillea



When an act is spontaneous and instinctive, the results could be beyond expectations.

Bougainvillea - drawn in 1987 when I was sixteen.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

National Day Parade (NDP) 2009

It was a privilege not to be missed! Had the opportunity of watching this year's NDP from my brother-in-law's office. Below: Crowds gathering near The Esplandade.

See, helicopters flying by our window. At eye-level! The kids screamed in delight. Oh, and Parachutes near Singapore Flyer! From our angle, it looked as if they were going to crash into the ferris wheel.





Grand Finale Fireworks - Didn't know what I was thinking - selected photo mode instead of video...