Category Archives: bikes

A Thanksgiving reflection

Hooray! B has finally joined the rest of his classmates who’ve turned four. As his last week of nursery approaches, I’m looking forward to our Thanksgiving break together before he gets promoted to kindergarten. Here’s some reflections on his first full year in childcare.

Dear B,

You’ve shown social maturity and adaptability with the many changes this year. There were farewells to old playmates and adjustments to new friends and teachers at school. You didn’t like spending less time with mama as I not only returned to full time corporate work, but travelled away on business quite often – at one point for almost 3 weeks straight. Yet your teachers remarked on your “very positive self identify and sense of belonging”, 他会告诉老师:“妈妈不在新加坡”“我的爷爷来接我” as you figured things out and embraced the village of caregivers around you.

You’re growing in knowledge and imagination (and negotiation skills)! Being constantly surrounded by books has motivated you to learn how to read, first reciting from memory, then through sight words, and now as you blend and decipher more and more each day. “There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”  We try to read together every night when I’m at home, borrow or buy new readers (like the Timmy and Tammy series below), and write down “new” words together.

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Flipping through our notebook with all the new or tough words

You are learning to persevere and not give up. You were frustrated that you couldn’t draw or write as well as some of your friends but I’m glad we encouraged you to keep on doodling and scribbling. Since you like mixed medium, illustrated stories and numbers, we incorporated math and sensory play, gave titles to your art and made collages of our holidays. Mama too has learned to be patient and not compare! Remember Leo, the late bloomer.

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Colouring isn’t my favourite, but completing a number puzzle is!

Speaking of perseverance, you completed your first sport events this year. Mama crazily signed us up for an 800m Cold Storage kids run (which I thought was only 100m – oops), and I am so proud that you finished it even if we held hands and walked part of the way. You also biked solo in the OCBC Cycle event and grew confident enough that you cycled with us around Maldives. You didn’t even realise that those training wheels never touched the ground! We’ll upgrade you soon to a 16″ big boy pedal bike once you’re tall enough 🙂

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You’re starting to apply yourself in things that interest you, like violin. Though some days I bribe you to practice with car stickers, you surprise me with your progress and willingness to continue each term. Your teachers even invited you to perform as one of the musicians this year, and you did wonderfully! I’m glad you’re learning that “what separates the talented individual from a successful one is a lot of hard work.” While we’ll still explore many things and may drop others as you grow up, I’ll always support you in your pursuits as long as I can and you want to 🙂

Perhaps mommy and daddy could also work on two areas this coming year while your fantastic four is “under construction.” One is to more intentionally live out our faith as individuals and as a family. B may not like sitting still to pray, but he loves the bible stories and has made more friends at church. How can we help you grow into a godly man?  How can we serve our church community together?

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Same, same, but different! B likes to compare between the kids bibles

The other area of course, is Chinese. Although we found a good programme at Sparkanauts, I still wish for more time with you since no one else speaks Chinese at home. Your teacher suggested that we use videos, games or apps – 在家中可以观看有教育意义的卡通短片或者儿歌 。或者通过 ⼀些华文的电脑游戏来学习华文。家人可以使用华语和他进行沟通,增强他的日常生活⼝ 语。老师可以在和他的沟通中纠正他的句型错误并完整他的句子 –  beyond continuing to speak in Chinese. Mama has been quite strict about screen time, but perhaps we could try this in the coming year? That way, maybe ama and 公公 could get immersed too 🙂

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Some of the things we’ve tried for Chinese, if only I had more time!

My darling B, you melt my heart when you say, “I love you more than all the numbers, mama” and you make us laugh with “Now I like daddy, but I really like mama … when I’m old and I like mama, I’ll really like daddy.” I thank God every day for you and how blessed we are as your parents.

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Fun For Free SG: Gardens By The Bay Children’s Garden

Singapore is blessed with many clean and safe public parks, and we usually frequent the green connectors linking the exercise and playground areas near school and home.  When we heard about the latest and largest children’s garden in Singapore, we couldn’t wait to go although it’s a little far out from where we live.  We liked it so much, we actually made it back THREE times this month (ok, one of those was for the Singapore Garden Festival). Here’s our experience for our next Fun For Free SG contribution.

WP_20140822_030The Far East Organization Children’s Garden offers a delightful blend of obstacle trails, water and sand playgrounds, all integrated with nature, and designed to be interactive for kids from 1 to 12 years old (and the young-at-heart adults).  Staff and signboards are placed strategically to ensure both safe and fun play.  For parents of very young kids, you’ll appreciate the efforts made to separate the rowdy youngsters from the rowdy toddlers 🙂

Toddler zone
For under 5 year olds, there’s the Toddler Play Zone with a mini obstacle course
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The Toddler Fish Fountain features warmer water and tamer play with gentle interactive jets
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B having a good splash together with a friend while mama lounges by the (covered) deck chairs
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The main Water Play area is linked to a multitude of movement sensors which are incredibly fun and wet! The view is pretty cool too
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Although more suited for older kids as the many moving sprinklers can thoroughly drench you, B plopped down to enjoy himself after we walked/ran around the main water area together
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Head over to the Adventure Zone for sand play and obstacle courses before getting wet again
Treehouse
The 7.5 metre-tall tree house is designed for 6 year olds and up. Younger kids can still climb with some assistance and supervision but may have a tough time coming down! Thankfully there are alternate routes via bridges and wooden stairs
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Wibble, wobble on the linked suspension rope bridges
Obstacles
The Adventure Trail overlooking the water play areas consists of 14 different obstacles, mainly on sand (with gentle slopes and dips) such as balance beams, bars, rock climbing, roped tunnels and suspension bridges
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If you can’t go over it, go under it!
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Slide these broad covered water tunnels for the fastest (and wettest) way to go back down

Important Info:

How to get there: See detailed directions here.

Closest carpark is at Satay By the Bay (open air) or Main Visitors.  Conversely, if you take public transport, there is a free shuttle bus on weekdays that stops over at the Marina Bay, Downtown and Raffles Place MRTs.

Closed on Mondays for maintenance (same day as Jacob Ballas)
Tuesdays* to Fridays: 10 AM – 7 PM. Last admission at 6:30 PM. *Closed on Tuesday if a public holiday falls on the preceding Monday.
Weekends & Public Holidays 9 AM – 9 PM. Last admission at 8:30 PM

Low energy?  Dying of thirst? Cranky kid?  No fear. These are near:
1) Large covered amphitheatre overlooking both water play areas where you can bring your own food and drinks
2) Children’s Garden Cafe which has alfresco seating by the Toddler Play Zone (playground and water), open at the same hours as the park, serves drinks, snacks or a light meal (Asian and Western)
3) Satay By The Bay, a short scoot or walk away.  Also, the place to park your car if driving.  Stalls are  open from 8a – 11p

This is part of a blog train on Singapore’s Fun For Free places dedicated to anyone who’s ever needed to think about “where to bring the kids today?” Next up is Elizabeth, a mother to three rambunctious kids. She wifes, moms and writes at motherkao.com. Her family of five can be found at Terminal 3 almost every weekend because apart from not needing to have to queue for long to get dinner there, her kids get to do fun things for free while she indulges in GST-free shopping.

Liz

Visit all 31 Fun for Free train stops here:
1 Aug: Tiong Bahru Park by Gingerbreadmum
2 Aug: Queenstown Heritage Trail by Princess Dana Diaries
3 Aug: Jurong Regional Library by Finally Mama
4 Aug: Singapore Maritime Gallery by Peipei Haohao
5 Aug: Singapore Philatelic Museum by Kids R Simple
6 Aug: Sculptures of Singapore by Gingerbreadmum
7 Aug: Fire Station by The Js Arena
8 Aug: Esplanade + Merlion by Prayerfull Mum
9 Aug: Bukit Batok Nature Park by Meeningfully
10 Aug: Lower Pierce Reservoir Park by The Kam Family
11 Aug: I12 Katong – water playground by Universal Scribbles
12 Aug: IMM by Mad Psych Mum
13 Aug: Tampines 1 Water Playground by Amazingly Still
14 Aug: Sengkang Riverside Park by Itchy Finger Snap
15 Aug: East Coast Park by Toddly Mummy
16 Aug: Sembawang Shopping Centre Playground by Joey Craftworkz
17 Aug: Animal resort by Raising Faith
18 Aug: Botanic Gardens by Mum’s The Word
19 Aug: Police Heritage Centre by Mummy Ed
20 Aug: Venus Loop, MacRitchie by Scrap Mum Loft
21 Aug: Road Safety Park by Miracule
22 Aug: Marina Barrage by J Babies
23 Aug: Gardens By The Bay, Children’s Garden by Finally Mama
24 Aug: Changi Airport T3 by Mother Kao
25 Aug: Pockets of Nature by Mum in the Making
26 Aug: Changi Airport T1 by Growing with the Tans
27 Aug: Pasir Ris Park by Ingspirations
28 Aug: Gardens by the Bay Supertree Grove by My Lil Bookworm
29 Aug: Vivocity Play Area by Amazingly Still
30 Aug: Punggol Promenade by Chubby Anecdotes
31 Aug: Westgate Wonderland by Xavvylicious

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The Magic Three

My darling B:

You are now 33 months. Just 3 months to go before you turn 3 years old! Everyone warned me about the terrible twos, but the year turned out to be pretty terrific instead. Hopefully I don’t jinx the remaining months 😮 You had your moments of wild, irrational flail-on-the-ground tantrums, but through it all I kept the 3 Ts in mind:  Tank up on love, Transition gradually, and Timing matters!

In light of your and mama’s developments this year, here are 3×3 things to celebrate about you!

3 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT YOU

1) THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE: You love reading. You bring books  to our bed in the morning, want to read at mealtimes, and negotiate the number of stories for bedtime.  You are ever curious. You’ll ask “What happen, mama?” when I’m reading the news or listening to the radio. The library is like your second home where you can occupy yourself flipping through books or telling stories to friends (imaginary or anyone nearby). Your face lights up as you associate what you read with what you see in real life. When your gears start spinning, you turn to me to say “Remember the [book/event/person/item]?” and a wonderful process of discovery ensues. When you see text, you track the words with your fingers as you “read.”  You like to call out numbers, upper and lower cases that you recognise from Letterland phonics, and even Chinese characters.  It’s truly a delight to watch you learn!

Watching the night sky from our balcony got him intrigued about space so we’ve borrowed many books about it (like this one).  Here he’s simulating the moon rotating around the earth 🙂

2) A SONG IN YOUR HEART:  Since you started carrying a tune, you  haven’t stopped making music. Even as a baby, you’d often hum and move to the rhythm and beat.  These days, we don’t need alarm clocks because you wake us up with your singing at 7a or earlier! You make us laugh with silly adaptations and lead your friends in rousing renditions of songs from Majulah Singapura to Wheels on the Bus to “一步一步走啊走”.   This year we tried some structured music learning at home, and we’ll continue to look for ways to help you hone this gift now and beyond.

3) PASSION FOR VEHICLES: Be they in the air, on the road, on water, in print, real or toy, rides or stickers – you like them all! You  observe routes, recall directions, names of roads and who stays where. Your pretend play is getting more creative too. You manipulate everyday things at home, LEGO and wooden blocks, toy vehicles, tracks and figures to form construction sites, accident and rescue operations, traffic jams on the highway, neighbourhood multi-story carparks – all with sound effects and commentary.

One activity you initiated is to lay out your vehicle flash cards and we take turns to find the right one as we play “I Spy” and 这是什么?”

Sometimes I need to set time limits so you don’t get too obsessed (i.e. kick a fuss when it’s time to stop or leave). But this shows me  you’re capable of focusing and innovating on what interests you. If only we could figure out how to replicate this for other stuff  😉

3 AREAS YOU’VE GROWN IN

1) (SELF) HELPER: Although I still prompt you to eat faster or finish up, I’m thankful that you continue to help yourself at meal times and have a healthy appetite, drink well, (mostly) eat greens, fruits and are willing to try variety – Asian, Western, Middle Eastern, mild herbs and spices. You even ate durian!

Since we started our first sticker chart on toilet training, you also have less accidents and better control.  You let us know when you want to pee and poop instead of us asking or taking you regularly.  There’s still occasional overnight bed wetting and leaks (esp. when you’re too excited or shy) but you’ve made great progress that we’ve moved on to a new chart for wearing/undressing clothes and shoes.

Out with the old, in with the new sticker chart

Lastly, although you need reminding, you do help to clean up after play, unload dirty clothes into the laundry bag and bring your dishes to the kitchen after meals. Well done!

2) FINE MOTOR SKILLS:  Thanks to your current preschool, you’re constantly encouraged to experiment and express yourself through art and craft. Mama is so thankful for the amazing teachers there!

Our little artist at his first school exhibition

Although there’s less opportunities for us at home together, I cherish the times when we play simple number and finger games and do crafty activities that build your fine motor skills.  Of course, you still treat glue like paint, colour all over the page, use brushes, pencils, markers and crayons like stamps, wield the scissors and chopsticks with two hands when your fingers are tired… But you’re getting there. Just persevere and keep up the great work!

Our art wall is constantly full even though mama recycles often

3) THE GREAT OUTDOORS:  We now do more things outside and for  longer before you ask for a “抱抱“!  You’ve always been a cautious toddler and not a big fan of being under the hot sun.  Yet as you grow, you now scoot with more confidence and speed, are eager to get wet and play in the sand (caveat: area must be “clean and cool” enough), jump in the pool at your weekly swim class, pedal the tricycles at school and ride your balance bike to deliver items and messages from place to place.  I only wish you’d wear your safety helmet more often so mama doesn’t worry … too much.

Getting out and about

So here’s to you, my little big baby, who’s becoming a big little boy. Love you to the moon and back!

We are Singaporean

Linking up with:
SANses.com's Talkative Thursdays 

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Singapore’s new Sports Hub

We stopped by Kallang this weekend and checked out the brand new sports hub which opened in June.  The hub includes the national stadium, library, recreation room, museum, water playground and retail mall.  This July, there are quite a few free or special events as many stores and features are not yet open. We used to visit the indoor stadium and waterfront for weekend brunches and family evenings, but hadn’t returned since the rebuilding works began ~2+ years ago. Last time we were there, B was a wee 3 month old baby!  This time, he was an active and chatty 31 month old tot 🙂

At the viewing terrace
The stadium’s retractable seating makes it the only one in the world able to host diverse sports events, concerts, family entertainment shows, national and community events.
The stadium’s retractable roof
The retractable roof and localised comfort cooling technology keeps things COOL
Layout of the 55,000 capacity National Stadium
Layout of the 55,000 capacity National Stadium
Lots of open spaces to run, scoot and bike. There's also a kid's waterpark (not yet completed)
Lots of open spaces to run, scoot and bike. There’s also a kid’s waterpark (not yet completed)
There's even a running track (with toy cars and kid-sized shopping carts) inside the Fairprice Xtra
There’s a running track (with toy cars and kid-sized shopping carts) inside the Fairprice Xtra
Large chess set and Wii games in the library/rec room
Large chess set and Wii games in the library/rec room
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The gorgeous view from the stadium
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Admiring the lights as we take a stroll after dinner

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Green living in our Garden City

Back when I was still working full time, there was a LOT of green development near my office on Alexandra Road due to the Southern Ridges trail with its iconic Henderson Wave Bridge and Alexandra Arch linking Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, HortPark, Kent Ridge Park and Labrador Nature Reserve.  See this DIY Guide to The Southern Ridges for more info 🙂

B was in my belly as I hiked, strolled and eventually, waddled along the pathways. But since I had B and left corporate life, we hadn’t  gone back there until recently when we drove by the area and ended up visiting playground after playground at the new Alexandra Canal Linear Park which is being extended from Tanglin Road to Zion Road (River Valley) via the Alexandra Park Connector!

Alexandra

B enjoyed scooting down the 1km+ path, stopping occasionally to climb, slide, jump on the trampoline, play with the exercise equipment and even share his scooter with new friends.  I chitchated with the locals, answering “he’s almost 2.5 years” and “no, daddy is not angmoh” at least 20 times, overall enjoying the friendly and neighbourly vibe.  It was nice to NOT be the only local at a private estate playground or crowded out at the bigger, more popular parks.

Hand-cranked gondola off Block 61C Strathmore Ave
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Trampoline near Block 61C Strathmore Avenue Playground
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Block 81 Strathmore Avenue Playground with a rock climbing wall

So today, I’m thankful for the foresight and commitment in Singapore to ensure that ALL benefit from this truly Garden City.  I also value the effort and care in enriching the local community with free yet well-maintained public parks and playgrounds.  Keep up the good work, Nparks!

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Warp speed ahead

My month long (un)common cold resulted in an excessive white blood count which was double the average and one day in A&E when all my joints were inflammed!  I finally caved in to see doc #1 who cleared B and I of bronchitis, but gave me antibiotics and allergy/congestion meds that I reacted badly to…. this led me to doc #2 who found some lung tissue scarring from my x-ray but nothing critical after various tests. He then prescribed painkillers, even more antibiotics and asked me to stop the previous meds. After 1 week of pill-popping and clinic hopping, I’m feeling closer to normal again.

Besides that, October turned out to be a full-on month of milestones and learning through play with B.  Even though I’m with him almost all the time, his growth spurts still amaze me, not just physically, but also how well he picks up vocabulary and grammar.  After accomplishing a task on his own (like his jigsaw puzzles), he claps and says “Yay! Good job, B!” or if he’s cheeky, “pandai boy” \o/ At breakfast one day, he placed his toy kangaroo on the table and said “Kangaroo watch B and mama eat pancake” and “daddy go 运动, then work” when dad went for his morning gym workout.  While in the car, he describes what he sees on the road and at times, will launch into a narrative, mainly on vehicles (of course), e.g. “Fire engine park in fire station, make loud noise nee-nah-nee-nah, lights go blink blink, firemen put out fire, many smoke, hot!”

We covered Geography and Astronomy which mommy and B thoroughly enjoyed.  We looked at continents, oceans, water and land formations, and then, our solar system. He started asking questions about rivers, stars and satellites … hence, the odd mix.

Books – this time, the library selection was quite good:

 

 

 

 

 

 
Art and craft:

Map of the world on a paper plate (rubber band = equator between the hemispheres)
Ocean/rockpool diorama, using a re-cycled shoebox
Penguins and icebergs in Antartica
Land and water formations (can also use for clay modelling)

 

 

 

 

 

And last but not least, space: the final frontier – a perfect opportunity to learn comparatives and superlatives, i.e. planet Earth is smaller than Saturn, Mercury is the smallest, Jupiter is the biggest. Now he applies these words in all sorts of situations 🙂

Solar system puzzle
Space sand art
Space sand art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This month was also about confidence building and independence. He started to enjoy scooting on the YBike glider which we have on loan from a friend.  He’s walking his balance bike, an early birthday gift from 爷爷.  He even climbed out of his toddler cot bed once, alarming everyone! B grew more cautious climbing since that incident while I placed his large foam playmat under the bed until we switch him to a kid bed (or just a mattress). And on a bittersweet note, B got off the waitlist for N1 next January – it’s a half day, drop off for the year they turn 3. Lots of implications there, some of which I’m still processing internally.

Wheeee!

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