Sunday, 25 May 2014

PLAY@National Museum of Singapore

We had the privilege to experience some fun at the special preview of PLAY@National Museum of Singapore. I was very excited when I read about this upcoming project working through the museum, I wondered if it would be similar to some museums we experienced abroad. It was however, rather small and contained, but we didn't leave unsatisfied. PLAY is 2 large enclosed area of play and craft, with a little bonus of an outdoor garden where little kids can chalk up some graffiti on the chalkboard wall.

While Js were all soaked up in their play, it didn't matter to them how awesome or not the place was crafted out. PLAY was very much themed to our local culture and childhood moments. It kind of encouraged me to bring them more often to the museum for greater insights of our history and culture.

Below are some captures we had at PLAY. At Explore, there was a mega huge TV, for little ones to put up their puppet shows. Puppets were left there for them to create and perform. 

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Her 'touch and go' stop
 Audiences of the puppet show were in for a treat on the comfortable humongous chair!

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Looking intimidated by the chair
Then came this puzzle tree, which could be a little tricky. The flower pieces weren't easy to fit in. You'll need to study its design or do some trial and errors to do a perfect match.

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Took them awhile to figure out the match
There were 2 stations for cooking play. Js were so hooked on playing chefs that they spent most time here. There were recipe books by the side of the stoves and they reflect our local dishes. Looking like authentic recipes within!

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I see a mini me in her when she cooks
Right Below one of the stove was a display of some nostalgic items. It was a relishing moment when I saw the steamboat utensils. I talked to Js about its usage and the moments we gather for such a meal around the table. Especially during our Chinese New Year.

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Steamboat utensils and tin cups!
There were some charts introducing the ingredients of our local delights. Gets kinda embarrassing to confess that some of these fares are alien to Js. The only thing they every seen and tried is Roti Prata. It's high time for some local hawker feasts. 

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Some ingredients were beyond recognition from just its image
Then came this tent which reminds me about my childhood. How I loved to build my little camp out with our blankets. Popping in and out, doing things sneakily. In this case, the little ones were lying toes up to enjoy some cartoon.

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Cartoon in a tent
A little crafty area for the kids to emboss some of our local delights onto some provided papers. After which they can bring it across to the Create room for some colouring.

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Always like how they come out with fair representation of our multiracial dishes
Love the vibrant colour of this crafty area.

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Little Boy excited about his work
The final stop before we ended play was this outdoor, garden extension. Where we saw chalk and chalkboard! The really old school moments. Js love doodling on it and I warned them about it being the only time for wall graffiti. Not any other wall.

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Doodling with chalk is fun
It didn't take more than an hour for them to say goodbye. It was a good 1 hour allocated for play.

At the end of it, although I had much thoughts about it being able to include more fun, due to my prior expectations. I've come to realized this concept is very much in line with our National museum's theme, all too authentic and unique to us, Singaporeans. Where else on Earth can we find prata, chilli crab, nasi lemak and ice kachang?!! Uniquely Singapore.


PLAY@National Museum Singapore, Level 3
10am to 6pm daily
Free Admission for Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents




PLAY would be more appropriate for little ones between the ages of 2 to 7. So yeap, definitely worth the visit if you are also exploring other parts of the museum. Do check out their children's season programmes for May and June at: http://www.museums.com.sg/cs14/Programmes-1.html

Read what another Mummies say about PLAY:
Missus Tay
Princess Dana Diaries

Friday, 23 May 2014

We can 'count Sand'

Early this week, I brought Js for some out of home learning and play. We started our warm morning at the beach, after which they played in an indoor playground, where I sipped coffee and read. We wrapped up our excursion with some time in the library. Nice way to cool down.

While at the beach, I didn't spare Jare from his numbers. According to our home schedule, I'm trying to get him count perfectly into 20. I made some sand hippos out of their toy mould, tasked him to count and destroy. He was sure interested, since being destructive is sometimes his forte. 

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Hippos counting
He has the tendency to count from 13 to 15, skipping 14. I did a few times till he became uninterested. Learning at his age is very much interest oriented, he determines my teaching duration. And so, if you plan to teach counting to 100, have fun moulding! 

I did some Chinese writing with Jazz on the sand, but it didn't take long before she decides that sand castle building is more exciting.

Bringing school out of home, with that sun, sand and sweat, is good for the occasional. Mum needs that break out of home too!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Home Made Pizza

Js made their lunch yesterday, and we had thin crust pizza! When we were in the states, a friend of ours, ML introduced us to making skinny pizza. It not only got us hooked for its yummi-ness, we also loved the engagement factor everyone got with it. I've always enjoyed watching my little chefs at work.

Being their sous chef, I prepared and gathered the ingredients for them:

1. Whole grain tortilla wraps
2. Pasta sauce
3. Shredded cheese (We used mozzarella and Cheddar)
4. Button mushrooms
5. Ham
6. Capsisum
7. Cherry Tomatoes
8. Brocolli

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All ready for the chefs
And here's a zoom IN of our home made, healthy pizza ingredients:
  • Mushrooms have high nutritional values, these fungus contain high amounts of copper, needed to produce blood cells and maintain heart health. 
  • Broccoli! Need I say more? For that vitamins and fiber.
  • Cherry tomatoes! Yes, our favourite snack that gives us vitamins, minerals and antioxidant. Tomatoes are better eaten when cooked than raw, heat processing enhances its nutritional value. 
  • Capsicums have high value or vitamins and antioxidants. Yellow, orange and red capsicums contain higher antioxidant vitamins over the green.
  • Ham is a good source of protein. I tried really hard to source for Ham that's free of nitrate (Preservative added to cure ham). It's a tough search in our local supermarkets, or even if found, it comes with a hefty premium. I wasn't trying to be funny, but once, I tried asking the attendant at our local Deli, what ingredients were there in their picnic ham. I didn't mind that he didn't know. 
  • Cheese is a good source of calcium. I'm just particularly cautious when choosing bright coloured cheese. Some cheddar's usually artificially coloured to get its bright orange. I would go for a cheddar that's naturally coloured with annatto (derived from seeds of a plant).
  • Lastly, not missing tortilla wraps for the carbohydrates! These wraps we found have got some preservatives. Settled for it as I wasn't keen in making our own dough for crust. 
Yes, our grocery shopping time has extended with the entrance of kids. I read nutrition facts, I try with much possibility to avoid unfriendly ingredients and for interest, I did an online course on kids and nutrition when I had time in the states. Some time ago, I shared about grocery shopping on Nutrition.

Swinging back to our kitchen, we're all set for a nutritious meal! I've always considered pizza a rather unhealthy option, until we decided to home make it. Pizza became newly defined to me.
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Colourful ingredients
The really simple steps:
1. Spread a thin layer of pasta sauce on the wrap.
2. Lay those ingredients. Ham, mushrooms, capsicums, tomatoes and then broccoli.
3. Top it off with generous amount of cheese. This helps hold the stuff in place.
4. Send them to the oven at 180 C, for about 15 to 20 mins. 
5. Allow the pizza to cool for a while before parting into equal pieces with a pair of food scissors.

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Little chefs working hard
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'Someone' photo-bombed our picture
And that was their well deserved lunch! It was good portion for 2 little kids and a Mummy. 
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The yummy outcome!
This is one of my favourite, fun and yummy recipe. It had Js almost fully involved, and I literally stepped aside when they laid their pieces. Of course, I was all prepared to consume whatever went onto their crust. 

Hope you'll have fun making Pizzas with your little ones too! 

Monday, 12 May 2014

Safety wristband [Review and Giveaway!]

I recently came across a Child safety ID wristband, which totally awed me! The moment I heard and read about it, I went smacking my forehead, "Why didn't I get to know about it earlier!" 

This wristband is brilliantly designed for kids aged 3 to 9 years old. It is a safety product innovated for kids to carry our vital contacts and their allergies on their wrist when in public. That is, if in any case, parent and child get separated, kind people around can help unite them at the shortest possible time, with the reference contacts within the wristbands.

This safety bracelet features:
  • ID card being kept secured and out of sight. It sits within a special pocket inside the bracelet. 
  • It is comfortable and fully adjustable. It didn't irritate Js at all! 
  • 100% waterproof. We don't have to worry about getting it wet in pools or during water play. 
  • Easy to update. With spare ID card included if you need a change of contacts. 
  • Available in wide range of attractive colours and trendy designs
  • Latex and Lead free. Oh yay! No nasty chemicals.
  • Hand sewn quality. Made in Canada.
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Love their colours and design
We received 2 bracelets from the kind people at My safety ID. I had them readily tested on Js wrist, and they totally loved that trendy look on them. No whine or tears about any discomfort. I briefed Js about its usage and what's in there. Although it states "Vital ID inside" on the wristband, it could be easily overlooked as just an accessory. It helps if we talk to the kids about what to do when separated.

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They fell in love with their wristbands!
And this is why I wished I had known about this product earlier - When we were in the states, the theme parks were always madly crowded with humans. I've always wanted to tag the kids with something of this similar concept. It's just like an insurance, we hope we don't have to use it, but when needed, it ends all anxieties quickly.

A little story to share when we were in Disneyland early this year. The man was waiting in line for our photo opportunity with the Frozen characters, my Mum and I took Js for lunch. I had Jare in my stroller and Jazz was on her walking feet. My steps were a little too fast, so my Mum and Jazz were behind my pace. When I decided to turn back for attendance check, my girl was missing! And you know when 2 or more adults are around, it gets kind of complacent. I thought Jazz was with my Mum and my Mum thought Jazz was with me. We both realised she wasn't near any of us. She followed a wrong lady, thinking that was me. We combed every area nearby and minutes later, found her running back to us. Phew! I found my precious.

That incident slapped me hard on being more cautious when we're in crowded places. Anything unpredictable can happen. If my story took a longer twist, the wristbands could be our saviour. After all, humans are nice in nature, I'm certain a lost child gets help readily. 

The wristbands are so perfect in our very congested malls, school excursions, parks or any places that our kids like to roam. Excellent for travels too! They are light and easy to carry around. I keep them in my carry out bag, and conveniently put them on the kids when we're in the car or arrived at our destinations.

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And they wore it in the mall
As much as I can say about getting this assurance, let's always be mindful about keeping our focus on the kids when we're out. 

Now, the Exciting part. My safety ID is giving away one wristband for a lucky reader of Mum's calling. Colour and design of your choice (subject to availability). To qualify, please ensure that you've completed the following steps by signing into the rafflecopter below:
  1. Like Mum's Calling on FB
  2. Like My Safety ID on FB
  3. In the comment box, leave me your email and FB account name used to like our pages. (And of course, if you prefer to send them to me privately, here's my email: karenchenwl@gmail.com)
 a Rafflecopter giveaway
Details:
  • Giveaway is open for Singapore residents
  • Only valid entries qualify
  • Contest ends Tuesday, 20 May 2014, 2359hrs. 
  • Winner will be notified by email

Disclaimer: We received the products for review and to host a giveaway. All photos and opinions are solely our own. 

Mother's Day to a homeschooling Mum

As a homeschooling Mum, I do have that tad of teeny weeny dull moment when my kids don't attend a preschool in the month of May, Mother's day! Mum with schooling kids will testify how lovely it is when teachers plan special activities for the kids, to surprise the heroines in their household. The special songs they learn, the interesting craft they make and the special moment of inviting their Mummies to school for tea or performance, are making me too envious. And how silly will it be of me, to plan my own surprise with the kids. So nah, didn't do anything with them, for me. 

This year, somehow the same. Jare still nonchalant about it, but Jazz knew about Mother's day and its date. She planned and drew me a little piece of work, which heartens me very much. Not like it was a piece of impressive work, but that she has grown independently to express her thoughts on special dates. I know more surprises will be coming from her, in our special days ahead. She has grown, so much! 

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Presented to me! And she made another for my Mum.
It was also a surprise when she came home from her art class with these works. I love her paper craft and cute drawing!

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Love that paper bouquet!
In Js' growing up years, with them in and out of school, with gifts directed or not directed by school, I clearly know it is not about the gifts or that special trip to school. It is not about the good deeds they've done in this one day, but all about staying bless and watching them grow healthily well.

Although Mother's day has become very commercialized, it really is a day for great surprises and treats. Mothers deserve it after all! I see this year's more realistic when Jazz came up with her own idea of surprise, crafted it and worked it through all by herself.
 
Wishing all Mothers, a very happy Mother's day! May your days be always richly filled with love! 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Paper puppets

Js created paper puppets and staged a show with their handmade props! Jazz made up the characters from Frozen and Jare tasked me to do cars for him. They worked conscientiously on their projects and rounded up with a show and tell!

We worked with the really simple resources within the house:
  • Papers
  • pencil
  • Colour pencils/crayons
  • Straws
  • Scissors 
  • Sticky Tape
Jazz drew and coloured the characters on paper, cut and taped them to some straws found in our pantry. They were the unused straws from our Yakult drinks. 

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Frozen characters by Jazz
Then she drew a scene to stage her show and tell. I rendered help by cutting along the outline of the mountains she drew on her scene. It's a slit to slot her characters in.

All ready! And I sat back to enjoy my role as her best supporting audience.

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Love her show and tell!
Jare did a similar one, with much of our assistance. We did up his scene with two driving roads, trees, shops and houses. The slits for the puppets were made in the middle of each road, for the cars to zoom!  He loves cars and there, he staged a show to his made up story.

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He really was enthusiastic about it
It really is a simple craft to work on. These days, I just plonk some ideas into Jazz and she will transform ideas to action. I'm happy to just be her adviser.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

In the mind of our littlest

Rush and busy may our days be, we often neglect the little things that mattered so much to our kids. The norm of life and the words we use on our kids are often inhabited in us. So much so, that we disregard giving second thoughts on our parental acts and words towards them. Many times, when I reject or upset the kids, I would have this post decision dissonance. I'm like, "Why did I say that?" or "Why did I do that?"

I try to constantly remind myself that we should see things from the perspective of their little mind. And I guess, these could be the little voice in them:
  • It's been a while since we ask for a candy or chocolate, but you always say, "No!" And when we say "No" to your requests, you get upset. That's just how we feel.  
  • We sometimes get too curious about exploring certain things, which we tried asking you with no outcome. We ended up with our own exploration, and got you upset.
  • We ask to have your time you said, "later or another day." And when you ask us to complete our tasks readily, you couldn't accept "later or wait" as a reply.
  • You jump very quickly into various conclusions, but you hardly clam down to listen. There's always an explanation to the things we are messing around with.
  • Your desire to listen sometimes depend on your mood and you choose what you want to listen. Maybe being overworked is the culprit.
  • Some days, when you get really busy, did you realise our only form of communication were the giving of orders or instructions?
  • We have a strong wish of being punished or disciplined fairly. It's not to our liking when we are chided for something we did not do.
  • You reject our pleas to be carried in your arms, but we're exhausted after a tiring day out, especially on running your errands.
  • You make us sit through meals to join in the 'polish your bowl race', but you know, some days, like anyone, we choose our food liking. 
  • You pressure and sometimes get impatient with our developments. Time and space are sometimes the keys to our development.
  • When your days aren't smooth sailing, we become your victims. Nonetheless, we think of ways to make you happy. 
  • We do our occasional squabbles and snatches, and that's how siblings grow together. You've been through it.
  • You wouldn't allow us to tarry longer in play, but you overspend time at work or on your gadgets.
  • You command our eye contact when you're talking, but when we talk, you had eyes on your phone. 
  • You decide everything for us, from top to toe. Would you give us choices at times, please?
  • Honesty is the best policy, but when we admit fault, you get mad over head on us.  
  •  You often hurry us, but you know that's just how little our hands and feet are.
  •  You shoo us for naps, but as we age, we drop our naps.
And the list goes on....  with other challenges, as our little ones progress with years.

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It doesn't seem easy to be a child at times, neither is it being a parent. I'm trying, most times, to devote more time for consideration, even on the smallest decisions I make for the kids. Learning to first respect their thoughts will reap us encouraging results, I bet. We live childhood only once, our parenting decisions make up a significant part in every child.

Oh well, always easier said than done, but let's try practicing more of the pause and think parenting style.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Artzbake cupcake workshop

We had a fun time with cupcakes at Artzbake yesterday! My budding patissiers went on a cupcake workshop, where they got their little hands to assist in baking cupcakes and decorating their very own with fondant. They had a wonderful time of getting their hands to work, because they know if they don't work for it, they ain't bringing home any cuppies. 

The class size was small and cosy, with 3 mummies and 5 little ones. Every child has got some opportunities to chip in the batter making process, before proceeding to our individual places for creativity to run wild with fondant. The kids got extremely excited when they were told about making minions cuppies. I was pretty excited too! 

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Taking turns for hands on
The kids made their fondant, with much help and attention given by the patient baker, Chloe. It was also when a flash of thought came to me, that I favoured fondant to being a good replacement for play doh! It feels clean, no messy residue and satisfies Js well. And they were working the fondant almost similar ways. They had their play doh recently confiscated by me, for some tactless mess created.

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Roll it and mould it!
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He's sure serious about work!
Jare did 2 cuppies, a two-eyed minion and a barely passable iron man. Jazz did a one-eyed minion, a hello kitty and OMG! She asked to do Elsa. But nah, we did Olaf instead. Mother, daughter and son tapped on our imagination and creativity to mould some decent outcome.

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With much help from mummy!
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Her showcase
The class had been well narrated, organised and conducted. Although, I thought more independence could have been given to them for a more authentic creation. Nonetheless, Js love it and yes, they packed their cuppies home, ate up the sweet and left me the bake. Too sweet of them at times huh.

Days like these aren't common. I do the occasional bake and cook at home, often with their involvement, but having a parent as a participant with the child creates a unique bond. You possess a patient heart, the 'let them be' attitude and the lessons, that again, traditional classrooms don't bring in. We talked about ingredients, baking tools, colours, tastes and shapes. And not forgetting those fine essential motor skills they picked up, when rolling and shaping their fondant. A very great date idea with our little ones!

Check out the range of workshops at: Artzbake. They conduct baking workshops, classes, courses and cake decoration classes for adults as well as children. Which also explained that their work stations are more for the grown ups. Stools worked well for our little ones though. It's a little shop space tucked beneath a building of condominium, Esta Ruby, just opposite City Plaza.

Artz on Cupcakes workshop – $65 for 1 parent and 1 kid (For age 3 and above)
Schedule of Lessons (Date & Time): 10th, 11th From 10.30am to 12.30pm
Lessons will be conducted at their baking studio:
Esta Ruby
500 Guillemard Road
#01-04, S399839

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. We were given an opportunity to attend this workshop at a  discount on fee. All opinions are solely our own. 

And here's another post of our Mummy friend on the workshop: A Pancake Princess

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Art Classes

Art is therapeutic, it expresses more than words and a picture itself. For a Mum, it tells me all about my children. Their mood, attitude and creativity. Js love playing with their pencils and papers at home. At any moment, they would come to me with some outstanding creations. Although most times, it takes some effort to decipher what they have drawn. It usually is more helpful when they narrate to me. As we played our guessing and narrating game, I got spurred to help them cultivate that love for drawing.

I've recently signed them up for a weekly art class. Having heard, read and seen much about the increasing growth of arts school for our little ones, and the different tools of art being used to excite the kids. It kind of kept me thinking if I should start them on something arty. If so, we should start on something basic. I did some near to far search, it came to a very quick conclusion about where they should begin. Not at some great or fancy art school, not the pricey or over promising schools, but the community centre within our neighbourhood! 

I'm contented that it's a much lower premium than the art schools I've searched around. Distance and price brought me to a quick decision. And of course, it also means much dealing with expectations - Classroom settings and quality language of the teacher. I tried to focus on our mission of crafting creative minds.

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Their showcase
Art classroom teaches many skills which traditional classroom does not. They learn coordination and motor skills, using their little hands to reproduce what their eyes see and mind envisions. They learn the satisfaction of completing a job their desired way, as well as taking the initiative to finish that project. At the end of session one, I was surprised at their works! Okay, I need to disclaim that Jare's work is only 20% authentic. Which isn't too bad.

I was initially worried when I signed Jare up for class. He's only 3. The class that I signed up online did not specify the appropriate age group. I presumed I could bring him for class.

On their first day, the teacher told me the appropriate age is 4 and above. So well, I asked to give him a chance for trial. He did well, except for the final 15 of the 90 minutes class when he started looking for me. Not too bad of an attention span for this little guy. To me, what could be better than dropping 2 kids off the same class. I enjoyed that moment of inner peace.

I knew the kids loved the class. Especially Jazz. She couldn't wait for the next. It's sure good fun when the kids enjoy what they love doing. With such level of fun, we know that learning is effective!