Thursday 27 August 2015

Raising an avid reader

I count it my blessing to be raising a little avid reader at home. Jazz loves to read, and now, more skewed towards certain genres she prefers. 

My man thinks it's a trait of any girl to sit and read quietly. Probably refusing to give me any credit for cultivating that love in her reading. And partly because, we're not seeing this trait in the boy, yet. I proclaim the word 'Yet'. 

Whenever someone asks me about her love for reading, I often respond that I'm lucky she loves to read. But if there were some things that I did right, other than that element of luck. I guess it must be some of these doings:
Reading from young
We know reading begins really young. Babies for some. We started formal bedtime stories when Jazz turned a year old. A routine set, hard to change. We read to and with Js everyday. Even when we travelled, I would carry a light bedtime story book for read. I don't think we should stop reading to the kids even though they have started independently. It's a great way to bond too!

Visit the library
We visit the library fortnightly. An almost frequent and regular habit for us. Js own a library card and love browsing and picking books for loan. While they get to select their love, we make a deal to allow my picks too. Think the often neglected Chinese and non-fiction books.

Books over toys
When entertaining buying pleas, we agree more readily to books than toys. The downside is that, Jazz reads a book so speedily that I find it not too worth buying books so often. We learnt to hunt the library and second hand book stores (at Bras Basah)  more diligently.

Let them choose
Let them select what they like to read. Be happy that they are devouring one book after another. Rainbow fairies, Magic Ballerinas, Geronimo and Thea Stilton series are her current favourite. The commonly known series that would brilliantly keep one hungry for the next installment. We had a pact on a reading ratio of 1:3 - It's 1 book of my choice after reading 3 of her choices. I don't compel if she doesn't want my choice. I never run out of recommendations anyway.

The favourites she own

Raise Confident readers
So seriously, aren't the fairies and adventure series some worthless read?!! The love for reading often begins with raising confident readers, and that comes by reading something of their interest. Be glad they are reading something than none. They are some good English and creatively imagined stories after all. Think the writing composition skills they can get out of these stories. 

Book chart
For a start, you may want to do up a chapter book chart. Jazz had a sticker for every book completed and every 3 stickers entitled a treat. Her pace was so fast that we lost track and demolished this scheme. After all, we've reached the goal of cultivating the love for reading.

Home library
It is highly important to build a library at home and one that is easily accessible. I sorted Jare's books at the lower shelf, while Jazz's at a higher reach. Keep the books updated too, to their appropriate age of reading. Our baby books have been archived to the top shelf.

Mini home library

Animated story time
I am shamelessly gonna exclaim that I'm one dramatic and exciting storyteller! Which makes them come back for more. Only thing is, time do us apart. So yeap, we do need to invent our own speech and drama at times. 

Learn new words
Some days, we put a dictionary just next to us when reading. I do get questions on the unfamiliar words, and instead of explaining my layman and sometimes not so layman terms, I leave it to the dictionary. We explore new words together, learn dictionary skills and instill the hunger of learning new words. However, we do this on some days only. It can be daunting if done on all reading sessions.

Time for reading
Give them time to read. Let's not to overschedule them and leave them with little or no time for the things they love. We rarely do screen time on weekdays and with any free time over the weekends, Js would prefer to stay home. Strange kids, I know.

Don't procrastinate reading
Try not to procrastinate when they come running to you with a book, asking you to read. Reading and bonding is quite a priority. You see it essential to read, they will recognize that way too.

Support and talk
I had really see it important to support and talk about what they love to read and have read. Cars, planes, dinosaurs, fairies and adventures? They tell me about them, I'll listen. Really attentively most times.

We are some happy parents with her love for reading. Sometimes so much that I've to plead her to put her book down at inappropriate moments. I know it's tough to put it down, especially with pages that leaves her cliff hanging for the next.

She reads everywhere!
 Once, she fell and had a nasty abrasion on her knee while trying to walk and read. It wasn't just a painful lesson about reading at the right moment, I was also reminded about the moments I multi-task like her on my gadgets. We need to deal with our addictions!

And no, the man and myself are not explicit readers. We read so often online, that we rarely get our hands on any physical books or newspapers. It really is one thing to be thankful for raising a reading enthusiast. 

How else do you raise the little bookworms in your household?

Monday 24 August 2015

Unstructured play at Kaboodle Kids

Our nowadays kids can be rather over scheduled in school and after school. Looking at the amount of time spent in school, I often feel that they are missing out too much on unstructured play. And the benefits of free play is immense. To name a few, free play allows:
  • Protection against pressure and stress from parents
  • The flexibility to adapt to circumstances
  • Social and emotional learning 
  • Decision making skills
  • Peer interaction and
  • Self discovery
We love having free play games like blocks and bricks at home. Games that often come with no rules, no right or wrong, where Js can direct their own play and let their imagination run wild.

Adding to our free play list, we recently came across Kaboodle kids, where Js had a great time of unstructured play. It's not the usual playgym where a slide prompts a kid to use it only as a slide, or toys that are directed for certain play usage. Kaboodle is simply a space of huge soft blocks with no limit to play and creativity. I really love watching them engage in this kind of purposeful play.

The imagination ground

We visited Kaboodle on a weekday afternoon, and spent about 2 hours in there. It was quite a bliss as it wasn't crowded. I could tell Js were overly excited over those big foamy blocks, their eyes went huge with jaws dropping really wide. They looked lost for a start and kept asking, "What can I do, Mummy?" I guess they are often too compelled by instructions that they weren't able to start something without direction.

I threw them a few suggestions, "How about a car, tanker, home or castle?" I don't know if they registered my suggestions, they zoomed off without me completing my thought list. Excited kids, I know. It was probably also the best time to build their kid's size dreamy and princessy castle, where they can sit and 'live' in! I told Jare to build his favourite Lamborghini so we could all drive in it. Seriously, it's a place where anyone can construct, dream and imagine big. 

Working on his luxurious car

Whilst play took place, the man and I sat by the bench to take pictures and admire their simple joy. We observed how they played, that teamwork, cooperation, sharing and trading of blocks, as well as ideas negotiation were evidently what kids don't learn out of books. Truly, there's so much contentment in watching the kids do undirected play, expressing that freedom of happiness.

I was tempted at some point of time to direct them on positioning certain pieces, but hey, I'm reminded it's their play. Not mine. There's a reason for every 'lazy parenting.' In any case, we stayed away till a time I thought we should all play together as a family. Yay, I played too!

We had a great time of bonding.

His huge shoulder bag!

The play area is clean, bright, airy and relatively huge for such play. Floor is not carpeted, so it does look really clean and well maintained. It is therefore compulsory to wear non-slips socks (adults too) as it can be rather slippery. Tucked by the side of the play area is a cosy party room which suggests a great venue for birthday parties. Talking about which, do check their Facebook page for private party closures. Avoid wasted trip.

For the size of the blocks, this unstructured play is recommended for kids above 3 years old. Js had a really great time in there, and as usual, we had a tough time peeling them away from fun. Jazz was upset that we have to abandon the castle for the realistic home, and we obviously can't bring that along. She suggested that we could take a picture instead. Glad that got her leaving contented.

Her house of dreams with a soft cover roof

And here's an idea for picture moments. The man caught us by peering his lens through a foam block. Looking creatively good!

My daughter, my friend!

Do check out this fun place, if you've not. Also, from now till 30 August 2015, you may quote 'Mum's calling' upon entrance for a 10% discount. Have fun!

Kaboodle kids
902 East Coast Parkway (Big Splash)
Block B, #02-05B
Singapore 449874
Contact: 6247 7020
Opening Hours: 10am to 6pm daily

Fee structure:
3 years old and above
Mon to Fri: $25 for unlimited hours
Sat, Sun and PH: $25 for 2 hours ($10 for for additional hour thereafter)
Below 3 years old
Mon to Fri: $10 for unlimited hours
Sat, Sun and PH: $10 for 2 hours ($5 for for additional hour thereafter)

OR 10 visits membership at $220

Disclaimer: Media invite. All opinions and photos are solely ours.

Thursday 20 August 2015

The little red brick show - SG50 edition

It seemed a little delayed since its launch on 01 August, but we're most glad to have sighted those iconic and nostalgic build ups, made with Lego bricks! The Little Red Brick show is held in conjunction with Singapore's jubilee birthday as part of the Singapore Memory Project. It presents 50 memories of Singapore's past, and each exhibit unfolds a unique story of its past and present.

In honour of more pictures and less words, this post will be overloaded with pictures. Oh well, beautiful things are ought to be shared!

One of my favourite at the exhibit were these Peranakan heritage shophouses, which are still existing today at Joo Chiat! Discover how meticulous they built every piece of it, even the trash bins.

Our iconic tourist attractions all in a picture!

PSA Container cranes

The scene of a wet market! Spot the interesting bricks of crabs. 

This red house bakery in Katong was very well known for its pastries in the early days. It was however shut down in 2003 when its structure was deemed unsafe.

This is still very familiar looking to date. Just how much have we progressed.

The nostalgic days of my life as a student, mode of transport to and fro school.

Millennium kitties! Ok, I confess, I had been part of the crowd. I'm definitely not gonna advocate my kids in joining such queues. My buys went into the trash after several years. The past is often a lesson to reflect.

Parliament house - Remembering LKY. Flag was on half mast.

Great World, the World of cinemas. Nah, I wasn't of that generation. I would guess, instead of popcorns, they had kachang puteh as movie companion.

The first National day parade in 1966. Also the first largest National event since independence. How vast has time changed.

A red riot truck of the 1950s. Definitely one we won't wish to see it being deployed.

Another of my favourite exhibit is this! That tingkat and biscuit tin filled with icing biscuits are just too lovely. Love too, how they dated the calendar to independence day.

Childhood playgrounds! Looking familiar with the 1970s and 80s.

The dragon playground is one still standing firm at Toa Payoh.

While these pictures are just some I've snapped for teaser and memory, I don't think I'm doing justice to the live exhibit itself. You may get a good glance of them by making a trip down. There are much more on site for viewing and appreciation. This Little Red Brick show is made happened by a group of local Lego enthusiasts, the AFOL (Adult Fan Of Lego) club. Maybe I'm considered one too!

Exhibit is free for everyone, from 01 Aug to 28 Aug 2015, at Central Public Library (outdoor foyer). After which, you may bring your little ones into the library for some cool down moment with books. We did just that on a lazy weekend.

Address: 100 Victoria St, 188064

And of course, if our little ones can't focus or appreciate those nostalgic exhibits like we do, you may park them here to play some bricks.

Have a great weekend ahead!

Wednesday 19 August 2015

To Market, To Market: Tekka Market

Some years ago, we had a very close distance relationship with the Tekka Market. I count it my blessing to have been once so near it, when we were staying in the heart of Little India. It was then my one stop venue to whip up simple meals or even a feast. I frequented it mostly on weekends while I swung over to the supermarkets on weekdays. It's not a surprise that wet markets are now a diminishing spot for busy Mums. 

We recently stepped foot in it again. It was so like deja vu, except that I felt I've aged a little. It's been about 5 years since I went back! Stalls and owners are mostly the same, the market's hustle and bustle did not change and the variety was still as good. Tekka Market is probably the largest wet market across the Island. Groceries that can't be found in other wet markets, can be found here.

I've to confess there are certain shifts in why I do my groceries at the supermarket now: 
1. I'm not a small talk person. Don't misread me, I am extremely friendly. Just that I'm usually more passive. Knowing the sellers better is quite advantageous to getting some perks.
2. I was once chided by a fish stall owner when I didn't elaborate my preferred cutting style of a fish. You guessed it, I didn't patronize that stall again. 
3. I prefer getting vegetables from the supermarket than wet market. They are less perishable. I am quite lazy shuffling between places.

So then, I rekindled my love at the wet market again. I had such a fruitful trip recently that I needed to go back there soon!

We visited on a weekend morning and the area is well known for its bad traffic. The entrance to Tekka centre's carpark was snaking long at about 9am that morning. I reckoned we would be wasting much time trying to get into the carpark if  we were adamant about getting a lot there. We went further up to the housing flats at Klang lane, to park at its multi storey carpark and took a short cultural walk to the market. 

Chia's vegetable supply
My journey began at the rear entrance of the market, which was shortly welcomed by my favourite vegetable stall, Chia's vegetable supply. This stall plays Jazz music faithfully almost daily, giving you a relaxed vegetable shopping experience. I will say this is one unique stall and probably one of its kind in the wet markets across the Island. With its huge occupying space, its variety runs from the English to Asian kind of vegetables! Brussels sprouts, rockets, rosemary, kale and the 'you name it' vegetable. You'll be surprised what he can fish out for you just by asking.

I've to say not all his vegetables are appealing. I spotted wrinkled capsicums and rotting sweet potatoes. You may proceed to other vegetable stalls for those you're unable to get pretty from Chia. Since I don't really fancy buying leafy greens at the wet market, I went for those I rarely spot at the supermarket. I bagged off some skinny Thai asparagus and pearl bean pods! Which was perfect for cooking my soup.

You will notice too, many foreigners love buying from him, and that's because he speaks a variety of languages! Yes, be impressed.

Asparagus and pearl beans
Joe's Butchery
With an agenda of hosting a BBQ that evening, I proceeded to get beef steak from Joe's butchery. Apart from the various cuts of beef, they sell a variety of freshly made beef sausages. Read me right, freshly made means not cured. Definitely a healthier choice. I will not hesitate to buy some the next time I'm there.

Joe's butchery

The queue to get my beef was slow moving. While in line, I browsed and decided the beef I wanted - 1 kg of air flown NZ ribeye. I always had a heart for good beef. And man! It was indeed some good beef. I love too, that they vacuum pack the freshly sliced steaks, which preserves its freshness a little longer in your chiller or freezer.

That day, I cubed, marinated and skewed the beef for BBQ. It became a home made delicacy.

Note too if you intend to get some minced beef, their minimum buy is 500g.

Boon Leng chicken
Just opposite Joe's Butchery, is Boon Leng. Where I used to get my chicken poultry from. This trip, I bought 1.5kg of chicken wings, which goes about 16 to 18 pairs (drumlet and wing). They go by weight, but no harm telling them how many you need. They can figure it out fast for you. At the same stall, I bought chicken breast ($3 per piece) and bones to cook macaroni soup for next day's lunch. Fresh meat is awesome!

There are a couple of chicken stalls in the market. I find it easier to swing over here since I frequented Joe's. Kampong chicken to black chicken, they have it all.

Boon Leng

Lee Yit Huat Trading
My favourite seafood stall to patronize now, ever since my fish scar incident with another stall. This stall runs a huge space and carries a bountiful selection of seafood. It's as fresh as buying from the kelong!

I went for some glass prawns ($22 per kg), stingray and squids. For some strange reason, Js love eating squid. I'm happy that the buys were all freshly good! I hand picked my stingray and the uncle advised me to go for the flatter ones since they were for BBQ. Do specify your fish cut carefully if you intend to get them to slice for you.

Seafood galore

Pork stall
I did have a little problem hunting for the pork stall's name, it didn't seem visible anywhere. In the whole of Tekka Market, there are only 2 pork sellers. The 2 stalls are side by side. If you intend to get fresh pork, be early as it runs out by about 10am. 

I gotten minced pork and pork ribs from the stall on the left (facing the stalls). My man would buy the meat and innards from him when I did my confinement some years ago. The frail looking seller looked as if he has slogged his whole life as a butcher. Be patient as he gets your purchase ready. It really isn't easy working in a wet market at this age. In fact, he had been enterprising enough to rent the stall next to him, to combine into one huge stall to store his fridges and meat. Just so customers don't have to wait too long on him if he needs to replenish his meat.

Fruit stalls
There are quite a few fruit stalls in the market. All towards the hawker side. I find it more pleasing to be shopping at the fruit stalls than the rest. Perhaps, the sellers are more friendly. After all, it's soothing and comforting to be looking at colourful fruits than boring meat and fishes. I love the fruit stalls here as their varieties are like a hundred fold better than that at the supermarkets.

I will say shop around and look for the most appealing and well-pleasing fruits. If apples aren't good at one, check out the other stall. My first stall for check out would usually be #159  and #160 as their varieties are great and presentation is lovely. My man would pre-order green papaya from them during my confinement days too. But hmm, the uncle was really enterprising, I casually asked where his cherries were from and the next moment, he bagged off half a kg for me! Oh well, he wasn't pushy either, just really smart in that business sense. We both joked about it and he confessed he's got a skill in it. I proceeded to buy his Australian avocados at 3 for $5 and gotten some persimmons too. Js love avocado milkshake! Feel free too, to try his fruits before purchasing and hand pick your fruits. 

Lee Hoe Seafood - Crabs 
I'm confessing that I've got some good hands with crabs. Be it from handling live to cooking and eating, I've quite some talent in them. Except that, I don't know how to select a good crab. Tekka market is a good place to hunt for live crabs. A range from India to Sri Lanka crabs are available at this stall. Prices are seasonal and crabs with roes can be a tough find, as most will be sold to restaurants. Nonetheless, still some good crabs you can get from them. Be mindful that it's best to cook the crabs on the same day of buying.

I had really love to whip up buttermilk crab that day, but I felt that I was overbuying. There were too much food. Next trip!

So yeap, this has more or less rounded my Tekka Market trip. There are also a couple of lamb and mutton stalls in the market if you are keen. If I've got a good kumpling soup recipe on hand, I would most likely patronize one.

Check out too, the curry powder, spices, extremely fresh coconut milk and banana leaves (good for BBQing fish) from the dried goods stalls. One other thing I love getting at the wet market would be fishballs. So much tastier than those found in supermarkets.

Fresh handmade fishballs!

Finally, don't be in such a hurry to leave. Since there, have a go at the Briyani and Masala tea in the hawker! My Indian friend and I would recommend Allauddan's Briyani (#01-232). For Masala tea, we've hunted almost all the drinks stalls at the hawker, but yet to find one exceedingly good. The really good Masala Tea can be found at the restaurants along race course road (walking distance from the market).


And I did justice to the food I bought that very day!

Ready for BBQ

There really isn't any skill to marketing in the wet market. Modern Mums rarely play the haggling games and so it's unlikely you'll get reap off. Don't you think sellers price hike you, if you are one usual bargaining buyer? Moreover, prices are very firm from their decades of selling experience.

If public Relations is your finest quality, go ahead with small chats. You might be in for better value buy instead of better discounts.

Other tips include dressing comfortably, take a wallet and bag that is not your most expensive as you wont get clean and dry notes in return. Put on anti slip shoes and bring a trolley basket along if you are doing groceries for a week. It can get heavy as you buy along.

Do note too, most stalls are closed on Monday in Tekka Market. Which means the freshest produce you can get is Tuesday onward.

There are just so many dishes you can whip from a trip to the wet market. Eat more home cooked meals, and eat less outdoor. Support a wet market today!

Address: 665 Buffalo Road, Tekka Centre, Singapore 210665.

This post is part of the ‘To Market, To Market’ Blog Train hosted by Life’s Tiny Miracles. To read about other local markets in Singapore, please click on the icon below.

Tomorrow, one of my favourite bloggers will be sharing her marketing experience. Winner of both Best Cooking Blog and Most Popular Cooking Blog in this year's Singapore Blog Awards, Diana from The Domestic Goddess Wannabe is mad about cooking and baking. A self-taught home cook and baker, Diana simplifies all her recipes and show the reader how to cook or bake something fabulous using step-by-step photos in her blog.

Wednesday 12 August 2015

Hi 5 - House of dreams!

Hi-5 was launched in Australia in 1998 with five dynamic performers entertaining children aged 2-8 with music, movement, problem solving and play. With a good 16 years of existence, the Hi-5 program had won many prestigious awards and even captured the hearts of parents. And of course, I only knew about them when my kids possess much of that singing and dancing fetish.

With new members replacing and evolving, the essence of Hi-5 episodes remained purposeful. They're not only educational and engaging, their songs and costumes are also very catchy. Js would sing their tunes all the time.

Photo credit: Hi-5 official Facebook

Hi-5 spends more than half a year touring Australia and the world, building huge fan bases throughout Asia and South America. After our recent breakfast meet with the Hi-5 casts, you have no idea how much anticipation we had geared up for their 'House of Dreams' concert. The long awaited concert is happening on shore next month, 12 and 13 September! I can finally tell Js it's nearing.

We are so ready and excited for the big Hi-5 sleepover party! With the help of Chats, the "Dream Meister", and her magical Dream Catcher, our Hi-5 friends will journey on some wild, wonderful and wacky dream adventures! In Hi-5 House of Dreams Ainsley, Dayen, Mary, Stevie & Tanika enter a world of dreams, finding themselves in the jungle, fairy gardens, outer space, underwater and even in the super cool world of superheroes! Each dream comes to life on stage in a burst of music, singing and dancing in this exciting new stage production. 

Photo credit: Hi-5 official Facebook

Are you ready for the adventure of magical dreams?!!!
Ticketing details
Hi-5 House hits show tickets can be purchased from sistic 
Date: 12 and 13 September 2015 (Saturday and Sunday)
Venue: Grand Theatre at Marina Bay Sands
Time: 10:30am, 2:30pm, 6:30pm
Tickets: $115, $105, $65, $45 (Excludes booking fee)

Hold it! Don't leave without joining our giveaway. We are delighted to be hosting a family set of 4 tickets for giveaway to 1 lucky reader, to experience the magic of Hi-5 this coming September. All you had need to do is to complete the following steps: 

1. Like Mum's calling on Facebook
2. Leave me a comment on this Facebook post, telling us what your kids enjoy about Hi-5.
3. Together with your comment, tag 3 friends or more on the whom you think will be keen on this giveaway.

Yeap, just 3 simple steps to joining the giveaway.

Terms and Conditions:

  • This giveaway ends on 28 Aug 15, 11.59pm 
  • Open to Singapore residents only 
  • Winner will be announced on our Facebook page
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond, failing which a new winner will be drawn. 
  • All incomplete entries will be disqualified. 
  • All entries will be verified before the winners are announced.  

Thursday 6 August 2015

The bliss of parenting in Singapore

It's the National Day weekend and as I look around Singapore in comfort and blessings, I am swarmed by the feeling of gratitude. I am thankful for being comfortably contented.

While some choose to be whiny and grumpy with what's in place, I count my blessings to be building a family and parenting my kids here. I am blessed to be raising my kids in this country that we can call home, anytime.

My blessings!

Dear Singapore, there are just so many things I am grateful for:

1. I am blessed that my kids can do the language of bilingualism in school as a formal education. With English and Mandarin being the top 3 most World widely spoken languages. Speaking of which, they are rather influential languages too. 

2. Many condemn our rigid and results driven education system, but I love how we produce some smart little citizens of this era! Don't be surprised at how our graduates can get quickly snapped up by top firms overseas.

3. I am glad that we are not restricted to any child birth policies as children are true blessings. We choose our comfort family size and multiply fruitfully.

4. Incentive measures for giving births! I sincerely Thank You for that. You didn't have too, but you wanted something to work for the nation. It's an added bonus, not one taken granted for.

5. Subsidies! There are various choices of childcare all around, from the low to high ranging prices. I am just thankful for the subsidies granted to each child. Again, you didn't have to.

6. Transiting to primary schools! I'm thankful it got so much more affordable than preschools, though the application process can be quite intense.

7. I have learnt to live life even more to the fullest when stress comes cascading on us. And with academics pressure all around, we have learnt to enjoy and play harder with the kids. Just so they can engage childhood the meaningful way. 

8. With strict laws, we feel safe raising our kids here. Thank you too, for a World class healthcare hub and a clean and green garden city.

9. There are just so many family activities and places we can do here. We only run out of weekends.

10. Our family and friends are here. It takes a village to raise a child and there's no better reason than this.

I honestly can't think of a better place to raise my kids!

When we start looking at life with gratitude, only do we appreciate what we have. Quality parenting and quality life differ vastly. We do have choices to determine our level of contentment. More often, we should live life wisely and stay wise enough to be grateful.

Let's engage the attitude of gratitude, just so our kids will mirror it and bring it forward.

How blessed are we to be birthed here, in Singapore. A truly small country with an immaculate global reputation. Happy 50th Birthday, we love you, Singapore!

 photo 268be522-688b-4e4a-ae5f-90cec5016984_zpsozdvvqgp.jpg
We are one people, one family!