stand up for our mothers

A friend of mine was part of a rather meaningful movement this past National Day; the Stand Up for Singapore program to encourage Singaporeans to act graciously towards mothers and the elderly.

It started with a fairly simple notion, that there has been far too many examples of people behaving badly towards the elderly and pregnant moms on public transport and that instead of (publicly) stomping on them, they wanted to focus on the nicer side to Singaporeans: the willingness to BE gracious to these two groups of people through the simple act of giving up your seat to them whilst on buses, trains and other waiting areas. They, after all, need it more than the average abled bodied person.

I cottoned on to this a little late but though it was not something I suffered whilst pregnant with both my boys, I have many friends who do take public transport daily and have feedback that people start to look through them  as if they were invisible while they are riding on the buses and trains. Sometimes, these seat hoggers (like the pigs?) pretend to be asleep so that they don’t have to give up their seats; even if they are seated in the priority seat.

So, to help them raise awareness, especially amongst the mothers, I’ve bought some of their {for mothers) t-shirts to give to my playgroup mummies and other mummy friends. You guys will be getting yours soon!

butterfly blooming

Ok, I have a confession to make: I love butterflies. I love the way they look, I love the way the fly and most off all, I love they way they bloom. I’ve always thought the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly is one of the most amazing things nature can offer.

We are lucky to live down the road from a lime plant growing neighbor who has a knack of finding young caterpillars in her garden, she was quite happy to hand them over to us so that my boys could watch the amazing process as well.

We’ve hatched several butterflies to date and the best part of the whole thing is when we set the butterfly free. So, since it has been a while since our last butterfly blooming project, we went scouting for a caterpillar to rear. She was kind enough to find us three.

Our first caterpillar was a real eater of a caterpillar and he worked his way through the leaves quick enough and got really fat fast. Next thing we knew (also, because we were quite distracted those days), he was in chrysalids mode. And in another blink of an eye, he emerged as a beautiful lime butterfly. Before we set the butterfly free, we took the chance to talk about the beauty of the butterfly, what they ate (nectar), how no two butterflies are the same and do some butterfly related crafts: in today’s case, we did butterfly fingerprinting ala Ed Emberley.

And as the sun was setting, I took my boys and we said farewell to the butterfly and wished him well. Q was very clear in telling the butterfly that if he needed to find food, he could go ask Mr. Bumble Bee cos they ate the same thing, but to be careful cos the bee might sting.

Mushroom Magic

After what felt like a mammoth undertaking with our ABC series, I decided to take it a little easier and start exploring other less structured (read: more world life fun) stuff like Solar System, life cycles, things in our past… etc. Basically, random stuff; still educational but less formal than learning about ABCs and 123s.

We recently took Q to Bollywood Veggies for lunch with some friends and I decided that it would be fun to try growing our own edible stuff. I don’t have a green thumb at all so I had to go find other ways to make this work. I came across a nice mummy (Hello Poppletots!) with an online blogshop selling these cute and fun mushroom growing kits and I bought one to show Q how sporing plants reproduced/grew. He already kinda understands how seeds work.

The mushrooms come in a stump of sawdust with online instructions that they need a warm, darkish, humid place to thrive. You are to spray water it several times a day and let nature takes its course. Q’s job was to spray the stump several times a day and the truth is, he got kinda bored of the work cos things appeared to be moving really slowly. Then, suddenly, overnight maybe about four days in, little white stuff started to sprout and we had to ban the kid from going near the stump because he kept trying to peel them out. He actually succeeded and luckily we caught the little fella quietly ensconced in the storeroom (where the mushrooms were) doing peeling work. We lost one side of our budding mushrooms actually. That is why, if you look at the photo, there’re only mushrooms on one side.

From the little white bits on, things progressed quite rapidly. We’re talking about whole mushrooms growing from 1 cm things to what appeared to be full sized in under 48 hours. We gave it another day or so and decided it was time to harvest our first batch of homegrown oyster mushrooms which we fried with garlic and japanese rice wine. The adults in the house only ended up eating a piece or two, the kid ate the rest.

Digging for Dinosaurs

We took the kids to Universal Studio Singapore for my birthday and one of the highlights of the trip there was taking Q to the Lost World where dinosaurs roamed.

Sidebar: Wun and I enjoyed some adult time with harrowing jurassic park ride where we miraculously got away dry while our fellow ride goers ended up utterly and completely wet.  It was kinda like taking a trip into Stephen Spielberg’s iconic movie franchise Jurassic Park. We only wished we knew more dinosaur names.

Anyway, we took Q on the Dino-soaring ride (again after dying from heat in the long queue) and he utterly loved the ride. We missed out on meeting Diane the animatronic dinosaur so we decided we’d have our own little dinosaur adventure right at home.

I found us a dinosaur excavation kit, complete with a little excavation chisel and brush. The whole kit cost me about S$12 and we settled to a happy afternoon of chipping (very slowly) at the block of earth hoping to unearth the first of six promised dinosaurs. After an hour (read: eternity to a kid), we finally saw the tip of what would be later revealed to be the top of a T-Rex’s head.

We did the whole process properly for about two dinosaurs before Q figured out that by smacking the block on the floor hard, more earth would fall out. So that’s what he did and lo and behold, less than fifteen minutes later- and mummy having given up trying to convince him that we had to unearth the dinosaurs slowly; the rest of our dinosaur brood emerged.

As we were washing the earth off the dinosaur figurines, I explained that paleontologists and other excavation crew would spend months and years digging up dinosaur bones and then, like a really difficult jigsaw, piece them together. And my little Q in this 2,5year old wisdom said: They should just bang on the ground, then they would find the dinosaurs before they died and became bones.

Ah. The wisdom of babes.

Alphabet Paper Crafts

Now that we have finished our ABC learning crafts, I went round digging for stuff we could do ABC wise to revise. I came across this wonderful collection of Alphabet paper crafts at Digitprop.com and thought I’d share with all of you. Its lovely ain’t it? And its just a mouse click and print away!

Bake and Go @ TOTT Store

We usually do our baking at home but once in a while- mainly for novelty sake, and cos I don’t always wish to have to clear up; we head over to TOTT Store (next door to us!) for a spot of baking at their Bake & Go section.

Its mainly for parents with kids to leave them somewhere for a stint while parents go shopping  but, still, its a great place for kids and even parents to spend sometime doing stuff together. For S$12.80 (inclusive GST) you get an apron and your own tin of cookie dough (available in chocolate, vanilla and strawberry) and a some choc chips. You can buy other additives for a small fee; Q usually goes for the rainbow sprinkles. And you’re ready to go!

The nice uncle in charge (maybe there’s an aunty too, but we’ve always only ever met uncle Cookie) ushers you to your own baking station and you bake away. They have cookie cutters for use if you prefer a slightly more structured cookies. We personally just like to flatten them out.

Once you are done, Uncle Cookie (that’s what he told Q his name was) sends them into the oven and you come back in about 20 minutes and pack your own cookies into the now empty cookie dough tin.

Viola! Cookies!

Review: Esplanade’s Play Time’s The Magic Ocean

I decided it was time to initiate Evan into the world of theatre and musicals and since I was planning to take Q to watch the well review The Magic Ocean at the Esplanade, I decided I would buy a family set of tickets and take the bub.

This was part of the Esplanade Play Time offerings.

I didn’t have high hopes for the little fella but Q was duly excited to enter a world where you could swim with the whales, make friends with crabs and dance along with the fish. Ever since he watched Finding Nemo, he’s always held a particular fondness for ocean things.

One of the things I like about this is that the audience is seated within the musical space. Meaning, the action happens all around everyone and there are many interactive portions where the audience can take part: action songs, going up to pat the faux jellyfish, shooing the bad “whale catchers away” and sticking shells and starfish (velcro toys that were lying around) onto various ocean creatures (think barnacles).

I was kinda surprised that Evan stayed awake and attentive throughout the whole show and passed out gloriously for two hours after the show (yay!). Q jabbered about the jellyfishes incessantly and tried to mimic Dory (from Finding Nemo) in speaking whale to great hilarity.

This show comes around seasonally and if it comes, you guys would definitely go watch it!

From the program website:

Come on an underwater adventure this June down below the Magic Ocean!

Swim with fish great and small, or take a walk sideways with the friendly crab and starfish! Hide in a large clam shell, or peacefully glide through the sea with turtles and ride the rolling waves up and down. Once in a while, you might have to flee from the fearsome shark!

In this theatrical experience specially designed for 2 –4 year olds, children will discover a magical world through visual stimulation, music, shadow play and interaction as the ocean comes alive before their eyes.

Come sit along the seabed among colourfuls coral and watch the wonders of the sea unfold with us in the Magic Ocean!

Cupcake foil animal menagerie

Q loves animals and he often asks to make animal menageries with random stuff we find in the house.

Since we’ve been doing a fair amount of cooking and baking we’ve dug deep into our kitchen stash and emerged with a pile of cupcake tin foils. I no longer bake with these so we decided to repurpose them to make “stuff with”.

So, we pulled out our paint supplies and set out to make some animals. We found a discarded egg tray and used bits of that to make animal parts (noses, beaks, heads…) and here’s what we came up with!

The foil animals aren’t the most sturdy and they bend and dent a fair bit so we made up stories about them as we went along. Sometimes they got into fights, sometimes they fought wars, sometimes they were careless and fell down. Either ways, it was fun!

Review: Cirque du Soleil’s Saltimbanco

For whatever reason, Q asked to see the circus one day. He must have seen something on television, saw pictures about a circus or other because it became an idea stuck in his head that he would not shake. Personally I blame the Wiggles cos they have circus themes in their shows. In any case, the famed Cirque Du Soleil was in town and I had never watched their presentation of Saltimbanco so Wun and I decided we would take the kid to watch the circus.

He was duly excited about it and he talked about clowns and acrobats and trapeze acts. He asked if there would be animals and we said no. There was a small conversation about how animals should not belong to a circus but in a zoo. He said, the animals also do tricks at the zoo so its a little bit the same; which the kid was right and we had to launch into another whole discussion on animals in the wild, animals in the zoo and animals in the circus.

The bottom-line was we had to love animals and take care of them. Kids asks some tough everyday questions actually.

Anyway, Q was a little apprehensive upon seeing the stage and the general darken arena but he warmed up soon enough. The troop did a great job warming up the audience and by the time the main event rolled along, Q was utterly into the circus. I don’t think it even dawned on him that there weren’t any animals in the show. Surprisingly, he seem to enjoy the mime the best; we thought he would have been more enthralled by the trapeze or acrobats.

There was a moment where the “devil” came up- black cloak, horns and all. And the poor kid started to hold on to my arm really tightly. As a mild spoiler: it turned out to be the mime clown in disguise. It was quite funny to hear the kid laugh out loud in relief actually. Yeah, we parents take what we can get.

I’d be honest that if I wasn’t so keen on catching the show to begin with, it probably wasn’t the best place to take a 2.5yo. Even a circus loving one. But seeing as mummy wanted to watch it too… I though it was kinda great.

between the shadow and the soul

My friend S texted me the other day about a helicopter crash that claimed 12 lives, one of which was an acquaintance of hers; she is also friends with his widow, and his brother. He leaves behind a young wife (after a whirlwind courtship), a two year old son and there are expecting their second child in a little under five months.

She ponders how his widow would feel when she delivers, what it would be like to lose the love of your life after only being together for such a short time. She heart wrenchingly questions how things would be later that night as mother explains to toddler why daddy would never be coming back again. And she concludes with these words: “It’s a truly very big ask and I am thankful that God has not asked that of me.”

I recently said goodbye to a friend who was only 31; there was no “real” reason he passed away, his heart, brain and general physical being was in tip top shape- coroner ruled,  sudden death syndrome.  He was Possibility personified: he was successful, well liked and an all round amazing guy. He was a great son and brother and the world was his oyster.

I’m not yet 32 and have buried several friends called before their time: some to illness, some to accidents, some self-inflicted. Its hard to comprehend how or why things happen. The famous question we ask is :why bad things happen to good people. And really, there’s no answer except the belief that the “will of God will never send you where his Grace cannot keep you.”

The day I became a parent, the notions of life and death took on a different perspective completely. The frailty of life, the fragility of our humanity beckons at these moments and I find that sometimes I find it hard to breathe if I dwell on “what it all means”.

I look at my young sons and I learn that I cannot take tomorrow for granted- who knows what the future holds? But what I do have is Today, the now and for most days, that’s enough.