I want to ride my bicycle... I want to ride my bike!

Friday, 29 June 2012

BabyMoo's at that stage where he is revelling in his new found independence and mobility. At almost 18 months, he no longer waddles much, unless he's struggling to stay awake because he still wants to play - when he really would be better off asleep. He breaks into a happy run, bulldozing everything and everyone in his path.
Independence and mobility. Cause and effect.

Lately, he's been fascinated with bicycles.

His ride-on cars are parked at the corner of the room, neglected, because perhaps he's realised that they don't really meet the danger factor now. I suppose the sense of being in control just by manipulating the handle bars is the main appeal. Most boys never grow out of it: the thrill of the two wheeler and submitting to its charm till they're old and grey.

I actually thought of getting a balance bike for him, but since his nephew has an almost brand new tricycle that he has outgrown, I figured I will wait till he's slightly older to get him one. His feet aren't able to pedal effectively as yet, but he absolutely loves 'feeling' that he's riding on it. Poor Granny has to push him discreetly from the back... because he doesn't like to know that he's being pushed, but gets frustrated when the bicycle doesn't move!


So we decided that since he's going to be riding in the outdoors, we'd best get him protective gear. I explained to him that he has to wear these for his own safety, especially when he's on rough ground. BabyMoo hates to wear any form of headgear from the time he was a newborn till now, but he was more than happy to get geared up to ride his tricycle!


"Mummeh!! I said I wanted a MOTORBIKE, not a Tricycle!!"

So there he is, all suited up for the ride.


My little boy-baby is growing up.

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2 weeks of Creative Fun - sMOOp Dogg!

When Alicia from An Accidental Homeschooling Mum suggested that BabyMoo and I take part in this project along with 14 other Mums, I was rather apprehensive because I didn't think that BabyMoo, being all of 17 months old and a regular self-rechargeable Duracell bunny, will be able to sit still long enough to contribute much to a craft session! I decided to give it a try because I feel that that is a perfect opportunity for me to start trying to stimulate his interest in the arts and see where it will lead.

Then there's me racking my brains trying to think of a craft which is simple enough for him to do with minimal help, and done with simple items which can be found in the home.

I then remembered a craft done by my friend, S a couple of months ago - for her daughter, and thought that it will be perfect for our inaugural craft session. This is pretty easy to do, and Mums who think that they may not be too 'artistically inclined' have no excuse whatsoever to not attempt this craft with the kids!

sMOOp DOGG

Materials required:
  • Daddy's old sock (ankle length is best)
  • Toilet paper roll insert
  • Kitchen funnel
  • A piece of cardboard (I cut 4 triangular shapes before we did the craft so that BabyMoo will not have access to scissors at the table)
  • 6 pieces of round velcro stick-ons (this can be purchased at any craft shop or stationery store)
  • A pair of wiggle eyes (also can be purchased from craft shop or stationery store)
  • A measure of green beans (any grain-like substance for e.g: rice / red bean / barley can be used)
  • Rubber band
from bottom left, in clockwise direction:
Wiggle eyes, triangular shapes cut out from a piece of light cardboard, toilet paper roll insert, funnel, green beans (and rubber band), round velcro stick-ons, Daddy's (brand new) sock!

Here's BabyMoo (still in his PJs!) getting initiated into the world of Arts & Crafts.

Mum...meh!! I'm a Uni-babybeh!

I told him that we're going to do a toy for Daddy... as a belated Father's Day Gift! BabyMoo got excited, and dragged his yellow plastic chair to the coffee table without any prompting from me. He sat down and started inspecting the items, one by one. I am not too worried about using the green beans with him as BabyMoo isn't one to place objects in his mouth carelessly, and is pretty discerning when it comes to edible / non-edible foods.

1. We started off with putting the toilet paper roll insert into the sock. BabyMoo tried his best... but he got rather frustrated when he couldn't encase the roll completely using the sock!


2. I then pasted on two half sides of velcro onto the front portion of the sock, where the eyes should be, pasting the other halves onto the wiggle eyes. I next asked BabyMoo to help me 'place' the eyes onto the velcro.


3. We did the same for the triangular cut-outs, which represents the legs.


4. I used velcro so that BabyMoo can attach and detach these to practise his motor skills. He was so happy to have pasted these on himself, and clapped every time he got the placement right. He was able to do the rest on his own after I showed him how to attach the first eye.

5. The green beans are then poured into the sock using the funnel. We got stuck halfway, so I turned the funnel over and used the wide side instead!


6. I secured the end using a rubber band, and 'fluffed' up the sock's end so that it looks more like a puffy tail.

BabyMoo trying to push the dog into the funnel.

7. Here's our Stuffed Sock Doggy!

We've christened him: "sMOOp Dogg"!

BabyMoo remembered that we were doing it for Daddy... and carried it into the room proudly, looking for his Daddy. He then whacked Daddy to wake him up. (The Bean Bag effect of the stuffed dog may well have a lot to do with that reaction!). Daddy was as pleased as punch... and thanked BabyMoo for a job well done. He held it all of 5 seconds, before BabyMoo grabbed it off him and decided that it makes a nice addition to the other items in his shopping trolley.

I'm pretty pleased that our first craft session has gone as well as it did. In fact, just to push boundaries, I played BabyMoo's favourite DVD throughout, and he was not distracted at all! I confess, I have not been overly productive when it comes to doing crafts and such with the boy... but after this, seeing that he has enjoyed it as much as I did, I'm sure that we will have many more sessions to look forward to!

Have I mentioned that I'm so proud of him? :)

***

Next crafty fun idea:

Sarah's going to be serving up a colourful and easy 'Crazy Box Birthday Cake' craft even toddlers can do.


About Sarah, Play Chief

Sarah is an educator-storyteller-writer turned domestic circus ringmistress. She currently runs her circus show 24/7 starring 3 males, and counting. It can be a mad yet fulfilling life.

A passionate advocate for more playfulness in life, Sarah enjoys sharing ideas and resources on
practical ways to live more creatively, artfully and playfully on her blog.
Swing on by and say 'hello' to other Playful Parents like you!  

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During these two weeks, the mum bloggers listed below will feature their creative pieces!
Please hop on over to get inspirational ideas. :)

June 21:    Alicia - Eric Carle inspired art-piece
June 22:    Adeline - Decorating a photo frame with polymer clay
June 23:    Sandra - Dinosaur galore!
June 24:    Winnie - Recycled train craft
June 26:    Ann - Goopy goodness!
June 27:    Justina - Celebrating Spring
June 28:    Adora - Creating a Family Tree


Up next!


June 30:    Sarah @ http://www.theplayfulparents.com/ 
July 1:       Jennifer @ http://augdinoegg.blogspot.com/ 
July 2:       Pamela @ http://tanfamilychronicles.blogspot.com/ 
July 3:       Ming Yuan @ http://blog.mybabyfootsteps.com/  
July 4:       Dominique @ http://dominiquegoh.com/ 
July 5:       Karen @ http://littlejazzelle.blogspot.com




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Perching Kids (Review): 'We' learnt Mandarin the fun way!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

I've been rather worried about BabyMoo having to deal with Mandarin as a 2nd language from the time I realised that the bub inside me only 'hears' English, Malay and Indonesian words around him. Introducing BabyMoo to Mandarin seems a pretty daunting prospect, given that he is exposed to a predominantly English speaking environment. 

Now that he is all of 17 months old, I realise that now is as good a time as any to (hopefully) start him on this journey of discovery. The invitation from Daphne to experience a class at PerchingKids couldn't have come at a better time, especially since I found out that they welcome kids from 0 to 6 years of age!

PerchingKids is a Shanghai based award winning early childhood education chain. Their selling point seems to be that they have 'developed a programme that enables a child with no background in the Chinese language to learn 1,000 Chinese Characters prior to going to school'. (source: media release)



'For children aged 0 - 2, the 'Know Myself' programme introduces Mandarin to them by its effective usage while involving them in fun-filled activities. The older children, aged 2 - 6, are encouraged to explore their creativity through the 'I'm Creative!' programme, whereby they can express themselves artistically without any inhibitions, and as such are introduced to Mandarin naturally.'  (source: media release)

We were excited to attend the session. As Chinese non-Chinese speaking parents, we are very curious as to how the class will be conducted, and how BabyMoo will respond to it. From past experience, every time his Aunt tries to speak to him in Mandarin, he will either just ignore her or look at her like she's speaking gibberish (which to him it probably was).

BabyMoo is all too familiar with PerchingKids, since I12 Katong, where it's located, is just a stone's throw away from my in-laws' place, where he's at during the day. He 'hangs out' at the mall and my mum-in-law tells me that every time they walk past the school on the way to the Water Playground next to it, he will always make a stop at the entrance, perhaps attracted by the bright happy colours and toys within!

BabyMoo's trying his luck.

We were met by Annie, who made sure that we were very well looked after. She addressed all our queries (in English!) even though she would definitely have been more comfortable in Mandarin.We really appreciate the fact that she made the conscientious effort, even before she realised that although we look Chinese - that's where it ends in the language proficiency department!

I like that they take hygiene issues seriously. BabyMoo's hand and feet were checked, and all of us were made to wear socks and sanitize our hands before we entered the 'classroom'. 


Surprisingly, BabyMoo allowed himself to be led away by Annie, who told him where they were going and what they were going to do in Mandarin(!!), without even a backward glance at us.

He was rather 'overwhelmed' when we entered the class, though. He clung on to me, and it was pretty apparent that he was uncomfortable and didn't know what he was in for. It could well be the fact that he feels so alone as a little person in a room of 'foreign speaking' adults. I suppose feeling like the centre of attraction in this case didn't sit too well with him. He's never been a shy boy, warming up to people almost as soon as he determines that they're 'okay' in his books... so I was rather surprised to see this side of him. Perhaps the two teachers singing, clapping and encircling him in a language which he wasn't used to only added to the discomfort.

Started off all apprehensive... but when he was given a doll (Yang Wa Wa 洋娃娃)* to 'keep him company', he warmed up somewhat. After he determined that all is well, he abandoned the doll, and started participating in the class!

*Note: Even Mummy learnt Mandarin words along the way! 



He was then introduced to different coloured shapes. When he picked each one up, he looked at me in bewilderment as the teachers highlighted the particular colour to him in Mandarin. He then started to make the association of each only when they told him the corresponding names in English.

Red = hóng 红, Yellow = huang 黃 and so on.


We then moved on to musical instruments. Music has always been BabyMoo's favourite, and he was very happy to chime this hand-held bell in tune with the sing-along! The two teachers did their best to make him comfortable, and being able to adopt a 'kiddy-like' voice to sing and speak to BabyMoo did wonders to put him at ease. He even started to respond correctly to their instructions and questions even though they were made in Mandarin.

We were really pretty amazed.


We then played peek-a-boo... and BabyMoo was tickled pink, amused that all the adults were entertaining him, while basking in all the attention!

He was then given a pair of wooden cylinders, and encouraged to do as he liked with it. He ran around the room, knocked the walls, floors, and even tried to operate the laptop (which was there to provide the music). All this while, the teachers followed him and pointed out each object which he touched in Mandarin. They kept repeating it, and I believe that this actually helps the child to associate words and objects through play.

He was by now, enthralled and responsive.

Animals were also introduced, along with their appropriate names in Mandarin.


Next came BabyMoo's favourite part of the class. He was led to the mini play area, accompanied by a teacher. She led him to the different play sections and apparatus, while patiently naming each item in Mandarin. she also conversed with him throughout in Mandarin, and I was extremely surprised to note that BabyMoo responded far beyond our expectations. He was asked to show me the 'Red Ball' (see pic below) which he immediately walked to and jabbed at with a happy grin at me! This was also the case with the yellow slide. Perhaps he made the colour association during the class earlier. Or it could be sheer coincidence. Either ways - I was a very ecstatic mummeh! 

We came away from the session feeling that Mandarin can be taught in an effective way. DaddyMoo and I actually learnt a few words during the class! If they have a class for above 30s, we would seriously consider it. :)

We would have actually signed BabyMoo up for the classes there and then but for one 'little' thing - at S$2,680 for 34 sessions (S$79.00 per session) classes at PerchingKids are considerably pretty costly. However, we're still considering the classes, because given the positive experience, I suppose good things does come at a price.

PerchingKids

I12 Katong Mall
112, East Coast Road
#04-04/7
Singapore 428802

Website: www.perchingkids.com.sg
Facebook: www.facebook.com/perchingkids

DISCLAIMER: We received a complimentary trial class at PerchingKids for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own except when stated otherwise.

***

GIVEAWAY!

*Update: The complimentary classes have been given out. Thanks Elizabeth and Denise for participating, and we hope that the class will be a positive experience!

PerchingKids has very kindly offered 3 complimentary classes for our readers, so if you are interested in experiencing first hand how PerchingKids can benefit your child, here is the perfect opportunity to do so. 

Simply do the following, and leave me a comment on my Facebook page as to why you feel Mandarin is a challenge for your kids! I like to feel that I'm not alone :)
The first three posts will qualify.



1. "Like" MummyMoo on Facebook (Thank you!)
2. "Like" PerchingKids on Facebook 
3. Leave me a comment.

DISCLAIMER: This giveaway is in NO way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with
Facebook. Information collected is NOT collected by Facebook. In signing up for this promotion, participants release and indemnify Facebook from all liability. 

MummyMoo is not responsible for the claim or usage of the trial classes further to the provision of this giveaway.

Wordless Wednesday: Everybody was Kung-Fu fighting!

'WAH-CHAAAAAA!!'


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My Little Drummer Boys

Yes, I'm Chinese... but (I'm sorry) I don't understand the language.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

... should I even apologise?

Even before the hubs and I got married, it's always been a standing joke between us that any offspring of ours will face pretty tough times in the 2nd language (Mother Tongue) department.

Ok... we're both of Chinese descent and our 'Race' states Chinese on our Identification Cards. That said, we can't speak or write the language to save our lives. Sure, the hubs understands a smattering of colloquial Mandarin, but try having a conversation with him and you'll probably be trying to decipher what he's attempting to say, if he hasn't given up after the first two words. Even if he does form a sentence, perhaps you'll be left guessing what exactly it is that he was trying to say.

I took Malay as a 2nd language in school. I had that option because when we migrated to Singapore from Indonesia, we were still able to make a choice. The husband took Mandarin in school, but I believe he developed selective listening at a very young age. He was also plagued with voluntary amnesia, which would perhaps explain as to why he totally could not recall as to what was taught both conversationally or in written form. 

BabyMoo has no choice. He has to take Chinese as a 2nd language, and it doesn't take a genius to know that he may face a lot of problems with this requirement. Not only are we not able to assist him in learning the basics of the language, we come from predominantly English speaking homes - and thus the 'problem' is magnified to epic proportions.

I'm way past worrying. In fact, I have come to a point where I realise that BabyMoo needs help as early as possible in this aspect. I believe the trick to mastering any language is the frequent usage coupled with an interest in it. That's why I am exploring all available options... I've even considered enrolling him in a full-fledged Chinese kindergarten so that he will at least maintain a balance between English and Chinese.

However, I also recognise that forcing things down a child's throat is the surest way of developing an intense dislike for it. I wouldn't want it to come to a point where he becomes 'allergic' to the language, simply because he feels forced to communicate in it.

A friend of mine mentioned to me just a couple of months ago, that his 10 year old son suddenly started failing his Chinese. He's always managed passes throughout, due to the guidance of his father - but his grades started plummeting at a very obvious rate. It's as though he totally lost interest, and couldn't be bothered to even try. Upon probing, he clammed up, and refused to even address the 'problem'... however, after much cajoling from his Mum, he finally admitted that he feels pretty resentful and 'useless' because his chinese teacher made a pretty nasty remark about his Chinese proficiency in front of the whole class, and constantly picks on him. My friend isn't someone who will take up issue with the school over things - but this was one instance when he didn't stand for it and made sure that the teacher knows exactly what she was doing to his son... if not many others.

When I related this story to DaddyMoo, he told me that this was exactly what he went through in school, so much so that he developed a loathing for the language, and just stopped bothering to try. He was constantly asked to "出去 (Chu Qu)" - 'Get Out!' of the class... and did so willingly because he couldn't understand whatever that was going on in class anyways.

This is a classic example of the importance of having the right educators - because like it or not, they are a major influence on a child's formative and schooling years. As much as they can make you, they can also as easily break you.

This is precisely why I think that BabyMoo should start off being introduced to the language on a good note, in a conducive environment, so that he will not feel 'threatened' by the language. He should not be made to feel that he's lacking in any way simply because he doesn't have the benefit of having parents who are proficient enough in the language to guide him along the way.

I think I may have finally found a great place for him to get familiar with the language.

Top Ten {Tuesday}: 10 things I'm Thankful for.

"Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds."
-Theodore Roosevelt

I realised today that I have so much to be thankful for, and yet I've never really given thanks for all the good things that have been bestowed upon me. For everything that I've been given, let me be grateful for the good, and take the bad incidences as a learning experience.

TEN THANKFUL THOUGHTS

1. I'm happy and secure in the knowledge that my son is healthy and developing at his own pace. BabyMoo is a curious boy who thrives on love and attention, and gives as much, if not more - in return. He learns by observing, and has been a blessing to all whose life(s) he has touched in one way or another. He has made our extended family closer, and has made me realise that there is more to appreciate in life than just the ordinary, materialistic, mundane things. He has been our love, light and joy... and will continue to be so for as long as forever.
Boy at play

2. My in-laws have given so much of their time and energy into ensuring that both the husband and I are able to have peace of mind while we are at work, taking care of BabyMoo perhaps even better than we possibly can, due to their experience and expertise. That said, they have always given us due respect in how we choose to bring up our son, and have never interfered in decisions involving BabyMoo's well-being... preferring to provide suggestions only when we seek their advice. This allows us the freedom to feel that we are doing our best to parent the boy, and at the same time we learn from mistakes made along the way.

BabyMoo, 3 days old with Mama Jessie and Gong Gong Bob.

3. I'm happy to have a supportive Mum, who loves BabyMoo as much as we do. She's still working, and thus isn't able to see BabyMoo as much as she would like to, but every time Oma and grandson have time to play - they enjoy their time together. She pampers him, but at the same time, he understands that he will also get reprimanded if he's naughty... and the bond between the two is absolutely amazing. They understand each other, the 17 mth old and the 66 year old, perhaps because they are so alike in habits and characteristics.
BabyMoo, 13 months old, with Oma Kartika

3. I am grateful for wonderful colleagues and a comfortable working environment, where office politics is practically non-existent, and we respect one another's job scope. A place where people are never hesitant about helping others, and knowledge as well as experience is freely shared. A Boss who stands on the same level as his employees, and takes the trouble to understand and get to know their families. I've worked here for the past 13 years, have explored other options along the way - and have since come full circle, secure in the knowledge that as much as the company gives me, I still am able to contribute more.

4. I am fortunate to have fabulous friends, some of whom I have had the opportunity to get to know online... and has since progressed to becoming real life ones. They are there for me to rave, rant, whine and complain to... and with the wonders of technology, are as accessible throughout the day even though we are all going about our respective lives. With some friends, we go beyond circumstantial meetings and ordinary conversations. We pick up where we left off (every time!), we can stay in comfortable silence, yet walk away feeling like it was the best conversation we've ever had.

Irene Tay - I'm blessed to have you as a friend!
With Irene, circa 2006, happy high pre-mummy me!

5. I'm thankful for food on the table. Sometimes we forget how fortunate we are to not know the feeling of insatiable hunger through circumstance. We have a choice of what to eat, where to eat, and when to eat... while there are many others, even perhaps down the road from where we live - who do not have that luxury. I stop myself from buying more food than necessary, although sheer greed sometimes does make a fool out of me. I have known some hard times in life, but I was still more fortunate than those who are left constantly wanting.

6. I appreciate the opportunities which have come my way, those that has enabled me to experience more things, and others which has enriched my existence. I am also thankful for future windows that will hopefully open in time, for as individuals - we should never ever stop learning through experience.

7. I have come across so many wonderful and helpful people... those who has restored my faith in the spirit of humankind. They offer to help and give so much without asking for or hoping anything in return, and are willing to share their knowledge and experience so that others can benefit from these as well. They take the initiative to pave the way... in order that others can walk the cleared path without having to navigate through thorny brush and traps.

Dominique Goh - Thank you. For your selflessness and for sharing your knowledge.



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8. We're able to watch BabyMoo grow in relatively peaceful times, and there is no looming threat of unrest and suffering where we are. Being privy to suffering and pain can break even the most resilient spirit, and there are some days where I would prefer not to open the papers or watch the news when I'm not in the best of moods.

9. I am happy that Singapore has at least gone to great lengths to provide a conducive growing environment for children and families. For a small island, there are a number of accessible attractions and places which allow children to understand nature, and learn through play. Furthermore, more and more places are also finding it a necessity to equip their premises with child-friendly amenities, and this has gone a long way into ensuring that the logistics of bringing the family out is not too daunting.

Susan Durett: I appreciate the reminder to be thankful - for the times when I complain there is nothing much to do in Singapore!

10. I am thankful for YOU! - yes... you who are reading this right now, for you are my motivation to write. Writing is my outlet to vent, rant and put things in perspective, to relax my mind; so that I can always greet the days with renewed strength and energy. As mothers, we all know how impossible some days can get, and a welcome reprieve in whichever form that suits us best is always what's needed to go on.

***


It's nice to know that in this crazy world, there are small random things which make us happy. So often, we take these for granted... and I hope to always remind myself that for every thing that happens in life, be it good or bad, let me take comfort in the knowledge that I give love, and I am loved in return.


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