I was searching for information about “Consumerism” and I found this video on how advertising and marketers are targeting children as young as infant to entice them to be lifetime consumers. Sadly, I am unaware of this until I watched this video.

Sue Palmer in her book ‘Toxic Childhood” also mentioned that behind the TV programmes and computer games that keep our children entertained lurks an army of anonymous manipulators – marketing executives and child psychologists – to capture the hearts and minds of the next generation of consumers.

It’s troubling. We should know what we are exposing our children to and the possible implications.

How are we helping our children to navigate the commercial culture?

What are your thoughts on this?

Dot’s aunt gave her a little fish tank with five little fishes in late September 2011. J and I were a bit hesitant then as we did not know whether Dot would be able to handle them with ‘care’. Seeing her excitement when she saw the little fishes, we relented and she had her little fishes brought home safety.

We teach Dot to feed the little fishes twice a day and she has been happily doing it so far. Caring for little aquatic pets teaches Dot responsibility.

Once, she dipped her little dolphin, a plush toy, into the water, probably thinking that it could swim!

Some of the fishes we had did not survive and J decided not to buy anymore fish. Instead he decided to catch some little fish from the canal near his parents’ place. We went and caught a bag of little fish and some snails to fill our almost empty fish tank.

All of us are so happy to see our little aquarium brimming with life again!


I am very fascinated by the little snails. Once I spotted one of the snails literally diving to the bottom of the tank. I have never seen a snail dived! So amusing!

Today I see jelly-like things on the aquatic plant and realize that they are clusters of eggs, most likely laid by the snail.

I am eagerly waiting for the arrival of the little ones but what are we going to do if our little tank is full of baby snails?

We’ll see!

I borrow this interesting book, ‘101 Things Every Kid Should Do Growing Up” from our library – simple and easy to read.

As I go through this book, it brought me back to those fun and memorable childhood that I had – it is like re-living my childhood again.

I remembered those days where I went to a little puddle of water after rain to catch tadpoles for our oscar fish as feed, the rustic kampong days of Lim Chu Kang where my grandma lived, my head got stuck in between the rails when I watched the jackfruits behind the old bus-stop, my uncle let me sat on his lap while I controlled the steering wheel of the pick-up….Wow! I missed those days!

This is a list of my favourites that I hope Dot would be able to experience though she may only be able to do some activities when she is older.

This is my checklist and is subject to changes 🙂 :

1. Every child should do something to make the world a better place.

2. Every child should go outside at dusk and stay there until it’s dark, watching the stars come out.

3. Every child should camp outdoor.

4. Every child should play with play dough.

5. Every child should receive notes of support and encouragement.

6. Every child should catch snowflakes on his tongue and eyelashes.

7. Every child should write a thank-you note of gratitude to a relative or teacher.

8. Every child should own one really fun piece of clothing.

9. Every child should turn off the television for a weekend.

10. Every child should eat home-made ice-cream.

11. Every child should help create a scrapbook of her childhood memories.

12. Every child should go to a museum.

13. Every child should build a gingerbread house and then get to eat them.

14. Every child should spit watermelon seeds. She spit out some pomegranate seeds and ate some!

15. Every child should do a “senior study”of their parents and grandparents.

16. Every child should receive praise for who she is and what she has accomplished.

17. Every child should have a favourite book or bedtime story.

18. Every child should receive an award.

19. Every child should make a special homemade present for mom or dad, grandpa or grandma.

20. Every child should express creativity.

21. Every child should learn how to swim.

22. Every child should experiment with simple science.

23. Every child should take music lessons.

24. Every child should help bake a cake from scratch.

25. Every child should grow a vegetable garden.

26. Every child should blow bubble gum bubble until it pops.

27. Every child should experience a family car trip.

28. Every child should write a journal.

29. Every child should create a holiday keepsale.

30. Every child should participate in a “-thon”.

31. Every child should create a self-portrait.

32. Every child should build a sandcastle.

33. Every child should go on a factory tour.

34. Every child should write a “memory letter” each year.

35. Every child should explore other cultures.

36. Every child should play dress-up.

37. Every child should ride a horse.

38. Every child should spend some time on a farm, even for short visit.

39. Every child should visit the place(s) where mom and dad grew up.

40. Every child should create a board game.

41. Every child should write a letter to a favourite actor, athlete or hero.

42. Every child should have a pet. She has some little fish to feed every day.

43. Every child should have a hobby.

44. Every child should decorate her room according to the theme of her choice.

45. Every child should have a secret hideout.

46. Every child should play classical games.

47. Every child should mark birthdays with a celebration.

48. Every child should clown around.

49. Every child should make a pizza.

50. Every child should learn to appreciate the different abilities of people.

51. Every child should blow soap bubbles.

52. Every child should spend some time alone with each parent.

53. Every child should build a model.

54. Every child should go for scavenger hunt.

55. Every child should see mom or dad laugh.

56. Every child should publish a book.

57. Every child should have a best friend.

58. Every child should experience the feeling of love, safety and security.

59. Every child should participate in an extracurricular activity.

60. Every child should have a pen pal.

61. Every child should have a personal library card. Dot has hers when she was around 1-2 month old!

62. Every child should enjoy lazy days, sometimes.

63. Every child should experience the ocean.

64. Every child should be given a camera to take pictures, and the freedom to take whatever pictures she wants to take.

65. Every child should produce a video.

66. Every child should make a meal for the family.

67. Every child should do chores around the house without being paid.

68. Every child should spend time alone.

69. Every child should experience the beauty of nature. Mom and dad always bring Dot to explore nature!

70. Every child should learn the value of money.

71. Every child should have the opportunity to act like a child.

72. Every child should have a dream for the future and an adult who believes in that dream.

Being pregnant to being a mom was totally different experience. The prelude to Dot’s arrival was a bliss, where everyone gave me all the attention, care and love. Only after the arrival of Dot did I really have the real taste of what it was really like being a mom.

The initial three months were the toughest for me.  I did not have enough sleep as I had to breastfeed my baby every two to three hours. On top of that, I experienced pain from my c-section wound when I moved about.

When we first brought her back home, I could feed her for more than one hour and yet she was still not satisfied. After trying for a few nights,  I was at wit’s end.  I tried pumping out my milk to see how much milk I had – only 30 ml in my first pump.

As we did not engage any confinement lady during the first month, Jay and I had to care for Dot on our own at night. I decided to do full pumping so Dot could finish the milk within 30 minutes, as compared to 45 minutes to 1 hour of direct feed.

It was real hardwork providing for Dot physically and emotionally. I pumped every two to three hours even waking up at night to keep the supply going. Then I wondered whether I could have the energy to last for even one month.

One month passed and things looked more hopeful. I continued providing her nature’s best – aiming to provide her at least six month.

After about six weeks, I tried switching from bottle to direct feed as I was advised by friends that direct feed will help to keep supply going if I want to provide her for a longer period. It was a struggle for Dot to switch from bottle to direct again and it took her about two weeks to get her to get used to direct-feeding again. Thankfully she made it.

Actually, I was aiming to stop breastfeeding when Dot was around one year old but decided to extend as Dot fell sick several times when I was trying to introduce formula milk to her. After she got well, she rejected my several attempts to feed her formula milk. I stopped trying for a few months and then try again when she was around 14 – 15 month old. She accepted a little and gradually increases her intake of formula milk up till now.

It never fail to amaze me how wonderful is God’s creation – breastmilk. Its supply will adjust based on the principle of demand and supply. There are so many benefits when we breastfeed our babies and none can compare to breastmilk for being the first baby food.

By God’s grace, Dot is 21 month old now and my “job” is almost done. I am thankful that though my breastfeeding journey is not all smooth sailing, it is a good one nevertheless for Dot and I!

It’s a kite.

Recently, we went for kite-flying with J, my brother and Dot. It has been so long since we last flew a kite. Anyway, I didn’t fly the kite that day.

I was watching and observing Dot at play on the field. A child learns to know the world through the senses. She ran around the field, knelt down to see the grasses on the field, touched the grasses and stones, took a rock and hit a short rod that was stuck to the ground. She had so much fun exploring the field while J and my brother were trying to get the hand-made kite to fly.

I observe that simple things like little stones and grasses intrigue and excites her senses. They hold her attention longer than the sophisticated toys she has at home.

 

[catablog category=”kite”]

 

“I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw.” – Proverbs 24:32

Recently I’m reminded that I need to learn to observe and reflect more. It’s like seeing the world with a pair of new lens – to gain new insight from a new perspective. Observe. Learn. Apply.

“Within the child lies the fate of the future. Whoever wishes to confer some benefit on society must preserve him from deviations and observe his natural ways of acting. A child is mysterious and powerful and contains within himself the secret of human nature.” – Maria Montessori

Seeing things from a child’s perspective and understanding a child’s motivation for learning need keen observation from the adults, especially parents, in order to provide a stimulating child-oriented environment to cultivate a love for learning.

I’m still learning to observe and observing to learn.

 

 

On the first day of school, the little boy waved to his mother and turned to run down the bright hallway to class. His teacher smiled and pointed out his desk. “This is going to be great,” he thought. “I love to learn new things.” After a few fun stories, the teacher handed out crayons and paper and announced that it was time to draw a picture. The little boy enthusiastically grabbed the crayons and began to imagine all the things he could draw: mountains, lakes, airplanes, his family, his dog, the ocean,the stars at night…

Hundreds of ideas raced through his creative little mind.

His teacher, seeing that he had started drawing, stopped him and said that today the class would be drawing flowers. The boy’s mind again ran wild: daisies, daffodils, roses, carnations, violets, lilacs, pansies, mixed bouquets, green gardens full of rainbows of colors…

The teacher again interrupted, informing the class that today they would be drawing a certain kind of flower. Taking colored chalk, the teacher went to the board and drew a green stem, with two leaves, and four identical pink petals. The little boy, eager to please, dutifully copied her drawing.

After several attempts, his drawing looked exactly like hers.

The teacher congratulated him for doing such good work.

As the school year passed, the little boy became a very good student; he learned to listen, obey instructions and get the right answers on tests. His parents were very proud of him, and his teacher was impressed with his excellent progress.

When the next school year arrived, the boy had done so well in his classes that he was enrolled in an accelerated program.

During the first week of class, the teacher handed out crayons and paper and announced that it was time to draw a picture. The little boy, still in love with art, enthusiastically picked up his crayons and waited for instructions.

After several minutes the teacher noticed that the little boy wasn’t drawing. “Why haven’t you started?” she asked. “Don’t you like to draw?”

“I love to draw,” responded the little boy, “but I was waiting for you to tell us what the assignment is.”

“Just draw whatever you want,” the teacher smiled and left the little boy to his creativity.

The little boy sat for a long time, watching the minutes tick off the clock and wondering what he should draw. Nothing came to mind.

Finally, in a burst of creative inspiration, he picked up his crayons and began to draw:

A green stem, with two leaves, and four identical pink petals.

 

Source: A Thomas Jefferson Education, Chapter 3

 

Dot is a fan of Signing Time – she loves the music, watching the babies doing ASL (American Sign Language) and interacting by moving her hands and body.

We introduced ASL (American Sign Language) to her when she was about 8-month old when a friend shared with us about Baby Signing Time. She could communicate with us even before she could speak – she would sign “milk” when she wanted to drink milk.

Now we still watch “Signing Time” together, limiting to 30 minutes to one hour per day.  She still enjoys learning new signs, words, moving her hands and body with the music. Sometimes I will just sign to her without speaking and she knows what I am trying to communicate. Loving it!

She learns a lot of new words from Signing Time and it helps a lot when we read to her.

The good thing is we can borrow Signing Time DVDs from our libraries.

“Now our education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability. And there’s a reason. The whole system was invented — around the world, there were no public systems of education, really, before the 19th century.They all came into being to meet the needs of industrialism.So the hierarchy is rooted on two ideas. Number one, that the most useful subjects for work are at the top. So you were probably steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked, on the grounds that you would never get a job doing that. Is that right? Don’t do music, you’re not going to be a musician; don’t do art, you won’t be an artist. Benign advice — now, profoundly mistaken. The whole world is engulfed in a revolution. And the second is academic ability, which has really come to dominate our view of intelligence,because the universities designed the system in their image. If you think of it, the whole system of public education around the world is a protracted process of university entrance. And the consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not, because the thing they were good at at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatized.And I think we can’t afford to go on that way.”

First thing in the morning, Dot  asked to be read her Bible stories. Daddy read her “God made the world” and “Noah built a boat” from her Toddler Bible. After each story, daddy drew on her new easel board to reinforce her learning by asking her questions. Dot could name most of the animals in the drawing. She enjoys drawing and scribbling on her new easel board! 🙂

Dot enjoys fishing these little wooden fish.

She learns to group similar colored fish by fishing them one after another. To help her to understand the significance of numbers, I will always read out the number of fish she caught.

Fishing requires focus and hand-eye co-ordination to get the fish on the magnetic hook. Her face always beams with joy when she finishes her catch –  to her is a great achievement – and sometimes she celebrates with a little dance!

 

 

 

We went trekking at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve recently and spent about 3 hours in this tropical rainforest which is home to many beautiful plants, animals and insects.

When we were on the trail up to the summit, we saw a haversack and a man kneeling down by the side and thought what had happened to him. Later then we realized that he was actually taking pictures of the fungi from some odd position.

We saw a huge army of ant-look-alike insects moving from one side of the trail to the opposite side. What a sight to behold!

On our way back to the visitor centre, this man was still there at the same spot checking out the images he had taken. We decided to join in the fun to get up-close and personal with the fungi. Seemingly insignificant and obscure in this vast rainforest, the fungi was then in the limelight.

We saw a look-like komodo dragon at Hindhede nature park and tried to get a photo shoot but we were too slow. When this lizard saw us, it quickly moved among the trees.

Each trip is a new experience!

Want to try new routes next time we go there.

 

[Click on the images to view]

[catablog category="nature"]

 

 

We collected some dried leaves at the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden a few weeks back and made leaves sketches. It was meant to be an activity that I would like to show Dot but instead I was amazed at how beautifully these simple leaves are made.

As I sketched on the paper with the leaves beneath, I noticed the intricate veins of the leaves on the paper. The veins that support the leaf and are filled with vessels that transport food, water, and minerals to the plant are such great design biologically and aesthetically.

It suddenly dawned upon me how beautifully and wonderfully they are made.

 

J and I love outdoor activities. To us, it is more fruitful to spend time in the great outdoors than go shopping or dining. Nature has so much to teach us but we are just too busy with life to take notice.

J is a more observant person and though his eye sight is not as good as mine but they are very sharp to notice tiny little creatures like insects on the leaves, birds on the trees and so on. I’ve learnt  from him to slow down to enjoy God’s beautiful creation. Indeed, creation cannot happen by accident – they are definitely created by a loving and powerful Designer!

We start to bring Dot out to parks and beaches when she is able to walk steadily. We teach her by naming the things she sees around her daily. She is allowed to touch and feel leaves, sands, flowers and other safe things. Gradually, we start to share with her about God and that He created the plants, animals, lands, seas from her toddler bible. Exploring her world through her senses outdoor gives her a great learning experience!

 

** Bukit Timah Hill **

We woke up at 5.45am to prepare for our trip to Bukit Timah Hill. Dot, then was about 15 month old, was still sleeping when we were in the car. When she woke up, she was surprised by her new surrounding. It was cool and refreshing to trek  in the morning despite the early wake. Dot had her first taste of trekking and she loved it! 🙂

[catablog category="bukit timah"]

 

** Changi Beach **

I love the space and peace at Changi. A mini-getaway from crowded malls and restaurants.

[catablog category="changi"]

 

** Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden ** ( More info )

Dot’s first trip to Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden and she loves it! When we went there, we didn’t know that there is a water play area. If not, we would bring her swimwear and a towel. Despite of that, we still let Dot played with the water.

[catablog category="jacob ballas"]

 

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. – Romans 1 :20

Recipe:

2 cups plain flour

1 cup salt

1 cup water

2 tbs. olive oil

2 tbs. cream of tartar (this makes the dough last longer)

Mix these together and warm them in a pan on the stove. Let the mixture cool down a little and then form it into a ball before kneading it for a few minutes. Remember to soak the pan immediately before the remnants become caked on. Food colouring can be added.

The dough will last for a few months as long as it is kept in an airtight plastic box to prevent it from drying out.

I read The Wonder Years and saw this recipe. I tried making this dough for Dot to play and the texture is good to make balls, figurine and so on. After playing, I left it in the fridge and the following day it is still good to play.

It only takes less than 10 minutes to prepare the dough. Give it a go!