Monday, March 23, 2015

Project Homeland: The Toa Payoh Dragon Playground

Among all the heritage playgrounds in Singapore, this is probably the most famous. This dragon playground, located near Blk 29 at Toa Payoh Lorong 5, looks even more impressive standing on its own amidst a grassy field, since the blocks nearby have been demolished. 

The boys had a fun time navigating its long, winding coils. These are much higher up compared to the dragon over in Ang Mo Kio, so the hubby was a little worried about falls, since the platforms near the slides had no railings, plus the place was rather crowded when we visited.  

Crowds and some pushing and shoving didn't deter the boys though. They had a good time running about, playing with sand, climbing through the coils, and sliding down the slides. 

We hope to visit again, but we'll probably go on a weekday, since this place really gets packed on weekends!

PS: You can view our Perler bead portrait of this playground here

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Home: Our wall of enamels

I've been collecting enamelware for awhile now. We hunt for these for our shop (you can view what's available for sale here), and we sometimes end up purchasing some for our own collection. There's just something charming about these metal plates, dented and dinged up they may be. 

We've already been displaying some of these plate in the kitchen. Some grace the top of the doorway, while, some brighten up our kitchen counter. But I still had many sitting in cold storage, so I dug them out some time ago and sorted through them. 

I particularly wanted to display my three favourite plates, which all had birds in them. Two of these were scored from the thieves market overseas (didn't come cheap though!). After trying out many combinations, we finally settled for this, and hubby helped me to stick them up (while grumbling that I was just crazy to collect these plates). Now these brighten up our entryway, and I love the colours that greet us when we enter the home!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Thankful Tuesday: A matter of time

This is my oldest. He's a sweet boy, who loves drawing, reading and dinosaurs (which is why he is roaring in this photo). He is also quite the introvert, who is very resistant to change. Previously, it took him about half an hour before he would start warming up to his friends during playdates, and he preferred to play on his own. He was never keen on any of the kid activities (so we hardly attended any of those blogger invites). He got upset if any of our plans were changed. 

So I was rather apprehensive about signing up for the Children's craft fair. Making crafts was definitely not a problem. Selling them, and talking to strangers (and lots of them) was. I wondered if he would be able to cope with being in a room with a crowd of people, and having to talk to people he did not know. 

I prepped him for the fair, and kept telling him he would have to tell strangers about his crafts, and collect money and return the correct change. He said he wasn't too keen about that, but we kept making crafts and I kept praying. And praying.

Then the day of the craft fair came. The room was rather small, and boy was it crowded! We set up our stall, and to my surprise, this boy stayed on for almost the whole of the first hour to man it. He didn't ask to go. He didn't hide behind me. He helped to sell his bead creations, as well as his friends' stuff. He collected money, he returned change (he needed some help with that), he answered questions from strangers. 

My heart really swelled with thankfulness, looking at my boy standing there selling his crafts. This was the boy whom people would tell us to send to school, so that he could "learn to be more sociable" (because he would clam up with those adults whom he wasn't familiar with). This was the boy, who used to stand at the side and refuse to participate when we visited new places. The one who said "no" to everything unfamiliar. And there he was, talking to strangers, selling his bead magnets. 

That day, I said a prayer of thanksgiving. Of God's faithfulness in growing this little boy. And I was so thankful. For His grace in putting us in an environment where this boy could blossom slowly, in his own time. For a homeschooling community that allowed opportunities like this. For friends who understood, and gave him room to grow socially and emotionally, while giving us support and love. For little friends who accepted him for who he is. 

We tend to have expectations as parents, many coming from our general understanding of children, and from looking at the children around us. So many times, we get disappointed because our own children don't fit into that regular mold of expectations. They don't pick up reading as fast as your friend's kid, who was reading at three. They can't seem to sit still and do a worksheet even though they are already six. They can't focus in class beyond twenty minutes. They don't like painting, or reading. They are not interested in learning the violin. They struggle with adding two and three, and need to use their fingers to do their sums. They don't seem to be able to play with more than three friends at a time, and dislike big events. We compare and we worry if our kid can ever catch up.

And then we have the internet. We read blogs, we browse social media. We are told we can get our kids to achieve this by doing these three things. We read success stories. We start believing that each child can be extraordinary, in every area, if we could just find the best programmes, the best classes, the best schools, the best parenting methods. And we forget that beside every prodigy and success story, are hundreds of ordinary children. Ordinary, but special in their own way. 

That day, as I stood there, rummaging in the money box for coins, looking at my oldest, I was reminded that for parenting, it is more a matter of time when it comes to achieving skills and milestones. Yes, there are the guidelines for what skills your child should master by a certain age. There are these expectations. But these are just guidelines and expectations, which shouldn't enslave us, or our kids. Given the room to grow and learn, your kids would achieve those life skills eventually. That day, watching my son stand tall behind his tray of magnets, I learnt that once we learn that it is a matter of time, we begin to enjoy that journey of growing our kids so much more. 

Mum in the Making

Monday, March 16, 2015

Project Homeland: The Sampan Playground

After our unsuccessful visit to the Mangosteen, Watermelon and Elephant playgrounds, we headed for the Sampan playground (at 625 Elias Road). This one's a pretty small playground, and is next to a coffeeshop. The playground smelt a little of pee (so try to go a day after it has rained), but the boys were still happy to run about exploring.

There's a slide, and stairs. The slide is wide, so it makes sliding with friends fun!

There are also lots of tyres to climb or peer through. Pretty fun even for such a tiny playground like this. 

I've yet to make the playground portrait for the Sampan playground, since we were busy the whole week preparing for the Children's craft fair. Will update when I do!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Our Week: Wonderfully full

It has been such a full week! Lil J is down with acute bronchitis, the baby is also starting to fall sick, and we are rushing to finish our prep for the craft fair. But before the kids fell ill, we had a lovely week:

:: We got to check out Old School Delights, and the kids had fun playing with all the various old school things there. Such a lovely place! (The laksa is pretty decent. The kids loved the chicken wings. And I really loved all the old school stuff they had displayed!)

:: They got to play at two playgrounds new to them, in Toa Payoh. And we found a yummy ramen place nearby. 

:: The hubs was off on Monday, so we also headed to the zoo. Baby J spent the whole trip trying to toddle everywhere. Lil J absolutely loved feeding the goats. Seeing this feisty boy being so gentle with the littlest goats was such a heartwarming thing.  

:: We went for our usual co-ops. They did paper cuttings inspired by the works by Matisse. Our Chinese co-op sessions have resumed (hooray!), so our weekly schedule is now fuller.

:: We got rained out for swim class, so everyone headed to the library instead. I realize going to the library makes me happy. Perhaps its being able to browse amongst shelves and shelves of kid lit. Or the thrill of finding a good read that is new to us. I think we need to put library visits into our weekly schedule, even though bringing all three of them there together is sometimes quite the challenge.

We had to miss a birthday party, and cancel our upcoming artist co-op session because of the sickies, but I'm hoping everyone will get well by Saturday's craft fair. As our co-op sessions fall into place, and our homeschool rhythms get more regular, I must say that each week looks full, but in a nice sort of way. Now Lil J does a little bit of Mama school when Junior J is done, and he seems quite keen! 

It took quite a while for us to get into this rhythm, but I think finding this right fit when it came to schedules does take time. I'm glad I didn't rush and fill up our schedules to the brim, so we still have breathing room to do what interests us, and I don't feel too much like a headless chicken rushing from one activity to the next. Guess there is no one size fits all when it comes to these things, since some families seem to thrive on a packed schedule, while others prefer to be more spontaneous. If you're still finding what works for your family, take it slow and don't overcommit! Here's to a lovely weekend, and hope to see you at the craft fair tomorrow!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Children's Craft Fair

We've been busy preparing for the Children's Craft Fair, which would be held this Saturday at the Singapore Art Museum. Junior J has been really busy making all sorts of Perler and Hama bead crafts (like those pictured above), and would be selling these at the fair.

Bead crafts aside, there would be lots of other crafts for sale, like photo frames, coasters, rainbow loom crafts and greeting cards. These are all made by our homeschoolers, and a few co-ops were organized to encourage the kids to prepare for this craft fair. (You can view our behind the scenes video here, as well as more details for the fair.)

We got to teach some of them some basic scrapbooking techniques last month, and the kids spent two afternoons learning how to use punches, inks and stamps, and made all sorts of greeting cards. It was wonderful seeing all these little hands at work, stamping and punching, cutting and pasting.

The creations that they came up with were interesting. The boys preferred to work with lots of glue and glitter, and spent lots of time squeezing globs of glitter all over and pasting big buttons on their cards. The girls tended towards flowers and butterflies. All in all I think they had a good time!

I was pleasantly surprised because Junior J was very enthusiastic about making his cards, and came up with these designs (As you can see, he loves glitter too. Heh.):

We're still busy working on more bead crafts for the fair, and we hope to see you there this Saturday!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Playground Portraits: The Elephant Playground

You've seen the playground portraits of the Dragon, as well as the Dove. Here's the one for the Elephant playground over in Pasir Ris Park (it is located in the grounds of the Home Team Chalets which is now closed). We tried to visit the playground but could only peer at it sadly through the fence.

I find that there are two challenges when it comes to making these pictures: getting the right shades of colours (and having to sometimes dig through the bucket to find those colours), and working out curves on a square pegboard. Whatever the case, there is this sense of satisfaction when a picture is completed! For this portrait, I've tried to include part of the swing structure in the background, as well as two of the tunnels, since they made the playground so much more interesting.

Now the question is, which playground should we make next?

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Thankful Tuesday: Full circle

We went to the zoo on Monday, as the hubby was post-call and off for the day. Zoo trips used to be the norm for us, since we used to attend a co-op that met every week at the zoo. This trip, however, was different, because instead of having two boys walking, we had three. (Ok, Lil J sometimes asked to be carried.) Baby J has been switching between toddling about and crawling, and he wanted to walk everywhere at the zoo.

As we watched him, wobbling about in his crazy drunken baby steps, talking to otters both real and otherwise, those memories came back. The times where I would carry him, light as a feather in the carrier at two months old, as we joined the other homeschoolers in exploring the zoo. He would sleep for most of the trip, mainly waking to feed. Both he and I would be hot and sweaty thanks to the heat, but we did those trips, week after week.

Then he started becoming more alert, and the co-op shifted to other outdoor locations. These days, the morning nap is a challenge, and he finds it hard to sleep if he is outside. He wants to take in all the sights, he wants to explore, he has to be in the thick of action. He was so excited to be walking around looking at animals, he refused to nap that day at the zoo.

Looking at him toddling about, it seems like we've gone one full circle. He is no longer a baby but a little toddler. My heart ached a little, seeing that. But yet, I was thankful too, for all the grace I've been given this past year or so, trying to care for all three of them, for how it is now a little easier to go out, because the boys are growing up, day by day.

They say the days are long, but the years are short. Indeed it is so. Meanwhile, do stay as Mama's baby for awhile, won't you?


Mum in the Making

Monday, March 9, 2015

Project Homeland: The Dove Playground

We visited the Dove playground (at Blk 10, Dakota Crescent) last week. The boys really loved playing at there, simply because this was one of the playgrounds that still had sand!

They ran or crawled (in Baby J's case) across the bridge. Many times. 

They climbed up, or slid down the slides. (There are 3 slides in total.)

They careened wildly as they sat in the swings. These tyre swings are so rare these days.  

The baby had a field day. He climbed stairs. He climbed slides. He tried sliding down slides on his own, and bumped his head. He grabbed handfuls of sand and crawled all over. 

Lil J was especially delighted with the sensory aspect of it all. He played with sand. He busied himself picking up those tiny leaves that were scattered about the playground surfaces like confetti. 

As the hubby busied himself chasing the littlest, I was enjoying myself snapping photos of the kids, and admiring the lines and curves of the playground. The shapes and colours do lend themselves nicely for a photo shoot. And those pretty blue mosaic tiles!

I had to dig deep and long into a bucket of pastel coloured Perler beads to find all the periwinkle blue beads to match the tiles. Digging aside, it was hard to work out the curves of the playground on a square pegboard, so this is how our playground portrait turned out:

If you do have the time, do bring the kids to visit the Dove playground as I've heard that it would be demolished next year. (You can read about another mum's visit to the playground here, and about our trip to the AMK Dragon playground here.) Here's to a blessed week ahead!


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