Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wednesday Wander: Jurong Frog Farm



Our Nature Inquiry co-op have been exploring various farms this month. One of the farms we visited was the Jurong Frog Farm (Do note that the farm is in Kranji, and not in Jurong!). We signed up for a tour of the farm, and I must say that it was probably the most interesting tour we've done so far! The tour cost $8 pax for individuals above 2 years of age, and started off with an introduction to frogs in general, and the history of the farm (which they kindly cut short for us since we had young kids):


The kids were taught about the different parts of the frog, and learnt how to differentiate the male and female frogs. They were also given time to hold the frogs, and many of the kids (and even mums) bravely took up that challenge. 




The children were given containers of food pellets to feed the frogs. They also had a chance to take a look at the various stages of the life cycle of the frog, as there were stations with tanks containing frogs in various developmental stages that were set up for another school group that was visiting. 






Then finally, after holding, feeding and observing frogs, everyone got to eat frogs! We all got to chomp on some crispy fried pieces of frog meat, as well as try some hashima (the frogs' fallopian tubes, which are boiled with sugar and considered a delicacy). 


It was a most interesting tour, and kudos goes to the staff (which interestingly seem to be made up of predominantly young females) for making the visit such a hands-on trip for the kids. The staff were able to really engage with the kids, and it was great that the kids got to experience the farm through all their senses.


The farm also sells various merchandise and also stocks frog and other exotic meat (crocodile meat, anyone?), fish, as well as hashima and snow jelly. For those who would like to bring home some tadpoles, they also sell tadpole kits. These cost $12 and consist of a tank with four tadpoles, as well as a box of food pellets. But do note, these are American bullfrogs, so the tadpoles are huge! Also, as these are not native to Singapore, you should not be releasing them into the wild after the tadpoles have grown into frogs. We split a kit with one of our friends, so the boys have been excitedly peering at their tadpoles everyday!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Thankful Tuesday: Children are gifts


As parents, we sometimes talk about the sacrifices we make for our children. Sometimes, we might even complain about having to make those sacrifices. You know, how we can no longer go shopping for clothes, because heading to a mall with littles is asking for trouble? Or how holidays are no longer leisurely trips, and how your luggages are packed and overflowing with kid-related paraphernalia, and half-filled with diapers?

We could look at what we are missing. Spontaneous date nights with the husband. Dining in restaurants and being able to eat with both hands, and not having to scarf everything down in 15 minutes. Being able to spend more freely because we don't have extra mouths to feed. Having real leisure time to indulge in our hobbies. Having a good night's rest, not having to wake to feed a baby, calm a nightmare, or change wet sheets. Not needing to juggle so many things at one go. Being able to take up sponsorships for events and trips, and not having to worry about babysitters, meals, naps and tantrums (like in the case for the recent awards, both me and another mum had to turn down the prize of a sponsored trip overseas, because both of us were nursing and were not allowed to bring an extra individual along).

Oh, through the eyes of the world, we may be missing a lot. But we have gained so much, haven't we, parents? We have gained joy. The joy of seeing childlike faith and wonder in the eyes of our child. The joy of hearing gurgles and feeling baby soft skin. The joy at seeing milestones reached, even when sometimes that journey may take longer than usual. The joy of having family, of shared meals and shared sorrows and shared happiness.

We have gained wisdom. Wisdom to nurture a person who is totally dependent on us. We have earned patience, from dealing with tantrums, from needing to repeat something over and over. We have learnt to be vulnerable, because having a child is like having your heart walk outside your body. We have learnt to lean on God for this mammoth task of shaping a soul, because such a responsibility is huge and too big for our own hands to handle. We now understand better how God's love is for us, because we now know how vast and deep a love a parent has for his own children. 

What we have gained though is hardly tangible. How do you measure joy? How can you weigh love? But it is there, and it is totally worth it. 


So my dear dear boys: No matter what Mama may sometimes say in anger, no matter what others may say about children being burdens... remember this: you are loved, and you are our gifts. We'd choose you over a free holiday, a new car, or a promotion at work. We thank God for each of you, and you must never forget that.

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Lest I am misunderstood, this was written as a reminder for myself, as I catch myself complaining and thinking about life if we didn't have kids. I am not saying that we must have kids to have a better life, but that for those with kids, we must remember that we have been given a gift, and not a burden. Have a blessed week ahead!


Mum in the Making

Monday, September 22, 2014

Weekend Wanderings: The Cloud Forest & the Canopy


The in-laws visited us last week and the boys have been having a wonderful time with their gramps. Over the weekend, we brought everyone to the Cloud Forest over at Gardens by the Bay. There is so much to love in this conservatory. Firstly, there is that wonderful sight of the waterfall, the crashing sound of water, and the cool feel of it's spray that greets you when you walk inside:


Then there are all the carnivorous plants that are clustered everywhere. The pitcher plants, in sort of colours and sizes, the sundews, glinting in the sunlight, and the Venus flytraps, tiny but menacing.


And the flowers. The fuschias, with their brightly coloured skirts. The orchids, some large and showy, some tiny and perched daintily on a leaf.



There was so much to see, so much to feel, so much to explore. Lil J found a tiny earthworm, and they spent some time examining how it crawled about. They gently touched some flowers, and felt the golden yellow pollen sprinkle across their hands. 



We met lions everywhere. Lil J was terrified of the carved lion gate, which reminded him of the lion with the glowing eyes over at the SEA aquarium. The boys clambered all over one carved version.



They had a lovely time exploring the place, and spending the time inside a cooled conservatory on a hot day was an added bonus.



~~~~~~~

And to conclude the weekend, we all trooped to Changi Airport to send the in-laws off. Another friend was headed to the airport with her kids to meet her husband, so we decided to meet and check out the Canopy, a playground in Terminal 1 (you can read more about the playground over at this post by mummy blogger Adeline).



It was really really crowded and full of running, screaming kids, so we moved the kids out, and they were happy just hanging out together at the viewing mall. These boys are very good friends, so they had a great time just running around doing silly things together!





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All in all, we had a beautiful weekend, despite the hazy skies, and the kids would be missing their gramps. How was your weekend? I hope it was a lovely one too!


PS: We have been blessed to have our kids' clothing sponsored by FOX, and all outfits worn by our three boys as seen in this post were from their new Fall/Winter collection. I especially love that I am able to dress all three in shirts with matching prints!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Foodie Friday: Five fav freezer-friendly beef recipes


I've been getting questions about freezer friendly recipes, so I thought I'd share some recipes here today! Our family loves beef-based soups, and the boys never fail to slurp these up. So that tends to be a regular on our menu, and I realize that we cook a fair bit of beef over in our home. Here are some of our favourite beef recipes to end the week (just click the name of each dish to go to the recipe):

:: Minestrone soup: We usually cook pasta separately, and add it to the soup to make it a full meal. I love that its full of veggies and beans, and it is great to have on a rainy night. It's relatively easy to whip up, and freezer friendly too (just freeze it without the pasta).


:: Beef stew: I love this version by Jamie Oliver, which is full of the goodness of butternut squash, and great on its own, with some rice, or with some bread. 

:: Asian beef stew: This stew with an Asian twist by Nigella Lawson is fantastic. It's great eaten with rice, or you could have some noodles drenched with the gravy and meat. As most stews go, both these recipes are freezer friendly. 


:: Pho: Hubby is a HUGE fan of pho, and he can never resist the lure of Vietnamese food when we are out (if you have not, check out Mrs Pho if you like Vietnamese food too). This recipe has become a firm favourite in our family, and I usually have small containers of the soup and meat sitting in my freezer for Lil J's lunches when we eat out (I usually cook for him due to his food allergies). 


:: Taiwanese beef noodle: When we were in Taiwan, the hubby ate this every.single.day. He claimed that each stall did their soup differently, and he never grew tired of eating this. So I tried cooking this and we've never looked back since. We find that the soup is great with Hibiscus noodle (you can buy this at the dried noodle section in NTUC), which is silky, with just enough bite to match the robustness of the soup. 

Since cooking this can be troublesome, I usually cheat by arranging my menu plan such that I cook pho the day before we have this. I would cook double the amount of beef soup for pho, and reserve the remaining soup and meat to cook the next day. Then to save time, I would use this leftover soup and meat as the beef broth and add the additional ingredients required in the Taiwanese beef soup. Also, instead of cooking the beef separately from the broth, I usually combine the two to save time. 

The boys LOVE this, and of course, so does the hubby. So even though this can be tedious, seeing how they slurp up their soup makes up for it. Oh, and again, this is freezer friendly so I usually prepare a big pot of this so that I can freeze portions for other meals!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Art Adventures: More Hama bead creations

Sunny side up, anyone? 

A fruit platter. Junior J used this picture as a template, with permission.

Junior J came  up with this on his own with his grandma:
two slices of bread, one with butter, the other with strawberry jam.
As you can see, he is rather obsessed with creating art on the topic of food,
going by these and his dim sum drawings!

These were mine, and are supposed to be coasters for the boys to use.
Junior J made the one edged in black, with some direction from me.
Lil J asked for one, so I made two others for the younger boys.

We have been crafting away with Hama beads, or at least Junior J and I have been. Here are some of the creations we've made the past week: all the food related ones are by Junior J, while I have been having lots of fun working with geometric patterns and rainbow colours. 

We're moving on to make more food items, as Junior J wants to make ice-creams next. I'm inspired to try some creations with local flavour. We'll share when we're done making those! 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wednesday Wander: Sensorium 360º, again















We visited the Sensorium 360º exhibition at the Singapore Art Museum again this week, but this time, with the in-laws, who are visiting. (Our previous visit was together with our co-op.) Since it was no longer the school holidays, the museum was almost empty, and the boys had a really good time exploring with their gramps. 

They especially loved jumping around in the noon-nom exhibit and spent most of their time there. Even baby loved it! And it was intriguing to explore the Cage again, since you'd keep expecting to feel something when you see those beams of laser. They would shriek every time the fog machine went off and blasted a cloud into the room, but would find it irresistible and run towards it afterward. 

However, there were those exhibits that required reminders to be careful, like those involving scents in bottles. Those the kids weren't too interested in. It reminded me that to engage little children one must really rely on their senses, and they must have room to explore. While older kids may be able to stand back and admire a painting and have a discussion about it, younger kids (especially boys) need to move, and touch things, and learning is best done when they also have some space to explore, without having to be told "don't touch!" or "be careful!". 

Also, I realized that the simplest things can be of interest to them, and can bring great delight. While lasers and fog intrigued them, the simple water cooler and the act of pressing a button to send an icy cold jet of water also fascinated the boys. I am glad we had the time, and could let the boys try the water cooler for awhile, without having to hurry them along to another exhibit. It made me think: how many of these simple experiences have we missed along the way, while chivvying our kids along to their next class or activity? 

(Anyway, the Sensorium 360º exhibition would be ending on the 22nd of October, so do catch it soon if you can! Here's another mum's take on the exhibition.)

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