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How To Teach Your Baby To Walk

I don’t mean the physical part of it. I am referring to the mental/psychological/emotional part!

Many friends have expressed amazement at how much my boys can walk. I hardly carried them anymore once I found out I was pregnant again, ie when Kor Kor was nine months old and Didi was 15 months old (ya, somehow I always knew about my pregnancy at four weeks). Can’t recall when I stopped bringing the stroller out either, but by two years old, it was definitely no more stroller for Didi. Cos by then Meimei had arrived and she was the one who got to use the stroller when we did bring it out.

Now, the boys walk when we spend the whole day at the zoo. They walk when I lug them along to buy things. They walk when we go for strolls at the beach or park. They walk without complaints.. they skip and they run!

I guess it was forced by circumstances for the boys, so for Meimei I decided to take note of what was making her a happy walker as well.

Firstly, and most importantly, follow the child’s timing. When the child first learns to walk, he loves walking and enjoys walking. No such thing as tired, cos children have boundless energy! But, they tend to be very slow and often stumble and trip. Thus, for convenience and speed, and also due to concern for the child’s safety, adults might prefer to carry them instead, ignoring the child’s demands to walk by himself.

Then, over time, the child is ‘trained’ to be carried. So when he goes out, he now demands to be carried instead of demanding to walk. The problem is, it’s now a much more assertive and louder child making the demands! And heavier! Instead of being as malleable as the one-year-old new walker, he is likely to be a stubborn and unreasonable two-year-old who is getting too heavy for the parents to carry with ease. Then the question comes… Why my kid refuses to walk huh?

Secondly, if you are expecting or have a younger child, I suggest not letting the two share one stroller. Sometimes I do bring the stroller out for Meimei, especially when she was younger. But when I carried her or let her walk, I would rather let the stroller be empty than to let one of the boys use it, even though it would increase our speed (greatly!). Otherwise, how would the older child know when he could use the stroller? Since he doesn’t know, I guess he would have to keep testing and trying his luck by repeatedly asking demanding! Each failed demand is likely to end up in a tantrum. No, thank you.

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Our DIY Solar System

Ta-ta! Nice? I feel so proud of myself, hee hee. To tell the truth, this DIY isn’t cheap. And I hate to do any sort of DIY-craft. Because I am really handicapped in this area. But I couldn’t find any solar system model which met all my requirements: 1) the planets have to rotate around the sun; 2) the planets must be able to spin; 3) the planets must be big enough. Seriously, I was willing to pay good money for a satisfactory model, exactly because I knew that I would end up having to spend big bucks on DIY anyway due to my lack of talent. DIY talent means being able to use whatever available or easily available materials to create something nice. I fail! Still, to commemorate my great achievement, I must blog about it!

Materials

Clothes stand from IKEA

Stryofoam balls, the bigger ones are from Artfriend and the smaller ones from Daiso

Stryofoam ring (for Saturn’s ring!) from Artfriend

Acryllic paint (to paint the planets)

Aluminium wire from Artfriend

Wooden dowel rods from Artfriend (yes, Artfriend is my good friend!)

Saw (no kidding)

Twine from Daiso

Scotch tape, masking tape, cloth tape, from various stationery shops

Method

The easy part was to paint the styrofoam balls, which I outsourced to the two boys. They referred to National Geographic’s First Big Book Of Space while painting.

Then the difficult part… how to attach the balls to the stand??? I had thought thick wire (2mm) would do the trick..

… which worked fine for the first four planets… But there was no way it could hold up Jupiter! Bought 3mm wire to try but it didn’t work either. I even tried to do ‘suspension’.. haha… Consulted my inhouse engineer, and he said the only way was to hang them from rods (like lanterns). And so, I had my first encounter with a saw! Cut the dowel rods to the required lengths, and then tied and taped them to the stand at various angles so that the planets would not collide in their rotation. After many nights of sitting and staring at the stand and balls, and a couple more nights of hard labor, it’s finally done!

I didn’t involve the kids much in this, other than to paint the planets, because of self-awareness that I lacked the aptitude to do this DIY with ease and would not have the patience to put up with their ‘help’. What I could do was to leave the half-completed model out so that they saw my failures every morning. I told them I tried out a method but it didn’t work, so I would have to think about it and try again.

Now, we are enjoying our model, which provides a lot of hands-on learning cos the boys can easily move the planets around. More to come on our learning of the solar system soon! Meanwhile, do check out this other local homeschooling mum who is also doing outer space now. She is my blog of choice in the Singapore Blog Awards’ Best Family Blog category! Do vote for her too if you like her blog! (No, I don’t really know her except as a fellow blogger. My choice is purely from a reader’s perspective.)

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780

The number of minutes I have with my kids from the time they wake up in the morning (around 7.30am) to their bedtime (around 8.30pm on a regular day). As a stay-at-home-mom, it might seem like I have a lot of time to do a lot of things with the kids, ya?

Unfortunately, it isn’t so. In fact, on most days, it seems like I hardly get any time with them. (And I am not even thinking about talking about one-to-one time with individual kids. Ha.)

See, in the morning, I am only half-awake and my mood is definitely far from bright and chirpy. Not a morning person, me. After serving milk and breakfast, it’s the routine stuff of brushing teeth and changing out of their pyjamas, then the boys either want to watch their daily quote of DVD or are too engrossed in their play. While they watch DVD, I usually try to do some chores like lunch prep and laundry. Well, even if I sit with them, they are only interested in the television anyway. After that, I MIGHT have some time with them before I need to cook lunch, max of 30 minutes.

Then it’s time to eat… then wash up… then maybe half an hour before Meimei goes for her nap.. then another one hour before the boys’ snack time. (Ya I know they just ate lunch. But cos lunch is so early, there’s a long interval before dinner, so they definitely need a snack in-between, and gotta factor in their naptimes too.) Then poof! They go to bed and I don’t see them for a couple of hours. If Kor Kor doesn’t nap, we will have about an hour together. Then maybe half an hour after Didi wakes up, before I gotta start dinner. Then we eat, then wash up… then start bedtime routine… drink milk, brush teeth, bathe, read books…

Let me do some calculations… being optimistic.. I get a grand total of 3.5 hours with the kids each day!

Huh. I wonder what’s the difference compared to a full-time-working-mum or a sahm whose kids go to school. I am guessing not very different. Hmm.

Ok, I was motivated to write this post because I felt we had very little time together. But 3.5 hours still sounds like a lot hor?. The thing is, for every activity we wanna do, there has gotta be some prep time and then some tidying-up time.

Strange, where have our 3.5 hours been going to? New post coming up soon – what we achieve in 3.5 hours! Time to start keeping track!

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Our Reading Nook : )

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Nice?? Just a week ago, this was just a wall (decals already on it, part of a Home Improvement Project I started a bit earlier). There are many, many books in the boys’ bedroom, but they hardly spent time reading there. When they did hole themselves in the bedroom, it was usually to play with Lego on the study table which is too high for Meimei to reach. When they wanted to read the books, they would bring the books out to the living room and read on the sofa instead. I guess it was not comfortable to sit on the floor to read, which was what they did on the rare occasions that they did read in their room. (There are two adult-sized chairs, two child-sized plastic chairs, an IKEA child-sized armchair, and a cute stool in the room. But they just don’t use them for reading. No idea why!)

So, it was pretty much just a waste of a good space. Good space = a neat, uncluttered, aethestically pleasing space. Waste = good but not being used! Then one day, I saw Gingerbread Mum‘s new reading corner and was inspired! Hers is a small space between the sofa and a wall, which she has done up very nicely. The furnishings did not seem hard to get; it was more an issue of where to do up such a reading corner in my home. So I walked around the house in search of a suitable space, and EUREKA! A trip to IKEA and two cushions & two rugs later, we have our new reading nook!

That’s why I love reading blogs. On top of the many ingenious ideas which other mummies come up with, often it’s not the creativity itself that makes the difference. Rather, it’s the motivation, the inspiration, the extra timely push. YAY to more!

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Ok, actually I prefer this photo, cos Meimei is smiling. But Didi is scratching his butt again! But I decided I still wanna put it up here!

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We Love KidsSTOP! (Part One)

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Since KidsSTOP opened in June 2014, we have been there twice. The first time was a couple of weeks after it opened, during the school holidays, and it was too crowded for me to take photos properly or even think about whether it was good… I was busy keeping track of the kids! As promised on my Facebook page, here is the review! : )

According to KidsSTOP official website, there are 22 exhibits (play areas / themes, in my understanding) in total. And though we have been there twice and spent about five hours, we have only seen two exhibits in passing, touch-and-go for another seven, and really spent time at five exhibits. Thus I shall only include here the areas where we spent a significant amount of time.

That said, the other exhibits which are not included here, do look quite interesting too. – Flight & Space, Human Body! And the eight which we have not laid eyes on, I am excited just by their names! Tinkering, The Innovation Lab, Kitchen Lab, anyone??

KidsSTOP is really a dream come true for me – it provides opportunies for my kids to try things which are way too large-scale for me to even try to emulate at home (and gosh, I do try very hard to do many uncommon things at home!). Bonus points as it is under the Singapore Science Centre, which means that education and promoting the young scientific minds are duly considered in the setup of the edutainment centre.

In my opinion, rather than trying to cover all the exhibits in one visit (limit of three hours on weekdays, and four hours on weekends & public holidays), it is more useful to allow the child to spend as much time as he likes (or needs!) at each station, so that his learning is optimized. (If you have been following my blog, you probably know that ‘learning’ in my definition is often not what we adults can see/test. Trust me, there is definitely learning going on in that brain – ‘hear’ the gears moving?)

Built Environment – Crane

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We spent a good amount of time here! There is only one ‘crane’ here though. (See the exhibit name? It’s singular crane ok! The three kids were jostling to play with it.. I can only imagine the queue when it’s crowded..) In the photo Kor Kor is controlling a crawl above by pressing the buttons on the panel and moving a joystick. The crawl then goes down and picks up the balls, and the crane operator moves it up and out. Then it’s the climax! Open the crawl and release the balls into one of the big tubs (like the pink one on the right of the photo).

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In addition to the crane, there are other things to captivate the kids. The activity in these two photos really requires teamwork! While Meimei collects balls and puts them into the machine, Didi operates the crank. Kor Kor arranges the various parts on the wall (with attached magnets) to ‘catch’ the balls. Many movable parts, I like!

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Also in the same area, movable gears with attached magnets. The kids were not really interested. Not yet, anyway.

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Ride-on excavators! I had high hopes for these when I saw them in photos before our visit to KidsSTOP. Unfortunately, I think they are under-utilized. There is nothing around for the kids to scoop! And there is a television screen in that small space, which means Kor Kor was staring at the screen most of the time *gloomy* Would be great if there is a ‘real’ construction site to play with the excavators.. at least some sand please?

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All three kids liked this station. Meimei was especially interested in the hammar and nails! Bang bang BANG! A great excuse for creating a din >.< It looks like the boys are interested in simple machines and maybe carpentry too. Hmmmm. Time to rack my brains to ride on their interests.

Dino Pit

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Sadly, I think this is under-utilised too. The main problem? The fossils are not movable! And since there is a constant stream of kids playing here, the fossils are exposed all the time. What fun is there for a palentologist when he doesn’t even need to dig to see the fossils??

Brushes are provided for the kids to brush the sand off their hands and feet when they are leaving the pit. But… the same brushes are used for the hands and the feet!! EEKS!

Supermarket

Look at the variety and quantity of goods! Complete with weighing scales and cash registers! And when you scan the items, you hear the familiar ‘beep, beep’ too! But it’s just a sound effect – the ‘scanning’ is not connected to the cash register and the price is not reflected on the cash register. The cash register is like an electronic calculator – the child can key in numbers and add them up. It does not open and there is no play money. But still, it’s already a very good supermarket!

Cafe

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A very well-equipped kitchen! And it’s right next to The Supermarket, so you can bring your purchases home to cook right away. How convenient! And look at that fried rice, it seems so real! I think Meimei really wanted to gobble it up.

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And that’s all the exhibits we managed to cover during our second visit. And we also caught the complimentary puppet performance. It’s funny and worth the time I think.

Honestly, admission fees aren’t cheap. But it’s comparable to indoor playgrounds, and definitely cheaper than enrichment programes…. and more fun too! KidsSTOP, we will defnitely be back soon!

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Cool De Sac… Somewhat Disappointing..

Ok, it wasn’t really bad in that sense… But I guess my expectations were too high after seeing many nice pictures online >.<

At the back of the slides is a small ball pit.

At the back of the slides is a small ball pit.

 

The treehouse play area.. Something which I was quite excited about. But this picture shows the entire area. Quite small, nothing much

The treehouse play area.. Something which I was quite excited about. But this picture shows the entire area. Quite small, nothing much

In terms of the climb high climb low type of play, Cool de Sac doesn’t have much to offer. Meimei as a very agile 15-month-old, can’t manage much at the Treehouse area. She has no problems climbing up to the slides, but the slides are too high for her to come down by herself… so what’s the point of letting her go up… (I never go down slides with the child in my lap. It’s dangerous!) The two older boys were initially excited by the slides, but quickly lost interest too. They didn’t spend much time at the Treehouse.

The main attraction is probably the various Interests sections, namely Lego, dress up, and art & craft.

Art & craft - free flow of paper, abundance of pencils, crayons, markers, pom poms, ice cream sticks, scotch tape, etc

Art & craft – free flow of paper, abundance of pencils, crayons, markers, pom poms, ice cream sticks, scotch tape, etc

 

Lego - a lot of blocks, and many base plates

Lego – a lot of blocks, and many base plates, including vertical ones (the 3 standing figurines in the background)

 

Dress up - mirrors, costumes, props like toy knives. There is also someone doing face/body painting for the kids. On the left is a stage.. Best for phototaking!

Dress up – mirrors, costumes, props like toy knives. There is also someone doing face/body painting for the kids. On the left is a stage.. Best for phototaking!

 

The boys did spend a lot of time at the art & craft and Lego areas. But…. those are things which they could have done easily at home too…. hmmmm…

Wii and Playstation. I was so glad my boys didn't spend much time oogling at other people playing! (I definitely wouldn't have allowed them to play here.

Wii and Playstation. I was so glad my boys didn’t spend much time oogling at other people playing! (I definitely wouldn’t have allowed them to play here.

 

Play area for below-3s

Play area for below-3s

 

One of the highlights of Cool De Sac is definitely the food, as the playground shares a kitchen with Bistro Cool. The dining area is large and spacious. I had the chili crab curry linguine, yummy! No photos of the food, cos it was me against three hungry kids! I also like the kids’ menu, which includes purees for babies! No photos of the menu either, it was me against a thrice-pregnancy-ravaged brain… I forgot, sorry! (Then again, maybe I just need to get used to being a food blogger. Anyone wanna offer me free food?? :p)

Image from Cool De Sac Facebook Page

Image from Cool De Sac Facebook Page

So, I wasn’t that impressed with Cool De Sac. BUT their website does state that the playground ‘is designed around the needs of parents who desire a place where their kids can enjoy creative play while the entire family has a delicious meal. Parents can relax while their children are engaged in our unique play areas.’

I like that. Their objective is stated clearly, and I think they do fulfil their stated objective. If I want a place where the kids are gainfully occupied while I relax with my iPhone a good book, or have a good chat with Hubby or good friends, yes, Cool De Sac is indeed a good choice.

Location: 5 Temasek Boulevard, 02-379/80. (I don’t understand why the address doesn’t state it’s in Tower Five, right next to the Convention Centre. Am I the only one who’s totally lost in the renovated Suntec City??)

Image from Cool De Sac Facebook Page

Image from Cool De Sac Facebook Page