Beginning of Literature-based learning

We've been reading Eric Carle's books which Mommy managed to borrow from Bishan Library. Yes, Bishan does have a wider range of children books! Mommy decided to do some activities based on "Brown bear, Brown bear, what do you see" based on some resources that Aunt Pauline had recommended for homeschooling throught a literature-based approach.
We had
1) some simple story telling sequencing using the character puppets to recall the sequence of the character appearances.
2) Ordering the size of brown bears from big to small.
3) Puzzle of matching head and tail of the animals.
4) Recognition of words and colours which was a good way to exercise the phonics that Keziah had learnt. From this, mommy realised she might be a little confused with 'b' and 'd' and get them mixed up.
5) Did some simple counting of one-to-one correspondence using beans.
6) Estimation of how many beans were needed to cover a printed bear picture.
7) Categorise the animals into 3 groups based on number of legs that they had.
8) Sing our teddy bear action song which Abel loved doing with his little carebear.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn around
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear touch the ground
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear show your shoe
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear that will do.

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, go upstairs
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, brush your hair
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn off the light
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, say goodnight!

These were done over the past 2 days and it's amazing it got Keziah really interested in the book and even kept reading it to herself. She was so fascinated with all the manipulatives that were made and kept asking for more. Well, it really took Mommy a whole night printing and laminating all those. Abel got to play with the puppets and did heads and tails matching.

Since Keziah was on letter 's', we read a book on "The life cycle of a sunflower" by Linda Tagliaferro. We decided to do some sorting with red, green and black beans were after these beans are seeds and tried growing them (ok, we will know if they all grow on cotton with daily watering and sunlight which we read that were essential to plant growth). To wrap up for the day, the kids made a sunflower craft using paper plate and beans.

Shepherd's Pie

After today's outing at Vivo City, we headed off to pick Abel from Ah Ma's place early to have time home together. Mommy's first attempt to make Shepherd's Pie (inspired by a SAHM Pauline who was living nearby in TPY. She's really multi-talented - having her own playgroups running from home, doing homeschooling with her kids and totally impressed with the knowledge and materials she has for homeschooling, she sews and cooks. She's so willing to share her homeschooling sources and parenting tips. Her hb is a real lucky chap!) while Daddy played with the kids.

Enrolled little Keziah's help to make the mash potato. She sure enjoyed the mashing, mixing and adding cheese and milk into it.

The outcome...Actually very yummy for first attempt though a little too wet. Suggest to let it sit for awhile before digging in rather than straight from the oven.

Here's the recipe I modified from Pauline:
Ingredients 300gms potatoes
400gms ground beef
1 packet frozen mixed vegetables
3 cloves of garlic (skin removed)
1 large white onion (chopped)
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup beef stock (didn't have this today so added salt and pepper to taste and water for the liquid)
100ml fresh milk

Method of preparation 1)
1)Peel potato skin and then boil potatoes with the 3 cloves of garlic for 20mins (or until potatoes are tender)
2) Add 1tbsp butter with 1tbsp cooking oil in a skillet and fry onions till tender.
3) Stir in beef and brown it; stir in flour once beef is browned.
4) Add frozen mixed vegetables and cook for 1min
5) Add in 2tbsp ketchup & 1/2 cup water. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5mins
6) Place the cooked meat into a casserole and set it aside.
7) Once potatoes are tender, drain away the water and add in the remaining butter and mash the potatoes & garlic together.
8) Add 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese into the mixture; add the milk a little at a time and continue to mash the potatoes till you reach the consistency that you like (the more milk you add the softer the mash potatoes become).
9) Layer the mashed potatoes on top of the cooked meat in the casserole.
10) Sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese on top and bake on 200C for 15 mins.

As usual, Abel was engrossed in his trains while K's busy cooking with Mommy. Daddy brought out lego to add on to the train scene.

Loved these expression shots that Daddy took for the little ones...

Vivo exploration

Today was a day off school in view of Teachers' Day. So Mommy took Keziah off to Vivo City for some waterplay. There happened to be a pair of HK siblings playing in the water. Though they were older and neither communicating with K, she was simply following behind them and watching them play and doing likewise too.

We were supposed to meet Daddy for lunch but he surprised us with more than just lunch with taking half the day off and taking us to the movie UP which Keziah wanted to watch. UP was really a nice movie, with many touching moments but pity Keziah couldn't appreciate it. She was more afraid of the loud noises and moments when the characters showed anger. Probably she was tired too from the play and kept wanting to go out of the cinema. In the end, she fell asleep on Daddy.

19th month milestone

Mommy hasn't been very diligent in updating Abel's milestone. Seriously over the few months being home with him, I realised there were many little things he could do, in terms of gross motor skills that take me by surprise.

For now, he's very good at his pincer grip with his fingers which we noticed from young. More than picking up small objects, he could unscrew bottle caps, take cloth pegs and placing them around the cup or on the rack, attempting to thread big buttons through a cord and piecing train tracks and square puzzle pieces with better hand-eye coordination. He's also starting to tear paper and tissue into pieces. Though he has been insisting on feeding himself, Mommy still at the end of the power struggle to feed him to avoid mess and to make the process faster. He's playing with his food most of the time but he does enjoy using a fork to pick up his fruits.
About a month or so back, he started to drink from a cup but has always been spilling quite badly. Recent 2 weeks, his control has been alot better and able to drink on his own 80-90% of time. Good at immitating others in terms of action for action songs and facial expressions too.

Bubbles ...Bubbles...

Yes, it's the favourite of children, including Abel. He's getting more adept at blowing and today, he actually managed to blow bubbles on his while at the park for a run and ride.

Mac and Cheese

Mommy's first attempt at Mac and Cheese from a recipe in the newspaper. Ok, there were some modification but guess it didn't turn out too bad though it was tough to be preparing food from a new recipe when one the kids woke up earlier than usual from nap and broke the expected routine.

Mac and Cheese Serves 4 - 6
300g pasta
1 tsp melted butter
4 tbs finely diced yellow onion
1 cup heavy cream
120g cheddar cheese finely shredded
100g cream cheese, cut into small cubes
50g Parmesan cheese, grated
100g cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
Chicken breast, cubed

1. Preheat oven to 200C.
2. Cook pasta and brocolli (until firm) and drain. Set aside 1/2 cup of drained pasta water to thin sauce later.
3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and saute the onions till soft. Add in chicken cubes and saute till cook. Remove chicken cubes.
4. Add heavy cream and bring to a simmer.
5. Add in finely shredded cheddar, cream cheese, parmesan and keep stirring till they melt and is fully incorporated into the cream.
6. Remove from head and blend with a handheld mixer till cheese and onions are completedly blended. (Mommy skipped this step).
7. Thin sauce with pasta water and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
8. Ladle sauce over pasta and mix well. Transfer to a baking dish and spread pasta and cheese evenly. Sprinkle coasely shredded cheddar over the casserole (and top with breadcrumbs if desired which Mommy didn't as she didn't know how to make it).
9. Bake for 20 to 25 min or till hot and bubbling around the edges.

R week...

Ok, Mommy's back with her attempt to do some activities with Keziah and to include Abel in craft.
What can we do with rice? Texture letter R to start it off.
It's rainbow time. We sang the rainbow song and did some tearing and pasting to make up this rainbow. Mommy had wanted her to sort the colour stripes of paper and tear them up into squares to make this rainbow collage. Keziah's a little lazy and wanted to just to paste the whole stripe of paper for each colour. was only after much proding that this was done.

I can sing a rainbow (Modified to have the colours as reflected in Sci textbooks)
Red and Orange and Yellow and Green
Blue, Indigo and Violet,
I can sing a rainbow,
Sing a rainbow,
Sing a rainbow tune.
Mommy tried singing in Chinese but Keziah's still prefers the English version.

Found this website to observe colour mixing. It didn't turn out quite well but it was good that the kids observed that colour change when mixed though the intent was to see red + yellow = orange, red + blue = purple and blue + yellow = green.

Mommy wanted to buy some popsicle moulds to make some popsicles to show Keziah the use of the refrigerator to change liquids to solids but after a major hunt of a few supermarkets (ang moh, ntuc, phoon huat, cold storage and shop n save), it was a failed attempt. Murphy's Law! We'll see what we can do tomorrow.

Trains --- Abel's love

At 19+ months, Abel's love for trains were becoming clearer each day. What caught Mommy by surprised was that in recent days, he could play more independently on his own, heaving toys out of boxes and having them everywhere. No different from any kid. Mommy sure hadn't noticed much of what he's done till tonight that she caught him actually fitting the train tracks together, with great focus, even building such a long one on his own. Mommy was still thinking it was Keziah who helped him but she said it was all his work aside from a little help. Guess he's certainly got good observation and improving on his fine motor skills to be able to fit the track.

Feeding the fish and pigeons together

It's nothing unusual about our walk through the park to take a bus home but today Mommy brought bread for the little ones to feed the fish and pigeons. Seriously, it's the first time Abel was feeding fish and Mommy was surprised he could actually tear the bread quite decently and flung it out into the pond after Mommy instructed him what to do. When the bread missed the pond and landed on the ground, the whole hoarde of pigeons swamped over and surprised him. However, he was not afraid. Of course, there was his big sister who demonstrated how to do it and tried to boss him around. Our little one just wanted to do it himself.

Interestingly, Keziah could remember the name of the fish in the pond - catfish which she was told during the last feeding session.
M: What's the name of these fish?
K: Catfish.
M: Why are they called catfish?
K: They have whiskers just like cats (which mommy tried to describe to her during the last visit.)

Tata's birthday

A dinner together to celebrate Tata's birthday at nowhere else but our favourite Japanese restuarant - Ichiban Boshi.

Batam Holiday Inn

Oh yes, it's one of those lazy holiday break where you do nothing all day but eat, sleep and swim. We joined Uncle Eddie and Aunt Celina and family for a short getaway at this resort. The kids had a great time playing together and the slide kept the kids happy all time.
Our journey there....on a ferry for the first time...

Nice view and nice bed! We've got a two bedroom suite with a living room. It's huge with space for us all to run around.

The pool and swim....Well Abel still preferred to sit by the stairs to kick water and paddle. He would cling and cry when mommy put him in the water eventhough he had float on. Guess we should have started him out with more frequent swims earlier.

What we ate....

Abel's enjoying his food...

This place was supposedly to have an award winning spa - Tea Tree Spa. While the Daddies took over looking after the kids, i.e. being with them in the KidzClub, mommies went for a spa. It was really nice and relaxing. The first try at stone massage was a good choice as it turned out to be better than just the usual massage by hand.

Knowing that Daddy and Mommy haven't quite had some couple time, Uncle Eddie and Aunt Celina volunteered to tend to the kids while Daddy and Mommy got off for a time for two over dinner. They are just such a sweet couple. It was nice sitting down to eat without having to feed kids at the same time. It was Indonesian grill for the night. Food was alright but it's the company that made the difference. A quiet talk for the two and a little stroll just refreshes the relationship.

Still as happy as ever on the return journey...

Baking again...cheesecake

Mommy's back on baking and it's cheesecake this time. It was laborious creaming the cream cheese without a mixer. Manaual work was really no joke. Keziah had fun crushing all the biscuits for the base and adding ingredients into the mix. And this was what we have from the oven.

Hands on Clay

We joined the Lians and their friends for 2 sessions of pottery at Clay Cove in Funan Centre. It's a plate that they would be making. Keziah had great fun rolling the clay and adding on all the decorative in session 1.

Session 2 was for the kids to put the colours on. Pictures will tell how she enjoyed it with her friends. Mommy was still a little worried she won't follow instructions and would mess up her painting by putting all the colours together. However, it was just plain worry and Keziah didn't do too badly after all. The children were awarded a certificate to mark their participation at the centre.

Now we just have to wait to collect the finished product after they are sent for firing and glazing.

National Day

It's National Day celebrations at school but a delayed one as there was a false alarm over H1N1. So here's Keziah at the show but as usual stage fright. She's been singing all the songs and doing all the actions but when it comes to the real thing, she's just standing there. Guess we have to give her some time.

After that the kids had some snacks with her classmates and we went around to play games.

West Coast exploration and the Night Safari

Daddy took leave to make it a long weekend. We went off the West Coast Park to explore this huge playground. Things weren't very new but there were loads to play. Somehow Abel just didn't like the feeling of sand on his feet and he will just stand on the walkway and look at us in the play area. It took him some time and of course, the prodding of mommy that he got onto the slides and got his hands on the sand.

Nothing beats having a nice dessert after that. We went to MOF at West Coast Plaza for some Japaanese desserts and they were yummy.

Later in the evening, we went to Night Safari. It's the first time for the kids. It was a good experience with creatures in the night for the kids. Keziah was rather amazed by the show. We went on the tram ride to spot the animals, some of which were hiding. Too dark for pics though.

Cutie face

Isn't he charming? Heehee...

Abel's first Jap meal

Abel's now 19 mths. Just over the weekend, we had Japanese food and it's also the first time Abel took Japanese table food. He had been nibbling off our food since 18 mths but we haven't quite allowed him a full meal off the table till this meal. Looks like he enjoyed it. Keziah also had her first kid's meal all too herself. Look at the smug look on her face!

Daddy folded a paper frog with the serving mat and it sure brought loads of laughter over how the frog hopped.

ARty Farty Time...Things we do at home...

Mommy has been trying to make time at home fruitful aside from simply going to playground and just watching TV. Besides going to the library almost weekly and meeting up with Aunt Celina and Aunt Joanna and their kids on one of the days if God so bless all are healthy, we have our little art and craft and learning time. Seriously, it's not easy if we talk about homeschooling and for now, mommy can forget about the idea and simply just have fun with them. Even that, it means patiences as these kids just want to do what they want, mixing up colours and preferring to just play around. There was certainly alot of mess. This was one of the pics with Abel smiling while painting. He just doesn't like to mess his hands and gets upset when his hands full of paint these days.

Mommy tried to follow the letters that Keziah's doing in school. L for ladybug and there we went, making ladybug, looking at its lifecycle through reading a book and doing some cut and paste. We tried hunting for ladybugs around the house and putting them in their colour pairs. We have a total of 30 ladybugs to catch. But things didn't quite persist for letter M, we just made a simple spider craft offhand, then it's letter N with a necklace, and O. We made an owl by assembling the different parts and adding its wings via handprint, making brown from red and green paint. Squeezing orange wasn't that quite easy but Keziah enjoyed her fruit of labour.

Keziah also started doing some mazes. Depending on days, she gets them right quickly or otherwise just going in circles.