Saturday, 31 May 2014

Four

Little Man turned four today.

Four.

How did that happen? Where did the time go? It seemed like not so very long ago that my water broke just as I tried to change by position in bed early in the morning. When he arrived, he was so alert and aware.

One day old.

In some ways, nothing much has changed. He is still very vocal, and is a happy, cheerful and smiley boy.

However, so much has changed. He is now attending nursery, is fully potty trained and has his own opinions about everything!  He is a wonderful story-teller, and is so personable; he can hold a conversation with anyone.  He loves to sing and dance and jump about.  He has a wonderful imagination and can make up all kinds of stories with and for his toys, all day long. He has an insatiable thirst for knowledge and is so loving and generous with his hugs and  "I love you"s.

Having him has taught me patience and to have more empathy. He has given me joy I never thought possible. Every day is an adventure and I am learning more about, and through him all the time.

Don't grow up so fast, Little Man. Mummy can't keep up!

This year, for the first time, we had a party at home for him. Previously, we had celebrated by having lunch at a restaurant with the grandparents, uncles and aunts. This time, we decided to have a small party at home with the same guests.


It was a simple affair loosely themed around Buzz Lightyear. Very loosely themed. Basically, it extended to the invitations and colour scheme. He also wore his Buzz T-shirt. I had bought Buzz and Alien cookie presses, but did not make the cookies in the end.

With the grandparents.


Family picture! (Photo credits: my brother.  Thanks, Kor!)

Still, I managed to bake a cake. Two, actually. I even managed to bake one for his celebration at school earlier in the week as well.

Celebration at school.

In line with tradition, I had his cake topper custom-made. I love the look of fondant cakes and how the decoration can be customised any way you like. However, I am unwilling to get fondant cakes for two main reasons. 1) Fondant tastes pretty yucky. 2) As they are made of sugar, the decorations, however fantastic they look, have to be thrown away. Furthermore, they are costly. I am unwilling to pay that much for something that does not taste good, and can only be enjoyed for a brief moment, and only in photographs thereafter.

So I have cake toppers custom-made. They are made of polymer clay, and every year, they feature some things that are special to Little Man. This year's topper featured a marble run (marble race), a pink pig (who is sometimes also Elly the mammoth from Ice Age), the binomial cube, some paints and blocks.

Does he like his cake and topper?


I think he does!


Happy Birthday, Son. Mummy loves you soooo much and is so proud of you.



*****
Little Man: 4 years
*****

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Review and Giveaway: Gymnademics


Little Lady and her absolute favourite activity - the trapeze.

I'm not really a kiasu/tiger mum (yet). Many parents I know send their children to numerous enrichment classes. Right-brain, left-brain, Maths, English, Chinese, Music, Art, Sports, etc, etc, etc, to give their kids a headstart. My children, on the other hand, got the short end of that stick. I believe in learning through play, so my kids have lots of unstructured play time.

However, as research has shown that children learn a lot before 6, I did not want to short-change them either, by not having them attend *any* classes at all, so when Little Man was younger, I signed him up for a few trial classes, both to see which he enjoyed, and to give him more stimulation (especially since I was not making my own flash cards, nor was I shelling out big bucks for ready made ones).

One class that hubby and I really liked was Gymnademics. Little Man loved it too! He wasn't so hot on the academic part to begin with, but he LOVED the physical and musical portions of the lessons. It was quite amusing to see him wandering around during the flashcard segment, and immediately taking a seat the second he heard the glockenspiel.



We liked it so much, it was never a question if Little Lady would be attending too. It was just a matter of when. Ideally, I would have liked to have had Little Lady attending classes regularly from about 8 months, around the same time that Little Man started. However, as Little Man was attending the afternoon session of kindergarten last year, it was logistically not feasible. However, now that he is in the morning session, Little Lady is attending Gymnademics regularly and loves it as much as her brother did!

Gymnademics is a unique baby class as they combine both the physical aspect ('gym') and intellectual/academics ('ademics'). The programme is based on the research of Glenn Doman, flashcard guru and baby/child brain researcher and clinician. In fact, it is the first and only intellectual and gym centre in Singapore that is affiliated with the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential (IAHP) which was founded by Glenn Doman.



Little Lady participating in some of the activities in class.

Basically, I like it as they do almost everything - physical development, music, some maths and vocabulary thrown in as well. This way, I only have to bring the kid to *one* class, as opposed to three or four. Thus, I cannot be accused of depriving my children of their childhood by over-scheduling them. (But mainly because I am lazy.)


Little Lady having a stroll during the relay race.

The sessions are somewhat long, at 1 hour and 15 minutes (the industry standard seems to be 45 minutes). However, they pack a whole lot of activities in, and the children have no time to be bored at all. ("But, but... children need time for unscheduled play!", I hear some of my imaginary friends protest. Worry not, they have plenty of that when they're not in class.)

Parents are encouraged to arrive about 15 minutes earlier, so that the children have time to warm up and get used to the environment. During this time, they can either have a go at the circuit, or play with some toys.


Playing with some toys before class.

As mentioned, the lessons combine physical and intellectual activities. In the intellectual portions, the children are exposed to vocabulary based on themes that are changed monthly, as well as music appreciation. This is done through word cards, picture cards, music note cards and manipulatives.


Matching words to the pictures.


Doing a head-stand during the gymnastics portion, and walking on the beam during the obstacle course.

The physical activities, which also follow the monthly theme, focus on balance, gross and fine motor skills, as well as tactile stimulation, all of which play critical roles in a young child's brain development.


Going through the obstacle course.

One point of interest is that they alternate the physical and intellectual portions.  This is because the physical activity gets them breathing deeply, which increases the level of oxygen to the brain. This then helps them to learn better.


Playing on the chime bars during the music portion of the class.





Lessons available cater for six main age groups: Bambino (5 months to a year), Crucero (9 months to 1.5 years), Pre-Fellow (1 - 2 years), Fellow (2 - 3 years), Launcher (3 - 4 years) and Virtuosi (4 - 5 years).

Gymnademics is giving away a Trial Pass (worth $58)!

This giveaway will run from 22 May to 30 May 2014 inclusive.  All entries will be verified against the entry criteria before the winner is announced.  This giveaway is only open to those residing in Singapore.

Outlet Details:
SAFRA Toa Payoh
293 Toa Payoh Lorong 6 #02-01 Singapore 319387
Tel: +65 6259 0307
Email: info@gymnademics.com

Operating hours:
Wednesday to Sunday: 9am to 5pm
(Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)

Disclosure:  All opinions are my own.  Gymnademics did not sponsor any of the classes for the purpose of this review.


*****
Little Lady: 1 year 10 months
Little Man: 3 years 11 months
*****

Friday, 16 May 2014

Colour Sorting


Here's a really simple colour sorting activity for toddlers that I did with Little Lady the other day.

It was really easy to set up too. All that are needed are some containers (I used disposable plastic bowls), construction paper of various colours, a pencil and a pair of scissors.

I traced the bottom of the bowl onto the construction paper and cut out circles of coloured paper. I then placed the coloured circles into the bowls. You could use glue or tape to adhere them, but I did not.
That's it! You're now ready to go!

Little Lady was eager to play with them, so I just grabbed whatever I could find on hand and let her place them in the appropriate bowls.

As you can see, she had fun. She was focused on it for quite a while.

I made sure to chose items that are a solid colour for her this time, but there are so many ways to vary this activity. You could provide them items found around the house like I did, or use pom poms. If you want to work on their fine motor skills, you could give them a spoon or tweezers to pick up the pom poms with. For children who already know their colours well, instead of providing the items to be colour sorted, you could ask them to find the items themselves. The possibilities are endless!


*****
Little Lady: 1 year 10 months
*****

Thursday, 8 May 2014

A Day At The Park

Some weeks back, we had a Sunday brunch picnic at the Singapore Botanical Gardens with the Grandparents, Uncle and Aunt.

The kids had a blast.

Little Man found a long stick and went exploring with it.

We tried to bring Little Lady for a little walk, but she decided that the ball needed to ride in the pram instead. Buckled for safety, of course.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Tulipmania!

Tulips are one of my favourite flowers. They wre just so cheerful! When I found out that Tulipmania was back (missed it last year), we made a trip down to the Flowerdome of the Gardens By The Bay. The children were a little camera shy that day (as most days), so all I have for you are some pictures of nice flowers.


This was the best picture I could get with children and flowers being in the same frame. After this picture was taken, both kids were off and running, so we were just keeping up with them.
Little Man next to some foliage. He insisted on 'smiling' like this for every photo.

Little Lady finally willing to keep still enough for a photo to be taken. Too bad there were no flowers close by.

Tulipmania ends its run this Sunday, 4 May 2014. If you haven't already done so, do go down!

Entrance fees to the Flower Dome apply.

*****
Little Man: 3 years 10 months
Little Lady: 1 year 9 months
*****

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