Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas gatherings

That's our Christmas family shot! Taken on Christmas morning! Yes, I know not all of us are looking at the lens, especially Max who is sniffing out the presents, but we'll take what we can get!

Christmas weekend stretched over four days for us, as we didn't get into the office on Monday (Christmas eve). Saturday was a quiet day. We had lunch at Goodman Arts Centre (Cafe Melba) and spent the rest of the day at home. Sunday was busier - we had a lunch gathering with the SMH June 2012 mummies. There must have been more than 30 mummies there. It was a big crowd. 

Some of the mummies made calls/sent emails to get sponsors for stuff like baby yoghurt, diapers, baby oil, toy rental vouchers, playgroup vouchers and a Sophie the Giraffe teether. There was also a gift exchange.

It was quite a fun meet up and we got to meet some familiar faces (from previous meet ups) and some new ones too.

The next day, Ryan's friends, Brayden and Rou Ern, came over to play. Of course, their families came too!

Richard and I spent the earlier part of the day at the cinema (watching The Hobbit) and at the supermarket and deli picking up stuff for the gathering.

The gathering was, as always, a ball of fun for the kids. There was miniature tree-trimming for the three toddlers.

Simple cookie decorating.

An impromptu puppet show about the story of the birth of Jesus.

Some fooling around with Shann, which sent the kids into peals of laughter as they chased her up and down the place.

There was food of course. Simple fare, given that there were only six adults among us. Richard whipped up our long-time specialty, fried instant noodles, and I tossed some spaghetti. We picked up some pork knuckle and rotisserie chicken from the deli (and I made a simple gravy for that), while Chris and Alicia brought the ham. There was chicken alphabet soup for the kids and I made some trifle for dessert. Shann brought a fruit cake, although we didn't get around to eating it.

Rachel yummed some of the spaghetti, together with the rocket and cherry tomatoes.

Before everyone parted for the night, we exchanged gifts.

Not forgetting these two lovely cards from Brayden and Rou Ern which came for Ryan!

Christmas Day was another quiet day at home. We were quite tired from all the festivities and I'm still a little under the weather.

Ok, that's all from us. We are off to KL tonight! It's a spur of the moment decision! Yesterday, I was just telling a friend, Geraldine, that we didn't have any plans to travel during this time, and this afternoon, Richard said to me, let's pack up and go! Looks like I have to eat my words! We'll be back on Tuesday. Enjoy the last weekend of 2012!  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Rachel's first tastes

Hello! How was your Christmas? We had a quiet but somehow quite busy Christmas! I'll update another day. For today, I want to share this video of our babydoll, Rachel, having her first taste of solid food!

We were at Cafe Melba at the Goodman Arts Centre last Saturday for brunch/lunch. I passed her a cooked cherry tomato. She took a lick and then she chomped down on it! It exploded and spilt its juiciness everywhere! There was no stopping her after that. She sucked and slurped up every last drop! She tried some more food after that and, at dinner, her taste adventure continued with gusto. She was 6 months and 4 days that day. Have a look! The video is about 4.5 minutes long.


Music is "Hang on little tomato" by Pink Martini and "That's amore" by Dean Martin.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Heguru - an introduction

It's been a productive week, both at work and at home. I'm ready now to embrace my weekend and seriously start the countdown to Christmas. Four more days! I can't wait! Richard has already loaded his presents under the Christmas tree. He wrapped all his presents in RED wrapping paper and was mildly concerned when I contributed one teeny weeny present wrapped in BLUE. Eyesore? Come on, it was still Christmas-themed - there were snowflakes on it! Haha!

If you're curious about these photos, they were taken at the Heguru founders' seminar which I attended about two weeks back. I think Rachel looks really darling in these shots!

I wanted to check out Heguru because, from what I understand, its philosophy and approach are very similar to Shichida's. According to stuff I've read here and there in the past, which may or may not be accurate, the Heguru founders previously operated a Shichida school in Tokyo but later withdrew from the franchise to set up Heguru. There are a few differences between the two methods but, by and large, the two methods are based on the same theories and it would be pointless to measure one against the other. Each has its strengths and, in any event, results largely depend on a culmination of factors, including home environment and parental involvement.

Whatever its origins, Heguru has evolved into a brandname in its own right and is well-established in Japan for right-brain training and early childhood education. In particular, its students are well known in Japan for being able to do wave-reading (Hado reading). It is utterly amazing to watch the students perform wave-reading and watching them, you really start to wonder about the latent potential in all of us which can be realised with the correct training. Personally, I don't need my children to be able to do Hado reading but the fact that the Heguru students are capable of doing this is, to me, a sign that the method is on the right track when it comes to training the right brain. In any case, I understand that the focus of the programme that Heguru is presently offering in Singapore will not be on Hado reading, but rather, on helping the child build a strong foundation for learning in the future.

I mentioned in a previous post that there are three Heguru schools opening up in Singapore in January 2013. These are located in the west, east and central part of Singapore, respectively. Each one is independent of the other and they each have slightly different names, so if you are looking for information on a particular centre, you will need to go directly to that centre.

The centre nearest to us is the one at Eunos, which is having an open house this Saturday (22 December 2012) and another one next Saturday (29 December 2012). You can get the details on their website here. Also on the website, you can watch a video of the students doing Hado reading.

I had the opportunity to speak with the principal and the teachers from the Eunos centre and they are really lovely and warm people, all very keen and interested in right-brain training and early childhood education.

In other news, today is Winter Solstice so I hope you have a warm reunion with your family over a soothing bowl of 'tang yuan'. Have a lovely Christmas-sy weekend.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


That's Ryan and me this morning. We'd just woken up. Actually, I think I'm still half asleep in this photo.

People still haven't made up their minds whether Ryan looks like me or his daddy. Neither can I, actually. For sure, he gets his curly hair from me, but that's the only thing that's for sure. Everything else is up for discussion. Even when I showed this photo around, people had different opinions about whether he resembles Richard or me. Remember this post? Yeah, I'm always trying to find some resemblance between us because I find it hard to believe that this little cutie has my DNA.

Anyway, today I'm blogging to record something simple but significant that happened two nights ago when I was eating some nuggets for dinner. Ryan asked for one and so I gave him one. He then asked for a nugget for Richard:

Ryan to me: Please can I have Papa nugget?
Me: Yes. (hands him a nugget)
Ryan to Richard: Here you go. (hands Richard the nugget)
Richard: Thank you.
Ryan: You're welcome.

That's a pretty significant conversation to me because Ryan showed that he understands the use of 'please', 'thank you' and even 'you're welcome'. I would even say that his 'Here you go' is a significant step forward in terms interacting and engaging with others. It was not long ago that he was refusing to say 'hello' or any sort of greeting or acknowledgment. Now he rolls off phrases like 'excuse me', 'good night' and 'thanks' without missing a beat (his 'thanks' is 'fanks'). That's mighty good progress, son!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Shichida term report

This is Ryan's Shichida term report for this term. His sensei's comments are:

"Dear Ryan, you have always shown constant betterment in memory games! You are becoming very responsive this term too! I like!! ;) Besides that, you enjoyed reciting monthly poems and do the actions with great excitement and confidence! You are able to grab new learning concepts like spotting differences between pictures, distinguishing odd one out items, counting numbers from 1 to 100 and do well in literacy activities too! ;)
You are a super child, Ryan! :) Love you! ;)"

This term, the class was introduced to poem recitation (with actions) and Ryan has been enjoying himself doing that. The class does the recitation every four weeks, so they have three poems this term.

Ryan is still being tested on linking memory once a term in Week 10 and he still enjoys it. We have been spending less and less time on linking memory at home now because he only needs a run through the 40 images once or twice before the class and he will be good to go. He doesn't even need the story to help link up the images in sequence. He has asked me many times to go through the remaining 10 images on the sheet but I want to keep him at 40 images. There was once I relented and briefly ran through 41-50 with him not expecting him to remember. He did remember though, and laid out all 50 cards in perfect sequence.

To make it more interesting, I will ask him to close his eyes and visualise the images in his mind. To make sure that he is visualising, I will ask him a question about the image. For example, for a flagpole, I will ask him what colour the flag is. If he can tell me the answer, and he usually can, then I will ask him what the image next to the flagpole is. So sometimes we run through the images this way. It's slower but much more interesting and I feel that it is good visualisation training.

Ryan has one more class for this term and then there will be a one-week break before the new term begins next year. I am looking forward to Ryan going up to the 4 year old class and taking on more challenging stuff. Ryan is at the stage where he can do everything on his own from start to finish. He can understand the instructions/presentation of the activity by the sensei, unpack the materials pack, do the activity, re-pack the materials when he is done, and return the pack to the sensei. As for the activities themselves, they are pretty easy for Ryan, since we are already at the end of a whole year of doing the same stuff. He should be, and I think he is, ready to level up. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Happy half-birthday Rachel

Rachel is six months old today. We are feeling blessed and very lucky to have her. She is our little babydoll, our little ray of sunshine, and our "sugar and spice and everything nice". She completes our family. This morning, Richard grabbed both the littles in his arms and told me with a huge grin on his face, "These two fellas are mine." What joy they have brought to our life, just by being in it and by being who they are.

Babydoll is crawling. She's still very much a beginner, her tummy is not always off the ground. Nevertheless, she can get to where she wants to be, whether she has to go forward, backwards or sideways. 

She is able to verbalise her feelings accurately - she knows a few words, including "Ai......yah!". 

We love you, darling Rachel. You bring us happiness every single day.

I'm finding it a little difficult to write this post because my thoughts are stuck on Friday's events at Sandy Hook. As a parent and simply as a human being, I'm shocked, saddened and sickened by the senseless tragedy. I don't have anything constructive to say. I just want to hug my children as tight as I can and keep them close for as long as I can.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Weekend update

After Ryan's violin class on Saturday, we met up with Shann's and Alicia's families for lunch at California Pizza Kitchen at Forum the Shopping Mall. Ryan was, as always, overjoyed to be with Brayden and Rou Ern. 

After that, we didn't do much else. We spent the rest of the day at home. When we drove out for dinner, both the littles fell asleep in the car so we went to the drive-thru at KFC and ate our dinner in KFC's carpark. I wish I could say that it was romantic but it was motivated solely by practicality.

The next day, Sunday, Richard and Ryan went for Ryan's swimming class, which is his last for this term/this year. After that, they went for Shichida. Rachel and I had our own plans. We attended a mummies' gathering in Punggol. About 10 mummies were there with their June/July 2012 babies. We had been chatting online for some time and it was nice to finally put names to faces. We also conducted a gift exchange but I haven't opened the gift that we got - I'm waiting for Christmas! If I'm not wrong, I think it was contributed by Jennifer, who is the owner of Sweet Angel Closet, selling products and personalisation services for babies and children. She generously sponsored and made a personalised bib for each of the babies. Look - pretty, isn't it?

If you're curious, Rachel is wearing a kimono style singlet top in lime wash and samurai pants in lavender, both from Cheeky Britches (available at Takashimaya).  

In the evening, we took the littles out for a bit of Christmas shopping and dinner at Sabai in Ngee Ann City. There was a good crowd in the mall but we were lucky enough to (1) find a sweet parking spot right next to the lifts; (2) pick up our purchases without enduring any long and torturous queues; and (3) get into Sabai without having to make a reservation. A good outing. Ryan went to bed right after we got home, while Rachel stayed up a little and played with Richard and me. And that was the end of our weekend.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Nasty and the Party

Yesterday, Rachel had to make a trip to the paediatrician. She had a nasty post-flu/cold rash. Apparently quite common and harmless, it will take a few days to dissipate.  I say flu/cold because I'm not sure which! She had a bit of a sniffly nose on Monday but no fever/cough, and we weren't at all thinking that she was ill. She was her usual cheery self. Ryan wasn't feeling too good on Saturday/Sunday - he kicked it after a good sleep. Perhaps it was the same virus, only Rachel's system dealt with it differently?

Anyway, I noticed Rachel's rash when I brought her home from the nanny's on Monday evening. Richard also said that she seemed a little fussy and we were quite clueless why. I checked with the nanny the next day and she suggested it might be a reaction from insect bites. I doubted that was the reason since nobody else in the family had any bites but nevertheless went into action immediately to air out all her bedding. The rash just got worse and I was getting quite despondent so Richard decided we should get her checked out. He brought her to see Dr Ngiam who said it was just a normal post-flu rash which should clear up in a few days. Dr Ngiam prescribed some anti-histamine to relieve any itching but apart from that, there's nothing that can be done. We have to let the thing run its course. The flu bug has gone now and we are over the worst of the rash; we are just waiting for it to clear completely. Dr Ngiam also told us to keep her cool as heat will aggravate the rash.

I was so happy and relieved to know that it is just a harmless rash that will clear soon. I felt so helpless and depressed as I watched the rash spread all over her body and onto her face. Thank God it is nothing serious. I must say that I'm pretty impressed at how strong Rachel's system is - no fever, no cough, just a little (and I mean, very little) sniffly. So much so that nobody even suspected she was sick and at most, she was only sick for a day on Monday. Or was she sick on Sunday? Pretty amazing. Ryan too - he battled the bug over Saturday night and was well enough for Shichida on Sunday and for filming on Monday. Our super babies!  

I'm not going to post photos of the rash here, don't worry! However, I did take some photos for reference so if you suspect your baby has the same thing and would like to verify, you can email me to see the photos!

Richard had to make a trip to the doctor himself on Thursday. He's the last one in the family to succumb to the flu! It got us all! I packed him off to the good doctor for a course of antibiotics and with some rest, he should be good.

On a happier note, today Ryan's class had their end-of-term party! All the parents came bearing food and we had a nice get together. Richard and I brought some food from Old Chang Kee and, as always, we brought too much and had to "tah pau" some.

It was also the last time that we would see the teachers until next year, so some of the parents (including us) chipped in to buy them Christmas gifts - some TWG tea.

Ryan also received a sweet Christmas gift from his teacher, which we found in his cubby!

I spent the rest of the day at home with the two littles. Here's Ryan - back to track-building again! He hasn't been building tracks for a while, preferring his puzzles instead, but it looks like he can still do it! He did this completely on his own.

This is after he finished the outside track. After this, he added some landscape features, like a tunnel and some buildings, but I didn't get a photo of that.

Ok, so this is me signing off, have a good weekend everyone!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Weekend update

Last Saturday began with violin class for Ryan. Richard accompanied him at the class while I attended a talk with Rachel. The talk was by the founders of the Heguru method. They are setting up operations in Singapore starting in January 2013. I will write more about this topic in a separate post.

Richard took both Ryan and Rachel for lunch. Lunch for me was a festive spread at Grand Hyatt. It was my company's annual Christmas luncheon. A little subdued this year compared to last year in terms of the entertainment, but the food was the same standard stuff in the sense that all the Christmas staples were present - ham, turkey, log cake, mince pies, etc. There was also my favourite dessert - bread and butter pudding!

In the afternoon, we went to a party hosted by one of Ryan's classmates. Yes, the fun never stops. It was a "tree-trimming" party, although most of the kids were not interested in the tree and the few kids who were interested probably spent two minutes on the tree. They were more happy to be playing with all the toys in the place.

The grown-ups mingled and chatted without being tied to their children and there was a comfortable vibe all around. We were quite a large group and we filled up the space but there was a warm communal feeling. It was a lovely affair.

Ryan started feeling unwell towards the end of the party. He was really good though - he didn't fuss or cry or make any demands. He just climbed into my lap and when I asked him whether he wanted to stay, he just whispered, "I want to go home." So we went home and we let him sleep it off.

Ryan woke up early the next morning but we decided to skip swimming class as well as a children's birthday party at Peek-a-Boo!, which is an indoor playground at Kallang Leisure Park. He was going to be working on Monday so we wanted to give him as much rest as possible. We did go for Shichida class because he had to take his linking memory test. I gave him a quick revision before the class and he did a great job, scoring 40 out of 40. He was cheerful and participative and generally enjoyed the class very much.

As for Rachel, she is hard at work learning to crawl. She is usually rocking back and forth on her hands and knees now, with her torso off the floor, learning how to balance and distribute her body weight. She still leopard crawls and flips her way all over the place and she can get from one spot to another faster than you'd think.

Sometimes, when I put her down on her back to sleep, she will turn over to her side before falling asleep. Sometimes, she will turn over even more and sleep on her front.

It's mid-week already! Time is going by so quickly and I still have tons that I want to get done in the next couple of weeks both at work and outside of work. I'm planning to have a quiet day in the office today to tackle a good part of my to-do list!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Little professional at work

As mentioned in the previous post, Ryan had a film shoot yesterday. He was in two shots - one close-up shot and one wide shot and both were done on the beach in Sentosa under the hot sun.

We arrived at about half-past ten in the morning and Ryan was happy to play on the beach. Unfortunately, he only got to roll after lunch by which time, he had been out in the sun for too long. The heat made him cranky and tired.

They started with the close-up but Ryan was not cooperative so they couldn't get the shot. They gave up and went on to the wide shot. By that time, the clouds started to gather and it began to cool down. Ryan got into a much better mood and delivered the wide shot. After that, I asked the director, Jake, if he still wanted the close-up. He asked me whether I thought Ryan could do it. He thought that Ryan was uncomfortable with the camera being so close. I knew that was not the case because Ryan has done plenty of close camera work before and, knowing that Ryan was feeling better, I said, let's do it. So they set up the close-up again and, sure enough, Ryan rose to the occasion and got the close-up done. In fact, the director said that he had more than enough usable footage. We wrapped the shoot right on time.

So, another good experience and another job well done! Everyone on set was amazing, from the crew (from Veer Motion Graphics) to his co-stars (Ashraff and Teresa). They plodded on patiently and cheerfully and accommodated Ryan in every way. A big thank you to everyone!

Child modelling/acting is an intensive venture for both the parent and the child. The parents are very much involved as they are the ones who know best how to handle the child and how best to get the child to respond. Many times we are actually right next to Ryan just outside the frame. Certainly at today's shoot, Richard and I were right there with Ryan under the hot sun. As a souvenir and a reward, I ended the session with rosy sunkissed cheeks! Look, this is me with no make up after I showered... ahh... if only I could have these cheeks all the time!

Yes, I know you don't want to see photos of me, so here are some of Ryan taken just before bedtime! I asked him to model his T-shirt for me. It's an old one. It has an image of a very irate Batman and it says, "@! I AM BATMAN!! why I can't fly?" (yes, the grammar is completely Singlish).

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