Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ryan and Shichida

The biggest news last week for Ryan was that he was selected as a "Shichida Genius"! The Shichida centre in Singapore holds regular sessions for the parents where one or two star students will demonstrate an ability. These sessions are called "Meet the Genius" sessions and Ryan is going to be one of the Genius kids!

He is being recommended by his present and previous senseis and, if their recommendation is approved, he will be doing his showcase in March. I asked them what he should do and they said it's up to us to choose, since he is good in a few aspects. We can even choose an activity that is not taught in Shichida, for example, music or sports.

At this point, I have no idea what he should do. He hasn't really done anything spectacular - all this while I just make sure that he does what he needs to do for class and I don't push him to do anything further than that. I suppose that, now that this has come about, it will be an opportunity to see what he is capable of!

Ryan did spectacularly well in linking memory in the last class (which was also one factor that supported his selection as a "Shichida Genius"). The students were supposed to recite 50 items from memory in not more than 2 minutes. Ryan was the only one who could do it. One other child could recite the 50 items but needed more than 2 minutes. The others didn't even want to try. I was surprised. Ryan practised with me only the day before the class and, in class, he did it in 46 seconds. Not to boast, but he wasn't trying to be fast. In fact, we were taking our time because we were only aiming to get under 2 minutes. It therefore didn't seem difficult to me and I fully expected all the students to be able to do it. I must say though, that it did take some effort to do the practice. It took quite a few rounds before Ryan pieced all 50 items together. Nevertheless, once it clicked together, it stuck, and from then on, he could recite the sequence automatically, without thinking.

Ryan's sensei asked him to recite the poem that the class has been learning because we skipped the previous class when the students did the recitation. I was not prepared for that. As I knew that we were going to skip the poem recitation class (week 3), we stopped practising the poem after the second class of the term, which meant that it had been two weeks since Ryan last heard it. Still, Ryan was happy to get in front of the class and he recited the poem flawlessly. I was pleasantly surprised.

Anyway, here he was last night, playing with some coloured cubes that he received as a birthday gift. If you look carefully, you can see that he is arranging them in a pattern - red, orange, yellow, green, purple and blue, and then back to red. He came up with the pattern on his own (it's loosely based on the colours of the rainbow).

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Updates on Rachel

Rachel is slightly past 7 months old now. She is as darling and adorable as little girls should be and Richard and I have completely succumbed to her charms.

She is still on a diet of mainly breastmilk. We do try to get in three meals of solids everyday and she has been very easygoing with that - she will sit patiently in her chair and eat or play with her food until everyone is done with their meal. I don't know what her weight and height measurements are but she is definitely porking up, which is a lovely thing to see.

She is always, always on the move, right from the moment she wakes up till she falls asleep. This one has got ants in her pants! She is crawling expertly, even under and over obstacles, and can get to where she wants to be. She has also been pulling herself up into a standing position, which always puts a huge smile on her face. Assisted, she can stand for quite a long time.

Her fine motor skills are excellent. She can pick up and hold an assortment of stuff, transfer from hand to hand, and bring the item to her mouth.

The other day, she showed me that she could solve a simple problem. She was trying to reach for something but something under her arm was preventing her from stretching out. She stopped, sat back and removed the offending item, tossed it aside, stayed focussed and went for the original item again. I was quite impressed.

She is teething. She is on her second tooth at the moment. So far, so good, no issues.

She recognises familiar people now. She is a very "sociable" baby. She likes to be around people and she likes to be a part of whatever we are doing. She hates being left alone.

She is very quick to smile at you, crinkling her nose up in a huge grin. It always takes my breath away. It's so sincere and honest, a no-holds-barred emotion.

Sleep issues - well, there are mostly good nights and there are also some bad nights. I latch her at night, which I know is a bad habit at her age (I'm too lazy to get up to pump). I'm going to try to make an effort not to, but I'm waiting for a period of a few days when I'm not at work, because I know it's going to be a bit of a fight.

Nothing else to add. Babydoll is healthy and happy. She has been a pretty easy baby to care for, very much like Ryan was.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What Ryan Wore

I thought I'd give you a better look at Ryan's costume! We did this photoshoot a few weeks ago, when we bought the outfit from Giant.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Chinese New Year party at Art Bug

We spent Friday evening in a most delightful manner. Shann invited us, Alicia and Florinda, and our families of course, to a Chinese New Year celebration party at Artbug, where her daughter, Rou Ern, goes for regular art classes. Flo couldn't make it but the rest of us were there.

I dressed Ryan and Rachel in Chinese traditional wear. We attended a Halloween event last year at the same place, when the children came in all sorts of Halloween costumes, so I expected the children to be decked out in their Chinese New Year finery. However, I guess nobody wanted to use their new clothes until the Chinese New Year is actually upon us because nobody came in Chinese traditional garb.

Here's little Rachel in her silk romper, which she is wearing over a pink cotton romper. I sewed up the silk romper the night before, working till about 1 am. I'll show you better photos of it in a separate post. It's a little too big, so I might sew up another better-fitting one for her to wear during Chinese New Year and perhaps she can wear this one when she's bigger.

Ryan's costume was store-bought (from Giant). The hat doesn't fit very well. Apart from that, I like it very much.

One of the activities was to make a snake-and-ladders game.

Photo from Shann

 Here are the three friends, hard at work.

Photo from Shann

There were other activities too, like English and Chinese speech and drama, and a colouring session conducted in Chinese where they also distributed some hong baos to the children. The party ended about 9 pm.

We ventured out to Orchard Road for dinner. The next day was Rou Ern's birthday so we took the opportunity to have a small cake-cutting ceremony.

If you're wondering about Ryan's expression in the second photo, I think he was confused. The children got very excited when the candle was lit and raced to blow it out straightaway. The adults kept re-lighting the candle and kept telling the children not to blow it out until after singing the birthday song. So every time the candle was lit, Ryan waited for the birthday song to come on, only to have the candle puffed out amid peals of laughter from  his friends... and then the candle would be re-lit and he would wait for the song again. The kids would howl with laughter while the adults would be scolding them. I think he was really confused! But I know he was really looking forward to blowing out the candle. Later that night, when we reached home, it was still on his mind and he was still telling me that he was waiting to blow out the candle!

All in all, a good meet-up. The children had loads of fun and it was a nice way for the adults to wind down after the work week.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Our trip

We're back! And we're dog tired. Richard more so than I, because he did the driving plus he stayed up with Rachel. Rachel woke up when we arrived home at about 2 am, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. The two of them didn't get to bed till 4 am this morning. No rest for the weary - Richard had a 10 am meeting and I had clients waiting for my attention, so the morning was a bit of a mad rush. I guess that's the best way to get back into the swing of things - by jumping right in! Ryan, however, is having an extra day off - he skipped school today because he woke up too late.

I have lots of photos of our trip to share, so sit back and enjoy!

As you already know, the trip centred on the celebrations for Ryan's 4th birthday. Thanks again to his Aunty Margaret for the beautiful cake. We brought the train engine back with us!

Here's Ryan with his grandpa. Ryan is busy collecting the letters and numbers off his birthday cake and making sure that they are all accounted for, while explaining each one to his grandpa. Ryan has become very conversational lately and is happy to interact with others.

Ryan's aunty Mary bought him a model train set with tracks. I asked Ryan to pose for a photo with it and so he crossed his legs for the shot. Hmm. He's definitely not camera shy!

More modelling! Here's Ryan in his cousin's Nerf gear. The black tunic is not really a tunic - it's a vest! It's so big on Ryan. I think he thinks he's a superhero because this is the pose he gave me when I asked for a photo. 

The weapon completed the get-up and gave him more ideas for poses!

At home, we do not give Ryan any "weapons" to play with. No guns, no swords, no bow and arrow. So the only weapons he gets to play with are his cousins' weapons. He looks pretty pleased here, although I think it's more of the entire outfit that he finds exciting and not just the weapon.

Ryan's birthday dinner was also our first "lo hei" dinner for the upcoming Year of the Snake. Always a nice warm feeling to unite around a dish of "yee sang".

On the weekend, we spent quite a lot of time with Richard's family. We had our meals together, after which we would adjourn to Margaret's house for chit-chat and mahjong. Mahjong is a family sport in Richard's family.

On weekdays, we were on our own during the day, as Ryan's cousins are in school and the adults are working. Richard and I managed to squeeze in some shopping here and there. The highlight of all that shopping - Superdry from Japan! They were having a sale so Richard and I picked up a few pieces.

Shopping is not Ryan's thing so he had to find various ways to entertain himself.

We met up with Terri, Vincent and my brother for dinner on Monday. We left the littles with Margaret - it was one of the rare occasions being without both of them. Babydoll was fast asleep in Margaret's arms when we came to pick her and Ryan up.

Not all fun and games - we had some paperwork to attend to while we were in KL. Here's Rachel checking to make sure everything's in order!

We have a new place up in the hills, near a forest reserve. We are not staying there yet but we are thinking of making that our base in Malaysia in a few years' time. We drove up there on Wednesday. This is what the drive up looks like. Lovely, isn't it? 

At present, when we are in Malaysia, we live in a well-established suburban area, fairly near Margaret's house. We used to stay in the heart of the city, right on the pubbing strip but with kids in the picture, it made more sense to move to the suburbs. There is not a lot of greenery where we are now, but there is a river near our place. The river runs right through the suburbs. Unfortunately, it's not an attraction in the area and it hasn't been groomed to be attractive at all. You won't even notice it because the houses and the malls are built right up to the river's edge. See this photo - on the right is a mall, on the left is housing.

Where's babydoll? Here she is! Trying out a headband on her - how does she look? I have a few headbands for her, none of which I use, because she has so much hair (which causes the headband to slip out of place). Looking at this photo, I might start using all those headbands after all. Margaret bought the headband in this photo.

More photos of babydoll. I love how her eyes sparkle.

And yes, if you look closely, you can see her first tooth!

Here's Rachel with her uncle (my brother). Rachel has started to fuss with strangers but I think she likes her uncle, because she doesn't fuss with him.

One last photo - here's little babydoll at dinner. It was raining and it was cold in the restaurant so we put her in a little wool coat. Most of our stay was rain-free though.  

So, it was a good trip. Productive, fruitful and celebratory. Happy, happy, happy. Now, back to work!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ryan goes to Kidzania

Ryan spent the afternoon of his birthday with his uncle at Kidzania in Kuala Lumpur. As described on its website, "Kidzania Kuala Lumpur is designed to encourage learning through role-playing activities. Featuring over 90 professions working within a real economy, Kidzania allows kids to transcend the boundaries of the grown up world to play their part in a community and also experience the tricks-of-the-trade of their dream careers." "Jobs in Kidzania Kuala Lumpur reproduce scenarios that kids will face during adult life. This provides a way to positively influence how children relate and respond to an environment. Role-playing also gives children an opportunity to make their own decisions & develop a culture of continuous learning & accountability."

Richard and I weren't with Ryan so I can only tell you what happened through my brother's report. Kidzania is laid out like a city with various shops. You can go into any shop and participate in the activities there. Adults are not allowed in the shop so they have to stand around outside and watch and wait for their child. Ryan was too young/too small/too short for some of the activities, but he still managed to spend more than two hours there.

These are some of the activities he participated in.

Upon check-in at the departure lounge at Kidzania airport, Ryan was issued a cheque for some money. The next stop was the bank to cash in his cheque!

Making sushi!


Making milk (he got a bottle of Vitagen when he was done).

Flying a plane!

Arts and crafts.

This is what he made.

Everytime he participates in an activity, he earns money!

Here are some of the photos taken by the staff there.

Ryan had a lot of fun, he was all smiles and excitement when he came out after more than two hours. He will be able to enjoy more of the activities when he is older so we will definitely be back! There are plans for a Kidzania in Singapore (Sentosa) in 2015, so watch out for it!

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