Monthly Archives: December 2006

Age of Innocence

A few nights ago, I was watching television when an MTV video came on . I can’t recall who the singer was but she was dressed in very little. I was about to switch channels when Athos looked up from the book he was reading and said, “Mommy turn off the TV.”

So I did. “Why?” I asked.

His reply? “Because that girl is wearing only her booby clothes.”

Bless his little heart….

Waxing Lyrical About My Christmas Books

I just had to rave about two of the best Christmas presents I received this year. Both are books.

The first is Framed!: A Baby Blues Treasury a collection of Baby Blues comic strips. I love Baby Blues because Jerry Scott and Rick Kirkman get the issues, impact and insanity of parenting spot-on, and do a brilliant job of making them funny. Virtually every strip has me at least nodding in agreement, if not smiling or laughing out loud.

The second is Maya Angelou’s Hallelujah! The Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes. Oh that all cookbooks were written this way! It’s a hybrid between a regular recipe book and a collection of Maya Angelou’s life stories. Each tale is told in a folksy earthy style, features food as a central character, and is accompanied by the respective recipes. Her descriptions had me wishing I was a guest at the table, and inspired me enough to cook dinner!

NYDC – Great Dessert, Pity About the Smell

Grandpa took the kids for the afternoon so Pilgrim Dad and I had a date!

After a homecooked dinner of pasta (inspired by Maya Angelou’s absolutely wonderful book), we went to NYDC at Holland Village for dessert. Pilgrim Dad and I are big fans of the cheesecake there – Ally’s New York Cheesecake for him, anything with chocolate for me. It’s also a young place, both in terms of staff and clientele. Helps us temporarily forget that we are 30something parents of three.

I gotta say though, that the ambience left a great deal to be desired. The airconditioning was way too cold (a common problem in Singapore buildings, particularly on rainy days), and the ventilation was so bad that there was a perceptible fog when we stepped in, and we smelt like overworked kitchenhands when we stepped out!

Viscosity For Kids

Inspired by a Science Centre exhibit which showed the way bubbles travelled through columns filled with different substances (water, oil and silicone), we tried our own viscosity experiment at home. We got ready some water, oil, condensed milk and honey, and the kids took turns to scoop up a spoonful and predict how quickly the stuff would pour out. Because all the liquids are familiar to them, they got the answers quite quickly, and now viscosity is simply a phenomenon they had known all along, but that now has a name!

Flour Power – License to Mess

Another wet day so the boys got permission to make a mess at home. Athos and Porthos each got:

  • A plastic basin. An essential part of any play collection!
  • A plastic spoon for stirring.
  • A syringe. See this post for more on syringes.
  • A cup of water.
  • A generous scoop of flour. The cheapest brands are Orchid or Prima, both are under $1.50 a kg at NTUC Fairprice. Keeping a bag of plain flour at home comes in handy on rainy days or Mommy-I’m-so-bored afternoons.
  • Food colouring (optional). About a dollar a colour at NTUC Fairprice.

The syringe is a lot of fun to squirt with, and importantly, prolongs playtime by limiting the amount of water they put in at a go. It’s also a good opportunity to learn about mixing colours, the concept of dissolving (“where did the flour go?”), and viscosity (“what happens if I add more water?”).

Here’s Athos working on his dough, and adding in purple colouring.

Flour power 1 Flour power 2 Flour power 3

Here Porthos makes patterns with his dough (which is really more like creamy soup), and adds green colouring.

Flour power 4 Flour power 5






A Mother’s Reflections At Christmas

As far as motherhood goes, this past week was rough. I’m sure there were good, even transcendent, moments, but the ones that really stand out are: Continue reading

Learning About Colours

A few days ago, the kids had a practical lesson in mixing colours. Here’s what we used:

  • Plastic egg cartons. These worked very well – not breakable, and 10 wells which is more than a regular paint palette
  • Food colouring. I have quite a few colours but just the primary colours (blue, yellow and red) will suffice. They cost under a dollar each at NTUC Fairprice.
  • Syringes. Nothing like the freedom to squirt to get the kids excited! Ours are saved from visits to the doctor, when the kids are prescribed medicine.

I filled up a few wells with water, added a touch of colouring to each one, and let the kids loose….



Lego Artisan Builds Dinosaurs

Athos’ interest in dinosaurs has finally spilled over to Legos. Up until now, most of his Lego pieces have been used to build spaceships and aircraft, which he has refused to dismantle for the past several months. A few mornings ago, I discovered him absorbed in taking apart his precious spacecraft. When I asked him why, he said he wanted to build dinosaurs.

And so he did!

Here are two Diplodocus…



A Kentrosaurus (left – with pointy spikes) and a Stegosaurus (right – with broad plates)…

Stego and Kentro


I was particularly charmed that all four dinosaurs came with a pair of eyes! Now as it is, I’m already unable to keep up with his expanding knowledge of dinosaur species. But the clincher was this – as I’m taking pictures of his creations, Athos says “Mommy, can you take the dorsal view please?” Good grief…. And so, dutifully, here is the dorsal view of the four dinosaurs.

Dorsal means “back” Mommy!


What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

Athos: Do you know what I want to be when I grow up?

Pilgrim Mom: What?

Athos: A scientist.

PM: Why?

Athos: So I can figure things out. Like fossils.

PM: Cool. (To Porthos) How about you, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Porthos: When I grow up I want to be a veg…veg… vegetarian.

Sarong Sling or Baby Carrier?

I was a faithful user of baby carriers when Athos and Porthos were pre-walkers. I was also given a sarong sling which has been gathering dust on the shelf these past 5 years.

With Aramis, I’ve finally found the time to try out the sarong sling. So here is one mom’s opinion on the Big Question: baby carrier or sarong sling, which works better? Continue reading

Another Favourite YouTube Video

Athos loves to dance, and when he saw this video he thought it was the coolest thing. I could tell because his head, shoulders and arms would pump along with the music…. As for me, I’ll never look at cherry tomatoes the same way again!

Island Creamery – The Sequel

The Pilgrim Family are big fans of Island Creamery. So I was delighted to discover that they have set up their second outlet – hurrah! It’s at Great World City, Basement 1, right at the check-out of Cold Storage. There’s no seating, but it’s the same great flavours and service we love.

Aramis Crawls!

The past few weeks have seen Aramis turn into quite an intrepid crawler. He can cover the whole living room in a few minutes, which means we need to pay closer attention to where and how long we leave him. Just the other day, I left him in the middle of the living room, only to hear a loud cry moments later because he had fallen over the step that leads to the kitchen!

Add to that his experiments with pulling to standing and we’ve now got ourselves a moving body of potential accidents. How quickly they grow….

Evernew Bookstore – Ever My Favourite!

After ordering our spectacles at Kwong Shin, we hopped over to Evernew Bookstore. This is my favourite shop in Bras Basah, and one of my favourite corners in the city. It’s a second- (and probably third- or fourth-)hand bookstore, with the majority of books priced at $1 or $2. The kind of place you want to just dig about all day just to see what treasures you can unearth.

I discovered it after Athos was born, and it made a lot of sense to me since books are expensive and kids are destructive. Evernew is known for old school textbooks, but there is a large selection of Ladybirds, board books, and non-fiction/information books. I built up a collection of about 10 Thomas the Tank Engine stories from Evernew, plus the classic Peter and Jane books, some Mandarin early readers, and an almost complete set of hardcover discovery books about air travel, sea travel and the earth. Many of the books aren’t in great shape – the delicious irony of the store’s name! – but at $1, what can one say?

I’ve also made some wonderful finds. Today I picked up a book called I Spy Super Challenger, and knew that it would be a big hit with Porthos. Only upon flipping to the back did I discover that the book is actually a collection of the best “riddles” from the award-winning “I Spy” series published by Scholastic. Some reviews from publishers below:

  • “Oversized pages are chock-full of delectable details…. A can’t miss crowd pleaser. Yum. Yum. Yum.”—Kirkus Reviews
  • “[I SPY] is so visually arresting and complex, so engaging that fans old and new will find much to keep them happily occupied in this literary hide and seek.”—Family Life
  • “A visual feast that children (and many adults) can savor. The images first dazzle the observer…. Then, they pique the reader’s curiosity.”—The Boston Globe

Indeed the detailed photographs immediately drew me in, and Porthos and I sat there playing “I Spy” for a good few minutes and could easily have gone on for longer had time permitted.

We’ll be going back to Kwong Shin to pick up our glasses in a week. Can’t wait to drop in to Evernew again!

Why We Go To Kwong Shin

On leave again today – hurray! Spent most of it running errands, a major one of which was getting new glasses made.

Our regular optician is Kwong Shin Optical on the ground floor of Bras Basah Complex. Pilgrim Dad has been going there since he was a boy (yes, he’s been shortsighted a LONG time). When we got married I went along too. It’s not the most convenient relative to our home, but given the nature of the service, we’ve grown to trust Kwong Shin. Besides having a wide range of spectacles and lenses, they are professional and friendly. They make it a point to remember our names, and take the trouble to make sure our needs are met. The only downside is that they seem to have an endless stream of customers! So it can take a while to get served during a busy hour.

Today, we thought we should get our vision tested, boys inclusive. Thankfully neither Athos nor Porthos need glasses. Yet. (Hey, this is Singapore, myopia capital of the world….) Anyway, I really appreciated how James the optician took his time to make sure he checked all of us thoroughly, and his comfortable manner put the boys totally at ease despite it being their first experience. His wife Annie is always so bubbly and cheerful.

And of course, a big part of any visit to Kwong Shin is that I get to hop into Evernew Bookstore!

Home-Made Volcano – Extreme!

One of the things we like to do is make a home-made volcano. The visual effect really fascinates the boys, even if the science eludes them.

A couple of weeks back, someone told me that Diet Coke and Mentos created a spectacular effect. So I looked it up and what an eye-opener!

A search on Youtube will call up hundreds of Coke and Mentos home experiments, though the above is far and away the most spectacular – and spectacularly wasteful! – of the lot (and apparently sponsored by Coke and Mentos).

I meant to do some research to figure out a less wasteful, toddler-safe, way of doing it. (Would a smaller bottle and half a Mentos work?) But Porthos caught me watching these videos and immediately said, “I want to do that.” Sigh.

I have a week of vacation leave coming up year-end. Watch this space….

Update#1: We tried it out! But be forewarned the results were less than impressive….

Update#2: We tried it again – full-scale this time! Spectacular, and now I can get on with my life…. 

A Guide to the Best Children’s Books

I brought the boys to the library earlier this week. It’s wonderful how NLB doubles our borrowing limit during the school holidays. All the same, every visit to the library leaves me with only one conclusion — too many books, too little time!

Thankfully, there are some helpful guides to good books for kids. Two of these are the Newbery and Caldecott awards. Both are awarded annually by the Association for Library Services to Children (a division of the American Libarary Association). The Newbery is given to “the most distinguished American children’s book published the previous year”, while the Caldecott is for “the artist of the most distinguished American Picture Book for Children published in the United States”.

You can find the complete list of Newbery winners here, and Caldecott winners here.

Making Dinosaur Magnets

Athos is really into dinosaurs now. So Grandma bought him a craft kit for making glow-in-the-dark dinosaur magnets.

Great expectations

The box says it’s for kids 5 and above. The trouble with these craft sets is that there’s no way to audit these statements until you’ve actually done the project. And now that we HAVE done it, I’d take the age guidance with a pinch of salt, especially if you expect the final result to look anything like what the box promises!

Here’s why: Continue reading

A Funny Picture

I was organising our digital photo library today (oh, the modern curse of proliferating digital data!) Anyway, I came across this picture we took earlier this year of Pilgrim Dad and Aramis and it made me chuckle. Sasquatch spawns!

Happy Feet!

5 Reasons Why We Love Island Creamery

OK, so I try to get the Pilgrim Family eat healthy. But if you’re going to give the kids an occasional treat, as we did tonight, there are few places I would recommend more highly than Island Creamery.

Why? Continue reading