Monthly Archives: May 2007

Coffee Connection

I wrote about my decision to start weaning in an earlier post.

Now that I am down to about 2 or 3 expressions/feeds a day, I felt that The Time had come. No more Milo or herbal-infusion-of-exotic-plant for breakfast. This week, after 21 long months of abstinence, I, Pilgrim Mom, was going to have a COFFEE.

On the way to work, Pilgrim Dad and I stopped off at the venerable Killiney Kopitiam for breakfast, where I declared, probably a little too loudly, Continue reading

The Pilgrim Parent Star Cryptographer Award

In a masterful performance worthy of Bletchley Park, Rachel @ Pigstorm correctly decoded 2 of the 3 puzzles posed by 13-month-old Aramis.

  • Ower = flower
  • Namo = no more
  • Moo = moon

For that code-breaking feat, I hereby confer upon her the title of Pilgrim Parent Star Cryptographer! And ice cream on me when you come over for that playdate 🙂

Pilgrim Dad Gets Anatomically Correct

Pilgrim Dad and Porthos were talking about the day he was born. The conversation took a somewhat graphic turn but brave Pilgrim Dad soldiered on….

Porthos: Did I come out from the backside?

Pilgrim Dad: No you came out from the front.

Porthos: From the bellybutton?

Pilgrim Dad: No, from here (pointing generally)

Porthos: You mean from the wee wee?

Pilgrim Dad: No, girls don’t have wee wees. Boys and girls are different. Girls have vaginas.

Porthos: I came out from a pajama?

Why It’s Time For A Trip To Island Creamery

Hurrah! Hurrah! I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world! Island Creamery (of which the Pilgrim family are big fans) has just introduced two new flavours – kopi and ice kachang!

Thanks to beloved Auntie J at Rambutan Tree for letting us know.

Ack, I’ve Been Tagged!

The always thoughtful New Parent has tagged me with the question:

“What is the meaning of your kid’s name?”

It’s funny he should ask. I’m now reading a book by Eugene Peterson, a pastor, author and professor of theology, who has this to say on the issue of names:

“At our birth we are named, not numbered. The name is that part of speech by which we are recognised as a person. We are not classified as a species of animal. We are not labeled as a compound of chemicals. We are not assessed for our economic potential and given a cash value. We are named.

A personal name, not an assigned role, is our passbook into reality…. Anything other than our name – title, job description, number, role – is less than a name. Apart from the name that marks us as uniquely created and personally addressed, we slide into fantasies that are out of touch with the world as it is and so we live ineffectively, irresponsibly. Or we live by the stereotypes in which other people cast us that are out of touch with the uniqueness in which God has created us, and so live diminished into boredom, the brightness leaking away.” (Run With The Horses; p25, 32)

So on to the question:

盛 洋 天

 

The first character is Athos’ name, meaning “abundance”

The second character is Porthos’ name, meaning “ocean”

The third character is Aramis’ name, meaning “sky” (or more metaphorically, “reflection of heaven”)

I hereby tag the following three very fine ladies:

  • Mustard Seed Mom, because I am embarrassed to say that I actually don’t know what her kids’ names mean though I should
  • Rachel @ Pigstorm, because I recall that her kids have very meaningful names
  • Mama Stop Knitting, because her kids’ names (and hers as well) are the essence of bilingual chic

A Fair Question

“When I put something white on the floor [white tiles] how come I can still see it?”

Athos asked this question twice today, which had me stumped for a while….

Reconnecting With Nature At West Coast Park

Yesterday evening, in a bid to redress the Pilgrim family’s nature deficit disorder, we brought the kids cycling at West Coast Park. This is one of the bigger parks in Singapore, and at its western end features a huge playground with all sorts of funky equipment that kids of all ages love. (Yes, the one with the inevitable McDonalds.)

The quieter sections are around Carparks 1 and 2. These are where you will find the runners, walkers, couples on a date, and once in a while, a boisterous family (ahem) puncturing the peace.

Now Singapore’s parks aren’t exactly a walk on the wild side. There are footpaths and bicycle paths, all prominently labelled. Fallen leaves are swept up, bushes are trimmed, and there are toilets and rubbish bins at regular intervals. Still, amid the manicured look, there is real fauna to be found. In the half hour we were there we saw:

  • An army of large red ants marching in neat rows
  • Another army of small black ants hauling home a dead wasp
  • Two snails, a big one with a conch-shaped shell and a small one with a spiral-shaped shell
  • A lizard (possibly iguana?) with his body nicely camouflaged against a bed of leaves
  • A perfectly-formed spiderweb with its owner sitting calmly in the middle awaiting his dinner

The kids were especially thrilled by Messrs. Snail and Spider (hurrah for all things slimy and creepy). I think the cool factor of West Coast Park went up several notches just on that score!

How To Organise A Kids Party (And Live To Tell The Tale)

Athos celebrated his 6th birthday over the weekend with a party for a few friends. We played lots of crazy games (including a raucous round of Limbo where the parents got so into it that the kids lost interest and left….). Will post about some of the more engaging activities subsequently.

For now, I just wanted to share some thoughts on organising a kids’ birthday party. This is my 4th, with no doubt more to come, so here’s some of what I’ve learnt along the way: Continue reading

Can You Figure This Out?

13-month-old Aramis now has a massive vocabulary of THREE words. To wit:

  • Ower
  • Namo
  • Moo

If you can decipher their meaning, you will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the Carribean my undying admiration and (for what it’s worth) the title of “Pilgrim Parent Star Cryptographer” 🙂

A Special Request

This conversation happened just a few minutes ago before the boys fell asleep:

Athos: Are we going to have four in the house?

Pilgrim Mom: You mean you want me to have another baby?

Athos: Yes. It would be nice to have a girl.

Pilgrim Mom: Tell me about it…. Well, it isn’t up to me you know. God decides whether it’s a boy or a girl.

Porthos: I LOVE girls.

Floral Chameleons – Science on Mother’s Day

I’m not much of a flower person but it was still lovely to get some on Mother’s Day. At church, they gave each mother a stalk along with a prayer of thanksgiving. The boys also gave me one each, thoughtfully acquired by Grandma.

Since I had these flowers on hand, I thought it would be fun to do a classic science experiment with the boys, demonstrating capillary action in flowers.

The objective of the exercise (for preschoolers at least), is to demonstrate that plants need water to survive, and roots and stems are like the straws that help the plant to drink. All you need to do is:

  • Fill a vase/container with water
  • Add food colouring. Dark colours work best (we used blue)
  • Put the flowers into the vase/container. If you are cutting the stems, do so underwater – the stalks, not you 🙂 – to prevent air bubbles from getting trapped and interfering with the result. Use white carnations/roses for best effect.

I found a really helpful online description here.

Here you can see the result from our experiment: Continue reading

Overcoming the Nature Deficit Disorder

Someone sent me this at work – the World Future Society’s annual top 10 forecasts. It’s a short, punchy and provocative piece, well worth a read.

As a parent, I was particularly struck by #4:

“Children’s ‘nature deficit disorder’ will grow as a health threat. Children today are spending less time in direct contact with nature than did previous generations. The impacts are showing up not only in their lack of physical fitness, but also in the growing prevalence of hyperactivity and attention deficit. Studies show that immersing children in outdoor settings – away from television and video games – fosters more creative mental activity and concentration.”

Living in a city-state like Singapore, we face a double whammy. TV and video games aside, most of us live in apartments and are surrounded by more buildings than trees.

Nature isn’t second nature, but we can make it so. We still have enough parks and open spaces to call our own. It’s just a matter of overcoming the mental hurdle that it’s easier to just stay indoors. So get a ball, a frisbee, a picnic basket, and venture outside!

Aramis Walks!

I’m pleased to announce that Aramis has taken his first tentative steps!

You’d think that having done this twice before, the thrill would wear off. But it hasn’t. To feel him hold my finger tight even as I gently prise him away, to watch him stand there and wonder if he can make that long journey of 2, maybe 3 steps unaided, to see the delight on his face when he does it – priceless.

Kwong Shin’s Impeccable After-Sales Service

I’ve made honourable mention of Kwong Shin elsewhere in this blog. But so good is their service that I feel I must post about them again.

This past week, BOTH my spectacles got squashed by the boys. (I’ve long since stopped asking why this sort of thing happens, and have come to accept that collateral damage is abysmally high in a household of boys.) Anyway, we went to Kwong Shin this morning and managed to get served almost immediately – a rare occurence given how popular the shop is. The lady who served me – probably a new staff since I’d not seen her before – took my glasses out of their case and the first thing she said was Continue reading

SAFRA Kids Adventure: Sweating It Out

The boys were invited to a birthday party at SAFRA Kids Adventure. It’s a children’s indoor gym at SAFRA Toa Payoh, fully airconditioned and slightly larger than the one at Downtown East’s Explorerkid. This was their third time there and they enjoyed it thoroughly, running, climbing, yelling, sliding and just being boys. The structures are reasonably well-maintained and the place is well-padded so I could pretty much chill out and talk to other moms and dads at the party. VERY LOUDLY, I might add, seeing as we were fighting to be heard above the din of the party.

The prices are reasonable, even for non-members ($5 for peak, $3 for non-peak). And I hadn’t realised that they also have birthday packages, with rooms on the second level and catering by Mouth Restaurant. Check out the Kids Adventure website for fuller details. A reminder to anyone intending to visit the place: socks are required to enter the play area. Some pictures below: Continue reading

Childhood Ambitions

Yesterday, Porthos brought home his progress report from kindergarten. Now I know that he’s very attached to his toy cars. But I really wasn’t expecting to see this comment from his teachers.

progressreport1.jpg

Over my dead body! shouts the protective mother. But as if to remind me that my calling is to guide and not bulldoze, this news comes out that very afternoon. Sigh….

Where To Find A Community of Mothers

Why, the Singapore Motherhood forum of course!

I discovered this site quite by chance earlier this week (and two days later it was featured in the Strait’s Times Digital Life supplement on blogging moms). It’s a vibrant site – 5000 posts just in the past 24 hours. The forum is a little unwieldy but otherwise it’s a wonderful way to connect with other moms, share views on everything under the sun, get practical homespun advice, even trade in secondhand items.

Pasir Ris Park: Tranquillity on a Weekday

Last week, Porthos’ kindergarten went on an excursion to Pasir Ris Park. Organised by Club Kangaroo, the kids played carnival games, interacted with wildlife (two pythons and an iguana), and picked seashells on the beach. I was impressed by how smoothly everything went, and how well the team managed the kids and kept them engaged.

But what left the deepest impression on me was Continue reading

Appreciating Nature With Masking Tape

I took Aramis out for a walk a few nights ago and we tried out this nifty activity I once saw in a book.

It’s meant for older kids but one-year-old Aramis seemed quite interested. All you need is a piece of masking tape, which you attach around your wrist sticky-side out. You can also attach it to a stroller, belt, or anything that is convenient.

When you find something interesting, stick it onto the tape, and at the end of the walk, you’ll have a nice little collection which you can put up somewhere as a reminder of what you saw.

I try to take Aramis for walks a few times a week. But knowing I had this little piece of tape waiting to be filled up made me more observant than usual. And I came away with the fresh realisation that despite how built-up Singapore’s environment is, there’s still lots of nature strewn everywhere if we bother to look – weeds, fallen leaves and flowers, twigs, bits of bark.

Here’s what we ended with:

nature01.jpg

nature02.jpg

Where To Find Classic Children’s Books For Free

Books are expensive, good books even more so.

But the wonderful thing about the Internet is that it has made some books accessible that would otherwise be out of reach.

Some months ago, I discovered the Baldwin Online Children’s Literature Project. This site has free, printable e-texts of children’s classics. Because the books are public domain (i.e. old), the language is occasionally antiquated. But the site is extremely flexible – the modularised format means you can print just the stories you like rather than the whole book, and customise your printout in several ways. If you’re not sure where to start, the website features two homeschooling curricula on the left navigation menu so you can match the age of your kids to the books they might like. Overall, it is an absolutely fabulous website and I highly recommend it.

The website appears to be a labour of love rather than lucre, so do consider making a donation as you download.

And while we’re on the subject of books, may I once again plug NLB’s eBooks service. Athos and Porthos just had a half-hour on Tumblebooks a few nights ago – I continue to be thoroughly impressed by just how well done it is.