Monthly Archives: June 2007

More On The Nature Deficit Disorder

I last posted on the nature deficit disorder here. While catching up on blog-reading, I found this link to a Washington Post story via Whymommy over at Toddler Planet. The article expresses concerns over nature’s diminishing presence in the lives of our children, and it’s worth a read.

It’s sad but true that unless we make a special effort, the next generation of children will experience less of nature than us. My father talked of catching guppies in drains and fighting spiders as a child. Today, we have to go somewhere before we can be surrounded by nature, and ahead of that douse ourselves head-to-toe with insect repellent so we don’t get dengue. And here in Singapore, it’s hot, it’s sweaty, and it’s so much easier to go to a mall or just stay home watching TV and playing videogames.

But let’s not be lured by what’s easy, nor put off by what’s hard. Is being outdoors amid nature a good thing? If yes, for the sake of our children, let’s just do it.

Need ideas? Try the Places to Go link above.

Here’s more if you’re interested in the topic:

Incidentally, Whymommy, whose blog I read regularly, has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. She has two boys aged 2.5 years and 5 months. Would you drop by her blog and give her some encouragement?

How Much Would You Pay For A Place In School?

This week my eyes were opened to the wild system of debentures in the Hong Kong international school system.

In brief, some of the best international schools in Hong Kong issue debentures (a kind of bond) to help pay for construction and other costs. These debentures are then bought by companies for their expatriate employees, or direct by parents, who are then given a place in the school, or at least allowed to jump ahead in the queue.

Demand for debentures is now far in excess of supply, leading to vibrant trade and soaring prices. This week, the front page of the South China Morning Post reported that for one school, agents quoted a rate of HK$3 million (that’s about SGD $600,ooo, or USD $380,000) for a debenture. And the school’s official rate is HK600,000!

And I thought the Singaporean obsession with enrichment classes was bad….

Here’s an article if you’d like to read more – “The $1m question”, The Economist

Rasa Sentosa – A Little Piece of Paradise

The Pilgrim family finally cleared our schedules and took off to Sentosa for the last few days of the June school holidays.

Granted, it’s not the most exotic of destinations for the Singaporean family. No need for airplanes nor passports, malaria pills nor winter wear. But with three boys, of whom one is just learning to walk, we thought it was the most sensible option.

And as it turned out, a wonderful value-for-money choice too. We found out that Rasa Sentosa, Singapore’s one and only beachfront resort, offers a great school holiday deal. For about SGD$500 (USD$320) a night, we got: Continue reading

Graffiti With Homemade Fingerpaints – Ifs, Ands, Buts

The post on fingerpainting your shower wall drew some interest and, understandably, concerned questions. So here’s an attempt to address them.

But first, it needs to be said that my standards for housekeeping are not what anyone would call high. I am content in neatness or in mess, so long as the home remains pest, rodent and odour-free. Since I live in a household of four boys (3 small and 1 big), it seems to me a sensible way to keep my sanity intact.

So on to the question of the staining effects of food colouring.

  1. On skin – YES. I have come to accept that the splotches of colour will remain for a day or two. I can live with that. One day the world will tell our children that it is unacceptable to be seen in public with ink on your fingers and playdough in your hair. I don’t feel the need to hasten that day 🙂
  2. On tiles – NO. Not on my shower tiles anyway, which are a vulnerable white and made of glazed ceramic. The fingerpaint recipe is more soap than anything else, and if you wash it off as soon as they are done, it should come off.
  3. On grouting – NO. But I should add that my shower is well-grouted and the material probably matters (epoxy?).

I took the risk and let them at it. But that’s me, foolhardy mother of three. The safer approach would probably be to make a small batch and test it on a corner of your wall (while the kids are asleep). Leave it an hour or so and see how well in washes off.

Consider yourself forewarned! And I’d love to hear how your attempts go. Assuming you are still up to visiting this blog when your bathroom has turned various shades of blue and purple 🙂


One of my favourite materials for preschool art and craft is aluminium foil. It’s easily manipulated, torn and shaped by little hands, it can hold its position without glue or tape, and best of all, it’s shiny!

I was first inspired when Pilgrim Dad and I happened upon this exhibition at the Esplanade last year:

wireart01.jpg wireart02.jpg wireart03.jpg

In case it’s not immediately obvious, these figures are crafted out of wire. The last picture is a man on his knees cradling a baby. I loved how the sculptures appeared at once ephemeral and solid.

Anyhow, it occured to me the same malleability might be achieved with foil, and we’ve never looked back since! Here are some things we’ve done so far: Continue reading

Graffiti With Homemade Fingerpaints

I know the boys like fingerpainting. But then I start thinking about the sticky fingers, the soiled clothing, the mess, and very quickly my mind starts casting about for alternatives.

That is, until I hit upon a nifty solution. Continue reading

Bedside Manners

“Your babies are going to be born soon,” declares Porthos.

Whoa, I think. Is my son uttering a prophecy?

Not quite. The dear fellow runs off and fetches his doctor kit and stuffed toys. In the next few minutes, I have given birth to a bear, a daschund and a pug. Athos joins in the game. My two young doctors check the newborns with their medical equipment, wrap them gently in muslin and pass them to me. I cradle them, thank the doctors, and praise them for their kindness.

These boys will make wonderful fathers some day, I think. It warms my heart to see how tender they are.

As usual, I have forgotten that we are playing doctor.

“Oh no!” cries Athos, listening through his stethoscope. “Your baby’s heart is making funny sounds – boom, boom, boom”

“And Pug has swallowed a cuckoo clock!” chimes Porthos.

And before I know it, my new babies are whisked off to brutal surgery, multiple injections and what looks like near-lethal doses of medicine.

End of tender interlude.

How Much Fun Can You Have With Toilet Paper?

Here’s another party game that’s one of my favourites. It’s high on fun and low on cost and effort. We’ve played it twice and it was a hoot both times, for the kids at least!

All you need are Continue reading

Ring Toss Your Way To A Goodie Bag

A goodie bag is standard issue at most parties. Instead of simply giving them out to the kids, why not make them earn their goodies? You get a party game out of it, and they get a sense of achievement! Here are some possibilities: Continue reading

Air Ping Pong

Continuing on the theme of party games – here’s a fuss-free one that Athos likes a lot.

What you need:

  • A ping pong ball
  • A decent-sized table, marked in half (use masking tape or eraseable whiteboard marker)

How it works: Continue reading

Feeling Like A Dinosaur

We were sorting through some old stuff today when I found an old laserdisc (remember those?) When Porthos saw it, his eyes opened wide and he said,

“Wow! Big DVD!”

Which made me feel so, so, old.

Edible Art – Upsized!

In my earlier post on how to organise a kids party, I promised to share about some of the activities we did.

As a precursor to tea-time and the birthday cake, I needed a calmer activity that would get the kids settled down. So we did a variation of edible art, using the party food plus whatever sauces I could find in the fridge.

Here are the sauces poured into egg cartons and marked. I tried to get as wide a range of colours as my fridge could manage. Continue reading

An Inspiration To Us All

My father-in-law sent us a link to this absolutely amazing video. Be inspired.

Where To Find Discount Vouchers Online

It’s National Family Week! (Well, it was last week to be precise, but activities last throughout the month of June.)

Anyway, a friend alerted me to this page on the National Family Week website, where you can find discount vouchers valid until the end of June for products and services like Mothercare, Snow City, the cinemas, the Singapore Zoo, Times, GNC etc.

Celebrate with your family and spread the word!

Amazing Grace, Amazing Movie

The kids are staying over at Grandpa and Grandma’s house tonight so Pilgrim Dad and I went on a date!

After a hearty dinner at The Rice Table (basically the Dutch take on Indonesian nasi padang, and we absolutely loved the soto ayam), we watched Amazing Grace. It’s a movie about William Wilberforce, an 18th century British parliamentarian who fought to end the practice of slavery in the British empire.

Utterly inspiring. It was a treat to watch Albert Finney play erstwhile slave trader John Newton who wrote the lyrics to that classic hymn Amazing Grace, as well as Michael Gambon at his pompous, portly best. But most of all, the movie was testimony to the God-given faith, vision and perseverence of a few good men (and at least one good woman!)

Pilgrim Dad and I agreed that it was a good use of $14. 🙂

Important Advice for Parents of Preschoolers

Never, never, never leave scissors where your child can reach them.

Because if you do, this is what can happen three days before your child is due to be the pageboy at his aunt’s wedding.

Continue reading

Mother Knows Best

Was catching up on blog-reading after a busy week and found this via Owlhaven. What a hoot!

Blissful in Bintan

Last weekend, the Pilgrim family went to Bintan for a holiday. It was our first trip out of Singapore since Aramis was born, and it was delightful!

Our journey started with a 55-minute catamaran ride from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. The vessel was airconditioned and comfortable, and the kids liked looking out the window and watching the world pass by. (I did, however, wish there was an open-air deck for passengers to take in the sea breeze – that’s one of my abiding memories from childhood boat rides.)

At Bintan, a bus came to bring us to the resort. Bintan has a huge variety – check them out here – and we stayed at Bintan Lagoon Resort, which is where the Aviva Bintan Triathlon was being held (yes Pilgrim Dad is a triathlete, or as he might put it – a “try-athlete”!). The hotel seemed to be fully booked, yet there was still a sense of tranquillity and space about the resort.

Our room was a ground-floor sea-facing unit, just a few minutes stroll from the pool and beach. The room had a king-sized bed (which the boys loved to bounce on), as well as a bay window with a large day bed, more than enough room for all of us.

The highlight for us was the beach. The water was clear, the sand was fine, and the sea sloped in so gently that you could walk in for many metres and still find yourself only waist-deep in water. There was a rocky outcrop at one end of the beach where we found many crabholes (though only a few crabs) and tiny fishes swimming in and out with the waves. The boys loved it, and even little Aramis took a shine to the surf.

The funny thing was: we were halfway to the ferry terminal when we realised we’d forgotten to bring our camera! Our first family vacation too! Yet somehow I didn’t regret it. I find that modern technology sometimes gets me so wrapped up in capturing the moment that I forgot to be in the moment. And without our camera, we could be all there. Touching, smelling, seeing, and remembering it forever in our hearts.