Monthly Archives: July 2007

And God blessed the seventh day…

…and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done. (Genesis)

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Want to know more about infant vocabulary?

The NUS Dept of Psychology is conducting an Infant Language Study to better understand vocabulary norms for Sngapore infants (12 to 30 months).

If you sign up, you’ll be sent a questionnaire which will ask you to fill in a vocabulary checklist and to tick the words you think your child can say. You’ll also have to fill in a few details as well as a consent form. At the end of the study, NUS will provide you with a summary of the results i.e. what the vocabulary norms for Singapore infants are.

The study already has 200 parents and the researchers are looking for another 100 families before the end of the year. Do consider participating – call 6516 8768 or email psytsh@nus.edu.sg for more details or to sign up!

Botanic Gardens: Lushness!

I had a rare morning off work today. So after dropping the boys off at school, Aramis and I had a little date at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Now gung-ho as I was, I thought it would be wiser to attempt this only after having some caffeine in my system. (Despite my earlier bravado about weaning, I am, I’m sorry to say, still nursing at night. We don’t call him Suckzilla for nothing….)

And here is where I start my rave about the newly renovated Botanic Gardens. Continue reading

End of the Spear

We watched this movie with some friends a few nights ago. End of the Spear tells the true story of 5 young missionaries who make first contact with a remote Ecuadorian tribe, and wind up dying by their spears. Despite the horror of the encounter, the widows choose to continue with their mission, leading to a conclusion that is a powerful demonstration of forgiveness, grace and redemption.

As humans, our natural tendency is to live for the here and now, to make the most of our earthly days. When someone’s life is cut short, it is difficult for us to fathom why God would let something like that happen, particularly if the person led a blameless life. End of the Spear reminded me that the course of human history and destiny is far, far larger than my life, or even the life of any family, community or civilisation. The death of a few good men makes no sense the morning after, but seen decades later is an act of divine grace.

I’m not sure I would be able to respond the way those missionary wives did. But by God’s grace, I hope my vision grows longer by the day. If you’ve read as far as this, thank you, and may eternity do its leavening work upon your heart.

Porthos Contemplates Love

Here’s an excerpt from tonight’s pre-bedtime conversation:

Pilgrim Mom: Mommy loves you very much.

Porthos: Yes.

PM: Do you know what “love” means?

Porthos: It means hearts.

PM: You mean you draw hearts for people you love?

Porthos: Yes.

PM: That’s true. What else does “love” mean?

Porthos: (thinking) It means you are nice to them.

PM: Yes that’s true too. Can you think of anything else?

Porthos: (snuggling up to me) It means you cuddle them!

A good few minutes later….

Porthos: Hey Mommy! I love you.

Followed, needless to say, by a big round of hugs and kisses 🙂

And God blessed the seventh day…

…and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done. (Genesis)

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Breakfast of Champions

Most mornings, breakfast is a simple matter of cereals or breads and spreads.

But once in a while, we head out for a change, and the kids get to pick where to go. And very often, the food of choice is prata. This Indian dish, more accurately called paratha, was brought to Singapore by immigrants and has been adapted in so many amazing ways that you cannot but believe in the innate creativity of Singapore (at least when it comes to food!)

The perennial favourite for Athos and Porthos is tissue prata (aka paper prata), with a glass of iced Milo. It’s prata stretched really thin, drizzled with butter and sugar, and wrapped around into the shape of a hat. Mmmm… and look out for that sugar rush!

Here’s the one from Niqqi’s The Cheese Prata Shop near NUS.

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Good Bye, Braddell Angsana

Every Sunday we go to Grandpa and Grandma’s home for dinner, and our journey takes us down Braddell Road.

Every Sunday without fail, I marvel at the magnificent angsana tree that stands in the middle of the road. It’s not just a grand dame of a tree (80-years-old!), it’s also a romantic, expensive oddity in practical, pragmatic Singapore. In 2005, authorities decided to spare the tree and build a new road around it, at an additional cost of $200,000. For me, the tree was a marker of a society that had come of age.

Every Sunday, the 5 seconds it took us to slow down and pass the tree was a time for quiet delight. In the tree, and in the society that would work its way around it.

Every Sunday until this Sunday. Continue reading

DIY Flashcards? Easy Peasy!

Most parents are familiar with flashcards – words and/or pictures printed on cards which you show to your child to teach vocabulary.

When Athos was born, I remember going through picture books and flashcard sets and thinking how some of them were too Americanised, too unfamiliar, too cluttered, too expensive etc. I thought how fun it would be to make them myself, so that they would feature things that reflected the world around Athos.

And smacking my forehead, I realised how easily that could be done via… Continue reading

Pilgrim Mom Goes Ventriloqual!

No, I have not taken leave of my senses.

It’s like this, see….

A couple of weeks ago, Athos and Porthos went for a birthday party that featured a magician from That Magical Party. I’ve seen a few magicians at parties but this guy (Danny) was outstanding – smooth sleight of hand, unobtrusive ventriloquism, impeccable comic timing, and engaging patter. He kept the kids (and me!) enraptured and entertained for about an hour.

The kids have been talking about it on and off since then. They were particularly charmed by the talking puppet (“Where did the voice come from?…. But I couldn’t see the magician talking!”) So tonight on a whim, this crazy sleep-deprived mother decided to undertake a pre-bedtime ventriloqual act.

And folks, I’m pleased to confirm that it IS possible for a total novice to make this work. Assuming your kids are young and gullible like mine. Continue reading

A Good Deed?

A few nights ago, Athos and Porthos are watching a video. Here’s the conversation that ensued:

Porthos: Mommy I’m thirsty

Pilgrim Mom: Go get some water then.

Porthos stands up, edges towards the kitchen, his eyes all the while glued to the TV.

Pilgrim Mom: (to Athos) Why don’t you pause the video so your brother can get some water.

Athos: OK. (pauses video) I’ll get the water for you.

Athos goes to the kitchen and fetches Porthos some water. I feel moved by and thankful for the kindness of my eldest son.

Pilgrim Mom: That was really nice of you, to get your brother some water.

Athos: (restarting video) It’s much faster when I get it.

So much for brotherly altruism….

Primary One, Here We Come

Yesterday we reached a huge watershed – Athos registered for primary school.

Primary school! The words bring back a flood of memories – of classrooms and chalkboards, friends and enemies, teachers and homework, school fields and tuckshops. There were days I loved school, days when I hated it, and days when I didn’t have much energy left to feel anything.

As we made our way to register, I wondered how Athos would take to school. Continue reading

Bullied by a Baby?

A few moments ago, Aramis woke up crying, and insisted on being rocked back to sleep.

Not wanting to wake the other two boys, I obliged.

But it’s a hot sweltering night and he was still squirming after a while. Then he sat bolt upright, pointed quite firmly towards the middle of the room and said, “Unngh”.

Again, I obliged, not quite sure why that spot was so special. He seemed to settle down. I walked away, and he sat up again, and with the same insistent “UNNGH”, pointed me back to the middle of the room.

Sleep deprived mother that I am, I finally figured out what he was after – the breeze from the ceiling fan. Is it my imagination or has the cherub got me wrapped me around his little finger??

Aramis Walks

Last night, I watched as 14-month-old Aramis made an epic journey from the kitchen, across the living room, and into my arms. All by himself.

Gulp, snif, my little boy is growing up so fast….

Drama With Dry Ice

Auntie J brought over a couple of tubs of ice-cream. They had packed it with dry ice, and rather than let the ice go to waste, we thought we’d try to recreate the “Singapore Wedding Dinner Effect” – the one where the newlyweds walk in to banquet hall and wedding coordinator cues dry ice machine. Done well, it can lend an air of romance. Mostly we just lose sight of the couple for a few moments 🙂

Anyway, if you happen to get some dry ice with your ice-cream, this is lots of fun to try at home. It’s as dramatic as the home-made volcano, and the effect lasts longer. All you need to do is Continue reading

Gerard Manley Hopkins: Inversnaid

As a student, I used to love the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins. It wasn’t intellectual like TS Eliot, nor contemplative like Wordsworth. It wasn’t trying to be anything except a joyful exploration of how sound and language could represent the world around us. At his best, Hopkins’ poetry was worship. My favourites are The Windhover and Pied Beauty.

And continuing on the theme of nature from the last post, I’ve just discovered this one (Inversnaid is a waterfall in Scotland). What a rallying cry in the last stanza! – Pilgrim Mom Continue reading