Friday, 31 January 2014

Day 1: Prayers for the Dearly Departed

Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year. Traditionally, Chinese New Year is a time of celebration, good cheer, fun and games, and meeting up with friends and relatives. However, sometimes, there are instances and circumstances when you are not "allowed" to celebrate, or rather, you may not want to celebrate, or even feel like celebrating...  

This year, for the 15 Days of Chinese New Year, we here at the Tan Family Chronicles will say a daily prayer for those around us who, despite the festive season, may not be in the mood to celebrate at all. And also for those of us, who would appreciate the prayers we have for them.

It really doesn't matter to us if you're not Christian Catholics like we are. Prayers are prayers, even if you pray to your own God, just as we pray to ours. Prayers and love have no boundaries. Join us to give prayers to those around us.
Day 1: Prayers for the Dearly Departed

We would like to pray for the dearly departed. 

For the recently departed, we pray that you have gone on peacefully. Know that we miss you and we wish we had gotten a chance to spend more time with you. We wished that you would have been with us now to celebrate Chinese New Year, but we know that you are having even more magnificent celebrations now in heaven. 

For our loved ones who have long departed us... Know that we miss you and we think of you, and that we will always have you in our hearts.

Pray with us.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Twins' 4th Birthday Party!

Remember, the twins just turned 4? Haha, the title of this blog post sounds like a bit of a misnomer since we have only ever thrown the twins two birthday parties – their 1 year old party, and this party for their 4th Birthday. Yes, we are the sort of parents who are in the camp that believe that it’s not much point throwing the kids birthday parties when they are so young, as they would probably not remember it anyway.

Isaac himself only had birthday parties last year when he turned 6 – but yes, you read it right, he had ‘parties’ last year – 2 of them! We had just changed his school (childcare) three months before his birthday last year, and he took to the change very well, despite him being close to his old school friends and missing them. So when he requested to celebrate his birthday with both his old school friends as well as his new school friends, we agreed. We threw him a rock-climbing party for his old school friends on the weekend (which I have yet to blog about! urrghh) and we had a dinosaur themed party for him in school with his new friends.
Friends & relatives! Aluna, Naomi Tan, Natalie, Jayann, Regina and Zayne Zayne Zayne everywhere! :)

Thus, Asher and Shawna had an intimate taste of what a birthday party feels like last year. Approaching four years old, they are also more aware of things that happen around them and what it means to have playdates, as we have made an effort to keep in touch with the friends we had made at the previous school. As such, while it never crossed Isaac’s mind to ask for a birthday party when he turned 4, it is certainly on the top of the twins’ minds now, after experiencing their older brother’s parties last year. We were inclined to say no – to be fair, right? Since Isaac didn’t have a party at 4… But it is not easy saying no to two pairs of eyes looking pleadingly at you… so we escaped with a vague “We’d see how it goes.” to put them off for a while.

So, just as I was wondering if it was possible to have a low cost party… Edwin of E MAGICAL MOMENT contacted us and offered to contribute his services for Asher & Shawna’s birthday party in January this year! Wow, what a shower of blessings! It was providence! We’re definitely having a party for Asher & Shawna now!  We decided to invite mainly the twins classmates as these were their closest friends whom they see almost 10 hours a day every weekday. Booking Edwin’s time was straightforward and quickly settled with a few smses. Other than that, we just had to book a function room, order the cakes, prepare the goodie bags, and make arrangements for my parents to take care of the kids on the actual day morning so that hubs and I could go get some finger food for the party. 
Edwin was very punctual, and went about setting up his stuff. Before he started, he actually came to check with me if there were any balloon shapes that I DIDN'T want him to twist. Befuddled for a moment, I quickly realised he was asking me if I was okay with him twisting the ever popular balloon sword and guns etc - which will inevitably erupt into balloon duels... For a moment, I was tempted to say that I didn't want all these balloon weapons being made, for we didn't exactly want to encourage violent play. But I knew that the balloon sword was one the most popular and quickest balloons to twist, and the faster the balloon twister can twist a balloon, the more kids get their requests fulfilled. In the end, customer satisfaction won out, and I gave my verbal blanket agreement that there were no banned balloon shapes. What's a party without some action, eh? I liked it that he bothered to ask if I wanted to ban any balloon shapes though, that was quite thoughtful indeed.

It was lucky the function room we booked was huge and had loads of space for the kids to run about. The venue quickly became a battlefield with balloon warriors dueling everywhere you could see. Asher, who has been enamoured with all things Ninja since he was very young, relish in his sword wielding, and promptly got engaged in a fierce battle with his cousin Dylan.
The Amazing Ninja Asher, ferocious in a battle against Dynamic Dylan!
And even though this was a party for the twins, Isaac had quite a few of his ex-classmates at the party too. That's because quite a number of the twins' classmates' older siblings, were in Isaac's K2 class last year.  We invited two of Isaac's best friends, Isaac & Richard, along as well, to join in the fun. Thus it was a nice little reunion for the kids who had just attended their first few days in primary school. The parents all had a nice time trading first-week-in-primary-school stories as well. The boys (so happened none of the girls were there) didn't seem to bother with talking though. They were too busy dueling with one another, many holding two or more swords.
Unsurprisingly, the boys broke out into a real fight in which Isaac had three swords, and was asked to give up one sword to a boy who had only one sword. Isaac chose to give his purple sword to his friend, but the boy did not want the purple sword but wanted the blue sword which Isaac didn't want to give up. I guess Isaac wasn't exactly in the wrong, since he did agree to give up one sword. But I was trying to convince him to be a "good host" and give up the blue sword. 6 year old couldn't care less about being a good host though, so I wasn't successful in my persuasion. The other boys started to take sides... and interestingly, the dueling stopped. "So what is more important, Isaac? To have fun sword fighting like you guys were doing just now, or to quarrel over the colour of a balloon?" Nope, didn't work. Briefly, I wondered if I should have banned the creation of balloon swords. But I figured - Nah, if they didn't fight about this, it would have been something else.
Carnage!!! Balloon Wars!!!
So what did the boys do after they stopped balloon fighting? They went to the CitiBlocs corner! I had set up a corner with 1,000 CitiBlocs, and the kids were having fun with the blocks. For most of the party, it was mainly the girls who were there building, since, I guess they were not interested in dueling. At the end of the big balloon argument, the boys all went to the CitiBlocs corner to start building. They were also physically tired out from more than an hour of continuous balloon dueling and running about.

I was glad to have the CitiBlocs corner as it kept my nieces Rebecca and Isabelle entertained the entire party. Being the two oldest kids at the party, I was a bit worried they'd be bored with the "kiddy stuff" like the magic show and balloons. But thankfully, they were more than thrilled to see 1,000 blocks in eight colours - as they only have 400 blocks at home themselves.
The CitiBlocs corner in the party was a hit! :)
We scheduled the magic show to take place after the balloon twisting, so that people who turn up late can still catch the magic show. That turned out to be a very good idea, as quite a few families came a bit later - due to kids naps running over etc - which is really very common and not unexpected due to the age of the kids. Thus, thankfully, by the time we started the magic show, most people were here. 

In the few weeks leading up to the party, I suddenly grew a bit nervous about having agreed to have Edwin of E Magical Moment come be our main act of the party. What if he was very irritating, or like, weird or something? I mean, you usually engage a magician if you have seen him in action before and you like his act, right? But here, given our unique circumstances, I haven't seen Edwin's act before, and suddenly I was having the jitters about him. I started praying "Please let this Edwin guy be good, and not irritating!" for I have seen a number of irritating and annoying entertainers before and it was something I really couldn't stand.
Shawna on stage! :)
Thankfully, my fears were unfounded. Edwin is a very nice guy, with a kind of studious look that enables him to tell jokes with a straight face. He's also good with the kids, which is great. He was able to capture all the kids attention during the entire duration of the magic show. And he could get Shawna to cooperate with him to get some tricks done with her help. 

Asher was initially afraid to go "on stage", but seeing Shawna up there bolstered his confidence a little... enough to get him up... And even then, he needed a little coaxing from Edwin before he would cooperate. That's my twins for you. Pole opposites :)
All too soon, the magic show came to an end. The kids were disappointed and wanted it to go on for much longer. But they were quickly distracted with the shouts of "Birthday cake! Birthday cake!" and the kids quickly gathered around the birthday cakes. Edwin even conducted the cake cutting for us.

Months earlier, Shawna had requested for a "jelly cake" which I thought was a good idea, since having two birthday cakes could be a bit much. Having a jelly cake would add some variety to the menu. I asked around for recommendations and settled on getting from Food Mapping as they were conveniently located at Beauty World, and also because I was recommended them by more than one person, so the standard must be "quite there", I thought.

The 2kg rich dark chocolate fudge cake is from a brand new bakery by the name of Cake Crafters which we have had the good fortune to taste before. So we knew it would be a delicious chocolate cake to have. It's something like a Lana Cake, only this one is even richer and far yummier! The only problem was that they didn't have nice fancy cartoon art on the cake. But no matter! We had loads of the kids favourite action figures at home that we could scrub clean and use as cake toppers. And it turned out perfect!
Sweet treats to end the party! :)
The cakes were definitely a sweet and perfect way to end a simple party. There was hardly any cake left for us to bring home, that's how good they were! :) Thanks everyone for coming to the twins party!

And now, for a sweet way to end this blog post, we've a special discount code for you! Quote "Tan Family Chronicles" when you book any package off E Magical Moment and get 10% off! Start planning your parties now!

Useful contacts for organising a birthday party in Singapore
  • Edwin of E Magical Moment -  magician + balloon artist + face painting etc (refer to website!)
  • Food Mapping - jelly/ agar agar cakes (they sell a whole load of other stuff too. We bought onde onde on them that everyone couldn't help popping into their mouths!)
  • Cake Crafters - fabulously rich 3 layered chocolate fudge cake. This is the one we're ordering from for the rest of our lives when we want chocolate cake! Remember to book at least 3 days in advance!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Let your KidStartNow to learn Chinese! (Giveaway)

With Isaac attending the Primary School that he is attending, he would be taking Higher Chinese straight from Primary One. The thought of that is enough to make me shudder. For those of you who knew me from my schooling days, you would know how abysmal my standard of Chinese was. I took my O Level Chinese paper three times, and A Level Chinese paper twice, in order to scrape a pass so that I could qualify for local university. 

I must say that my standard of Mandarin is now better than ever. And for that, I credit my dear hubbs. He, as some of you would know, is quite the cheena uncle. I say that with affection, and thanks :p as he credited to be the most important factor in improving my Mandarin speaking skills. Immersion is the key! And thus, he has been trying to encourage me to speak Mandarin to the kids too! I confess that I have been very reluctant to do so, the reasons will be forthcoming in a separate blog post... But suffice to say, that when KidStartNow offered to let Isaac, Asher & Shawna attend a Chinese Camp during the recent December holidays, we jumped at the chance and immediately blocked off the dates in our calendar.
Underwater Universe theme @ KidStartNow - what crabby kids I have!
KidStartNow is located at CT Hub at 2 Kallang Avenue. This is brand new building (just TOP in 2013) which has 2 floors of retail and F&B, and the rest of the building is light industrial and office. As such, when we turned into the carpark and announced "Yes, we're here!" The kids looked at us and said "Are you sure?! Chinese Camp is here?!" and then it struck me that they thought they were going camping - like we once did at Pasir Ris Park Beach! We quickly explained to them, while walking from the carpark to the unit, that we weren't going camping per se with a tent and all...

But once we got to KidStartNow, the kids were entranced by the colourful Underwater Universe theme  the whole premises was decked out in, that they stopped grumbling about not going "real camping". They were each handed a crab hat to don, and proceed into the room to start the session for the day. Giggling at how silly each other looked in a crab hat, they went into the class (with Isaac walking in sideways)... it struck me how simple this was as an icebreaker to make the kids feel at ease in a new environment...

The holiday camp was three half days long, on three consecutive days.  On the first day, they allowed parents into the room with the kids so as to ease the kids in. It was hardly necessary for us though. The kids had a whale of a time, having fun from the go, and hardly turned around to check if we were still there. It could be because all three of them were in the same class. So having their older brother Isaac there was a solid emotional support for the twins. As it was a Chinese camp (as opposed to a term of enrichment classes), the camp's aim was to make learning Mandarin fun - so KidStartNow felt it was not necessary to segregate according to age. Besides, they have a policy of a small class size (4 - 6 students per class), so catering to an individual's level was not a problem at all.
Love the fact that we can observe everything going on without being physically in the room with the kids! :)
Each day, there was a short 10 minute break for the kids, roughly midway into the day's session.It was a toilet break cum a mini-snack break. Hubbs and I took this opportunity to leave the classroom, and go for breakfast downstairs. When we came up, we sat at the sitting area at the lobby of the centre where there was a large screen on the wall. This screen actually screens live - the going-ons in the classroom! Love it! We could see and hear exactly what the kids were doing and saying, without being physically there! Fantastic!
Initially, when the lessons first started, we had slight misgivings when we realised that KidStartNow were going to use videos and e-books in their programme. We were firm proponents that kids should not be exposed to too much TV/iPad and the like. However, after experiencing the programme for three half days, I must say I like the KidStartNow methodology, and they have executed it very well. 

Apparently, KidStartNow has developed their own proprietary e-Books and interactive computer programmes that incorporate the Chinese language and make it seem fun. The teacher constantly stops the video/e-book and talks to the class, posing questions and taking queries. Thus it is not the case whereby your child comes to class just to "watch TV". No. Instead, there is a lot of interaction, with the teacher asking leading questions, and clarifying with the children to make sure they understand what is happening and going on. I was very impressed. It occurred to me that "This is how technology should be used!" For KidStartNow has managed to integrate the use of technology very seamlessly with guided and assisted learning, to form fun and engaging lessons for the young ones. They essentially use it as an attention hook. Wow. 
Sing and dance @ KidStartNow
In their proprietary Underwater Universe programme, they also allow the children to choose a character to be themselves, and each child/character would have a "coin bank" reward system to encourage good behavior, class participation, and helpfulness toward one another. At the end of the days, children can use their coins to redeem stickers for themselves. Small stickers cost less coins than the bigger stickers did. Thus, if you wanted a bigger sticker, you had to save enough coins for it. The kids loved it, and it was one of the highlights that they never failed to talk about when we ask the kids how their camp that day went.

Other than using their proprietary e-book/system, KidStartNow also uses Chinese children song videos to teach the kids to sing Mandarin children songs, along with actions. So there is much singing and simple movement dancing in the class, mostly, I feel to act as ice-breakers and let the children feel relaxed and at ease. Oh and to make the class fun, of course - all while doing everything in Mandarin. Like in one song, it was a "hello, my friend!" song, that ended with the kids going around shaking hands with one another. and saying "Ni2 hao3" which is "Hello" in Mandarin.

In addition to this, the children would often be called on to stand up at the front of the class to speak. It can be something as simple as introducing yourself, to something slightly tougher like to give your answer to a question. This is a simple way of instilling confidence in a child about speaking Mandarin, and gives them a mini-taste of "public speaking". Sure, it's only to an audience of about 5 other kids plus the teacher - but for a child young child below 7 years old, I'd say it's certainly like public speaking.
The children were also engaged in simple art & craft in line with the theme of Underwater Universe such as making a colourful fish, and a paper plate shark. All in, KidStartNow has managed to include quite a varied number of activities for the kids during the Chinese Camp, all of which were conducted in Mandarin. From our viewing of the class while in the class, as well as outside through the Skype enabled TV - we could see that the kids were rapt with attention throughout the class. They have certainly been successful in immersing the children in a Mandarin speaking world.
Art & craft segments too!
I remember, while we were traveling to the place on Day 2, I started asking the kids how they find the camp on Day 1, etc. They said it was fun, but in typical young children's fashion, couldn't really describe much about it. Instead, they wanted to quiz me, test me, to see if I knew the names of certain sea creatures in Chinese!
Isaac:"I want to test you, Mummy! Do you know the name of dolphin in Chinese?"
Mummy Me:"I know! Hai3 tun2"
Asher:"Mummy, I want to test you! What is Big White Shark in Chinese?"
Me:"I know! da4 bai2 sha1 !"
Asher:"Yes, correct!"
Isaac:"This one you sure don't know! What is stingray in Chinese?"
Me:"Errr... is it hung herr? hahaha..."
Isaac:"No! hahahaha..."
Me:"So what is it?"
Isaac:"Hong Mei Laoshi says it's huang2 diao1 yu2 !"

After our Chinese Camp ended, for many days afterwards, the kids would still be singing the songs they had learnt and talk about the stuff they had done during the Chinese Camp. I was suitably impressed because this hardly happens after an event, for with kids, it's quite out of sight out of mind. Incidentally, just yesterday morning, Shawna remembered a song and was singing it, and she turned to me and said "Can we go Chinese Camp again, please Mummy?" :)

Overall, I would say KidStartNow achieved their aim of immersing the kids in a Mandarin environment, and making Chinese fun. My only complaint is - I wish it were 3 full days of camp instead of half days!!! :p
Top right: The art & craft work done by the kids @ KidStartNow

Now, would you like your child to try out KidStartNow's programme? If so, you're in luck! We're conducting a giveaway! The good news is, there won't just be one winner, there will be three winners! :) One N2 child, one K1 child and one K2 child! And each winner won't just win one lesson - the winners will win 4 lessons each! However, as their sessions are all quite full already, the only available timeslots are those indicated below. Please only participate in this giveaway if you can make it for the indicated timeslots as alternative timings are not available.

N2 winner attends Tuesday 3.45pm - 5.15pm from 11-Feb-2014 to 04-Mar-2014
K1 winner attends Thursday 1.30pm - 3.15pm from 06-Feb-2014 to 27-Feb-2014
K2 winner attends Saturday  1.30pm - 3.15pm from 08-Feb-2014 to 01-Mar-2014

KidStartNow are also running a competition right now! They are asking readers to send them their best parenting tips/stories on how they help their kids develop interest in Chinese, and they will be sharing the top ten tips/stories in a blog post (with proper credits given). In addition, the reader who sends them the top tip/story will win a prize of $100! If you are interested, please send your entries to with the subject "[Parenting Tips Competition - #01] before 9th Feb 2014". Good luck!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Isaac's First 7 days in Primary School

2014 is quite a milestone year for the Tan Family mainly because Isaac, our eldest child, is going to be in primary school this year. Primary 1 is often considered the first year of formal schooling and it is my fear, that this year will turn me into a Tiger Mum :p 

Hubbs and I were no great shakes in school. Yes, we both  made it to the university, eventually... but we had our fair share of study troubles in our respective years of education. Thus neither of us really felt like pushing the kids on assessment books and enrichment classes. But I fear that peer pressure may mold me into a different being this year! *HORRORS* 

Without boring you any further with my inane fears, let me present to you... Isaac's First 7 Days in Primary School!

DAY ONE - 2nd January 2014, Thursday

Isaac needs to wake up at 5am as his school bus comes at 5.35am. He was sufficiently psyched up and excited to go to big boy school so he did not make a fuss waking up on this day. When we went downstairs, we saw a bus uncle and assumed he was our bus uncle. But he took a look at Isaac's uniform and said "No, not my school." and he told us he is fetching a kid at 5.40am to send to a school which is a mere 10 minute drive away! Suddenly, we don't feel so bad about his school bus timing after all!
Traditional 1st Day of School void deck shots. Before and After School shots too! :)
Hubbs managed to apply for Child-Care Leave to accompany Isaac to school, by school bus! I sent the twins to childcare and went to the school to join hubbs.. Where he was excitedly talking to his primary school friends. Hubbs, not Isaac, talking to his friends. It was quite amazing, I had never seen so many dads at a school function/event thingy before. I left hubbs to his long lost friends and looked out for Isaac as it was recess time.

There he was! With his p5 buddy! They would have a Primary 5 boy attached to them for the first two days of school during recess time, to show them the ropes. The P5 boys all had a buddy card which had a checklist to help them remember what to teach the P1 boys. That is an excellent idea and I could see many P5 boys refer to the list constantly. It was also very amusing to see the pairs of P1 & P5 boys going about :)

This is Isaac's P5 buddy. Really nice, easy going fella, patiently tried to teach Isaac stuff. He was on the quiet side, so he didn't talk as much as I saw some other P5 boys did. But he duly referred to his checklist and would tick off tasks which he had completed. Isaac, in his excitement to get his food, unintentionally cut queue, and the buddy had the unenviable task of pulling him back in line. I thought that was quite hilarious though :p

The buddy lined up with Isaac to help him get his food, settled him at a table, before going off to get his own food. Isaac bought white rice and a sunny side up egg, and steadily proceeded to eat up every bit of it. I was actually pleasantly surprised that he would order that. Rice & egg $0.90. After eating, Isaac went back to class and continued reading his Enid Blyton: Five Find-Outers book which I had just managed to start him on, the day before.

When he came home from school on the school bus, I asked him about his day and I asked him for his highlight of the day in this way:"What did you like about your day in school today?" And on this first day, he said "There's a library, mummy! And the library has books that we don't have!" :)
Isaac and his P5 buddy who did a great job helping him. Thanks very much! :)

Lest I get carried away and this post starts to read like a novel, I shall continue writing the rest of this post in a semi-point form kinda way... Pictures mostly taken within the first two day of school.

DAY TWO - 3rd January 2014, Friday
My fault - I forgot to place money in his wallet, and so Isaac thought he had no money. Just as I spotted him and his buddy in the queue from a distance, he realised he had no money and proceeded to leave the queue. I somehow managed to quickly take his spot in the queue and called him back to the queue. Gave him money. And guess what? Because we told him last night that he can actually order one more dish to go with his rice and egg, he ordered rice, egg and stir-fried cabbage on this day. Wow, I was actually quite impressed at his healthy food choices :p

He excitedly took his own plate (his buddy helped him the previous day) and in his haste, his wallet was hanging open from the springy thing on his pants. The P5 buddy looked flummoxed by it and quickly tried to help him close his wallet while Isaac was still moving - walking to the table. Rice, egg, vegetable = $1.30.

After that, the P5 buddy brought him to see where the school bookshop was, and then they walked back to Isaac's class. I was following at a distance, and suddenly I saw the P5 buddy look around and said "Where is your mummy?" I quickly walked up and said, "Yes?" "He wants to go Library to borrow books. Do you have his IC number?" I said, yes, and off we went to the library. Isaac excitedly zoomed off to get the books he wanted to borrow. But unfortunately, the P5 boy's info was slightly off, as the Librarian informed me that P1 boys are not allowed to borrow just yet. Their form teacher would bring them in one day together, to issue them library cards, and then they can borrow. Disappointed, but calm (read: no tantrums!), Isaac went back to class and continued reading his Enid Blyton Five Find-Outers book.

Highlight of the Day: "The vegetable I bought with my rice and egg VERY NICE!"
Isaac and his favourite meal at school so far: Rice + Egg + Vegetable

DAY THREE - 6th January 2014, Monday

Isaac came home on the school bus and when I presented him with a chocolate cream bun instead of the pork floss buns he'd been having after school on his first two days of school - he proceeded to throw a tantrum. He had enjoyed that chocolate cream bun before, so I didn't understand why he was making such a big fuss over it. That is, until I realised that he still had the $2 I gave him in the morning for his recess.

Mummy me:"Isaac, how come you still have your $2? Did you eat during recess time?"
Isaac:" No..."
Me:" HUH?! How come?! No wonder you're so cranky! That's because you're hungry!"
Isaac:"You didn't tell me I had to eat EVERYDAY?!"

I spluttered. Not quite sure whether to laugh or cry. I chose to laugh... until I had tears in my eyes.

Me:"Okay. Isaac, please eat everyday. You have to eat rice, or noodles, or bee hoon, with other things."
Isaac:"Okay Mummy"
Me:"How come you didn't eat? Weren't you hungry?"
Isaac:"I want to save money to buy Lego."

Urrghh. Cursed Lego. It's become something of an obsession lately, this Lego thing. We've been having issues with Lego lately.

Me:"I like it that you want to save money, but you have to eat. If you don't eat, we won't give you any money for recess time."
And after some quick thinking...
Me:"Okay, I tell you what. If you eat during recess like I told you to, every time you save money, I will match you for it. So say if you save 50 cents, I will give you 50 cents, but only if you eat, and be good and do your homework."
Isaac's eyes widened, and he quickly nodded and said:"Okay Mummy!!!"

Highlight of the Day:" I won the game during P.E. !!!"
I have never seen such a noisy and crowded library before. I found it refreshing that there was no one standing there screaming for the boys to be quiet, no one shushing people away. But instead, many, many boys, reading and looking at books. Wonderful! :)

DAY FOUR - 7th January 2014, Tuesday
Our dear friend, got his maiden scolding by teachers on Day 4 of school, because he thought he didn't bring his Homework Diary - when actually it was in his opaque file which he did not open up to search.

Mummy Me:"It was right here, Isaac. You DID bring your Homework Diary to school."
Isaac:"Why didn't you tell me that you put it there?!"
Me:"I didn't put it there."
Isaac:"I will ask Papa tonight if he put it there."
Me:"It doesn't matter who placed it there. What you should learn from this is that you should be the one to pack your own bag next time, so that you know where everything is, and take responsibility if you forget anything."

I was trying hard to control myself to not show him that I found it amusing that he had gotten his first scolding so quickly. I was actually laughing and quite glad that he got to learn this lesson early, with such a trivial matter too (better than having to learn his lesson via a serious issue with greater consequences). But he looked so miserable, so I tried to be sympathetic.

Me:"So Ms Goh scolded you? Did anyone else forget to bring?"
Isaac:"Yes, got others never bring also. We all got scolding, but she scold me the fiercest."
Me:"She scolded you most fiercely? How come?"
Isaac:"I don't know. She scold me until I cry."

Again, I stifled a laugh and hid my grin. Isaac tends to be a little sensitive about such matters, and he's got an incredibly "thin skin" so to speak. So I wasn't too bothered that he got "scolded until I cry" - for in all likelihood, the teacher was just being stern.

Besides, I could contact the form teacher anytime as I had her mobile number and email address. And the Chinese teacher's too. In fact, on Day 4, I whatsapped the Chinese teacher to ask if she had issued the ting1 xie1 (Chinese spelling) list yet, because the previous day's Homework Diary indicated that there would be tingxie (Chinese spelling) every Thursday! Thankfully, she said that there'd be no tingxie this week and that they would issue the list the next day.

Food: Rice + Egg + (different) Vegetable = $1.50

Highlight of the Day:" I got chosen to be the P.E. Monitor!!!"
Grabbing every free moment to continue reading the exciting adventures of the Five Find-Outers. Am chuffed that he likes one of my favourite series of books! :) Hope the twins would be voracious readers too!

DAY FIVE - 8th January 2014, Wednesday
Mummy Me:"Hi darling, how was your day? Did you get scolding today?"
Isaac:"No scolding! Ms Goh say "Wah, good! You brought your Homework Diary today!" And everyone laughed, because she was so funny you know. So everyone laughed. hahahahaha..."
Me:"That's great. So did you eat the same thing again today? your rice, egg and vege?"
Isaac:"Yes, I did. But I saw one of my friends eat spaghetti. Maybe I will try that tomorrow."
Me:"Yes, you can try that, see if it is nice."

After eating, Isaac went to look at the Aviation Club display. I had seen it before, it was a display of model aeroplanes, which the boys have put together. I can see why he would be attracted to that. "Maybe I can make an aeroplane to have it displayed there, Mummy." Sure...

On Day 5, I whatsapped his form teacher because there was a Health Service form thingy which I was supposed to hand in, but it wasn't in his bag nor at home. Missing in action! She said she'd check his school locker for it.

Food: Rice + Egg + Vegetable = $1.50

Highlight of the Day:"Actually, everyday I like recess time..."

DAY SIX - 9th January 2014, Thursday

On Day 6, I emailed his math teacher to inform her that Isaac had already brought the Math Plus 1B on the day after he forgot his homework diary - I had placed it in the bag myself! I wasn't sure if Isaac is plain blur, or just a little unlucky at misplacing items. In any case, it struck me how, within the first 6 days of school, I had already communicated with Isaac's three main teachers. I wonder if this is the norm nowadays. This certainly didn't happen when I was in Primary 1.

Food: Spaghetti $1.20

Highlight of the Day:"We had music lesson today! And we learned to sing Majulah Singapura! School song, tomorrow!"

I loved it that the first music lesson was dedicated to learning the national anthem! And not only did they learn the words to the national anthem, they also printed the translation of the song, so that the kids can learn the meaning of the song. They even had a short paragraph on the history of the song. Next, was the school song which was in Chinese, which they even had an English translation of so that the boys can learn the meaning of the song too. Excellent! :)
Singapore's national anthem Majulah Singapura, and its English translation.
DAY SEVEN - 10th January 2014, Friday
His Maths teacher called me, and said she really couldn't find the Maths Plus 1B we said we brought. Was also whatsapping the form teacher, who said that his health service forms were no where to be found at all. It was clear that I had to make a trip down to the school on Monday to do the necessary.

This is the day he came home with some real homework too. The first homework came on Wednesday, but it was just a few pages of math which he finished very quickly. Today, his homework was another 3 pages of maths, and a journal entry titled:"My December Holidays". Gosh, sounds like he is to do a mini-composition already. And he got his list of tingxie Chinese Spelling words. Goodness. I feel my blood pressure rising already.

I left him in the living room for 10 minutes on his own and came out to see him napping on the couch. We have been preventing him from napping in the afternoons when he comes home from school as we have been trying to push his bedtime earlier. It has been quite a struggle to do so and Isaac has been having a hard time adjusting his body to the "new time zone". Thus, for the first time in the entire week, I let him take a nap.

He apparently went back to eating his rice, egg and vegetables. I never got to ask him about his highlight of the day. I guess the upcoming weekend was highlight enough :)

What an eventful first seven days of school it had been for both Isaac and us! We have had to adjust to it as well. It does seem that Isaac is off to a relatively positive start in school since he admits to enjoying and having fun with school. And for that, we're glad :)

Monday, 6 January 2014

The Twins Turn Four!

The twins turn 4 today! And what time these four years have been for us! It seems ages ago, and yet not too long ago when I delivered my Twin 1 (Asher) and Twin 2 (Shawna) at the hospital via C-section... (The Twins' Birth Story). With my sister-in-law pregnant, the twins are only starting to really understand what it means for them to have been in my tummy, before they were born. These past few months leading up to their birthday, they, Shawna especially, have been asking me repeatedly, questions about them being in my tummy. By now, they even know their respective positions in my tummy: Shawna on my right, and Asher on my left. Asher was head down and came out first, whereas Shawna was breech. They know that Isaac kor kor had more room in mummy's tummy as he was there alone, but that they were together in my tummy at the same time...

Looking back at these two blog posts - Twins Pregnancy Update  and Progress of the Twins - I must say, I really did almost forget what had happened then, including the pain and discomfort of carrying twins and all. But I do remember the joy and elation that was when we realised we were having twins. They have truly been a Godsend to us, all three of our kids are. We do recall how trying the first year was though, especially the time when we all fell sick and the twins were hospitalised. I think most of our friends could see how tiring it was for us in the first couple of years too... So much so, that nowadays, when we meet up with friends and family whom we haven't seen in awhile, they inevitably say this while looking at the kids "Wah... now easier already lah hor?" Hahaha... yes, indeed.
Asher & Shawna @ 4 years old!
Hubbs and I have always enjoyed observing the kids, studying their behaviour is a fascinating endeavour that we take great joy in: what they do and say, how they learn, their personalities etc. Being a first child shaped Isaac in certain ways that first/only child tend to behave. Asher & Shawna's behaviour on particular,  provides many opportunities to study the age old question of Nurture Vs Nature. Being twins, it can be said that their Nurture would be almost exactly the same, and that they only differ in Nature. Yet, Asher & Shawna are as different as can be, from when they were born...

You know what they say about boys being physically more advanced, while girls mature quicker linguistically? Totally the opposite for this pair of mine. Asher has always been a little more clumsy and physically slower, and not as agile. He is the kind to trip on nothing, and the one who inevitably falls or gets hurt somewhere somehow. Shawna, on the other hand, is physically faster in picking up crawling, walking, jumping, climbing, everything physical. She is very agile and nimble, and she is the kind who can instantly right herself if she finds herself off-balanced and prevent a bad fall - if at all! Asher is however, linguistically very talented in that his diction is very clear. He could talk earlier than Shawna did, and when he speaks, his diction is very clear and he could imitate what he hears very well, from an early age. Even now at 4, Shawna's diction is still not very clear at times and her pronunciation of certain letters is not correct. 

Asher, from a very young age, is able to play on his own very well. Of the three kids, he is the one who appreciates my horde of action figures the best, as he is able to play with them and form his own stories and animate the figures himself, narrating his own little dramas. Isaac only recently started to do this, and we suspect that he learned this from Asher - in fact, he can only play like that if he is with Asher. On his own, Isaac is not inclined to do that. Shawna too, isn't really one to play on her own, and hardly ever touches her dolls. She craves company. She wants me to read to her, or play a game with her.

We do not allow the kids to watch tv at home, but on rare occasions where both hubbs and I need to get some work done, we will let them watch some kids dvds. Other than that, the kids' tv time is at their grandparents' place. Asher, loves tv. He is the sort who could spend hours glued to the tv, if you allowed him to be. Shawna on the other hand, can watch tv, but is not as enamoured of it as her brothers are. Again, she would rather I play a board game with her, or read to her, rather than watch tv. Even if she watches tv, she wants one of us to watch with her. 

Asher & Shawna - Do you know who is older? :)
Shawna is a very independent girl, who wants to do everything by herself. She taught herself to stand at 10 months - she didn't want us to hold her at all! She taught herself to skate-scoot at 2 years old, and is now an expert on her balance bike. She prefers to feed herself, wear her own socks and shoes, button up her own uniform, carry her own bag... the list goes on. Asher waited quite awhile before deciding to learn how to walk, scoot and get on his balance bike. He prefers to be fed even though he is perfectly able to feed himself. Similarly, he would rather you wear his socks and shoes for him, and claims not to know how to button himself up. 

Asher loves chocolate, and ice cream, and doesn't really take sweets/jellies, nor snacks like potato chips or crackers. Shawna, enjoys a little bit of chocolate and ice cream, but is fine to do without. But she really enjoys chips and crackers and tidbits like that. She loves fried food of any kind, and chicken wings done in any way. She enjoys eating and is quite game to try most foods. She eats raw salmon sashimi, chicken feet, chicken/duck/pig skin, pig intestines etc. Asher doesn't eat all this, and is not very adventurous with food. He does love spaghetti though and can easily down a full adults serving of it, and more!

They even show their love in different ways.

Shawna is very nurturing and it is her nature to take care of her brothers. She would take water bottle for Asher, carry his bag for him, help him place his things where they should be. In childcare, she would quickly feed herself and then start to feed him because he wasn't done yet. Put his mattress cover on for him before nap time... The last two things she only stopped doing when her teachers told her that Asher needed to learn how to do those things himself. When I was taking a bath, but Asher was looking for me so that he could lie down on my lap to drink milk - Shawna offered to let him lie down on her lap to drink milk...

Asher is very sweet and caring. He is the one who will ask you where your hurts are, and attempt to kiss it away. He is fiercely loyal to Shawna and Isaac and would be very affected if either one of them were upset, hurt or scolded. He is by nature, a bit more laid back, and is happy to be waited upon, and very accepting of Shawna's and Isaac's help in this aspect.
The twins at birth. Can you guess which baby is who? :)
Despite being very different, Asher & Shawna both have a positive disposition and are quite cheerful and bring joy to all they meet. We pray and hope they would continue to be a blessing to everyone in their lives! :) Happy 4th Birthday, my little twin stars! May you two be blessed with peace, love, happiness, success and good health for all eternity! :)


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