Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Angry Birds

I'd love to change my alarm to the theme of angry birds. It is the one sure thing that will catch my 7 year-old's attention and wake him up in the morning effortlessly.

Out of so many birds in the game - the red and powerless, the yellow with a zeal, the blue that splits itself into triplets, the parrot that U-turns, the white that drops an egg, what makes the black one that explodes like a bomb SW's favourite really beats me. "Because it blows things up" - that being the most powerful? Or because black is his favourite colour now (it used to be red, but red bird is "so lame").

Though we try to control his time on the game, I have to admit it is highly addictive having played it myself. In the beginning, I actually fought with him for "one more game", ignoring his laments, challenging myself to the next level till the battery goes flat. That was before I had to stop myself entirely so I could get on with life. It brings back memories of playing 'Poppey' and 'Octopus', not to forget the calculator with an 'n'. So, a parent who has been there knows how it is like! Proud to say that? Or perhaps that was how I got myopic?

So, we start to control playing time. Protecting eyesight is one of the reasons we give. But that certainly does little to stop this chap from thinking about the game. He goes about creating his own Angry Birds games:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Forest Adventure

"It will be a wonderful experience for SW," Sis was highly recommending me to bring the kids to Forest Adventure at Bedok Reservoir.  And it proved better than I imagined!

Indian Bridge

About 3 to 4 metres above the ground, I did not have high hopes that my 6 year-old son, SW, would be willing to give it a go.  Joined by his two enthusiastic older cousins, LK and LJ, SW did not have a chance to think twice or back out of it.

Meeting the minimum required height of 1.1m, I could not help noticing how small SW looked up there.  Often suppressing excitement and not showing signs of fear, I could hardly tell what he was feeling except that he was very attentive to the young instructors giving instructions.

There were various obstacles to cross.  Each posed a different challenge of balance, strength, vigilance, and courage.  Although there were instructors at various points, it was such a blessing that SW had his cousins to help him with the safety line which needed some tugging to move on at the beginning and end of each obstacle.  He eventually learned to handle it all by himself. 

At one point, I feared for SW as it looked as if his height could barely make it.  But he managed to find his way to work around it.  It was a boost to SW's confidence and his parents were simply beaming with pride.

Below are some of pictures of the various obstacles. The course ended with a Zip Slide which the kids enjoyed - not without getting sand into their pants and shoes.

SW said this was the one he feared most as there was nothing 
on either side to hold on to.

There are similar activities for adults too.  But for that day, it was for the kids.  For more information, visit: www.forestadventure.com.sg

Quick Wraps

It was another box that I thought could be converted to something useful, an Essence of Chicken box, ideal for storing CH's clutter that she refuses to discard (becoming a junkie like me?).

CH picked the remainder of a gift wrapping paper
while I used the left-over drawer liner for the interior.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

First Ballet Class

Last Thursday night, CH attended her first ballet class - ever!

CH - first from the right

'Ever' because she had waited a year for it. Indeed, it is a quarter of her life. There were classes for 3 year-olds but the lesson time was not right for us. We used to peep outside the classrooms, watching the older girls at their practice. She would smile as she watched, admiration beaming through her eyes.

"Ballet is not just about wearing pink tutus and looking pretty, you know," I used to whisper into her ear as we watched. "Can you see the jie jies (big sisters) are trying very hard to lift up their legs and keeping in balance? You need a lot of strength and practice..." I wonder how much did get in.

Personally, I am a believer of delayed gratification. Watching others at it do wonders in building up life-long interest and helps in identifying real wants. Nevertheless, it is difficult to determine how long to delay and wiser to leave it to chance - I suppose. So, when we finally received the phone call that a class was starting at the time convenient for us, we were delighted! CH kept asking me,"Am I going for ballet lesson?" as if she could not believe it was true!

Perhaps we were already familiar with the place, perhaps it was the same teacher we have been watching - CH did not need any warming up and readily joined in the circle. I stayed and watch until she kept turning around to see me, loosing focus.

I was happy with the teacher. The little moves had stories to them and the girls took to them easily, with giggles and laughter.

Good toes, bad toes, naughty toes, walk on high-heels, mermaid's tail, (thigh-fly)butterfly, reach for the sky (to straighten their backs) were some of the terms the teacher used for some routine moves.

Before she stepped out of the classroom, she gave her teacher another smile, waved goodbye, and bent down to touch the wooden floor. Couldn't believe she's finally in a ballet class for real?

"When can I come back here for ballet, mommy?" CH asked as we left.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Living without TV

Seven years ago, when we bought our CRT TV, the smallest LCD televisions still cost thousands of dollars. 3 years ago, we got asked why we had not 'upgraded' our television when nearly every household had an LCD TV.

"What do people do with their existing TV if they still work?" We had wondered. It was not like we needed two television sets at home.

Recently, our CRT broke down. Just like that, for no apparent reason. It just would not turn on. We needed to pay extras for the service man to check and possibly foot another hundred to change a part. So we waited for a good sale to come along. We waited 3 weeks.

On the second week, we got asked,"And you could survive?" Surprisingly, we did.

On the last weekend before the arrival of our new Philips LED TV, my brother in-law lent us an Avatar DVD. With HM's 24 inch LCD screen plugged into his laptop and sound system connected, we watched Avatar. That was our 3rd weekend without TV, and it felt even more exciting than it would have been if our TV had not broken down. Deprivation has its pros.

"Why do we even bother to buy a new TV?" HM had joked.

We had wanted to go for a LCD since a good 42 inch these days cost slightly more than a thousand dollars. But along came a Philips half-yearly sale for staff. With the help of some good contacts, we managed to get hold of a 40 inch LED that had not already gone out-of-stock. It is a HD 8000 series with ambient light, anti-glare, 100Hz, comes with USB socket, and is internet connectible! HM and I fell in love with the unique round corners of the TV.

Even the box that contained the TV was put to good use! The board is so hard and sturdy it would have been a shame to throw away!


After - without any use of glue or tapes

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Attempt on Oil Pastels

Drawing is such a personal thing, like playing the piano.

Try telling a child "Why don't you do it this way", you get "No, I like it this way!" Or "Why don't you try other colours", you get "No, I like pink and purple!" And the whole picture ends up in a flood of pink and purple.

It is funny how my favourite colour combination used to be pink and purple too. Yeah, you could just go on hours and hours with just pink and purple...

Watching CH drew made my fingers itch, so I picked up the oil pastels while she dipped happily into poster colours.

Finding ideas on what to draw was a challenge, especially when I have not painted in years. I started with CH's face, and it was a disaster. I have never succeeded in portraits. Flipping the paper over, I let my eyes drop from CH's smooth complexion and rosy lips, onto the bright yellow tweety bird on her T-shirt. So there goes the tweety bird, and my first attempt using oil pastels.

What amazed me was the smoothness of the oil pastels - and it wasn't even a branded set. Although it was rather messy and all other colours went onto the yellow, it was truly fun! I worked with my fingers on the blending, and the background colour came as a surprise to me - a bright turquoise, which happens to be one of my favourite colours.

"But mommy, the tweety bird is not sitting on the table!" CH was refering to the one on her T-shirt.
"That's all right. I like it this way!"

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Navy Open House

2 weekends ago, we visited the 2010 Navy Open House.  It was rainy in the morning, but we decided to go anyway so our kids could see warships and submarines up close - well, not that we have ever either.  It was a fairly long ride from Singapore Expo by chartered bus to a highly secured eastern part of the country.

This warship was the first one that greeted us.  It was fortunate that I started snapping away because we never did get a chance to back-track - it was a reminder to me that in life, you need to take every opportunity that's right in front of you or they'll just pass you by.

There were events going on and one of the highlights was a show that the Navy put up on terrorist attack.  The gunfires were so loud CH had her ears covered and stayed close to me.  With the drizzle and long walks, the kids were happiest at the indoor Family Activity areas.

Although we were allowed to go up the warships, the queues were so long at each of them that we only managed to board one of them.  And because it was drizzling, the navy were there to help us, making sure we do not slip on the steps.  SW was most disappointed for not being able to board a submarine, which was also what I was looking forward to.  However, we did manage to get a close look at a small submarine.  There were helpful officers around to provide information when you asked, and photo-taking was permitted.

I found this drawing in SW's school work in creative writing.  He included details like how we boarded the sloped stairs while it was raining, missiles we saw on the ship, a small submarine by the side, numbers on the ship, railings, and the sun that was hidden by thick clouds.  I don't remember there was a jet plane flying around though...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fun with Oil Pastels

I have never liked oil pastels. But I realized that was because I knew too little of it.

I brought the kids out for a trial art class which teaches art using oil pastels. My kids probably had more exposure to oil pastels in school than I ever did my life. They looked at ease with them.

The top two were taught by the teacher using blending techniques. The bottom two were before.
Left: SW, Right: CH

"It is easier for young children to blend colours using oil pastels than using coloured pencils or poster colours", the teacher told me.

With that, I came home and logged into the internet, keen to find out more about oil pastels. I found 'ehow' and watched the videos. After that, I replaced 'about.com' with 'ehow.com' under my favourite sites on drawing.

CH attended her first art class during this holiday. It is with another centre. The timing was a good twice weekly over the June holidays. I just wanted her to have some fun, and to satisfy my own curiosity of how art lessons are conducted these days (without too much commitment).

Knowing the fact that my 4 year-old draws nothing but girls with long legs, I wasn't surprised when she drew a swan like a flamingo on the first day, and rabbit like a bumble bee on the second.

There wasn't any 'preferred' medium to use, but the teacher suggested poster colours for CH after the first lesson, so I grabbed it from a nearby bookshop for her to use during the next lesson.

"Could she handle it?" I had wondered aloud.
"Yes, Why not?" The teacher had replied.

For the second lesson, we brought the set of poster colours and coloured pencils along, just in case. But CH did not use the poster colours at all.

"I didn't know she had it!" Was the teacher's reply. I couldn't believe my ears. The brand new set of plated poster colours was right in front of our eyes, on the table all the time!

For the third lesson, CH still did not use the only poster colours we brought. Instead, the teacher lent her a box of oil-pastels. I did fume after the third lesson wondering how experienced the teacher is in teaching young children. And I have to admit at this point in time that the reason why I disliked oil pastels is the mess you make with them. But CH had a good time, so we carried on with the course. To me, it is an hour and a half of baby-sitting, at 7 dollars an hour.

2nd day: I mistook her rabbit as bumble bee at first glance.
She practiced using water colour at home on the same picture.

But NOW that I know better what oil pastels could do, drawing with them have become interesting to me. And knowing CH loves to 'feel' her paintings and drawings, getting down right icky and dirty, it might just be a good medium for her to start off with!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

SW's Robots and CH's Girls

SW still loves to play with Legos. He puts together little parts to make up aircrafts, ships, houses, or little robots. Recently, he showed me two of which I found really cute and reached for my camera. After that, he started building even more.

In a way, you can't display Legos the way you do with drawings. Once you display them, they remain on the shelves and you can't play with them until you dismantle the entire structure. So I take pictures. As I discovered, this became a form of recognition to them. They have learnt from my response that they've made something/drawn something that's worth keeping.

For CH, she draws so many everyday using rough papers (and sneaks away some of my good papers too) that I had to dedicate a shelf for her to store her own drawings. These days, she draws girls with super long legs. "These are big girls, not little girls!" She explained.

CH draws our family and her two girl cousins.

Daddy helped sign CH's chinese name.

CH: "The girl (1st from right) is a naughty girl
who crumbled my paper (the black dot)"

I love the girl's hairdos and the expressions on their faces. They all look different. All the good girls wear tiaras (all good girls are princesses?) and the naughty one wears shades with a nasty expression. In the first picture, she draws herself as the only one who is smiling while the rest are talking - and it looks like Mommy's got the biggest mouth of all!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Strawberry of my Eye

Yummy strawberry
So red and juicy
Have you seen one
As big as this one?
It's as big as my palm!