Crayons, repurposed

Last weekend, I cleared out some of the boys’ random assortment of old, broken crayons.

Together with the kids, we peeled off their wrappers and sorted out them by colour. Then we chopped them up into smaller pieces for melting. Ah, the rainbow colours are so pretty!

The boys put their own crayon mix together and then we baked them in the oven. (I belatedly realised the IKEA heart mold is not meant for baking – it melted along with the crayons, oops!)

Lookee at the cute dino and heart crayons!!!

Fun, if a little bit messy, decluttering activity to do with kids for sure! Erm, now what do I do with the shiny new crayons?! HAHA (Okay I am just going to give most of them away!)

Ryan is 7!

Ryan’s 7th birthday falls on 大年初一 this year. Let’s see when that happens again in his lifetime!

Chinese New Year naturally took precedence but he took it in stride. (Sorry, buddy!)

I did bake a strawberry shortcake like he requested. I really need to get a proper cake pan (I used one with a removable base in a water bath and had to slice off the bottom soggy part. #FAIL. I still can’t get the whipped cream right and had to substitute with buttercream left over from Jo’s birthday cake. I am still perfecting the recipe obviously – I will get there someday!

We sang the birthday song for him. He was happy enough. We got Jo and him a Beyblade stadium and new Beyblades (they are obsessed with them at the moment) and he was super thrilled.

We will have another proper birthday celebration for Jo and him after CNY.

Dear Ryan, you are 7! What an exciting year for you to start primary school this year. You are so excited to join Sean in the ‘big boys’ club. You idolise Sean and will defer to him for everything. I guess you are still finding your footing but I hope you will realise you are smart and special in your own way.  You are extremely athletic, a lot more than Sean was at this age. You swim and run, play soccer and know Taekwondo and you can do a very mean cartwheel! You like reading Young Scientist and Smart Mathematician mags, though you have not quite been bitten by the reading bug yet. You are still my little perfectionist and our resident magpie. I always have to hold back my amusement when you marvel at odd things like shiny stones and chandeliers. If there is anything I would wish for you, it is for you to know your strengths and limitations and be able to manage your emotions better. I guess it is not fair to expect you to not throw a fit when things don’t go your way when we ourselves cannot model the same behavior. We will continue to work on this, you and I. Happy birthday, Ryan. We love you.

Welcoming the Year of the Pig

新年! (Happy New Year!) 

We got up bright and early and the boys were excited to discover the huge stash of snacks (they finished half a tub of gummies before I whisked it away). We got changed to our new outfits – I love the cute Mandarin oranges shirts for the boys (from Le Petit Society) and new jeans.

The boys were very good with the New Year greetings this year (after learning it from school). Jo the clown greeted us in the lion costume. As per tradition, we blessed them with angpows (red packets) for good luck in the new year. The older boys have finally wisened up on angpows – they are tallying up their collection instead of blindly handing them over to me like in previous years 😉

We snapped some quick pics before making our way to the grandparents’ house.

It was nice to see my cute nieces and nephew and see the kids play together. The boys served tea to Yeye and Nainai, their uncle and aunts, and received angpows in exchange.

Then we headed home for lunch. My mum and helper cooked a huge spread. No lohei this year – but I think we had more than enough food for 2-3 days. We snapped some family pics. My one-year old niece was not very cooperative – but she made for some hilarious ‘woe is me!’ shots.

After lunch, we also celebrated Ryan’s birthday that day with a cake (see next post).

We don’t have much visiting to do this New Year so it is a relatively quiet one for us. Which suits us homebodies just fine – seriously, the kids are even bigger homebodies than I am!

Wishing you a Happy New Year ahead!

Chinese New Year preparations and Reunion Dinner

Chinese New Year (Feb 5) is coming! Coincidentally, 大年初一 is Ryan’s 7th birthday this year – I have already told him his birthday will likely be overshadowed by CNY and we will have a proper celebration for Jo and him after CNY is over.

I didn’t do much preparation this year. I did buy new outfits and shoes for the kids and myself. I have been decluttering and tidying up quite a bit all year round so there wasn’t that much to do. I did put up some CNY decorations – I was pretty happy it looked simple and nice, and I didn’t spend a cent! Oh, I did update our photos on the walls and decluttered the hallway display, something I have been meaning to do for years! 

We spent one Saturday baking pineapple tarts. That’s the only thing I really wanted to eat this year so pineapple tarts it is. We made a lot of tarts and used up all three packs of pineapple paste (from Phoon Huat). Sean was pretty good about helping out this year. I expected him to run away after a while but he actually stayed throughout and did a fair bit of measuring and rolling. After we were done baking, I couldn’t bring myself to eat any at all. Ha, that’s the problem with baking/cooking!

We did get the usual Mandarin oranges, ba kwa, prawn rolls, belinjau crackers and my mum made her signature kueh moi (not sure how to spell or even describe it!).

On the weekend before CNY, we brought the kids for lohei and to see the lion dance at a nearby playground near home. It is a novelty for them but this is probably the furthest I will go for lion dance.

We also had reunion dinner and lohei with the in-laws at Xiyan. Food was really good!

On the eve of CNY (I rushed home from work), we had reunion steamboat dinner at home with our families. I had a massive headache and had to go to bed early to sleep it off. Thank goodness for my helper and mum who stayed up to clean the house and prepare the snacks! 

Am thankful for the relatively peaceful and fruitful Year of the Dog gone by. Now we are looking forward to the new Year of the Pig!

Jordan is 5!

My little Jordan turns 5 today! 

He has been counting to his birthday since… err, his fourth birthday! He asked me if he could have a birthday cake with the number 5 and lots of sprinkles (just like the one I baked for Sean’s 8thbirthday). That I can do! (He initially asked for a Deadpool cake when I asked him to choose from some cake pictures. Ha!)

The birthday cake is always my little labour of love. I baked my usual lemon sponge cake with cream cheese swiss meringue buttercream. I am getting better with the practice and yes, I really need to improve my repertoire. This time, I tried making my own lemon curd and added it between the cake layers for a little citrus kick. It was really yummy but gah it contains so much egg yolk! Tall, skinny cake achieved! One thing I could have improved on: making more than 2 layers, haha (too lazy to wait for the layers to bake in the oven).

Jo was very happy to watch me bake his cake over 2 nights. It was the sweetest 🙂

On the morning of his birthday, he wore his special Elly balloons shirt and we blew up tons of balloons to bring to school for his classmates.

It was quite a short and sweet (and if I may add, rushed) celebration. Jo was very shy from the attention. I intentionally made a big cake because I knew there were 30 kids. The kids enjoyed it (so glad) but we still had a lot of leftovers! I gave some to his nursery teachers. We missed Ryan in the celebrations. A bit bittersweet now that Jo is on his own in kindergarten!

We had another simple celebration with his brothers at night. Yes I baked another, much smaller cake for it! I didn’t have time to decorate it properly so I just tossed some gummies, candies, M&M’s on the cake and used pretty candles. The boys loved it and said that was how they wanted their birthday cakes too, haha. 

I got Jo one (yes, one) birthday present from all of us. Ryan got Jo a present from the school bookshop too (“I bought myself one too, Mama.”) – a skateboard keychain. I asked him how he could afford to buy both and he said he used the money left from buying a school file. Barely one month into primary school and he has discovered the wonders of shopping at the school bookshop! On the contrary, Sean never bought a single thing for himself in 4 years.

Happy birthday to my sweet little Jo. At five, you are figuring out your place in the family. You love being my ‘baby’ and still gravitate to me every chance you get. Slowly though, you are learning to navigate brotherhood. You struggle a lot with not being heard or respected by your brothers. You realise you can’t out-talk your brothers so you resort to hitting, punching or yelling sometimes. It doesn’t help that your brothers don’t see the need to give in to you. Sigh we are still working on this. Most of the time, you are happy to potter around the house and do your own thing. Your current obsession is drawing. You dedicate all your drawings to me with ‘Jojo love Mama’. I am so glad I have you to dote on and love. Happy birthday, sweetheart.

Trial class with White Canvas Studio

Ooh there are so many new art schools popping up in our neighbourhood!

I signed the boys up for a 1-for-1 trial (for $35) with White Canvas Studio which just opened in the Sin Min area last year. 

They had a great time drawing and painting and came home beaming with these pieces. Wow I am impressed!

I did not go down with them but the hubs said it was quite a nice set-up and the teachers were very forthcoming and dedicated. After the class, they provided valuable feedback on how the boys did in class: Sean is very creative and full of ideas. Ryan copies and idolizes everything that Sean does and doesn’t have much self-confidence (that’s very true!) – my take from this is to expose him to more activities on his own without Sean around. He did a remarkable job painting – the details and the colours! I am definitely framing it up for Chinese New Year. As for Jo who is very new to art class settings, he has considerable good dexterity and drawing skills for an almost-five-year-old. Such spot-on observations of the boys! None of it is new to me (Mama knows best) but sometimes it’s refreshing to hear how others perceive them for a change!

Alas, we are not planning to sign the boys up for regular classes (I know Jo for one would love lessons!). Our schedules are packed enough as it is. But we may go back for holiday classes!

White Canvas Studio is offering an irresistable 1-for-1 trial ($35) till 28 Feb 2019. You can msg them on Facebook to book a slot. If you have one child, ask them if you can pay half price for the class.

White Canvas Studio

229A Upper Thomson Road

Singapore 574361

Tel: 6560 5021

First day of school

Hello 2019! 

I am so excited for my boys – Ryan will be joining Sean in Primary School (Sean will be in P4 and Ryan in P1) and Jordan will be moving on to K1 on his own for the first time! 

There has been lots of frantic behind-the-scenes preparations leading up to this day. The buying and labeling of school books, uniforms, school shoes, school bags and stationery. The throwing out/packing up of last year’s books to make way. The sorting out of school buses. Teaching Ryan how to count money (he is still not very good at this). Phew, I can’t imagine what it will be like when all 3 boys are in primary school!

Thankfully, Jordan was only starting school on 07Jan19 so we could focus on Ryan on the first day.

How cute do the boys look in their school uniforms? There were some minor hiccups on our first morning – boys had trouble waking up (after all the sleeping in during the hols), Ryan’s new watch was not working, Sean’s new pants were too loose, Ryan’s hand-me-down pants were too tight – so I made them swap (!). Sean’s tie magically unraveled itself. We did get them out of the door eventually and to school on time. 

While Ryan joined his class, we attended a parents’ briefing by the principal and all the Heads of Departments. Nothing new or exciting since it’s our second time 😉 Then we got to meet his form teacher and Chinese teacher to his classroom – he has really good teachers this year so I am very thankful. They were really good at answering the parents’ questions (of which there were many).

 Ryan would be getting a buddy to accompany him for a week. He was very anxious about a lot of things (and Sean really wasn’t of much help) – he did not know where to go, he didn’t know how to buy things from the school bookshop, he couldn’t recognize his classmates or remember their names, etc. I just tried my best to assure him and spend time with him every night to answer all his questions. He did pretty well for his first week and was able to write down notes in his diary and report back to me. I am not too worried about him.

As for Sean, I think he is off to a good start in P4. He is in the same class as most of his classmates from last year. He is very settled in school finally having made fast friends with a few boys so I am not too worried about him. He still doesn’t have a phone (though he has not stopped asking for one) but he got a new iPad for school this year. Urgh, I think it is so extravagant and unnecessary to use digital teaching aids for school at such a young age. Ah well, at least they are not allowed to download apps. I just don’t know how to stop him from surfing the net and watching YouTube videos (so much crap online). Will have to monitor his usage closely.

Jo starts K1 this year. He was in a special Chinese enrichment class for the past 2 years of nursery, though he shockingly still refuses to converse with anyone in Mandarin!

This year, he will re-integrate back to the mainstream and learn everything in English which shouldn’t be a problem for him. I would love to see him slowly learn to be able to read words this year. Of course, he will carry on his Berries enrichment because I cannot afford to have his Chinese standard deteriorate too much before P1!

This year, I hope to keep closer tabs on the boys and spend more time with them to master their schoolwork. Oops, I haven’t even bought assessment books yet, haha. In particular, I would like to focus on Science and English for Sean (lots of room for improvement) and both Math and English for Ryan (he compares himself to Sean a lot and somehow has very little confidence in himself when it comes to schoolwork). It’s really hard to find the time when you are working but I will try my best.

Here’s to putting our best feet forward for 2019!

Trial class with Artlette

I love that quite a number of new art schools have been popping up in the neighbourhood.

My boys don’t go for regular art lessons. Their schedules are packed enough as it is, and I think I don’t really like the idea of a very structured program for learning art in one place.

I like to sign them up for adhoc art classes during the holidays.

So it turns out I won a trial class for Jo at the newly opened Artlette at Thomson Plaza so I just paid for the older boys so they could all go together. I have to say it’s a good place to dump the kids for 1.5 hours! HAHA

The boys drew a desert landscape with cactuses. They learnt about perspectives – how the size of cactuses differs depending on how far they are. The younger boys used oil pastels with watercolour (interesting pairing) and they came up with very vibrant pieces. Sean painted his piece wholly with watercolours which the teacher said was definitely harder.

I appreciated that the class size was small and the teacher could give them her full attention. Her feedback was, Jo was very patient and can paint well for his age (I think because he likes drawing/art and does a fair bit at home). Ryan is very neat and proper (in other words, a perfectionist) and Sean – who I realised could hardly sit still the whole lesson – is very creative (read: fearless, messy, don’t care). Ha, I love hearing how other people perceive my boys 🙂

Other things I can say about the place: The teachers are very passionate about art and the place is very well-laid out and conducive for painting. More details on their schedule here – if you are really keen, you can do a trial class (SGD38)!

Artlette

301 Upper Thomson Road

Thomson Plaza, #03-18,

Singapore 574408

Painting with Artflock

The school holidays are here!

Artflock recently moved a few doors down and as part of their anniversary celebrations, they had a 1-for-1 trial class promotion so I signed Ryan and Jo up.

The boys drew zebras and did a bit of watercolour resist art with thin strips of masking tape for the stripes. I thought it was very creative and interesting for the kids! They went crazy with the colours so the zebras look very pschedelic, and they even sprinkled salt on the muzzle… for texture, maybe?

It was really nice to see how much Artflock has grown since its early days – the boys took art lessons with them in 2016 when they just opened! They are quite established in the Sin Min/Thomson neighbourhood now and they have a lovely gallery space to showcase the works of the students.

We will heading back soon for one of their Santa’s Holiday Workshops – do check them out!

Artflock

221A Upper Thomson Road
Singapore 574353
info@artflockstudio.com
+65 64514514 / +65 ​84953463

Ryan’s taekwondo grading for yellow belt

Ryan missed his taekwondo grading for yellow belt back in September because of his broken arm. He finally made up for it three months later.

Sean got his yellow belt with green tips at the same time too so he is one belt ahead of Ryan.

They really like Taekwondo. I think it is because it is relatively easy (compared to their other activities, like piano) – they only go for lessons once a week and there is no great need to practice the moves at home. I find the lessons quite expensive and have been gently suggesting they drop it because their schedules are so packed but they refused to. Let’s see how far they can go in their taekwondo journey.