Books, Travel

NY is for New York

Picture book by Paul Thurlby

September reminds me of New York. A decade ago, hubby and I made a trip to “The Big Apple” to attend a dear friend’s wedding, celebrated his birthday and caught the US Tennis Championship.

I found Paul Thurlby’s NY is for New York while browsing in the library and flipping through the illustrations brought back so much fond memories. Here are my top five from the book!

A is for American Museum of Natural History

One of the many museums we visited in NY and this place is huge! We tried to explore as much as we could. I cannot wait to bring older Gem here since science is her favourite subject!

The iconic blue whale model gets it annual clean up and we were lucky to witness it!

Click here to read more on the blue whale model.

Check out this link ; a science website for kids by AMNH, which has games, videos and other activities to keep your curious kids busy!

B is for Brooklyn Bridge

Manhattan was our base for most part of the trip although we made multiple trips to Brooklyn since our friend lives there. Brooklyn Bridge reminded me of the wonderful time spent there. From dollar cab rides to the purpose of the trip; the wedding!

M is for The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met is one of my favourite museums on planet earth. Yes, I love museums, especially art museums!

The Edgar Degas collection at the Havemeyer Gallery was quite a sight to behold; “The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer” sculpture surrounded by paintings such as “The Dance Class” and “Dancers Practicing at the Barre”.

“The Little Dancer” got herself a new tutu in 2018.

Q is for Queens

We took a long subway ride to Flushing Meadows Park for the US Open Tennis Championships. Caught a few matches with the most memorable between Andy Roddick and David Ferrer. Arthur Ashe for some matches of top seed like Nadal and Djokovic. Was a pity we could not catch Federer in action in the night sessions since we could not fit them into our schedule.

U is for Uptown

We spent a lovely day at Uptown Manhattan covering Central Park and The Guggenheim Museum.

Till the next time!

Artists' Inspired

Dale Chihuly Inspired Lanterns

We visited Dale Chihuly: Glass in Bloom exhibition at Gardens by the Bay and loved it so much (check out the blog post on the exhibition here), we decided to diy our lanterns for mid-autumn festival as inspired by some of our favourite installations from the exhibition.

Lantern Inspired by Cardinal Red and Gold Persian Wall

Older Gem picked Cardinal Red and Gold Persian Wall as her lantern inspiration. We used coffee filters of two different sizes to form the shapes and assembled them over fairy lights.

Cardinal Red and Gold Persian Wall at Bayfront Pavillon

Lantern Inspired by The Setting Sun

The Setting Sun was younger Gem’s choice. We used straws, cellophane paper and coffee filters and attached them onto a store bought lantern.

My Gems by the Setting Sun

Although we did not manage to catch the moon since it was a cloudy night, we enjoyed our walk around the estate slightly past their regular bedtime!

Art & Craft, Travel

Dale Chihuly: Glass in Bloom

Gardens by the Bay

The family spent two consecutive days at Gardens by the Bay during the September school holidays; covering the two conservatories (Flower Dome and Cloud Forest) on day one and the outdoors on day two. We embarked on a journey to spot all the installations of Dale Chihuly’s masterpieces as part of the Glass in Bloom exhibition. I was first introduced to the art of blown glass in Venice and it was fascinating to watch the craftsmen moulding the glass masterpieces under intense heat.

I thoroughly enjoyed the well curated exhibition throughout Gardens by the Bay. Where art meets and nature… In the outdoors where the art pieces are exposed to the weather effects such as sun and rain, reflections in the waters, at the Cloud Forest with the misting; the same masterpiece but gives off a different vibe each time the surrounding atmosphere changes.

Check out our Mid-autumn lanterns inspired by some of Dale Chihuly’s art here.

The Setting Sun Meets The Moon at The Meadow

Entering from The Meadow, we were greeted by the majestic Setting Sun. This version of The Setting Sun was created for Singapore. Backdropped by The Moon from an angle and MBS from another.

The Moon was created for an exhibition; Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem 2000 and was displayed on the Tower of David Museum. Here, we have The Moon on display in Singapore after its debut more than two decades ago.

This is also the first time The Setting Sun and The Moon are exhibited in the same setting.

Brilliant Boats

Tremendous Towers

Resplendent Reeds

The Reeds are scattered throughout the exhibition, either standalone or in variety of forms. The rich red Reeds in the Serene Garden is my favourite amongst the Reeds exhibits as the red contrast against the greenery makes it outstanding and not overly busy. As for Older Gem, her favourite was the shiny violet ones found in the Flower Dome; installed with Tower and surrounded by Trumpet Flowers and Reeds. The Reeds were created in Finland and older Gem’s favourite was made of rare mineral neodymium, which gives the shiny purplish effect.

Persians

Nesting Persians of different sizes in a variety of compositions. The effects of light on the Persian series made the installations even more brilliant!

Gallery at Bayfront Pavilion

The Glass on Glass Paintings were my favourite from the Gallery. Using light to transmit through layers of glass that were painted with vitreous-glass enamel. Stand at different angels to view the depths of each painting.

Fiori Verde; Free Flowing, Playful Forms

Fringe Activities

Art Zoo was on exhibition at the same time and the girls had fun working on the activity sheet to earn their stickers!

I guess we will be visiting Gardens by the Bay more often since we have gotten the annual pass!

Learning Through Play

Making Snow Skin Mooncakes

Mid-autumn festival is round the corner and the girls and I spent some time making snow skin mooncakes. A fun, fast, messy and unhealthy treat!

Ingredients

  • 75g kaofen/fried glutinous rice flour
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 25g Crisco
  • 60ml cool boiled water
  • a quarter tsp pandan essence paste
  • Fillings of choice. We used lotus paste

Step 1: Wash your hands thoroughly.

Step 2: Mixture A; Mix kaofen and icing sugar in a mixing bowl. Add Crisco and mix well.

Step 3: Mixture B; In another bowl, add water and essence. Mix well.

Step 4: Add mixture B to A. Knead into a dough.

Step 5: Divide dough into 10 portions.

Step 6: Roll lotus paste into 10 small balls.

Step 7: Wrap the dough over the lotus paste balls.

Step 8: Sprinkle some kaofen into the mooncake mould. Press dough into mould and release!

Step 9: Enjoy the mooncakes!

Books

How You Can Promote Perspective Taking in Children

Mind in the Making: Skill 2 Perspective Taking

Some 13 years ago, hubby and I got a thousand piece puzzle of M.C. Escher’s “Waterfall” from Puzzle World in Wanaka, NZ. It had been kept in storage and I finally decided to work on it after so many years. We enjoyed his artworks on perspective illusion and visited an exhibition on his artwork in 2016 at the Art Science museum. It’s interesting as we put our mind to work in viewing the artwork from different perspectives.

Different people have different takeaways from the same piece of artwork. Our interpretation can be derived from experiences or what we see with our naked eye.

Very often, we find it difficult to comprehend why others think, react in a certain manner because our mind is clouded by our past experiences or the limited evidence presented before us. Situations like these calls for perspective taking. Such skills are increasingly essential as we face a rising generation who are becoming more vocal in their beliefs.

“Mind in the Making” Book Club Sharing

Last week, during a book club sharing we discussed skill 2, perspective taking, from the book Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky (Seven essential life skills every child needs). Ellen listed 9 suggestions on how you can promote perspective taking in children and I am going to share a few that resonates with me.

Practice what we preach

Knowing parenting theories won’t mean a thing if we don’t practice it because parents are the greatest role model. We need to practice what we preach consistently!

View teaching children to be with others as equally important to teaching them independence

While connecting with others is as important as independence, kids need to first manage themselves before they can practice perspective taking in a positive way. We need to help our kids develop independence; exposure to different situations, teach self-help skills through chores, letting them fight their own battles and imposing natural consequences. Such skills are also built on (skill 1) focus and self-control.

As kids begin to be with others, problems and issues are bound to arise and Ellen suggested a six step “Dilemma Resolving Technique”. We need to teach children perspective taking along with problem solving.

  1. Identify the dilemma, problem or issue
  2. Determine the goal
  3. Come up with alternative solutions
  4. Consider how these alternative solutions might work
  5. Select a solution to try
  6. Evaluate the outcome, and if the solution isn’t working, try something else

Understand that a Warm & Trusting Relationship is the Strongest Foundation for Learning Perspective Taking

Children who feel listened to, who feel understood become better listeners and understand others. We are not our children, they need respect and we need to understand their viewpoints.

Use Everyday Moments

Lastly, a very practical suggestion, which I believe most of us are already practicing – use everyday moments to build the skill of perspective taking by talking about other people’s perspective! It can be someone’s action at the playground, an advertisement or a pieces of news we just heard. Books are key in my household as we practice perspective taking. Picture books’ illustrations are great as I would pose questions to invoke their feelings and thoughts.

Take the story of “Rhinos Don’t Eat Pancakes” for example. The girl and the purple rhino built a trusting friendship over time but it was time for the rhino to leave to be back with his family. As they hugged before the rhino boards the plane; how do you think the girl and the rhino feel? When the girl got home, she sees traces left behind by the rhino, how does she feel? Why? Is there anything that can make her feel better?

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

Finally, let’s also be mindful to strike a balance in perspective taking, not to over speculate and overthink about others’ viewpoint that you neglect yourself.

Check out Skill 1: Focus and Self-control here.

Art & Craft, BFIAR, Books, Learning Through Play

Before Five in a Row (II)

The Big Green Pocketbook, Caps for Sale, Angus Lost, Blueberries for Sal

I decided to journal my BFIAR journey (in parts) with younger Gem as I was clearing photos to make more space in my phone. How I miss spending more time with her and older Gem previously before they started formal school. We took a BFIAR hiatus as they started school but I think I would like to resume and possibly move on to FIAR (for younger Gem) and Beyond FIAR (for older Gem).

Each book we rowed has a key memory verse as well as lap book to “document” her activities as keepsake. More than a year on, we still have them and she would take them out for a “review”!

The Big Green Pocketbook by Candice Ransom

“The fruit of the spirit is kindness.” Galatians 5:22

“圣灵所结的果子是恩慈。”加拉太书 5:22

The key theme I was trying to bring out from this story was kindness. The kindness of the people the character met when she went to town as well as the bus driver who returned her pocketbook, which contained her entire day! Kindness is doing good and not expecting anything in return.

We also discussed about the invisible bucket from “Have You Filled Your Bucket Today?”

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

“In your anger do not sin.” Ephesians 4:26

“生气却不要犯罪。” 以弗所书 4:26

Angus Lost by Marjorie Flack

“I will not be afraid for you are close beside me.” Psalms 23:4

“因为祢与我同在。” 诗篇 23:4

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

“Wherever you go I will go.” Ruth 1:16

“你往哪里去,我也往那里去。”路得记 1:16

When grandpa gives you blueberries, read “Blueberries for Sal” and make blueberry muffins!

Credits: https://www.homeschoolcreations.net/printables-from-a-to-z-from-homeschool-creations/

Art & Craft, BFIAR, Books, Learning Through Play

Before Five in a Row (I)

Goodnight Moon, Prayer for a Child, Play with Me, The Little Rabbit

I decided to journal my BFIAR journey (in parts) with younger Gem as I was clearing photos to make more space in my phone. How I miss spending more time with her and older Gem previously before they started formal school. We took a BFIAR hiatus as they started school but I think I would like to resume and possibly move on to FIAR (for younger Gem) and Beyond FIAR (for older Gem).

Each book we rowed has a key memory verse as well as lap book to “document” her activities as keepsake. More than a year on, we still have them and she would take them out for a “review”!

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

“God gives rest to His loved ones.” Psalms 127:2

“惟有耶和华所亲爱的,必叫他安然睡觉。”诗篇 127:2

This was the first book younger Gem rowed when she was 29 months old.

Prayer for a Child by Rachel Field

“May the Lord bless you and keep you.” Numbers 6:24

“愿耶和华赐福给你,保护你。“ 民数记 6:24

As we rowed “Prayer for a Child”, it reminded me to be thankful for even the simplest things in life we often take for granted. We spent time listing down the things she is thankful for and prayed for the people around her.

Play with Me by Marie Hall Ets

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalms 46:10

“你们要休息,要知道我是神。”诗篇 46:10

“Play with Me” is such a lovely story about a little girl who wants to play with all the animals around her but all of them frightened away as she approached them. Finally she decided to sit and be quiet and one by one the animals came back, sat near her and even had a little surprise from one of the animals at the end.

We made all the animals which appeared in the book (printables in this link) , which took a long time, but she had so much fun doing it. This is her favourite book because we role played; one by one the animals would appear as we read the story.

The Little Rabbit by Judy Dunn

“God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“神必与你同在。” 约书亚记 1:9

A story that provided a glimpse of what having a pet rabbit is like and learning the days of the week too!

Credits: https://www.homeschoolcreations.net/printables-from-a-to-z-from-homeschool-creations/

Experiencing God

Parenting with the Fruit of the Spirit

“A soothing tongue is a tree of life but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:4

The catchy tune of “Fruit of the Spirit” by Uncle Charlie has been a recent favourite on the girls’ playlist and they managed to pick up the tongue twisting lyrics in no time. Living our lives with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control is a lot more daunting than singing it. Head knowledge does not translate to daily life application and God sees the latter. God sees our heart.

I had created fruit of the spirit family devotion, decorated Christmas tree with the nine fruits of the spirit previously and repeatedly told the girls off for not applying what they learn. It’s always easy to tell the girls’ the expected behavior in a situation but yet as an adult I can’t behave as I should when I am put in a difficult situation.     

Modelling good behaviour and living a godly life to my girls has proven to be a daily challenge and God presented me a test.

Couple weeks back, hubby came into the bedroom with a letter in hand as I was about to read the bible to the girls before their bedtime…

Hubby: “You had the car last Wednesday morning right? Speeding ticket; $150 fine plus 4 demerit points.”

Oh my, it’s like returning the GST vouchers I just received! I recalled after finding out the location of the mentioned offence. I had brought older Gem to the zoo that morning before picking younger Gem from school and the fuel tank was running low. Knowing hubby needed the car that evening, I decided to be nice and make a detour, a deviation from the usual route, to fill up the tank for him. The following was my response/excuse in my defence.

Me: “Ya la, blah blah blah… had to fill up the tank for you. All your fault.”

Why did that even come out from my mouth? All the fruits of the spirit I know and taught crushed in the bin. No love, no joy, no peace, no patience, no kindness, no goodness, no faithfulness, no gentleness, no self-control. The ugly side of me displayed before my girls. I know speeding has no connection to the route, to me being nice to go pump petrol etc. but the natural reaction just like Adam and Eve was playing the blame game; creating excuses.

Oh, I just wanted to dig a burrow and hide! Ashamed of the summon, my reaction and in my heart, I remembered I took the same route the day before, anxious if I will get another summon.   

As parents, hubby and I quickly turned this into a lesson for the girls. A negative example, exactly what we should not do because mummy made the wrong choice and my reaction is not pleasing to God.

There was no love as I thought only for myself.

There was no joy as my reactions did not reflect my sovereign God was in control.

There was no peace as I was anxious about receiving another summon.

There was no patience as I sped.

There was no kindness in helping to top up fuel as true kindness does not expect anything in return.

There was no goodness. I was not ready to give.

There was no faithfulness as my actions did not glorify God.

There was no gentleness in my speech for playing the blame game.

There was no self-control as I spoke in haste.

One of those days where you rate yourself a zero for parenting! Let me try to be better tomorrow!

Anyway, hubby furnished my particulars and I have since received the notice. The Traffic Police has very kindly treat this incident as a warning. Thank you very much!

Experiencing God

Finding Hope and Strength from Psalms

Grim news of covid-19, floods and unrest in numerous nations and lost of life at RVHS brought me to the book of Psalms to seek solace. Art is truly therapeutic as I mediate on the word of God.

Through it all we can only put our hope and trust in our faithful God…

Day One of Seven

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord” Psalms 31:24

Day Two of Seven

“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” Psalms 37:23-24

Day Three of Seven

“The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalms 27:1

Day Four of Seven

“His love endures forever…” Psalms 136

Day Five of Seven

“When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” Psalms 73:16-17

Day Six of Seven

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope come from him.” Psalms 62:5

Day Seven of Seven

“May you unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalms 33:22