Lilypie Third Birthday tickers

Monday, May 31, 2010


As you can tell from the image, MDH and I decided to join the cult of Apple with the purchase of our sexy new assistant, the iMac.

Her name is Celeste.  She is named after a character in a book that MDH and I are fighting over.

*pause to gaze adoringly at 21.5 inch screen* (Why, hello there, Beautiful.)

I must say that now that I actually own an iMac, I understand what all the hype is about.

First of all, the setup was so easy.  I didn't spend an hour arguing with myself and doing the ju-jitsu on the floor with a nest of wires.  All I had to do was plug the monitor into the wall, flip the switch and...IT LIVES!  Did I resist the urge to rub my hands together and cackle with glee?  No, I did not!  Woohoohoo!  It was absolutely glorious!!  It's like Frankenstein but without the nuts and bolts.

Secondly, it is rather nice to have some leg room underneath the desk.  I am so tired of bumping my shins against the CPU.

Thirdly, it is really energy efficient (compared to my previous computer, that is).  I am wholly expecting my power bill to drop this month.  I like the fact that the iMac came in packaging that could be recycled, and that the company works hard to reduce its carbon footprint as much as possible.

And if I never have to see the blue screen of death again, I should be so, SO happy.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Susanna Wesley's Household Rule #2

Here are my thoughts on Susanna Wesley's Household Rules:

Rule #2: As children they are to be in bed by 8 p.m.
Stardust's bedtime is around 8 to 8:30pm (although on special occasions, he is allowed to stay up past 9:30pm) and several of my peers feel that he sleeps too early.

The reason why I chose 8pm as Stardust's bedtime is I want him to have a good, long sleeptime and wake up fresh at around 7 to 7:30am in the morning.  Singapore is much cooler during the morning hours, and an early start ensures that we will have the opportunity to go outdoors for a short while before the world turns into a sauna.  Additionally, most schools in Singapore start the day as early as 7:15am, so I figured that it would be a good idea to get him into the habit of early rising, so that his mind is the most active during the morning when learning will take place.

A bedtime of 8pm also means that Stardust gets the chance to see MDH off to work in the morning as well as spend a few hours with him during the evening.

Stardust, at the moment, also takes a late afternoon siesta for an average of 2 hours between 2:30pm and 6pm (the hottest part of the day).  This gives me a chance to prepare the evening meal, as well as have an hour for myself to relax.

Since I have arrived in Singapore, I have noticed that many of the children here have very poor sleeping habits.  I have no problem with children sleeping past 8 pm, as long as they are allowed to wake up late the next day.  However, many of the school-going children here tend to sleep at around 10 or 11pm, waking up as early as 5 or 6am in order to get to school.  

I must admit that not everybody needs 10 hours of sleep in order to function, however, after talking to a few schoolteachers, many of their students fall sleep in class or appear sullen and exhausted.  I have also noticed that pre-schoolers who have poor sleep habits tend to have short attention spans and an even shorter temper.  I am very aware that if Stardust goes to bed late, the next day is a total write-off.

I think that parents underestimate the importance of a good night's rest.  The guideline for adults is an average of 8 hours sleep (that is, some people need more and others need less), but for young adults and children, an average of 12-15 hours of sleep is required (infants need much, much more - around 18 hours).

The reason why children need more sleep than adults is because sleep is essential for the growth and rejuvenation of the body - not just the skeleton and muscles, but also the immune and nervous system.  The growth hormones are preferentially secreted during sleep, and it has been suggested that deep 'REM' sleep is absolutely necessary for normal brain development, specifically memory processing and reinforcement.

Sleep deprivation or any accumulation of a sleep 'debt' results in fatigue - usually manifested in the form of 'microsleep' episodes ('nodding off' for a few seconds) and a reduced ability to control emotions. 

Therefore, a well-rested child is one who is physically fit, emotionally stable and mentally alert, ready to listen and to learn.  Susanna Wesley, unlike most of her contemporaries during the age of Querelle des Femmes, was a firm believer in education and she homeschooled all her children in the basics of reading, writing and 'rithmetic.

As one can see, the old saying, 'early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise', is quite true.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Stardust's Youtube Favourites: Musical Geek War

This week, Stardust's latest pre-bed routine includes a quick runthrough of what MDH and I like to call the 'Musical Geek War'. 
Two Yale undergraduates are currently involved in a battle to determine who can play a recognisable song using the most unlikely of instruments. 

It starts off with a Kurt and a simple recorder- the bane of most childhood school music programmes.

'Tother student responds by covering a Lady Gaga tune on the glockenspiel as seen below:

Kurt retaliates with his CROCenspiel:

And the battle winds up with Michael Jackson on the Gameboy.

Good clean fun, eh?

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

International Museum Day 2010

So, this Sunday (23rd May) is International Museum Day 2010 and all the museums in Singapore are having an open house!  It's a good opportunity to bring along the family and have a day out.

My dad is a big fan of museums and I have inherited his love for them.  I remember the first museum I ever really loved was the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum - just seeing the Spirit of St Louis hanging from the ceiling was enough to fuel my imagination for days.

Stardust has already been to visit the National Museum, the Peranakan Museum and the Singapore Art Museum.  It's a good way to expose him to new ideas and visual concepts, and to have a platform to teach him about art, history and culture.  My dad loves to watch Stardust's response to the exhibits and listen to his interpretation of what they represent.

I will probably bring him to the National Museum and the Singapore Art Museum this Sunday, but if we have time, we might visit the Philatelic Museum as well.

Have a great weekend!  Maybe I'll see you at the museum.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010


My beloved computer finally kicked the bucket this morning.  Rest in peace, Dellbyr - we had 6 good years together and they were good times.  Good times. 

*momentary pause to reflect on the good times*

I am using the Aged P's computer today (on the pretext of researching new computers) but until we purchase a new desktop, blog posts will be sporadic.

Any recommendations will be greatly appreciated.  Let me just say that I am currently vulnerable to Apple Evangelism and am likely to rebound strongly during this time of grief.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Susanna Wesley's Household Rule #1

So here's my thoughts on Susanna Wesley's Household rules, starting with Rule #1:
Eating between meals is not allowed
Mealtimes are very stressful over at my house.  Stardust and I used to have regular battles over food.  This is probably my fault to begin with - I started weaning Stardust onto solid foods when he was 6 months old (the usual recommended age for starting a child on solids) and I probably pushed him too hard. 

It's stressful for a parent, preparing a single, solitary tablespoon of rice cereal, only to find that the baby takes a mouthful and then refuses the rest.  One starts to worry about starvation and weight loss and malnutrition and rickets.

In retrospect, I should have just been more relaxed about it from the start. 

After reading a few books on weaning and consulting experienced parents, I realised the following:
1. You can't force a child to eat if they are not hungry. 
2. A hungry child will eat whatever is placed in front of them.
3. A child will never understand the feeling of hunger if they consume small amounts on an ad hoc basis.
4. An irregular eating pattern is usually associated with an unhealthy diet or an unhealthy eating habit (e.g binging and skipping meals).

Susanna Wesley's Household Rule #1 is very sensible.  I find that set mealtimes are very useful because it means that all the post-meal clean up is much easier to manage. At the end, I wash the dishes and wipe all the crumbs off the dining table and kitchen, and it's all done until the next meal. Susanna Wesley had NINETEEN children. If she was forever trying to provide snacks at random times and trying to clean up food messes afterwards, she could be wiping down the dining table again and again all day long.

Additionally, establishing an eating pattern using mealtimes that are evenly spaced out during the day is a good way of regulating the physical metabolism of the body.

Nibbling in between meals takes the edge off an appetite and definitely reduces the feeling of hunger.  If the child has already had a cookie or few slices of apple or a glass of milk as a snack, it is not reasonable to expect them to eat a full cooked meal afterwards, even if you wait for half an hour.  Maybe an hour or two later, they'll be ready for a full meal.

Limiting meals to a reasonable length of time also helps to maintain sanity.  (In our household, mealtimes are limited to 45 minutes - I would have it shorter, but Stardust is a very slow eater.)  If the child has only eaten a few mouthfuls and adamantly refuses more, then at the end of the mealtime, remove the leftovers and consider it eaten.  No more food until the next mealtime.  It's not worth battling for fifteen minutes just to force one more pathetic spoonful into an unwilling mouth.  It makes both parties feel angry and resentful.

This is not to say that the portions eaten during each mealtime are exactly the same or that the times of the meals are rigidly set - if the child eats less at one meal, it is reasonable to offer more food at the next meal or let them have their snacktime a few minutes earlier. Additionally, mealtimes do not necessarily only include breakfast, lunch and dinner, but also elevenses, tea and supper - whatever works for your family, as long as eating only takes place during those times.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A prayer for good continence

Stardust: Thank you God for the morningtime, and for Mummy, and for Daddy.  Thank you for a nice playground time with my friend.  Please help me to be a good boy and grow up strong and healthy...and please help me to keep my underpants dry.  In Jesus's name I pray, AMEN.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

It's getting hot in here

Well, we're back in the Small Island now. 

I've been sweating so much that I look like a melted candle.  Poor Stardust has developed a sweat rash over his chest.

The humidity level here is so high, I feel like I'm swimming.  Or drowning.

It should be illegal to have weather like this. 

I need to move to Camelot.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The 16 Rules of the Household

I have recently become acquainted with the "mother" of the Methodist Church, Susanna Wesley.  She was the mother of 19 children - two of whom are associated with the foundation of the Methodist Church - John and Charles Wesley.  In a time when women were illiterate, it was she who actively pursued an education and was fundamental in homeschooling her own children.

I am especially impressed with the 16 rules by which she ran her household.  Her rules reflect the belief that a self-disciplined adult must first be a parent-disciplined child. 

Susanna Wesley's 16 Household Rules
1. Eating between meals not allowed.
2. As children they are to be in bed by 8 p.m.
3. They are required to take medicine without complaining.
4. Subdue self- will in a child, and those working together with God to save the child's soul.
5. To teach a child to pray as soon as he can speak.
6. Require all to be still during Family Worship.
7. Give them nothing that they cry for, and only that when asked for politely.
8. To prevent lying, punish no fault which is first confessed and repented of.
9. Never allow a sinful act to go unpunished.
10. Never punish a child twice for a single offense.
11. Comment and reward good behavior.
12. Any attempt to please, even if poorly performed, should be commended.
13. Preserve property rights, even in smallest matters.
14. Strictly observe all promises.
15. Require no daughter to work before she can read well.
16. Teach children to fear the rod.

Over the next few weeks, I will examine each rule and see if they are still applicable in a modern context.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ground control to Major Tom

The world must look really different from up there.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Swinging free

I have not seen any swings at any of the playgrounds in Singapore for a long, long time.

MDH and I think the absence of swing sets in Singapore is due to the overwhelming presence of concerned parents who view swings as the breeding ground for Broken Bones and Nosebleeds.  However, I am inclined to believe that these parents are hardly likely to bring their kids to the outdoor playground which is full of Germs and Dirt, so I'm not sure why the swings have disappeared.

I miss the swings wholeheartedly and I speak as one who has received a broken arm as result of a fall from a swing set which I was using in a non-orthodox manner (i.e. serve me right).

At this playground that we visited in Mollymook, there was not only a swing set for big kids and tiny kids (a seat with a belt - Stardust used it quite safely, as you can see in the picture below), but also a wheelchair swing (no pictures because there was a shy little boy using it)!

How cool is that?

Singapore has a very long way to go before it becomes a child-friendly destination.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

With a smile and a song

We're travelling back to the Other Big City and it's a long journey, so we stopped over at Mollymook Beach - a sweet little village just as cute as its name. 

As we were getting ready for breakfast, a chorus of chirrups sounded outside our room.  We pushed the curtains aside to find a small band of sparrows and a few parakeets waiting patiently on the balcony.  They eyed us expectantly.

What could we do?


Monday, May 10, 2010

Phillip Island for toddlers: Flora and Fauna


Friday, May 07, 2010

A day by the sea

So we met up with my mate from Northern City and spent a day along the coastline. 

We found this secluded beach and saw, in the distance, a pod of about thirty dolphins leaping and somersaulting their way across the bay.  They were too far away for us to take a picture and even though we joyfully ran along the beach trying to keep up with them, they were much too fast.
As my friend and I caught up on news, MDH and Stardust squatted in the sand and drew pictures using twigs.  Well, to be accurate, MDH drew pictures with twigs under Stardust's supervision and direction.  

As you can tell from the picture, Stardust is really into the 'Mr Men' book series at the moment (his favourites are 'Mr Happy' and 'Mr Bump').  Can you identify all the characters?
We wandered through the gum forest and along the coastal pathway, chatting about the migratory routes of people.  Stardust had an encounter with a very large green grasshopper that was sitting in the middle of the road.
Afterwards, we retired to a cafe which boasted gorgeous views of Port Phillip Bay, and had coffee and chocolate chip cookies whilst watching the boats drift lazily across the waters.

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Strawberry Fields Forever

We visited a strawberry farm today but it was too wet and muddy to do any berry picking. 

Instead, we tasted Rebello strawberry wines and liquors at the cellar door, and then sat down to eat a gloriously decadent strawberry parfait and wait out the rains in the cafe.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Stardust's Youtube Favourites: Captain Valor

I have always thought that sign language is like a form of dance - the movement of the hands is greatly enhanced by the expression of the body and face.  Whenever I have had the priviledge of observing the conversation of the deaf, I am always intrigued by how animated their faces become as emotion and imitation are so much a part of communication.

So, I've discovered a new set of very entertaining music videos by Captain Valor (aka Stephen Torrence), a college student from Texas Tech University who, in his spare time, translates popular music into American Sign Language.  

Stardust particularly likes this cover of 'Fireflies'. 
Stardust also likes this cover of 'Blue Sunny Day' by Jonathan Coulter as well as this Miley Cyrus tune.
You'd think that after watching these videos several times every evening, I'd be thoroughly sick of them.  Surprisingly, they seem fresh to me every time.

Of course, the fact that Captain Valor bears a passing resemblence to Peter Petrelli does help matters.  Yes, I'd say that it helps matters quite a bit.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Building a world

This morning, whilst waiting for a friend to fly in from Northern City, we went to play in the field behind the apartment.

It was dry but the skies were grey and gloomy so we didn't want to walk too far from shelter.

Stardust, collecting as usual, started picking up seedpods that had fallen from the trees.

As he pottered around, we found more and more seedpods of different shapes.  Some of them looked like pinecones.

He started to pile the pods and cones on the ground in the lee of the barbeque pits so that they would be protected from the harsh winds. 

MDH helped him build a teepee around the cones out of twigs and leaves.
We found more dried leaves and flowerheads and used them to decorate his castle.

It's looking pretty good!

Rain is coming...I wonder if the teepee will last until tomorrow.  I sure hope so.  The boys seem to be quite proud of their architectural wonder.

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Monday, May 03, 2010

We don't care when it rains...

...we've got our wellies on.


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