Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I'm an Old Drained Battery

Its almost 2 months since DinoBoy started Primary school and with this comes  the new routine, new environment, new things to learn every day for both of us.  And how do I feel with all these new things thrown at us?  One word - DRAINED

I have the habit of waking up at 5.30am every day to do my laundry, drink my cup of coffee in peace & quiet while surfing the net for about an hour before the mad rush starts.  Now, my rush hour starts about 6am, no more leisurely sipping my pipping hot coffee while surfing the net or watching early tv.

Initially I wake DinoBoy up at 6am to get ready for school but I realized that its too early for him.  According to the student care teachers, he is usually so tired that he will take longer nap then other students and its difficult to wake him up.  At night he dozed off on the sofa shortly after his shower at 8.30pm, we were unable to do any bonding activities together.  I decided to shift to 6.30am but that will mean I have to rush him through his breakfast, change into school uniform and be out latest by 7.20am.  Thank goodness his school starts at 8am otherwise we have to start our day even earlier.

Due to this new routine, I started work half an hour earlier but ends work at the same time, in another words its longer working hours unknowingly.  Some friends suggested that I check with The Office if I can end work early, I've given it some thoughts but still have not find the opportunity or appropriate time to speak to The Office.  Its another mad rush for me after work to either pick up DinoBoy from student care or buy dinner back for both of them.

At the end of the day I'm like a drained battery, no doubt recharged every night but drained within hours the next day.  Does not help that I'm getting busier in The Office, so basically by noon I wish I was at home sleeping.

I have not even get into the school work which can be taxing for me not because of DinoBoy's academic performance but the endless school things I have to remember.  I shall not write in details here, too tiring just by thinking about it.

I am glad that DinoPapa helped me out these couple of weeks by fetching DinoBoy from school, making him take his shower the minute he is home and taking over the task of going through the spelling with him.  It does not seems much but in reality it helped me a lot.  At least I do not need to rush off work or rush DinoBoy through his dinner so that there are time for other stuffs before heading off to bed at 9.30pm.

Even with DinoPapa's help I still feel tired in the middle of the day, still feel like going off to bed the minute I am home, still does not have energy to do any thing (even blogging!).  This primary school routine is really taking a toll on me, I hope I can get used to it soon.  Or perhaps any of you have any fail proof suggestions or ways to perk up my energy (besides taking coffee) every day?

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Linking up with


Giveaway - SmartKids Asia 2013

SmartKids Asia, the World's LARGEST Educational Kids' Fair is happening from 15th to 17th March 2013 at Singapore Expo Hall 5.  

The fair provides a platform for us explore things that are related to education, family & health, it may give us some ideas on the activities to help boost kid's academic development, suggest some outdoor activities or games for the family to do together.

And since fairs are suppose to be FUN!  Be sure to try out all the activities with your kids and don't forget to the Meet & Greet sessions with Dora the Explorer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spongebob Squarepants and more!

Here in DinoFamily, we love to share great deals and today we are hosting a giveaway *YEAH* where 4 of our lucky readers will walk away with a SmartKids Asia 2013 goodie bag each! 

All you need to do is to answer this simple question by leaving a comment below.
When and Where is SmartKids Asia 2013 going to be held?

We will randomly pick the winner with the correct answer and contact you by email so do remember to include your name & email address, I will also need to gather more personal information for collection of the goodie bag.  We will also announce the winner in this post and our facebook page.

Note : Winner have to collect the goodie bag directly from SmartKids Asia's management office at the fair. 

The contest is open to Singapore only and will end on 04 March 2013 at 2359hrs.

Good luck to every one!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Review - We found treasures in Flip For Joy

I started to introduce books to DinoBoy when he was 2 years old and have try to keep his interest in reading since then, as of today he has so many books that I am running out of space to keep them.  The one thing that has been troubling me is that his Chinese books collection are perhaps 1/4 of the whole collection of books!  It is not that I do not favour Chinese, on the contrary I love Chinese but it is so difficult to buy Chinese books.  Ok, the problem lies with me... I have a particular expectations of the Chinese books; illustrations must be cute and eye catching, story must be exciting and engaging, words in the books must be simple and easy to read, the phrase should be short and easy to understand, it must be a book with only Chinese words with no HanYuPinYin (HYPY) or English words.  The quality of the book must be good, no flimsy thin pages for fear that we might tear the pages sooner then we expected.  Of course cost of the book must be pocket friendly too.

By looking at the number of books I got from them recently you can sense my joy and happiness of finding Flip for Joy!  Besides fitting the bill, many of their books are bestsellers and award-winning titles loved by children worldwide.  Who wouldn't want to enjoy these popular titles such as Dear Zoo, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See, The Giving Tree etc in the Chinese language or even in both languages? 

I would love to share with you ALL the books that we bought but its not practical so I'm sharing a few of them here.

I was very happy to find Leo Lionni books 这是我的!and 鱼就是鱼, DinoBoy enjoy these 2 books a lot (as with his other Leo Lionni books), he especially like 鱼就是鱼 as the illustrations are very colorful as you can see from the photos below.

阿图的快乐生活系列(5册)- I love the funny and quirkiness of the little boy 阿图 and his fascinating childhood adventures.  I just know DinoBoy will enjoy it when I read to him in my exaggerating tone of voice, we'll have loads of squeals & laughter while reading about him wrestling his new pillow, finding a friend in the mirror, attempting to exchange a fallen tooth for a present, having elves follow him to school and discovering a strand of magic noodle.

来自英国的儿童情商培养图画书系(7册)- When I saw this book I immediately added it to my shopping cart.  I like books that advocate values which are important for character building, no doubt that we teaches these to DinoBoy but no harm reinforcing them with books.  I love the lively illustrations of daily life scenarios which I think the kids can better relate to.  the one line repetitive phrases are easy to read understands.  When we are reading 规则 DinoBoy will exclaimed at a few of the things mentioned in the book which they are practicing in classroom too.

If your grasp of Chinese is not strong and need help from HYPY, Flip for Joy do have a some books that have HYPY in it too.  They even have bilingual books where you can read the story book in 2 different languages.  Here is an example of one of the title  爸爸,我爱你from the series 影响孩子一生的情商故事(15册+5张DVD+父母导读手册)

Its really very easy to shop in Flip for Joy.  Their books are categorized into 3 main categories; Flip for FUN, KNOWLEDGE & LOVE

* Flip for FUN books are highly interactive and a whole lot of fun!
* Flip for KNOWLEDGE are insightful and have rich elements of story-telling.
* Flip for LOVE books help children love the important values in life.

The people in Flip for Joy know that it will be a difficult task to decide which books to buy (they are all great books that we wish to lay our hands on!) so they have put together Flip Flip Hooray Starter Packs for ages 0-3, 3-5 and 5-7.  Each pack will have at least 1 book from each of the 3 categories to provide variety for hours of quality reading. 

So, what are you waiting for?  Hop by to Flip for Joy and find for yourself the joy of flipping through the wonderful world Chinese books!
Disclaimer : We received some complimentary books from Flip for Joy in compensation for the purpose of this review.  This review is 100% based on our reading pleasures of the books and is not influenced by any person(s) or factors. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Starting Primary One #14 - Our Education Journey is no longer a Child's Play

Some one in the net posted a Straits Times news report on Clearer learning goals set for pre-schools that leads to a discussions amongst some parents.  This news report was in relation with the the Ministry of Education (MOE) announcement of the Refreshed Kindergarten Curriculum Framework.  I am basically a bochap (can't be bothered) mum, I have a very bad habit of not reading the news and keeping myself up to date on current issues.   So when I see this being discussed every where in the net like a "hot cake", I couldn't help but to get my hands on a copy of the document.   Here's my thought after reading the new "guidelines" and how I hope every thing turn out well for us, eventually on our Primary school education journey.

1/4 through the 100+ pages I got bored as there are too many words, not forgetting some new "beautiful" terms to understand and digest (does not help that I decided to read it after a heavy lunch) so I did a few skips and there, focusing more on the summary tables & photos instead.  Looking at the photos in the document I was awed that the kids are actually doing those "difficult" activities in kindergarten!   Thinking back on my kindergarten days, I was still doing simple cutting, pasting, tearing of papers etc but the kids now are doing creative thinking, outdoor classroom, purposeful play and some other activities which I thought older kids should be doing.   See! How ignorant this mummy is?

Sure~ we have Parent-Teacher Conference (PTC) but the school only describe to us briefly what the kids are doing during the lessons, we did not actually see how the classes are being conducted.    All I know is that besides the usual subjects the centre also have computer learning, Montessori lesson, Chinese calligraphy, abacus & social studies.  During PTC the teachers commented that DinoBoy is faring very good academically, he learns fast and able to grasp the concept fast.  He was even coaching his other class mates on abacus.   Sure~ they have excursions to Pizza Hut, Vitagen, HortParks but I've no idea what they were introduced to during these tours.  Its near impossible to try to gather information from the then 3, 4 and 5 year old DinoBoy as he will always tell me about the day's event in his excited exaggerated tone and always in no particular order.

Through his 6 years in the child care centre, I was only worried ONCE when he was in K1 and still unable to read simple English story books.   I panicked and started to buy more books to force encourage him to read, it was a difficult & vexed months for us but only to be told by his teachers later that he can read very well since his early K1 days, not by memorizing the story but actual reading it using phonics to pronounce the words.   The teacher's explanation is that sometimes children are doing the reading and writing in school so they prefer the parents to do the reading or they want to do other activities with the their parents.  I was suspicious after hearing that and decided to go easy with him, first few nights during our reading time I let him choose the books he wanted to read and we read it together.   Subsequently he read the books by himself without me reading with him and since then we both are enjoying a quiet 30mins together with our own books.

Anyway, truth to be told, we are not the parents who will sit down every night to do additional revision/work with DinoBoy, though I bought a few assessment books which are sitting in the cupboard still wrapped up nicely.   Both of us feel that if the teachers did not highlight to us that he needs extra help in any of the area academically we are ok with it too.  Why mend something that is not broken?   The only thing we enforce onto DinoBoy was the Reading Time, we feel that knowledge also comes in the form of books other then the tv or ipad or WWW.  With all the positive feedback from the teachers and the amount of preparation work the child care centre is doing to get ready the kindergarten kids for the next milestone of their life, we never have any doubt that DinoBoy "will not make it".  We were ALL READY for Primary 1!  Or so we thought...

Back then we did read Chinese story books with DinoBoy and he was able to read 80% of the words, we never need to drill him on his Chinese spelling, he usually got it right the 1st time.   Every thing looks A-O-KAY so we sat back and relax, satisfied that DinoBoy had grasped the language deem "difficult" to some parents.  Well, I was in for a shock recently when I tried to read a simple Chinese book with DinoBoy reently.  He was struggling and could not even read simple character such as 我、和、你 (me, and, you).  I'm really not sure whether the 2 weeks December holiday break made him suddenly forget about Chinese or really as what we always say "return to teacher after graduation".

Nevertheless, the "damaged" is there, so now I am hugging the Buddha's leg, fanatically trying to find out from friends on the ways to reinforce, improve, strengthen DinoBoy's Chinese language.   It does not help that Primary 1 Chinese syllabus are focusing on HYPY and the textbooks are printed with HYPY on top of the Chinese characters, I would rather he learn to recognize and read the beautiful Chinese characters before he handles HYPY, just like the old days... during my school days.  The old school ways are not exactly wrong or redundant, look at how I or many others benefited from it?

No doubt the government have taken steps to ensure our kids are well educated and prepared for The Huge Steps; i.e. the Primary school and beyond.  We, the Parents must be involved too.  No longer can we have the same thinking as our parents, to leave the child alone to either make it or break it, nor can we use the old school ways of extreme or severe nagging/caning/punishments/threatening to make sure the child that he "better wake up your idea" and buck up.  We have to be with them to offer adequate support mentally and physically every step of the way.  I have to keep reminding myself not to be overly influence by other parents who make their kids attend numerous academic enrichment class, I have to keep telling myself to let DinoBoy progress and learn at his own pace (of course he can't fall too far back from others).  I would not want to kill his passion for learning or his yearn for knowledge or the joy and excitement he is showing when its time to go to school.

I had a chat with DinoBoy's child care centre's teacher couple of weeks ago, she said that the school has been doing a lot of work to academically prepare the kids well for primary school and they are at least 6 months ahead of other kids.  So I will be holding on my breathe when its near the end of the 6 months to see where DinoBoy will stand.  Will he breeze through Primary 1, will I get to sit back and relax or I will be pulling my hair being stressed out on how to tackle DinoBoy's school work?

Ok wait... stop there... where is my meditating mat???? 


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For the next few weeks I will be sharing our experience on our preparation for DinoBoy's Primary One.  I hope it will serve as a useful guide to parents when its their time to get their child ready for the new journey and have an idea how Parent Volunteer works.

Click the button below and you will be able to see all my posts on this topic or grab the badge if you are sharing your thoughts about this topic.

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sticker Club, anyone?

Recently DinoBoy joined a Sticker Club initiated by Evelyn of The BottomsUp Blog in SMB, we were suppose to buy a sheet of sticker and mail to a person on the letter, then send the letter to 6 other kids.  Well, we were supposed to mail the sticker out within 6 days after receiving the letter but we were late.  Ok, my fault... I was too overwhelmed with work that I did not have time to buy the sticker.  Anyway, we managed to send it out today, YEAH!

Copying the address onto the envelope

He made a small note too

On its way to Claire~

Within 2 weeks, you should receive 36 packs of stickers! It is really exciting to see where your stickers come from. And it is really fun to get mail! - Evelyn

So any one wants to join in the fun too?

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Linking up with

Wee Stories

Friday, February 22, 2013

Foodie Fridays - A Simple but Delicious Spaghetti with Clams

Did I hear your tummy rumble?

You probably know that we love to have family & friends over, most of the time meals are included if they decided to come over.  For the first time over the decade (since the day we have a house to call our own), a friend decided to cook something for us instead.

I was extremely excited about this coz for once we do not have to "slog" in the kitchen and get to relax with the other guests, but it was a mixed feeling for me to have some one else cooking in the kitchen.  I have to look the other way when I saw the mess and unwashed plates & utensils in the kitchen sink, it was after all MY kitchen.

This is the Mystery Chef, or part of him. He specifically said "Don't put my face in your blog please!", so this is what I can do to credit him for the hard work he has done in that 1 hour.

I sneaked into the kitchen a few times to snapped photo while he work.

Stir-frying the clams with garlic and English pasley (I think)

Simmering the pasta in some stock

Added in the clams to simmer for a while longer

Now did I finally make your tummy rumble?

It looks like a simple spaghetti with clams but the taste is oh-so-sweet~ the spaghetti is coated with the sauce that is full of sweetness from the clams.

Mystery Chef is very considerate, he cooked a big portion without the chilli for DinoBoy who had 2 servings and wanted more later that evening but too bad it was all gone.

His funny pose for me

I gotta get my hands on the recipe and see if I can cook this to taste the same as Mystery Chef's.

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This linky is for anything that is FOOD related. It could be a restaurant you visited recently, meals you cook with your family or for your family or recipes you wish to share with every one.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - A Collage of our 2013 Chinese New Year

Today is the 12th day of the Lunar New Year, another 3 more days and it will be over.  It has been raining almost every day since the 1st day of the Lunar New Year, instead of visiting relatives' house, we decided to stay at home and out of the rain. 

Regardless, I love to see the Chinese New Year decorations every where, here is a collage of our Chinese New Year, a day late for Wordless Wednesday though.

Photo taken with Samsung Galaxy SIII

How did you spend your Chinese New Year?  Hope its more exciting then our~

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Linking up with

Monday, February 18, 2013

Starting Primary One #13 - Student Care's Work Sheets

After sharing with all of you DinoBoy's primary school work here, today I'm sharing the learning program in DinoBoy's student care centre.  You are right, besides supervising the students in completing their homework and learning both their English & Chinese spelling from 3.30pm to 5pm, the centre have their own learning programme too.  Every day from 5pm to 6pm they will do one of the following;

* English & Maths revision
* English - Learn it Right
* i-Learning (Multi-media English resources)
* Dr. Math (Maths - Drill & Practice)
* i-Values & Kinetic Kidz (Character building programme, sports & games)

However, the teachers will only carry out their learning programs when all the students finished their school homework and spelling.



As you can see, these work sheets are some what similar to those of the school's, I guess their program is aligned with the school/MOE syllabus.  I treat this as extra learning and practice for DinoBoy, I can compare the worksheets from both side and spot any weak area (if any) that he is facing, from there I will be able to zoom in to practice with him more on these area.

Please note that the above information are ONLY applicable to DinoBoy's student care centre and for centres under the same franchise, it does not serve to represent all the student care centres as each operator have their own individual learning program.

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For the next few weeks I will be sharing our experience on our preparation for DinoBoy's Primary One.  I hope it will serve as a useful guide to parents when its their time to get their child ready for the new journey and have an idea how Parent Volunteer works.

Click the button below and you will be able to see all my posts on this topic or grab the badge if you are sharing your thoughts about this topic.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Foodie Fridays - Of Potatoes, Luncheon Meat & Baked Beans

I do not come from a well-to-do family, in fact money was tight during my childhood days since dad was the sole breadwinner.  We do not have luxury things, goes to fancy restaurants for meals, toys or books that we want or like but we have decent things to get us by such as clean clothes to wear, food on the table and pocket money for schools.  Mum was a housewife and she cooks all of our meals, I have fond memories of the simple dishes she cooked for us.  One of our favourite dish is a mixture of luncheon meat, potato and baked beans, even now we will still request Mum to cook this dish when we are back at her house for dinner.

This is a simple dish which I believe many will love it though some will think its unhealthy since 2/3 of it is made up of canned food but in actual fact this is a dish packed full of nutritional benefits.  Potatoes are very rich source of starch, fiber, B Complex vitamins and have zero cholesterol, they are high in Vitamin C too.  Baked beans are a source of iron, proteins, folic acids and have strong antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body.  Free radicals increase your chances of illness, aging and cancer.  Of course as much as we love them baked beans and luncheon meat, we all know that all processed and canned food are full of salt and sugar so moderation is the key word.

* 1 can of luncheon meat
* 1 can of baked beans
* 1 - 2 potatoes
* some ketchup

1. Remove the skin and dice the potatoes, boil them till their are almost cooked.
2. Dice the luncheon meat.
3. Heat up a pan with some cooking oil, fry the luncheon meat till they are brown.
4. Add in the potatoes to fry for few minutes.
5. Pour in the can of baked beans, add in a little bit of water, a few dashes of ketchup, bring to boil and simmer for a while.  The dish is ready to be served.

1. I used luncheon ham instead of the normal luncheon meat as it's tastier.
2. Again, this is a flexible dish so add more or less of the ingredients you prefer.  If you love ketchup, just add more dashes of it.  We ran out of ketchup that day thus our dish have the taste of baked beans instead of ketchup.
3. Since this is a stomach filling dish, I suggest that you cook lesser dishes for the meal otherwise you will have lotsa left overs after that.

Frying of the luncheon meat & potatoes

With baked beans added into the pan
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This linky is for anything that is FOOD related. It could be a restaurant you visited recently, meals you cook with your family or for your family or recipes you wish to share with every one.

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

CNY Reunion Dinner 2013

Part #1
We had an early reunion dinner today with my in-laws, DinoPapa decides to cook up some special dishes for the occasion.  Look at the spread!  There are special names for each of the dishes but its in Chinese, I tried to translate but give up after some tries.  That bowl of creamy soup is our favourite pig stomach's soup~  Hungry!





We had a great time eating these beautiful and delicious food.

Part #2
We had our reunion dinner with my mum & siblings on chuxi or lunar new year's eve. As mum have to pray to dad in the afternoon, she cooked all the dishes earlier that day and she heat up the dishes when all of us arrived at her house. It was a simple home cooked dishes with a few of dad's favourite dishes.  We enjoy the dishes very much, mum's cooking is still the best!

These are dad's favourite food when he was around. I specially made the roast pork today for mum & the rest of the family to taste and was so happy as they say its very good. Taste as good as those sold outside at the roast pork stall. Even Bro & SIL who seldom eat roast pork give me the thumbs up!

客家算盘子 Kheh Abacus Beads

猪脚醋 Vinegar Pigs Trotter

不辣咖喱鸡 Not too spicy Curry Chicken

香脆烧肉 Soft & Crispy Roast Pork

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Remember to link up and share your family Chinese New Year reunion dinner!