Book: Milk Goes to School

The elder two love Terry Border books. I think they find it funny, and he has repetitive phrases which the kids can recite to after reading it for a few times. So they were very happy when we spotted this new title at the library last week.

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The main character of the book, Milk.

The story is about Milk first day of school. It started with Milk getting a little scared of her first day. So to boost her confidence, her father told her she is “la crème de la crème“, meaning “best of the best”. Given that she is “milk”, there was probably some pun intended here. When Milk reaches school, she tried to be friendly with everyone. But her jokes were insensitive and she also told everyone that her father says she is “la crème de la crème”. This puts her friends off, especially Waffle who commented that she is “spoiled”. As with all children book, the day always ends with everyone resolving their differences and became friends.

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This page shows the content of Milk’s bag spilling out. And we noticed that there was no books but lots of hair clips. From here, we realize that Milk actually changes her hair clip on every page of the book! The kids were quick to point out that this is not the right thing to do in school. LOL.

After our last book on puns, I’m actually quite glad to find another book to continue teaching the kids on “puns”. The most obvious “pun” is”spoiled”. The first time when Waffle commented she is spoiled, Milk actually “smelled” herself. I took the opportunity to explain to the kids what does “spoiled” means in this context (actually I was quite surprise the kids doesn’t know it, LOL. Maybe we didn’t read enough books!).

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Chicken nuggets hatching out of eggs?

We also enjoyed the humor, such as the one above. The kids couldn’t stop laughing when they saw the nuggets hatching. I’m just glad that they know that nuggets are processed food and doesn’t hatch from an egg naturally. LOL.

And of course the different learning points throughout the story. I actually asked the kids who do they think is a better person, “Waffle” or “Milk”? I’m glad that they both came to conclusion that both are not so nice and that we should be more sensitive to others when we talk or make comments.

As parents, this book also serve as a reminder of what are the appropriate words to say to the kids. We may think our kids are very great, but telling them they are “best of the best” may not be for their best interest. But we should also not stop short of giving them praises when they indeed earned it. Its how we phrase the praises that is more important.

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This book is available at our public library. Do check it out.

  • Library: Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Bishan, Bukit Batok, Bukit Merah, Central, Cheng San, Choa Chu Kang, Clementi, Geyland East, Jurong, Jurong West, Marine Parade, Pasir Ris, Queenstown, Sembawang, Serangoon, Tampines, Toa Payoh and Woodlands
  • Call Number: English BOR

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Growing with the Tans Friday Flips

Book: 一百层的房子

A house that has 100-storey, isn’t it interesting? Who live up there?

一百层的房子 is written and illustrated by Japanese author 岩井俊雄. Of course the ones we are reading has been translated to Chinese. As you would have noticed, we have a love for Japanese translated Chinese 绘本. The Japanese can tell nice and simple stories with beautiful illustration.

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The story of 一百层的房子 revolves around a boy who receives an invitation to visit “somebody” at the 100-storey house. So the boy went (even though he didn’t know who invited him) and was pleasantly surprised with who live there.

wp-1487059220258.jpgSo apparently, there is a different kind of animal leaving in every 10 floors. So as he climbs the “stairs” to reach the 100-storey, he played and interacted with the different animals.

What we like is the illustrations that can tell many story. And how they are closely related to the actual behaviors of the animals. Like in the picture above, the mouse can be seen running on the wheel.

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This pages also tells us about some characteristics of frogs. They need water periodically to keep their skin wet otherwise they might suffocate. Science with fiction, “Yeah” for us.

It is also interesting to note in the above pages that the concept of “recycling” is brought in. The water that the frogs uses for their bath, are piped back into the plants which produces water that goes back to their shower. It may not sound very realistic, but the main idea is there.

We have a fun time looking at the pictures and discussing about them. In engaging young children to read, particularly Chinese books, we should not be focusing only on the words. Many times, the pictures in 绘本 are telling a better story. And there is so much more to discuss. Through discussion, we enhance their observation skills, stretch their imagination and at the same time teaching them to articulate their thoughts. It would be great if the discussion is carried out in Chinese (that’s what I always attempt to do, though I’m not successful all the time. When the kids ran out of the Chinese vocab, they went back to English. I will seize the opportunity to teach them the Chinese equivalent).

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One of the discussion was “Do you notice anything really different about the snake house?” which leads to “Why do you think there was no proper steps in their house?”.

The only complain I have for the book, is that it is too long! The author need to show 10 storey across two pages. So we have to hold the book vertically and read. Can be quite difficult to manage. But the concept of the house is there, and the book is specially structured that it require us to read from bottom up, just like the boy climbing up the house.

Both the elder kids (7 y.o and 5.5 y.o) love the book. I only received the book in early January and the book was so well read that it’s a little torn. The boy brings the book or the other two from the series to school for his silent reading too.

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Although I got this book off Taobao, it is also available at some of our local library.
Call Number: Chinese IWA
Libraries Available: Geylang, Jurong and Sembawang

The library list is according to NLB website, which is not 100% accurate. I have come across books that are not available at the library being there. So you may want to give it a try. Otherwise, you can get it off Taobao or ezbuy if you can’t read Chinese well.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored or paid post. I brought the books with my own money and is just adding the ezbuy link for convenience sake. I don’t receive any referral fee from them. All opinions are our own. Happy Reading!

Growing with the Tans Friday Flips

Reflect: January 2017

For the last two years, I have been doing quarterly review of my resolutions. Starting this year, I hope to do a monthly sum up of what we did for the month and how far I am away from my resolution. The idea came from Christy from Kids ‘R’ Simple, who started doing her monthly review last year. It is a good recording of key events and also more importantly for me reflect and do minor tweaks to my resolutions.

Primary School Life
We spend a large amount of time adjusting to Primary School life in January. I have to wake up early with the boy to help prep him and most days he reaches home later than his childcare days as he attends student care. And upon reaching home, he still have homework to finish or spelling to learn. It was quite a huge change for him that in the first weekend after school starts, he slept till late morning and told us he wishes to stay home to chillax. I really pity him, but its something we all have to learn and go through. I hope by doing all these, it will make him understand that he has to step up to his responsibilities and learn to be more resilient.

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The boy’s seat in class. Surrounded by 2 girls. Hmmm… LOL

I hope by this week, with all the festivities finishing soon, we can fix on an after school schedule for him. He has yet to do any revision for the work he learned in school. I will hope to cultivate that habit in him but this will take time. But, yet, I do not want to overload him with unnecessary work that it kills his interest in learning and room for creative growth. This is such a difficult process. I’m still trying to look for more fun way to reinforce what he learns in school. Anybody with good resources on this, do let me know.

Learning Ballet
After changing her mind a few times, the girl finally decides to formally learn dancing. We brought her for a trial class the week before CNY. She enjoyed herself and requested to be enrolled. So this will formally start my girl’s journey in ballet. I hope she will enjoy dancing as much (if not more) as I do. And at the same time, I have to remind myself to check on her feet development so that they will not be deformed due to dancing. Can’t wait for her to share more of what she learn in class. And I hope she can stay motivated and continue dancing till she grow old. LOL.

Adapting to Childcare
For the littlest, it was a month of adapting to “school”. Although he started in December last year, it appears that the boy is slowly starting to “dislike” school. He cries when Chubby leave him in the morning and his teachers feedback that he appeared moody throughout the day. And he fell sick a few times this month, taking in all the germs in school.

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This expression pretty much sum up the littlest January. Grouchy. LOL.

Chubby and I conclude that his moodiness may be due to our lack of time for him. Very often he will come to the dining table and climb onto my lap when I’m eating dinner at night. Or when I’m trying to teach the elder two, he will run before his GorGor and “chop” his seat. Chubby and I agree that we need to spend more time with him. Probably I will involve him when I teaches the elder two, or go on date with him when the elder two goes for enrichment classes.

Driving License
On my personal front, I finally got my driving license! After a few failed attempts and thoughts of giving up. I’m glad I manage to do it. But I still have issues driving on the road and particularly parking. LOL. But nonetheless, with one thing down, means I have more time for myself and the family. And also the convenience and independence it brings.

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The first time I drove out alone and parked my car without help. It was after many attempts going in and out and causing inconvenience to other drivers. But I did it in the end!

Decluttering

  • Health
    I manage to reduce my chilled drinks intake. I refrain from drinking bubble tea and ordered hot tea while at Starbucks. So I think that is the one small step I did for my health decluttering. I hope to Swim or Run once a week starting this month.
  • Kids
    I manage to declutter the kids toys and clothes before the new year. And also I didn’t buy anything for them this month, well except for new year clothes. This is something I haven’t done for a long while. On top of what I achieve this month, I hope I will have time for 1-to-1 dates for all three of them. Particularly the littlest who is a little left out now.
  • Couple
    Hopefully with my driving license, it means I can depend less on Chubby to chauffeur us around and causing inconvenience to him. But unfortunately, we didn’t have much chance to go on a date last month. However, for this month we have already planned two date night out. I hope there is more to come!
  • Self
    I think I have somewhat achieve a lot for myself this month. I reduced my time spend on social media, reduces the game I play, cut down on the topics on my blog, declutter my wardrobe and didn’t shop online. The one thing I want to focus this month is reading one page or a small section each night.

This is our very busy January. How was yours?

Book: The 7 Habits of Happy Kids

“The 7 Habits of Happy Kids” is written by Sean Covey, who is the son of Stephen Covey, the author behind “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. Needless to say, this book is also base on “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. However, it is written in such a way that it makes it easy for the kids to relate and understand.

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The main characters in the book. Your kids may identify with some of them.

The book introduces each habit by starting with a story, usually lead by one of the kids as the main character. And ends with explaining the habit that the kids should form.

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The stories are also beautifully illustrated so that it engages pre-schoolers too.

What I like about the book is that the stories are really things that happened to our kids. For example, there is a story about one of the kid getting bored and starts “complaining” about it. Which of your kid has never done this before? I think none. My kids will from time to time complain to me that they have “nothing to do”. Which really irritates me. LOL.

Or like the story, in the above picture, about choosing to learn spelling and going out to play. For my eldest who is P1 this year, this story is so timely. I hope he can really learn through the story and not make the mistake himself.

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I also love the “Parents’ Corner” that is at the end of each chapter (or habit). It gives us little tips on what to do, how to facilitate the discussion should you have no idea (like me) and some tips for the kids too.

We have not finish reading the book. But the boy has already picked up and use “effectively” 2 habits. The first is “Begin with the end in mind”. The last time we were at Kidzania, he was very clear his end goal was to “buy” the snake toy which is not cheap. So throughout his entire play there, he goes only to “jobs” that give him money. And skipped those that will cost him money including his favourite “ice-cream maker job”. In the end, he manage to get the snake and was very happy and proud of himself.

The other habit he had form was the “Think Win-Win”. He started “negotiating” for terms so that we can both get what we want. He wanted more screen time (as MeiMei has it), while I wanted him to practice one more round of his spelling and 听写 (as he has made some careless mistakes). So in the end we came to a common term and both got what we wanted. Though I’m not too sure this habit should be used in such a way, LOL.

I hope both the elder kids will somehow learn and form the habits along the way. And when the time is right, I will share the book with the littlest too.

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The book ends with a summary of all the habits and its relation to independence, interdependence and continuous improvements, much like the book for the adults.

If you are looking for good habits to instill into your kids do check out this book. They are available as physical copy and e-resource at our public library.

Growing with the Tans Friday Flips

Development: TT @ 24 Months

The “last” post that I will be tracking the Littlest development. Time just zoom past when you have young ones at home.

Mastered Skills

  • Can name at least six body parts on a doll
    I should think so. I have definitely heard eyes, ears, teeth and hands.
  • Half of his speech is understandable
    Yup. We could understand him most time.
  • Can make short sentences
    Yes. His favourite is “Pease MeeMee iPad” *sigh*.

Emerging Skills

  • Starts talking about self
    Not really. Apart from “TT 的” he doesn’t really say much about himself. Though he will say “不要” for things he doesn’t want.
  • Can arrange things in categories
    I guess so. In school, he has to sort the toys by categories and color. He somewhat was able to do it.
  • Can walk down stairs
    Yes.

Advanced Skills

  • Begins to understand abstract concepts like sooner and later
    Don’t think so. When we ask him to wait or we will give him later, he will just cry or throw a tantrum. So don’t think he understands.
  • Becomes attuned to gender differences
    Don’t think so.
  • Learns to jump
    Somewhat? He will attempt to leap, but his two feet is still on the floor. LOL.
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Getting ready to blow his candles when we celebrated his birthday with GongGong and PoPo

Dear TT,

You turn 2 a few days ago! Unfortunately you fell ill the night before and couldn’t celebrate your birthday in school. Fortunately, we manage to celebrate with GongGong and PoPo the weekend before and you still got to cut and eat your cake.

You are getting more assertive this month. You will always claim “mine” or “TT 的”, and not allow others to touch or use your things. Well, Mummy and Daddy just have to teach you how to share over time.

You have adapted relatively well in school. Heard there is a new friend who will only hold your hand. Hope you can continue to be a support for your classmates as you are the GorGor in class. You seems to be playing well with the teachers too. Not only your own class teacher, but teachers from other classes. We heard you went around sharing your little packet of raisins albeit with your saliva quoted fingers. LOL. Well, some of your teachers really don’t mind your kind gesture. Mummy hope you can stay this way.

You are still very active and can throw a tantrum very easily. Mummy hope the school will be a good training ground for you to learn self-control during this growing up phase of your life. And fortunately, Mummy was reminded by Dr Zhang to not give you sweet stuff. And that is where Mummy noticed that you get really active and throws a tantrum easily. So until you are much older, Mummy is going to cut down on the sweet things for you.

Your health hasn’t really been the greatest the last two months. You fell ill and wasn’t in school for an entire week last month. And this week you are sick again. Hopefully these are part and parcel of you improving immunity. Mummy hope you get well soon.

In the coming year, Mummy hope you will stay joyful, become healthier and can learn more self-control. Mummy and Daddy love you!

Love,
Mummy

2017: Declutter

This post is a little late as I was busy preparing my eldest for his P1 which started a few days ago. For 2016, I choose the keyword ‘Focus‘. I did manage to focus on certain things as I reviewed my ‘resolutions’ quarterly. For this year, the keyword is ‘Declutter’. It is a continuation of ‘Focus’ as I try to remove unnecessary things in my overcrowded life so that I can focus better. I set out some bite-size goals to help achieve the ‘Decluttering’.

Health
I fell sick just before the Christmas season. From overdose of chocolates. LOL. I couldn’t really enjoy my time in Malacca as my throat was hurting. This year I have to remind myself again to keep a healthy lifestyle so that I can take care of my family. So I will need to declutter to remove all unhealthy habits and promote good ones.

  • Reduce junk food intake to once a week
  • Reduce chilled drinks (including bubble tea, etc) to once a month
  • Reduce intake of tea (including Starbucks and Bubble Tea) to once a week
  • Spend 5 minutes every day to do stretching or Pilates
  • Swim or run once a week
  • Cook and bring my own lunch

Kids
The kids are way too busy and have too many things (toys, books, clothes, stationary).

  • Reduce their activities on weekends
  • Reduce their homework time by covering only 1 subject each night
  • Read only 1 language of book each night
    (i.e. alternate between English and Chinese each day)
  • Throw/Donate away some of their toys, clothes and books.
  • Buy lesser toys, clothes and books
  • Reduce junk food intake of the kids (including processed food)
  • More one-to-one time or dates with the kids

Couple
We both believe that only a loving couple will raise happy kids. So kids aside, we also need to make time for each other.

  • Reduce my expectation/dependency on Chubby, thereby reducing friction
    (Such as bringing the kids or attempt to do things myself)
  • Date nights at least once a month
  • More exercise time with Chubby

Self
I need to declutter my own schedule too. I have way too many things that I want to do and gets upset when I keep feeling I have a long “to-do” list.

  • Reduce time on social media by
    • Checking Facebook 3 times a day
    • Checking Instagram on alternate days
  • Reduce the games I play to 1
    (I can get carried away playing games)
  • Reduce the topics on the Blog
    (From 2017 onwards, I decide to declutter the topics on my blog. I will only be posting about the books we read, travel and also post like this that review our 2017.)
  • Read 1 page or small section of book each night
  • Throw / Donate clothes that I no longer wear
    (Hope I can reduce my wardrobe by half)
  • Reduce online shopping and surf lesser on shopping site
    (Since I learned about Taobao a few years back, I have been spending a lot of money buying things from China. Some are really good buy, but most time I bought things which are not necessary. In 2017, I want to stop doing that.)
  • Reduce bad thoughts and stay positive
    (Sometimes I will think that I’m suay, not lucky in local language. But in 2017 I need to start thinking otherwise because its really a matter of how I look at the matter. And I believe in luck following when you stay positive.)

I am not attempting to complete all the bite-size goals all at a time. But hopefully I will be doing consistently doing most of them by end of 2017.

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The first dawn of 2017 at Bukit Timah hill.

Book: Hi! Fly Guy

We chance upon the “Fly Guy” series of book from the scholastic book list that was sent home from the kids’ school. The first book we read was actually “Fly Guy’s Amazing Tricks”. But it was so funny that the boy request for other series of the book. And a search on NLB latest app shows that there are actually eCopies of the series available for loan. So the prudent mummy borrowed as many title as she could find from the series. LOL.

The first in the series should be this book “Hi! Fly Guy”.

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Chapter 1 talks about how the boy named Buzz was out looking for a pet to catch for “The amazing pet show” and bumped into the fly who was looking for food. He caught it and decides to keep him as a pet and named him “Fly Guy”.

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In the subsequent chapters, it talks about how he convinces his parents that flies can be pets. And brought Fly Guy to “The Amazing Pet Show” only to be laughed by the judges.

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We love the book because the drawing is pretty and the story is funny. Entertainment aside, it teaches some values to the kids too. Like in this book, although Buzz got laughed at, he didn’t just give up. He tried together with Fly Guy to convince everyone. Something I find appropriate at this juncture for the boy as he is going to a new big school next year. He is bound to meet times where people will laugh at him or the things he did. He shouldn’t just feel embarrassed and shun away. If it is something he feels strongly about, maybe he should stand up for himself like Buzz did.

This is a simple chapter book that the boy (6.5 yo) can read by himself. So if you are trying to introduce the concept of chapter books or encourage your pre-schooler to read chapter books by themselves, this may be a good starting point.

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Title: Hi! Fly Guy!
Author: Arnold, Tedd
Call No.: English ARN
Available At: Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Bishan, Bukit Batok, Bukit Merah, Central, Cheng San, Choa Chu Kang, Geylang, Jurong, Jurong West, Queestown, Sembawang, Serangoon, Toa Payoh and Woodlands Library