Home TV: Octonauts

While some parents are advocates of no TV and no smart device for their kids, I took the stand of in between. Maybe I’m not a good Mum, but at times, I needed the TV and smart devices to baby sit the kids, especially when it’s one vs many.

We allow the kids to use the devices and watch TV since they turn one. But at 15 to 30 minutes block each time. This is to ensure their eyes gets rest. We also control the program they watch and the apps they use. (Yes, I check what they watch on YouTube too.)

I’m not sure if this parenting method is correct but this is what works for us. And I must say the kids learned from such apps and programs. (Zai picked up his alphabets by watching Word World.) Basing on this, I hope to share more such educational stuff on my blog, so parents can decide if they want to let their kids use or watch.

One good TV program, a cartoon to be exact, that we came across is Octonauts. The boy first caught it when we visited Melbourne a year ago but he doesn’t remember the name. Late last year, he saw the thumbnail on a video streaming app and told us he wanted to watch that (though it’s in Chinese). And it has since been his favorite cartoon thus far. His birthday theme this year was also base on Octonauts. 

The boy’s octonauts toys. The characters in Octonauts and their Octopod .
 

Octonauts is about this group of animals that worked and stay in the sea to “explore, rescue and protect”. Explore is to explore the underwater world. Rescue is to rescue the sea creatures that are in danger due to natural disasters or others. Protect is to protect the ocean.

Each episode consist of an individual story. Usually involving a kind of sea creature. They usually intertwined the features of the sea creature to an interesting story so that the kids can learn and remember. For example, in the episode of the whale shark, one of the Octonauts got swallowed into it and the captain and vice captain went to save her. While inside the whale shark, they explain the different parts of the whale. Like which part is for the water to go out but keep the food in. It’s really interesting. Like watching documentaries in a very easy to understand way. 

This book is called “Octonauts Creature Report”. It shows the different creatures mentioned in the TV series and providing similar information as what has been mentioned. A good supplement to the show.
 

In the Chinese version which we watched over streaming, they actually have a summary showing the sea creatures in the real form, i.e not cartoon but real videos. They will sing the features of the creature to a catchy tune to reinforce what has been mentioned. However, the English version that I saw doesn’t have this summary, so it’s kinda of a pity.

The show is not available on SG TV yet. However, it’s books (the original source that inspires the series) and DVD are available from the National Library. Just search for “Octonauts” in their catalog. 

The books I got for the boy (off Amazon) as party favors for his friends at school.
 

So if you have a kid that loves animals or sea creatures, you can consider sharing with them about this series.

Do you have any TV cartoon that you know but is not popular in SG yet? Do share with us in the comments so we can all learn about it. T.I.A

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Letter to my 5 year old First Born

Dear Zai,

Your long awaited March have arrived and you are now 5 years old already. As Mummy look at you while you sleep at night, I couldn’t help but feel you are so grown up already. Your little feet is no longer little, they are as long as my hand. Mummy is also a little sad that I didn’t spend enough time with you. With the arrival of your DiDi its going to be even tougher. Well, the guilt of a full time working mummy.

Moment of you looking lovingly at DiDi.

But luckily you are in good hands. You have a great preschool that caters to your need to run outdoors. But you will still feign stomache on days just to stay home to play. However, Mummy is sure you still like school lots and wants to go back. Let’s just hope you continue this love for learning when you reach primary school.

In terms of academic, your love for reading and curiousity has make you on par if not better with most of your peers. However, you absolutely hated writing. Especially those boring repetitive writing training. You are more receptive if the writing involve some activities like counting and writing the answer. But after a few months of training, you are now getting better at it. I think you have resign to fate learned that you can’t run away from it. You use to have a comment “老師指導下完成” in your Berries workbook. But now there are lesser and you have even earn yourself stars. Mummy is really happy to see that. It shows that you have grown and know what is expected of you.

For physical growth we never have to worry much about you. You are not the tallest in your class but we think you grow well. You are not fat but neither are you skinny. And you eat well. On some days, you can finish a packet of noodles on your own. Your gross motor skills have always been good and recently you learn to ride on the balance bike that we brought you 2 years ago.

Mummy is quite surprise you can balance on the bike for a short while after playing with it a few times.

For emotional growth, you are still the boy who is full of emotions. You get upset easily when people don’t listen to you or follow your instructions. Mummy and Daddy is still trying to find a way to explain to you that the universe does not revolve around you. You are slowly understanding it, but can’t control yourself yet. You are also a sensitive boy. When we went to watch “Shaun the sheep” in the theaters, you almost teared when they were almost pushed off the cliff. Having say all that, you are still generally a happy boy. You get upset easily but you laugh easily too. And you are a good GorGor who love your siblings deep down inside although you fight with MeiMei often.

Being squash by DiDi and MeiMei but you are still happy.

You still enjoy pretend play which makes you popular among the girls in your class. Your favorite cartoon now is Octonauts and you hope that one day you can be an Octonauts to save the sea creatures. Well, that’s quite a good ambition. You like to be Dashi, the character in Octonauts who is a photographer. She is also the one who knows about the environment. So Mummy is using this to encourage you to read and write more.

You now have ideas of your own. You requested for the fruit cake and placing your Octonauts toy on top to suit the theme.

It has been a wonderful year for us and Mummy still marvel at your growth. Mummy hope that in the coming year your can learn to control your emotions better, learn to speak slower and have more patience. Stay a happy and curious boy. We love you always.

Love,
Mummy

Talkative Kids: 2nd Quarter 2014

I’m starting to enjoy talking to my son as he can now hold a proper conversation and is able to express his thoughts well. I love the imagination that come from the little brain of his. It’s always full of surprises. Here are some conversations with him recently.

Fire in Sky and Sea
The boy class is teaching about occupations that help keep them “safe”. Naturally, Fire Fighters is one of the occupation in discussion. The school organized a field trip to visit the fire station on one of the Saturday. Prior to the visit, the teachers conducted some activity with them and asked them if they have any questions for the fire fighters. And the following conversation ensued.

Classmate: 天上如果著火了, 怎麼辦? (What happens if there is fire in the sky?)
Zai: 天上沒有火. 那是太陽. (There is no fire in the sky. It’s the sun.)
Teacher: 那海裡有火嗎? (Is there fire in the sea?)
Zai: 海裡的火是lava. (The fire in the sea is call lava.)

The teacher is very surprise by the answer the boy gave, so she told Chubby when he picked him up that day. My oh my, how creative my boy can be. I’m actually quite surprise that he will relate “sea of fire” to lava. And Chubby told me, that’s because he love watching Chubby play with Minecraft.

Death
Parents with more than 1 kid will understand that the kids fight every day, including ours. One night, Chubby sat the boy down and tried to tell him some serious matters.

Chubby: Zai, you are GorGor, you must learn to take care of MeiMei.
Zai… no reaction.
Chubby: One day, Daddy and Mummy is going die. We will not be around. You as the GorGor have to help look after MeiMei.
Zai… no reaction.
Chubby: You know the meaning of die?
Zai *excitedly*: Yes. Its when you cook in the jungle and the enemy airplane will spot you and bombard the area. And you die, I die, everybody die!

Don’t understand the joke? Watch the video below.

I told Chubby this is the result of rubbish video he is exposing my boy to. LOL.

Who should we help?
One night I was alone at home with the boy and we were just talking. I can’t exactly remember how the conversation steered towards an animation he recently watched on YouTube. There was 3 small stories in the video and is about team work. The first story is about how the ants work together to form a big ball to prevent themselves from being eaten by the ant eater. The 2nd story is about how the crab work together to snap off all the feathers of a seagull to prevent it from eating them. The last story I can’t really remember. So I started asking…

Me: So who should we help? I think I want to help the seagull.
Zai: No! We should help the crab!
Me: But why? Seagull are so pretty.
Zai: But the Seagull is going to eat the crab.
Me: But you also eat meat right?
Zai: But.. But… But.. crab help us build sand castle.
(Can someone enlighten me why crab help to build sand castle? My guess is he saw some illustration where the kids put a crab at the top of the sand castle together with a flag.)
Me: Ok. How about the ants and the pangolin. Who should we help?
Zai: The ants.
Me: But I thought you don’t like ants? You kill them when you see them right? And GuGu doesn’t like ants.
Zai: But.. But… But… the ants are not at our home.

I’m not sure if I’m training his reasoning skills and creativity or teaching him how to come out with good excuses the next time he is up to no good. LOL.

Mr Clever
The boy is into Mr Men and Little Miss these day and he has the habit of playing with his belly button when he drinks his milk or need to fall asleep. This happened one night when the lights were off, the boy was in bed drinking his milk while MeiMei who has already finished her milk was disturbing everybody. And suddenly, Chubby on the lights to find out what the girl is doing.

Chubby: MeiMei, don’t disturb Mr Bellybutton. He is drinking his milk.
Zai: No. I’m Mr Clever. I hide to play with my bellybutton, so you all can’t see. All the things I do are so clever. So I’m Mr Clever.

Well… my boy. Indeed you know how to hide and play with your bellybutton. But you know, Mummy and Daddy are not Mr or Miss Silly. We know what is going underneath the blanket, in the dark or under your shirt.

I wonder what goes on inside the little brain of his...
I wonder what goes on inside the little brain of his…

How about you? Did you had any funny conversations with your kids recently? Share with us by leaving a comment.

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Talkative Kids: 1st Quarter 2014

The funny conversations we had with the kids in the first quarter of 2014.

Secret
There is a café near the kids’ enrichment school that sells really yummy gelato. The first time I brought the kids there I told them this…

Me: Zai, you cannot tell MaaMaa that we came to eat ice-cream ok? This is a secret among us.
Zai: Ok!

As we got home, the boy was very excited and exclaimed loudly while he is walking through the door.
Zai: Auntie! Auntie! I tell you… Just now I go eat ice-cream. It’s a secret! Cannot tell MaaMaa.

I almost fainted there. Cause MaaMaa was just sitting beside Auntie.

Squashed
The setup in our room is such that we have a super-single size mattress beside our queen size bed. I sleep there every night with Loi, while the boys got the big queen size bed. One night, the girl decides she wants to sleep with Daddy and so Zai came down to sleep with me.

After coming down, he realize that his space has gotten relatively smaller. I tried to disturb him further by sleeping at the center of the bed. The boy started to grumble and when he saw that I have no reaction, the dramatic boy crawled to the edge of the mattress on his side, and slide half his body in the gap between the mattress and the queen size bed.

Zai: MeeMee, no space. I will kiap!

I think he meant to say he will be “kiap” (squashed) by the mattress and bed. I think that is the few “hokkien” words that he speaks.

Food Source
We were at the Penguin Parade in Phillip Island Australia waiting for the penguins to come ashore. The volunteer there was explaining why the Penguins only come up when the sky is getting dark. Curious but couldn’t quite understand what the volunteer was saying, Zai asked me what they are talking about.

Zai: MeeMee, what is he saying.
Me: Oh, the man is saying the penguins stayed in the water in the morning and afternoon. When the skies get dark, they will come back up to go home.
Zai: Why?
Me: Because, in the morning there will be big eagles flying in the sky. They will eat the penguins when they see them.
Zai: Why the eagle will eat the penguin?
Me: Cause penguin is their food. Just like why you eat chicken.
Zai: But I don’t eat chicken on the floor.

I think its time I bring him to a kampong to see the rearing of the chicken and then killing it for food. LOL, of course I’m joking.

Happiness
This happened in Australia too. We were walking out of the supermarket, and the boy was playing with a magnetic board that belongs to his cousin. The cousin wanted to take it back as we were going to our own car. Apparently, the boy doesn’t want to return, the cousin snatched, my MIL who was with them stepped in and scolded his cousin. So back in the car, the boy was still crying and complaining.

Zai: MeeMee, DaBiaoJie don’t want to lend me the board. She snatch from me.
Me: Ok. MaaMaa already scolded her right? Plus, the board is hers.
Zai: But I want to play. *Starts sobbing*
Me: Ok. Are you feeling very sad now?
(Applying the concept I learn online to calm your child)
Zai: Yes.
Me: Ok. So is there anything I can do for you?
Zai *thinks for a while*: You know you know… You know what will make me happy?
Me: What?
Zai: The iPad and the iPhone

*Faints*. The boy certainly know how to take advantage of situation. FYI, much as I’m tempted to give him the iPad or iPhone, we stop ourselves and reason out the situation with him instead.

Ownership
The kids are always fighting for books and toys (what’s new?). So I have learned to tell them that the books and toys belong to me as I paid for it. I’m just lending it to them to read or play. The boy got it, while the girl, being younger, is still trying to grab the concept.

Loi: This is MY book! *Snatches book from GorGor*
Me: Loi, Mummy paid for the book. So this book belongs to me. I’m just lending you the book to read.
Loi: This is MINE!
Me: Loi, again, this is Mummy’s book. I paid for it *takes book from her*. Which book is yours (that you paid for)?
Loi: Neh. In your hand.

You got to be very precise when talking to kids. I didn’t state clearly that the book is “paid for” by her and I’m beaten.

************

Hope you enjoyed the funny moments. Do you have any funny conversation with your kids recently? Share with us!

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Letter to my 4 y.o Boy

Hi Zai,

Time flies, you are now a 4 y.o. “Big Boy” already. This year has been a rather wonderful year for you. You are generally healthier and of course your learning has increased leaps and bounds.

Your Chinese has improved tremendously after we put you in enrichment classes and you are less afraid of us talking to you in Chinese. Mummy always marvel at how you had such good memories that you can recognize the words that you learn each week in class. Mummy hope that you will continue to use such skills as your progress in life.

You have a sensitive personality and gets upset easily when things aren’t going the way you want it to be. My son this is how reality works. Not everyone will listen to you and not everything will be smooth sailing. Nonetheless, we should still do the best in whatever we set out or are task to do. Upset is unavoidable, but it’s important to learn to get over it and pick up something good from there. You may be a little to young to understand now but Mummy hope she can guide you properly along the way.

You still fight a lot with your little sis. But Mummy knows you still love her deep in your hearts. The way you protected your sis when she started school shows it all. Mummy likes how you two sleep together in school during your afternoon nap. You are the big brother, you have a natural responsibilities to take care of your younger siblings, so Mummy hope to see more “big brother” in you soon.

Sometimes you progress so fast in your learning that Mummy miss the “baby” in you. But sometimes you throw such a tantrum that Mummy remembers that you are just a 4 y.o. But Mummy have seen you control more these days. There were lots of cases where MeiMei irritates or even hit you. You were so tempted to retaliate, but you chose to hit the pillow or bite your tongue instead. Thanks for your self-control.

Mummy is also happy that you are finally toilet trained. There are still accidents when you are too engross in your play. But you generally can go to the toilet when you need to. And you usually run there cause it’s always very last minute. But it’s a good progress. And even at night you are off diapers, which Mummy is very relief as Mummy does not know how to do toilet training for night. You spare Mummy the agony of waking up at night to ask you to go pee. For that Mummy is extremely grateful.

For the improvements, that is with your homework. We had a first taste of doing homework last Sunday. Let’s just say it’s a torture for both of us. Mummy know you cannot stand boring sit down stuff. Coloring is such a boring thing. However, my son, we don’t really have a choice. As you get older, more homework is going to come. And there will be things you like, things you don’t. You just got to suck it up and do it. The same happen when you are at work. So Mummy hope that you can learn this soon and it will be easier for both of us.

Ok, Mummy has written too much. All in all, Mummy is very thankful to have a son like you. You are smiley, funny, loving and generally well behaved (most time). Mummy wish you better health and better personal development in the coming years.

Love you always,
MeeMee

Happy 4th Birthday, Zai!
Happy 4th Birthday, Zai!

Sibling Rivalry

A few weeks back Zai was caught hitting his MeiMei. This is not new and time and again he will hit his MeiMei. We have always attributed him getting excited after playing. Until that day we told him to apologise but he was quite adamant. Chubby brought him to the naughty corner and talked to him.

Subsequently I heard from Chubby that during their “talk” the boy claim that he doesn’t like MeiMei. He feels that MeiMei has taken away Mummy from him. MeiMei always want  Mummy. That is the reason why he hit her. Upon hearing this, my heart aches.

The boy is into changing lyrics for a period of time. I remembered him changing the lyrics for a song to “MeiMei always call MiMi. Or MeiMei always want MiMi”. I should have picked up these little clues but I didn’t. I thought he was just trying to be “funny” and is trying out his lyrics changing “skills”.

I feel that I should have handled the time between them better. When Loi was young, I was feel that I didn’t spend enough time with her as Zai was at a stage where he requires lots of our attention. I attributed her finger sucking to the lack of security as we didn’t spend enough time with her. Now that she reach the toddler stage that requires lots of attention, I always give her my attention as a form of “repaying” the time we lost when she was younger and left the boy very much to Chubby. As a result, the boy felt that Mummy didn’t have time for him.

I’m actually quite lost as to how I should try to balance the time between. The best I can do is to make a conscious effort every weekday night to split my time equally among them. Like after spending an hour with the girl, I will spend the next hour to read or play with the boy. However, as the girl still need me to sleep with her, I still have to leave the boy with his dad or grandma. I hope such an arrangement will make him feel better and reduces his rivalry on MeiMei.

On the other hand, I feel that the boy still somehow love his sister. When his MaaMaa asked him if we can give his MeiMei away, he will always say no and will try to “protect” MeiMei. Like in this photo, he also automatically went to put his hand around MeiMei shoulder.

Brotherly Love
Brotherly Love

I hope I can reduce such rivalry as soon as possible. And they can soon enjoy each other company.

If you have any idea how I could better manage the situation, please share it with me by posting a comment. Thanks!