Little Lessons: Discovering your child’s talents and gifts

Vera was busy painting last Sunday.

rainbow painting

When I asked her about her artwork, she said:

“Someone squeezed this black thing here (which looks like an ink jar to me…) and a rainbow shoots out!”

I was a little surprised at how she got the idea of squirting a rainbow out from a little black pot. But I just stood back and let her do her thing. Occasionally, I glanced over just to see how she’s going.

After she was done, I asked her what were the two things jumping on the rainbow. (I honestly thought they were monkeys…) She said they were water droplets since a rainbow is formed from droplets in the air, and light shining through them. (She had just been learning about the water cycle at school.)

I just stood and examined the finished piece. We’ve long realised that she’s interested in art, and loves to doodle and draw on her own. Obviously since the days of Frozen, everything has to do with princesses and castles and snow and kings and queens. But occasionally, she goes and draws something out of the blue – like this one.

She loves rainbows. She always has. (Maybe it has something to do with Aunty Waijia’s A Taste of Rainbow book that she read long ago.)

I remember thinking sometime back about discovering each child’s interests and area of giftings – yes it might seem a little young to jump to conclusions about where these may lie, but I think what they naturally like to do, and also seem to excel at, give us some handles to go by.

In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve done much to hone her interest in art. I’ve pretty much provided the paints, different media for her to paint on, and sometimes we paint twigs, leaves, and other little things that we pick from the park. Yes we also love to do simple crafts at home. But that’s about it. I think it’s time to pick up some art books from the library.

At some point in the near future, I’d love to bring her to take up some formal art lessons, but for now I am enjoying watching her express her ideas and personality through her paintings and drawings. It’s raw, childlike and gives me a window into her thoughts and feelings too. It’s also a joy to behold, every new piece is like a little surprise. I hope she continues to love and express herself through art.

This is Little Lessons #22, which runs on the blog every Thursday. Do grab our badge and link up your little lessons / reflections / learning activities below!

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Life as a WAHM

I’m sharing snippets about my journey as a WAHM over at the Focus on the Family blog today.

Most days, I hardly have the time to run to the toilet, much less sit and type an email. Then I feel like a crazy juggler, with more balls up in the air than I can handle. So what’s left to do but to multi-task, drop a few less important things like doing groceries or searching for a lost piece of Lego, grab a coffee (somehow this never gets dropped) and tell myself that I’ll get better at this.

Eventually.

Hop over and have a laugh…I mean, read.

Review: An hour of fun and delight at Bubble Magic

It was a laughter-inducing hour of bubbles, light, music, shadow-play and comedy, thanks to the dynamic duo behind Bubble Magic.

bubbles on a rubber band

Different contraptions were used to produce different bubbles – long bubbles, floaty bubbles, and even a bubble tunnel that a train can run into.

magical huge bubbles

What the kids loved about the show, apart from the bubbles, were the “two funny men,” as JJ calls them. He kept chuckling and giggling to himself, which was quite a sight to watch too because I’ve never seen him react like this at a show.

Vera too. Later on, I asked her what’s her favourite part of the show, and she said when the two men used the hose to spray gas at each other’s faces, which are just some of a whole bag of funnies that they delivered with gusto and deadpan looks, no less. (For young kids, slapstick works most of the time.)

Quick, fan the bubbles!

The bubble show shows just how amazing and limitless imagination can be, when allowed to experiment and run wild that is. Imagine a show conjured up entirely by bubbles, accompanied by the clever use of lighting and colour to create drama and character, as well as different wacky music to add to the comic relief. Oh yes, let’s not forget the dance moves too. Hilarious.

Bubble Magic: Pep Bou’s Wonderful World of Bubbles runs till 14 September 2014. Tickets are available at SISTIC.

Disclaimer: We were given three tickets to watch Bubble Magic for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

Fearful of getting stalked? Relax, it’s just FOLR

Sponsored

Mention location tracking app or anything that allows my location to be tracked in real-time, and immediately I find myself conjuring up scary thoughts about stalkers, kidnappers, and other bad scary things.

So when I chanced upon Folr, a location-tracking application that gives real-time information on the whereabouts of family members and loved ones that you “follow”, it took me a while to get past my mental block.

But as I pondered about the usefulness of the app, I realised that technology can also be used to draw people closer, and to aid us in daily life. A few scenarios popped into my mind:

- When I want to locate my baby-sitter who’s due to be home with the kids soon.

For peace of mind in knowing that my granny’s helper who’s bringing granny to her hospital check-up is at the right place.

When I’m wondering what time the hubby will be home, so that dinner is ready (and still warm) when he gets home.

Folr screenshots

I’ve been playing around with the app, and find it easy to use and pretty intuitive overall. The most important/useful thing is, it allows users to decide whether to accept / deny the request to follow. That means users have complete autonomy.

Since no one can force your child (or spouse for that matter) to be followed, you will have to help your followee understand that it’s for mutual benefit and convenience. I reckon that the relationship first needs to be marked by trust and openness as well.

Another useful feature is that the followee can choose not to be followed during certain timeslots in a day, or on certain days. So for instance, if you’re travelling and prefer to have your GPS turned off. Or if you’re shopping for a surprise gift for your spouse, then obviously you wouldn’t want to be tracked at that moment in time. (See time and day settings in the second pic above)

But what about the safety of my loved ones? What if my phone gets hijacked by someone else?

The good news is, there is a web interface in the making that will allow for forced logoff from the web. There, you will be able to delete all your followings while keeping the app running, so that you can still see the location of your phone.

Will I be able to estimate when my spouse or child is going to arrive home from work or school?

This feature isn’t available now, but ETA (estimated time of arrival) and speed of movement are advanced features that will likely be built into the next version of the app.

~~~

I think working parents who have babysitters at home will find this app handy. Schools and other organisations can also use the app to mark student or group member attendance at events!

If you’re keen to have a peace of mind from knowing where your loved ones are, here are 3 simple steps to take:

  1. Download Folr FOR FREE from the Google Play Store or App Store
  2. Activate location-based services for Folr in your devices’ “Settings”.
  3. Open Folr to create an account and login.

Repeat as necessary for as many other devices as you would like to track. Thereafter, you can start adding group members, or starting a new group.

Do note that the FOLR app is currently free, and allows you to check the current location of your followees. If you need to view their detailed location history, the yearly subscription fee is S$38.98.

Do give it a shot, and let me know what you think!

Words of affirmation, in secret code

I left a secret message for Vera and she enjoyed decoding it herself, with some guidance from me.

It’s simple. Just find the corresponding alphabet to the numbers using the  table. And it’s particularly fun for a little child who is a young or emerging reader.

My message to her was made up of five simple words…

“You are such a blessing.”

decode secret mesages

And I meant every word of course. Though I must say that she was a bit unsure about what the word “blessing” meant, so I took the opportunity to share with her that blessings are like sweet gifts from God. When I say she’s such a blessing, I mean she is such a great help to me, and such a joy in our lives too.

For being such a loving big sister to her two brothers - For picking up after Josh, who’s into throwing things all over. For bearing with Javier when he’s grumpy, for providing help when he needs a hand, for being his companion even when she’s surrounded by her own friends, and for bearing with his “long-windedness” (because he likes to start his sentence all over again if he misses a word or a thought).

For being a real little helper at home – folding the clothes, packing up toys, even helping me to feed Josh at times when I’m busy in the kitchen.

Sure, her attention span may lapse here and there, and while taking care of her baby brother, she can be distracted by other things or noises. But I honestly think that she makes managing a household of littles so much easier with her willing heart and nurturing presence.

Thank you, my sweet little princess, for being such a blessing in our lives. Forgive me too, for those times where I unknowingly place so much expectations on you, forgetting that you’re still very much a young child. I want to appreciate you for who you are, and affirm you for your pure and tender heart.)

Ahem…So anyway, here’s what she did to the page after decoding it…

a pretty blessing

I guess she’s got creative license after she goes through the hard work of decoding the message!

PS. I’m trying to shower my kids with words of affirmation more often. It’s a love language that comes naturally to me, and I think it sits well with Vera at this stage. Will you join me in doing so with your own littles? 

PPS. If you do try this activity out at home, do let me know how it goes!

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

Grace-liberated parenting

I’m sharing a little video today that reaches deep into the heart of Christian parenting.

I first heard from Paul Tripp when I attended his parenting seminar. I walked away filled with many life-changing principles he shared about the heart of parenting and discipline.

Watching the video, I realise how inadequate I am as a parent, and also how much I need God’s grace. I am also reminded that parenting is a process, one that possibly lasts way beyond our physical life here on earth, since the values we sow are reaped through generations.

Some of my favourite quotables from the video:

“…love does its best work when people aren’t deserving.”

“Meet me by your grace so I can be a tool of your grace in the life of my children.”

“What I want for that child first is to experience the same grace I’m experiencing…That’s just a whole different world of parenting.”

“All of parenting is a gracious rescue.”

“…A parent must embrace his/her inability in order to find the liberation of being an instrument in the hands of God.”

“We’re not requiring the change as an event; we’re allowing it to be a process.”

I hope this blesses you, and renews your strength and determination to raise your little ones by drawing on the grace and unconditional love of God daily.

This is Little Lessons #21, which runs on the blog every Thursday. Do grab our badge and link up your little lessons / learning activities below!

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Little Lessons: Kids need us to notice the small details

I have a little scrutineer in our house. She notices everything we do, wear, and say. It’s totally disconcerting. I can imagine myself replaying in the video of her mind – mummy said this, she frowned when I did this, mummy wore that pretty pink dress with the brown belt when she went out with daddy on a date. Etc etc.

There was once we were at a prayer meeting together, and she met many aunties and uncles for the first time. On our way home, she asked me who aunty B was, and I tried to describe where aunty B was sitting, and the length of her hair. She thought for a while and asked, was she wearing blue sparkly earrings, like diamonds? I blinked and said I wasn’t sure. Then I messaged aunty B to ask if she was. And lo and behold, she was indeed.

So…I guess we should never underestimate the observation skills of young ones, especially girls.

I guess part of the reason why they seem to pick up on the details (and remember some of the weirdest ones) is that their brains can be so focused on that one thing, that person or the experience, particularly if it’s a fun and memorable one. Whereas as an adult, our brains are so busy multi-tasking, looking for directions to a place, calling or texting our friends, moving on to the next thing on our list, wondering if we should buy that outfit we saw online last night, etc etc – that we end up being scattered and unfocused.

But as busy as we are, I think our children do need us to focus and pay attention, especially when they’ve just arrived home and have something important to announce. (Ahem, as they always seem to have.)

As much as I hate to admit this, I sometimes mentally shut down when Vera goes “mummy, I want to tell you something.” (Like not again honey? You just told me something 30 seconds ago…And just before that, your brother had to tell me something. How could you both possibly have so much to say?)

I struggle really just to respond with appropriate eye contact and nod my head. Some days I am so harried I don’t think I even get to ask her about school, how she felt that day, who she spoke to, or whose birthday is coming up.

There was one day, she came back from school waving a strip of star stickers in the air. I asked who gave it to her and she proceeded to report about how she was one of a few who volunteered to play a math game and managed to match the right numbers to the items. I cut her off as I was rushing off to the room to nurse Joshua, as it was time for his nap. As I was lying on the bed, I felt a tinge of guilt for waving her off. (I think this is one of the hardest parts about having three, and am constantly trying to balance attention between all of them…)

When I was done, I went back and asked her to share with me more about the game, which she did so rather happily. I was thankful for the little opportunity to affirm her enthusiasm, and told her that I was proud of her for being game enough to try.

I know Vera has learnt to be patient in waiting, something that her little brothers have yet to fully learn. And because I know she’s able to wait, I’ve made her wait more often than I like to. It’s tough, and always a balancing act, but I’m reminded of this: even when I do need to settle the more “urgent” things, that I should always promise to come back to her request, and to keep my word.

Our children need us to notice the small details, and to celebrate even the smallest of achievements. It’s one of the ways they feel loved and important in our eyes.

This is week 20 of Little Lessons. What have you learnt this week? Do link up your post below!

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Giveaway: Win a pair of tickets to Bubble Magic!

Singapore, get ready for some Bubble Magic this September holidays!

Bubble Magic – Pep Bou’s Wonderful World of Bubbles is a colourful two-man show that combines the fleeting beauty of bubbles with clowning, ingenious lighting, music and crazy costumes.

Kids will be enthralled with fishbowl bubbles, animal bubbles, bubbles on a high wire, sliding bubbles, puppet bubbles and even a train inside a bubble tunnel. The show is a blend of visual poetry and sheer fun in equal measure.

Bubble Magic

The show has been created and directed by the award-winning master of bubbles, Pep Bou. The Spanish-born artiste has been playing with bubbles for more than three decades. Here’s a little interview that I managed to do with him.

1. How did you get started on this unnconventional and exciting career?

I am an architect and I have always felt great passion for the world of the performing arts. Theatrical performance and live creation in front of an audience was what interested me most. Bubbles seduced me with their beauty and poetry and, especially the fact that they always have to be made again. The risk of their fragility will always be a source of inspiration to me to keep researching and perfecting my shows. You could say that I swapped solid architecture for delicate and ephemeral architecture.

2. What are some of the obstacles you met with, and how did you overcome them?

There are a huge number of obstacles and difficulties when making bubbles. In addition to obtaining a good soapy liquid, the atmosphere must be humid, since if the ambient environment is dry, due to the weather or air conditioning or heating, it shortens the life of the bubbles to 20 seconds at most. Conversely, if the ambient environment is humid, the bubbles can last for more than one minute.

At times, we have also had unpleasant or other odours, such as paint, varnishes, food, air fresheners, fireworks and so forth, which negatively affect the bubbles, making them pop almost immediately.

Experience and knowledge of bubbles lets you discover the most efficient way of resolving difficulties for each specific situation. Furthermore, when the bubbles resist doing what you want them to do, a good job with the comic and theatrical presentation is extremely important. In the world of soap bubbles, there are no mistakes, as everything is random. They are a good metaphor for our existence.

3. What would you say to someone who’s considering a career in performing arts and theatre?

Giving advice… I would rather say motivate. Every person in any trade or profession has to find the way to stimulate and maximise their own skills and abilities. This requires hard work, done with passion and a search for each person’s own individual language. Imitation is never the right path to take for artistic development.

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Inspired?

Bubble Magic will be performed for the first time in Singapore at the Jubilee Hall Theatre, Raffles Hotel, from 10 to 14 September 2014. Catch a glimpse of the show below.

And here’s a giveaway for a pair of tickets to Bubble Magic on 10 September 2014, Wednesday, 3.30pm. (The show is a 65-minute visual and comic feast.)

All you have to do is…

1. Like our Facebook page, if you haven’t already done so.

2. Leave a comment on this FB post, and tell us what you love about bubbles! ;)

That’s it! Contest ends 11.59pm, Sunday, 31 August 2014. The winner will be contacted via email. The tickets can be collected from an hour in advance onwards from outside Jubilee Hall, Raffles Hotel on 10 September itself. For Singapore residents only.

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