Wednesday, June 18, 2014

"Hello Bali" by Giselle Shardlow

Have you been to Bali? I have not. This latest book by Giselle Shardlow gives an insight of how it might be like in Bali with the sun and the sea, not forgetting the beautiful dancers and the lovely padi field. This book is recommended for 2.5-6 years old. The keywords written in this book increases Little One's list of vocabulary. Words such as "sunbathers" and "villagers" introduce Little One to a new concept and way of life since these are not a common sight in Singapore. I also like the descriptive sentences such as "rays of light" and "rolling waves". I loves the way the illustrators draws out the rays of sun. The whole book looks so warm and welcoming that one can easily visualise the Bali sceneries in the mind.

As this is also a yoga book, don't forget to introduce your children to the yoga moves!

At the end of the story, you get to learn counting 1-20 in Malay as well as some Malay phrases. Coincidently, Little One and I have been learning and playing with an phone app to learn Malay.

A map of Bali is included but I think it would be better to include a map of Indonesia as well so that children get the chance to find out where exactly Bali is.

Some Ideas and Activities you can do with this book
1) Read the book to the child/ children and get them do some yoga together.
2) After reading, get the child/ children to recall what they have seen. You may want to proceed with getting them to do the corresponding yoga pose.
3) Find out more about Bali and share the information with your children.
4) Google for images of Bali dancers, Padi Rice and Pura Gubug temple and show them to your children.. 

Blast from the Past #2:- Kampong Lorong Buangkok- the last village

The Last Kampung - A place I feel nostalgic about...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Salute the Daddies

Father's Day is just around the corner. I just think of 2 important men in my life. My Dad and my Hubby.

My Dad worked as a fitter. He worked on ships installing machineries and engines on ships. I presume in those days, it was good money because he used to be a carpenter. He used to work through nights and days and have a few days break after a project. It was not easy money though, but to send the 3 of us to school, I guess he had decided to go through these hardship.

He was the sole bread winner. I do not know how but he managed to pay off the housing loans and also to save enough for us to go through tertiary studies. However, he did not managed to see me graduate. He passed away a year before I graduated. That was one of the saddest thing that had happened in our life. Our world seemed to have crashed down on us. We were told that we have to be strong but yes, we did. But it took us quite some time. Tears will still flow down my cheeks as I am typing this post. Dad, I really miss you!

My Hubby is now the sole bread winner of my family. I am glad that I have him for my husband as he has been supportive of decisions I have made. Just last year, I quit my job to look after Little One and he was fine with it.

He adored Little One very much. He is always so patient with her with I sometimes find it hard to do. I am happy to have someone to share the burden with me. Sometimes, when we have difficulties dealing with Little One's attitude or behaviour, we would sit down and talk about it.

I feel that I am one of the luckiest woman in the world because my hubby doesn't mind doing chores and he loves to cook. Many of my friends actually do envy that.

Little One had made a butterfly shaped booklet to her father this father's day. It is kind of impromptu decision. It was a library programme that she attended a storytelling session and then was asked to made a card to someone she loves. She decided that it was to be given to her Daddy.

 It is not easy to be a sole breadwinner in the family. I am fortunate to have these 2 men in my life. I really appreciate it.

To all the fathers, I hereby wish you all a Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 13, 2014

"Lungs of the World" in Singapore

Do you know what is the lungs of the world? Primarily, many refer it to the Amazon Rainforest because it has the largest rainforest in the world though I prefer to call all organisms (including cyanobacteria and phytoplankton) that produce oxygen the lungs of the world.

Today we shall stick solely on the subject "Rainforest".

Do you know that we have a primary rainforest in our very own Singapore Botanical Gardens? Best of all, the guided tours are free! We went for ours during the dry spell in February. The June holidays are here! Why not plan to visit the garden during one of these days? There is a guided tour tomorrow.

Why are rainforest important?

Since we are talking about rainforest on this post, I would like to share the following information with you.

Rainforest cover 6% of the world surface and yet more than half of all known animals species live in the rainforest. Many animals are dependent on rainforest for food.

It is a valuable source of new medicines and food. There are actually plenty of plants and animals in the rainforest which are yet to be discovered. Many of known plant and animal species live in the rainforest.

Rainforest cleans air and water. Plants in the rainforest photosynthesis and hence produce oxygen for the rest of the world. Rainforest produce 40% of Earth's oxygen. It also keeps the planet cool. Without this forest cover, the ground reflects more heat into the atmosphere, warming the rest of the world. Areas where rainforest is cut down, water recycling stops, resulting in drought. Rainforest soil are actually poor in nutrients. The rainforest creates their own supply of nutrients from fallen leaves.

Rainforest prevents soil erosion. Places such as Ethiopia has serious deforestation and is now facing the problem of soil erosion and drought. Look at the advertisement below, an area of a forest is being cleared, soil erosion takes place. The top soil would be washed off to the stream and probably clogs up the gills of fishes and create a murky stream. This is akin to our lungs. When part of the lungs is not working, it affects our body and the way we live. Similarly, when an area of rainforest is cleared and left in this state, the whole ecosystem is hay wired, some valuable flora and fauna may disappear before we even discover them.
Before it 's too late: WWF Source

The Tour

Back to the rainforest tour, these are some photos I have taken during our trip. We brought Little One along. 

Cannonball tree

Banyan tree

Roots of  Banyan Tree growing from thin to thick eventually develop bark

Figs growing pollinated by wasps female lay eggs in figs

Figs growing from the same spots.
Figs are keystone species in rainforest ecosystem. At present, there are 850 species. This is because they fruits throughout the year, providing food for many rainforest animals. Figs are known as 无花果 "fruit without flowers" in Chinese. The actual flowers are in the "fruits" itself. However, only one species of fig wasp pollinate one species of fig plant. Hence, if that species of wasp is being wipe out in that ecosystem, the fig species that it pollinates will be dies off soon after. If that species of fig trees dies off, the rainforest animals will lose a major source of food supply, hence, the ecosystem will be dramatically changed. Note, not all plants fruits all year around. That is how inter-related animals and plants are in the ecosystem.
 Rattan with spikes. The spikes are removed before using for furniture and canes.

The plant that looks like pandan has thorns on the top and this plant is used to make Hawaiian skirt after thorns are removed

 Tongkat Ali

  Jelutong Tree (Chewing Gum tree) The latex from this plant is used in the making of chewing gum. Any tree that is more than 55m is consider a forest tree. This tree can grow approximately  to 60m

The walkway is not fully fenced up so that animals could cross easily to either side, minimising disruption to the rainforest.

Spider web and leaf litter

Lianas contains mostly water(Tarzan's Vines).

 Tall trees have lightning transmitter 

We spotted a couple of spiders

 Strangling Fig.

 St Andrew's Cross Spider (Male)

St Andrew spider (female)

 Rubber Tree- First batch at near Sympony lake .2nd batch near Heritage Centre... 

After reading this post, do you realised a lot of the plants mentioned here are familiar to you? Yes, rainforest actually has a great variety of plants and animals. Do you know that rainforest plants includes coffee, orchids and banana? And even till now, there are many of these plants are yet to be discovered. Scientists has ventured into them to find medicinal cures for current illnesses. I do hope that people who uses the rainforest do not destroy it, make it sustainable. The forest have so much to provide. It is a pity to destroy just like that.

You can do your part to protect the environment.

  1. Watch what you buy.                                                                                                                       Try avoid buying hard wood such as mahogany, teak, rosewood for your furniture. Look out for words such as "sustainable source". Use wood from trees that can grow back quickly after being cut down. Eg Paulownia tree.
  2. Recycle stuff                                                                                                                                    Recycle, reuse whatever you have.
  3. Do not buy exotic animals

If you would like to have a guided tour, you may want to head down to Visitor Centre of the Singapore Botanical Gardens tomorrow and sign up. The available time slots are as follow.
Rainforest Tour
2nd Saturday of Every Month
at 9am, 10am, 11 am and 4pm
If you prefer to DIY, you may want to download this guide

If you are interested in knowing more about deforestations in Ethiopia, you may like to read these websites

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Little One is Sewing

 In April, Little One had a cut on her middle finger and was sent to the hospital by her  uncle and aunty. We decided make a simple card for them.  It is made by using scrape book materials. I get Little One to be involved by selecting the stuff she wanted to put on the card, followed by sewing the words "THANK YOU" on the card.

WARNING! This activity is pretty 'dangerous'. Do it at your own risk!

Write the words and poke the outline using needles. (Do this yourself.)  I am not sure whether crewel needle works but I used my biggest sharp needle. Please don't come after me should the needle broke, bent or whatsoever.

After the holes were done, it was Little One's turn to sew. She was using the same needle. I had tied a knot for her. I need to sit through the whole process to guide and to ensure she does not poke herself.  If your kid had not attempting sewing  with a Tapestry needle (needle with blunt end), I think it is best to avoid this activity. I am not responsible if your kid suffer the same fate as Aurora :P
Sewing in process. I was paying full attention on her and the needle.

Ta-dah! Completed! To cover up the threading at the back of the card, you could cover up with Washi Tapes or decorative stickers.

Report Card:-

Suitable Age Group:- 4 and above.
Difficulty level: 3/5 (Level 1 being no or little help is required, Level 5 being very difficult)
Safety level : 1/5 (Level 1 being very unsafe, Level 5 being very safe, Supervision is required for this craft due to sharp equipment.  )
Messiness: No mess
Fun Level : 4/5 (Sewing is not really her favourite thing, she feels like doing it because she saw me sew.)

I may continue providing Little One this craft to save money on sewing kits. Sewing alphabets seemed to work better on her.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

WW this month... Architecture and Buildings

For this month's WW, I would be introducing some buildings in Singapore. I am sure at least one of them are iconic buildings Singaporeans are familiar with. I would like to introduce let readers know more about these buildings

Singapore being a multi-racial country, initially I intended to introduce architecture that represent the 3 major races of Singapore, the Chinese, Malays and Indians. I was thinking, I may introduce some architecture of other races for the last week of June.

However, during my quest to find a representative for the 4 different race groups, I found difficulty. I cannot find a building that is totally Chinese except that of those found in Chinese Gardens and Chinese temples. I tried hard to look for a place that once you look, you know straight away it is a Malay House or building. I am looking for one with Malay motifs and stuff like that but could not really find one. Even Malay Heritage Centre is a mixture of European architecture with Malay motif.  Much less to find an uniquely Indian building.
Probably, my understanding of these racial cultures is not strong enough. Maybe, the buildings were gone faster before a half a century is up. In Singapore, land is scarce.

In the end, I decided to go with the architecture and the development of Singapore instead. The evolution of buildings in Singapore and through these architecture, we shall see how different and how building structure changes with the history of  Singapore.

The Colonial Times - A building that represent that Singapore was part of colonial ruling.
The Pioneers - Terrace house which the pioneers had lived in.
The Last Village - People used to lived in villages in the past. Sadly, many of our villages have been demolished for new infrastructure due to scarce land.
The Modern - developing Singapore's cultural infrastructure.

Hopefully this would interest you to look at Singapore buildings with a different light.

If you like to vote for your top 3 buildings and top 3 places to be conserved, you may want to visit below website.

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