Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Term 1 and the end of term holiday

Term 1 flies in a twinkle of an eye.

Initially, waking up was not an issue for Little One. However, as the days goes by, Little One struggles to wake up each morning. There was no tantrum but I could see if given the choice, she would rather be in bed.

Little One is learning to pack her bag properly. She checks her time table and packs accordingly. Most of the time, she packs correctly. Occasionally, she forgets a thing or two. It is her responsibility to learn to take care of her own stuff. Hopefully, in this coming term, she will not forget to bring anything to school.

Homework is to be put in the folder which she carries to school everyday. However, she does not have the habit of keeping them in the folder. Many times, they came back crumpled. I have to remind her again and again to use the folder. I am glad to say this finally is being put into practice.

Spelling is not a big issue but I do get problems when she does not cooperate with me to learn the words by heart. It is not a must to score high marks but if she does not put in some effort to learn, I truly worries for her. This is another responsibility issue which I have to tackle this term.

Little One and her classmates used their own whiteboards and markers during lessons.  This, I feel, is great! At a glance, the teachers will know instantly, how the students fare.

Health check by the ministry was done in the first term. I am glad that there are no major issues with her health and her eyesight is normal. However, her eczema starts to flare since the beginning of term. I wonder what is the cause. I have similar issues but not as bad. I wonder whether it is because of the hot weather or could it be other allergen.

I had to get her baby teeth extracted as the 2 adult teeth behind them had almost reached full size and food had been trapped between those teeth.

She has been bringing homework back every other day and most of the time, it is Chinese homework. Only the last 2 week, there was no homework. She had her first online homework to do during the holidays. It is a new experience and I believe in future, there may be more of such works.

During the holidays, we have been going to various activities, most notably Gardener's Day Out , National Gallery, Sentosa (Kidz Flea) and Singapore Design Week.

In Gardener's Day Out, Little One learnt that one can grow and harvest one's own crop in Singapore. Pity we don't have much space for farming in HDB flat. Hopefully the dreams can be realised as per the Future of Us exhibition whereby local flats can utilise the open air space on top of our blocks for rooftop gardening.

We visited the National Gallery again. This time, we spent time to study the art of some pieces in the gallery. One of the painting that caught Little One's attention was Forest Fire by Raden Saleh Sjarif Boestaman. She was wondering why the animals were behaving that way. I asked her to examine the piece carefully and analyse what was going on. This detailed painting captured the expressions of the wild animals and how they were trying to survive. I encouraged Little One to think deeper how were the animals feeling. I asked her what she thinks causes the forest fire. Of course, there were no absolute answers for this painting but I would like to point out to her that this is what could be happening if there was a forest fire, be it of a natural cause or man made "slash and burn" disaster. Although our conversation was pretty superficial, I wanted her to know the importance of protecting Mother Earth.

Little One is pretty inspired by the children she saw in the Kids Flea. I had told her the children were there to learn how to do business. It reminded her of her Entrepreneur Day organised by her kindergarten and hence, she was pretty supportive of the programme and she bought 3 items for below $10.

As there were free workshops in National Design Centre, I brought Little One over whenever hubby was not available to take care of her. I had signed up for several workshops. She attended the Clothes Call workshop to upcycle T-shirt and also watched a fondant rose design demonstration by
The White Ombré.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Fondant Demo by Chef Nicholas Ang of The White Ombré

Things required for crafting: rolling pin, piler, floral tape, mould cutter, floral wire, ball tool ,spoons and non-stick board with 4 grooves for making leaves .

Chef Nicholas And demonstrating the making of roses

The 2 types of roses which he had demos - one of which is a David Austin Rose (pretty real looking)
We attending the fondant cake design by Chef Nicholas Ang of The White Ombré at the National Design Centre. He made altogether 3 roses and some leaves. Fondant  is a thick paste made of sugar and water and often flavoured or coloured. Hence, it is very sweet edible but some people may not like it due to the extreme sweetness.

The chef demonstrated on how to shape fondant into flowers and leaves. Flowers were made by sticking petals pieces by pieces to the floral wire using water. Chopstick was used in this case for the David Austin Rose because it was heavy. Participants were encouraged to try out to make the leaves and petals. Several ladies tried out. Little One participated too although she does not have the strength to roll the fondant thinly. She cut the leaf out and tried to put in the wire through the main vein. Then, using a leaf mould to leave impressions of tinier veins.

Leaves seemed easy enough. But the same cannot be said for flowers. A few other ladies tried making the petals. Rolling the fondant thinly and cut out circles were easy enough. However, making the petal from the cicular fondant was not that easy. We used the ball tool to shape the petal. The ball tool was to be rolled on the top edge of the petals with some force so that it forms the natural frays. The force cannot be too hard or the petal may break. That was the problem we faced when we tried making the petals. The bottom of the petal have to be rolled by the tool to form some what like a v shape. Then to apply the petal to a spoon to make it look more naturally curved. The top edge of the petal was to be bent lightly over the top of the spoon.This again required some skills. The petal was then left to dry. Then paste one by one to a tear drop fondant. The trick is to overlap each petal by covering 1/3 of the previous petal and to tuck the last petal under the first one when the layer is about to be completed.

Below is a video I found in the youtube. It demostrates how to make a rose. I prefer how Chef Nicholas made it as no cutting in the end was required.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Little One @ Gardener's Day Out

This was our first trip to Gardener's Day Out.  There were quite a number of things going on that day. Mainly Hort Clinic where you can ask questions regarding plant care. There were plant sales (mainly from the Pasir Panjang Nursery) and gardening talk too. Definitely a great event for gardeners!

I have no green fingers. Practically every plant I tried to grow died in my hands, so it took me quite a while to decide to attend the event. We attended mainly because of the Edible Garden Tour and Harvesting. Living in the city meant that most children do not get a chance to plant and harvest vegetables. The first time I get to know that we can actually harvest from the garden was during our last Hort Park and Pasir Panjang tour. We wrote in to Hort Park to register. The programme is about an hour long. The cost of the programme is $3/ parent child pair. The only mode of payment is by NETS at the Visitor Services Centre.

Plants on sale
Hort Clinic
There were free plants (2 leaves and a flower stalk ) and free fertilizer  given out on that day itself! Little One likes the flowers so we got some.

There were workshops and storytelling on that day too. Guided tours were available too.

Edible Garden Tour and Harvesting
Below is a photo essay of the harvesting part of the programme. We were brought to the Edible Garden and were shown which plants could be harvested. The children were quite excited to touch and harvest the plants. There were Spinach, Cai Xin, Radish, Long Bean, Basils, Corn, Brinjal , Lemongrass, Pandan leaves and Ladyfinger. We didn't harvest a lot as we tend to eat out during weekend and hate to put the food we harvested to a waste. Hence, we harvested what we thought could last us through Monday. From the programme, I also learnt how to keep the food fresher from one of the volunteers.

Both Little One and I enjoyed our events. We will definitely be back.
Pulling the radish!

Various Leafy plants

Left: Harvesting Corn
Right: These Garden shears are pretty sharp. Little One nearly snapped my fingers with it in her excitement!
Her bagful of vegetables
Cooking simply with the harvested goods. My creation: Soupy Udon with lemongrass, basil and Cai Xin with a dash of sesame oil for flavour. Little One likes it.

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Watching Solar Eclipse 9 March 2016

I was excited about viewing the solar eclipse. Finally, I got to put the pinhole camera I made 2 years ago to use again! This time it was to view the solar eclipse. I was pretty fortunate this time that my flat faces East and hence my room gets the morning sun every morning. As the eclipse was to happen in the morning, I was pretty happy to do a simple set up using just 2 chairs and the pinhole camera. A plain paper was stuck at the back of the box to capture the image more clearly. Unfortunately, Little One was in school and could not view it personally herself. However, I took a series of photos as best as I could to capture the eclipse so that I could show to her later. The peak of the eclipse happened around 8:23am. The sky was dimmer than usual during this period of time.

A image is captured at the back of the box
Inverted images of the pinhole
At around 823am

When the sun was behind the cloud, I took a photo of it. I was taking a photo looking at the angle of my camera, not at the image it was capturing, I just snapped a couple of picture and hope that I caught some image that I want. I don't know why there was a crescent reflection near the top right hand corner. Could someone explain if you know the answer?

  • Don’t look directly at the sun, even with sunglasses on, or through a telescope, binoculars, camera or camera-phone. Even if you are just lining up the projection, this still puts you at risk
  •  Use a pinhole projection method. 
  •  Use glasses with specially designed solar filters (bearing the appropriate CE mark) if you have to view the eclipse directly.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Adorable Thumbelina

Another fun programme at the library. Little One attended with me and she wanted to sew. Although she did not sew whip stitches, this was her first attempt doing it without any holes to guide her along. I am pretty proud of her. I am amazed that when we ran out of time to sew, she improvised to use washi tape to tape felt clothes on the doll. In the end, it looked like some kimono.
Isn't this cute?  Complete with  a tin box full of cute accessories. 
Clockwise from top left:
1. Stuff that the instructor, Susie, supplied. includes blusher, washi tapes and glue roller
2.The two Thumbelinas we made
3. Little One's Thumbelina
4. My Thumbelina

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Our other sewing projects:

Sewing text with real needle
Sewing doll with blunt needle

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Taking a walk down the Jubilee Walk with family

Little One received Jubilee Walk Family Time Activity Sheet from her school sometime during the 15 days of Chinese New Year. I was astonished that she was very excited about it. She is not a trail lover. She complains of boredom and she will rather stay in an air-conditioned place if given a choice. Hence when she kept urging us to bring her to the trail. We were skeptical. She was so enthusiastic to the extent that she hoped to complete the trail after school, which I think it was quite impossible.
"The Jubilee Walk is an eight-kilometre trail that connects the past, present and future elements of the Singapore story, from ancient Temasek to the colonial era, to nationhood, rapid urban development and beyond.
Encompassing historic and iconic areas such as Fort Canning Hill, the Singapore River, the Civic District and Marina Bay, the Walk offers a chance to discover the people and communities who have contributed to our cityscape. The draw of Singapore as a 14th century regional trading hub, the vision and toil of both colonial and immigrant pioneers, and the fiery days of “Merdeka” (freedom or independence in Malay) are just some of the stories waiting to be told here, as are the experiences of modern-day Singapore overcoming the odds to become one of the leading global cities today. "

The Jubilee Walk is actually an 8 kilometre trail but this Activity Sheet features only 7 out of 23 sites. We conducted the trail on 2 different days, both after school.
Reading the activity sheet and planning her route enthusiastically.

Day 1 

1. National Museum of Singapore

Favorite Gallery : Voices of Singapore
There are plenty of galleries here. We have not explored everyone in detail. Usually, if we bring Little One along, we would come and browse through all the galleries before deciding staying in one or two galleries.(most of the time in galleries with plenty of interactive games/media. Only then, we will be able to read or study the artefact in the particular gallery.
She has been to this exhibition area and loves listening to the songs and short skits here. On that day, she watched a short film, "The Singapore Story" in the mock up of the Drive in Cinema that used to be in Jurong. This was the first time Papa visited the National Museum after the New Permanent Galleries are opened. 

2. Fort Canning Park - Spice Garden
We took the exit at level 2 to Fort Canning. That was when we realised that  PLAY (play area in the museum) was no longer there.

In the Spice Garden (a replica of the original), we found a board to answer the question "What are some of the spices used by different ethnic groups?"

3. The Peranakan Museum
Here on display is The Great Peranakans: Fifty Remarkable Lives exhibition. Little One had to find out 2 Peranakan Pioneers and their contributions. I could see she was bored. The only thing she enjoys is running around for embossment on a separate activity sheet issued by the museum itself.

4. Singapore Philatelic Museum
We visited the newer exhibits "More Than Monkeys", "With Love from Snoopy, Charlie Brown & the Peanuts Gang Exhibition in conjunction with Snoopy & Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie" and "The Singapore Journey: 50 Years Through Stamps".

Every year, Philatelic Museum would hold an exhibit in conjunction of the zodiac year. This year is the Year of the Monkey. One would get to know more on facts about monkeys and apes. It is interesting to know that Hindu also has a monkey god. His name is Hanuman. The Chinese's monkey god is named Sun Wukong and he was born out of a magic rock.

I became excited to find out the Singapore's Collection in 1966 in the Green Room. These are stamps issued to commemorate the 1st Anniversary of Independence. Glad that I have a chance to see it! I think I should spend more time in this room.

About Hanuman
Monkeys stamps
Snoopy stamps
1st Anniversary of Independence stamps.

Day 2

5. Armenian Church

The church was closed due to renovation. Hence, we could not get in the church. However, Little One and I had been to the church before. If you are interested, you may want to read about it. I am pretty happy they are going to set up a museum here!

6. Central Fire Station - Civil Defense Heritage Centre 

This is an interesting place which we had yet set foot on until then. It is a heritage gallery with quite a few old fashioned fire engines. We learnt how tough it was to fight fire in the olden days. On level 2, there are displays of modern tactics to fight fire as well as conduct a rescue during emergency. The children gets to dress up as  firemen too!

7. Old Hill Street Police Station - Kindness Gallery

I didn't know Singa (our courtesy mascot) has a home here! We get to take plenty of lovely pictures and took a look at all the Singa stuff that were on display.
Kindness Gallery

Favorite part of this trail:
It has to be the Civil Defense Heritage Centre. You can imagine us looking at those large vehicles and going ooh and ahh about them. The development of civil defense team is amazing! It has some interactive exhibits. Definitely, we will be going back.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Battle for Singapore: Adam Park

As early as 12th Feb 2016, there has been WW2 tours going around in Singapore. Many of the tours conducted are places whereby battles were fought. Otherwise, they are places of historic significance relating closely to the war. Talks and exhibitions are also conducted during this time to commemorate the 74th Anniversary of the Fall of Singapore

Many of these tours had to be pre-registered. They usually run on the weekends starting somewhere mid of February lasting till the end of the month. This year was the second year I signed up for such tours. Many times, through the guided tours, I get to learn new stories and look at things from a different light.

Some of the fiercest battles that took place were in Adam Park and Pasir Panjang Ridge (Bukit Chandu or Opium Hill). Both places I am interested to know more of their history. 

Sharing below what I have learnt in the Adam Park tour.

Our tour guide was Jon Cooper, an Englishman Battlefield Archaeologist for The Adam Park Project and Changi Museum. He is the founder of Adam Park Project. The team he led has uncovered a treasure trove of objects such as regimental cap badges, gas masks, boots and bullets. It is from these unearthed materials, we learnt more about the battle at Adam Park.

Heritage marker board at junction of Adam Road and Adam Park Road.
Adam Park

The 19 black and white houses (numbered 2-20) were built for municipal purposes in the 1920s. On that morning of 12 February 1945, the British soldiers of the 1st Battalion, the Cambridgeshire Regiment, took up positions in the Adam Park housing estate. The Battalion's headquarters was at house number 7. This is stated in the heritage marker board. However, Adam Park was involved in heavy fighting but this was not mentioned in the heritage marker board. In fact, this place was almost untouched since it was built. This is ideal for archaeology purposes. A lot of artifacts had been found especially in this area. It is believed that similar artifacts could be found around Sime Road (Hellfire Corner) all the way to Bukit Brown and MacRitchie which are nearby. This was the only battle line that was left standing on the 15th February 1942 before they were ordered to cease fire at 4pm. It became a POW camp for 3000 POWs. when the Japanese needed the manpower to build the Shinto shrine in MacRitchie Reservoir. Many of these POWs were later sent to work on the Thai Burma Railway that claimed many life.

"The area covered by the 19 colonial black-and-white houses that make up the Adam Park estate is the site of an intense three days of fighting in the battle for Singapore. It was here that, in February 1942, the men of the 1st Battalion Cambridgeshire Regiment held off a series of attacks by the troops of the Japanese 41st (Fukuyama) Regiment."
 -quoted from These words were retold again by Jon Cooper during our tour.

This was not my first tour with Jon. I had been to his Hellfire Corner Tour last year which inspired me to write about a short children story regarding Sime Road.

7 Adam Park
The house, 7 Adam Park, was selected as it sits on a reverse slope and was therefore hidden from a downhill view from Bukit Timah Hill which the Japanese had occupied then.
7 Adam Park
Post war, the house was a private residence. It used to be NUSS Guild House. Now it is left vacant after the last restaurant operator left 2 years ago. Could it be used as a museum for Jon's trove of treasure found in Adam Park itself? These were some food for thoughts.

17 Adam Park
17 Adam Park, a private pool can be seen
17 Adam Park used to be the British Regimental Aid Post. It was burnt to the ground. It was set alight on the 15th February as the ceasefire broke down and tank shells tore into the house. The current building is reconstructed.

The house next to number 17 has swings
Sights at Adam Park
This hill, according to Jon, was difficult to take down. The Battalion soldiers were hiding in the interlocking trenches or drains. I wonder whether they are the same drains when we walked past.

16 Adam Park and the "Valley of Death"
16 Adam Park
This house , number 16, was mentioned in a Japanese soldier's account of the war. He mentioned they fired from a very big black and white house. The garden was so extensive that it even has its own golf course. Actually, all the black and white houses looked alike on this hill but this house has its own golf course. Hence, it is believed this was the house the Japanese occupied and was used to attack the British soldiers. This is located near the "Valley of Death". Jon shared how he deduced where the Japanese were fighting from and where the British were defending from by the artifacts that were dug out from various places around the park. I think it is pretty amazing!

Chapel and Murals
The POW chapel is believed to be house 11. House 5 contains another mural.

Social History
Jon shared too the social history of the place. You may want to read about it here. His new book, Tigers in the Park, will be out soon.

"We are appealing to anyone who has heard stories of their fathers or grandfathers who worked in the area to also help provide a snapshot of how life was like then for civilians working with the POWs," said project initiator Jon Cooper, 48, a military historian and archaeologist.
                             - Straits Times , 4 NOV. Jon made a same request on our tour.


Thoughts on the tour
This tour is enlightening , entertaining and interesting!  I have learnt much from the trip. So little is known about Adam Park. I have been goggling about Adam Park but not much is being found. Even Infopedia has no information on this last line of battle which left me pretty disappointed. Luckily with this tour, I managed to learn more about the place. I hope I would be able to pick up the book , 'Battalion at War', which he had mentioned. I hope I will not fall asleep.

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