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a Montessori school

Given my penchant for details, I was expecting to do a great deal of painstaking research when the time comes to choosing the all important first “school” for DZ. I did some reading and asking around on the various approaches adopted by Singapore pre-schools and once I made the decision of putting him in a Montessori based learning environment, I was able to quickly narrow down my search to a few establishments in our vicinity.

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Nestled inside the quiet residential estate of Sunset Way are three Montessori schools, of which I shortlisted two for a school visit. Located on the second floor of Clementi Arcade, Brighton Montessori did not appeal as it was fully air-conditioned and lack outdoor space. Both Little House and Early Years are equally dedicated to the Montessori style of teaching and have a nurturing environment. The children seem well adjusted here, we were happy with what we saw. We eventually went for EYM as the school fees are more reasonable, and housed in a single-storey bungalow next to a public park, it has a slightly more spacious compound and easy access to Sunset Way playground. Inside the school, I especially appreciate the thoughtful way each area is demarcated for its intended purpose.

It was last January when we first toured the school. I paid a deposit the following month and secured a place for the more popular morning session. Typical kiasu Singaporean parent at work? Perhaps. But it sure is a huge load off the mind to have settled the pre-school issue early. There are plenty of information available out there on the philosophy of a Montessori education so I will not delve into its merits and other debates here. There are concerns among some parents on how a Montessori child led approach will fit into the local education system when the time comes for the child to enter primary school. Pedagogy aside, all I hope for at the end of the day is that this will be a place outside of the comfort of home where my son will blossom into his own little person. A place where he will spend meaningful time playing, learning and just enjoying those precious early years.

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Now a peep into a Montessori classroom. These were taken during the transition program organized by the school last December. We spent an hour there each time and were there for a total of 3 visits. The pictures are hung at a child’s eye level and materials are displayed neatly on low shelves to allow easy access. There are some basic ground rules about behaviour and tidiness, but beyond these children are free to choose whatever activity they wish to work with. When they are finished with an activity, they are expected to put the materials back where they belong.

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One of things I noticed about DZ when mingling with a group of children is that he tends to play better with an older kid. This school practices both the same and mixed age grouping. Except for the N1 children who spend more time in their dedicated Playroom as seen from above, the other levels move around the various areas for the different classes. There is The Hall where most of the Montessori tools and equipment are located and where the N2, K1 and K2 do their “work”, The Foyer where Music and Movement lesson is held and the Chinese room. Outside, there is a lovely, well-manicured Playgarden with specially curated work stations, sandpit, bird feeder, miniature fish pond and rabbit hutch where the children spend a good amount of time mingling, exploring and even having their snack alfresco.

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And here is a shot of my 2yr 4mo old getting acquainted with P.J. the school pet rabbit and Ms. Maha, his favourite teacher showing him around the Playroom on his first visit. He was a little reluctant to leave our side in the beginning but warm up to the new environment soon enough.

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Day 2 of orientation: after helping him unfold and lay the mat which means that a child has marked his/her “territory” and work scope, he proceeded to play with some blocks which he picked for himself. All this while I sat on a stool right outside the classroom just observing him. He looked up and around once or twice but did not make a big fuss when he couldn’t see us. The session ended with another round of fish and rabbit feeding. It looked like we had a happy camper.

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Poh Poh came along on the last day and together we sat observing him from afar as he busied himself at the sandpit at the garden. After the first 10 minutes or so, he hardly looked for us. We left school on a good note and a promise to return soon again. It is my greatest wish that he would settle well and love the school which we picked for him.

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Before Phuket

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The original plan was Danang in central Vietnam. We scrapped it when the airline took forever to confirm our mileage redemption. So we cast our eyes over several nearby Southeast Asia destinations and settled for Phuket. It was a no brainer really, with its cheap airfare and endless accommodation options though the deal breaker is the under 2 hours flight time, not to mention we’ve NEVER been there before. I know, we have a lot of catch up to do in the SEA department.

So yes, our usual traveling party of four is hitting the beach this Friday! Am really looking forward to 5D4N of complete chilling, cheap and good Thai food, shopping, relaxing and well just zoning out. But before that, there’s a lot of catching up to do on the blog sphere, AND the urgent need to offload tons of photos taken since the beginning of the year from my iPhone.

Belly shot@ 23 weeks

You know what they say about being pregnant the second time round. Well, it’s mostly true.

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For one, this pregnancy passes much quicker. Of course there was the usual first trimester morning sickness and a general sense of queasiness and lethargy but once out of the wood, the weeks seem to just zoom by! I find it hard to believe that at the time of writing, I’m just a month shy of the third trimester mark? *GULP* I guess when you are busy chasing after a demanding child around the house there is less time to navel gaze and daydream.

Some time during the middle of week 17, I began to feel the tiny flutters or quickening, a good 3 weeks earlier than the previous. Though contrary to the norm, I don’t find the bump significantly bigger this time at the same gestational age. I think it really popped from around week 20 and I felt and looked pregnant from then. But those much dreaded muscle and pelvic aches came way before I even reached the halfway point. Suffice to say, it hasn’t been very fun getting up and moving around these days.

Unlike the luxury of a first pregnancy when I had time to myself to just curl up with a magazine, or go for pre-natal yoga classes, I get my daily dose of exercise from sending DZ to school in his stroller. Point-to-point, it typically takes less than 15 minutes but given my current state now, I say we take about 20 minutes or so. Weather and the day’s schedule permitting, I had intended to walk at least 3 times a week but DZ is completely digging this new mode of transportation that he requested we take the stroller to school every day, well almost. ;)

From the things I’ve heard and read, well, the second child inevitably gets lesser attention, having to share with the older sibling from day one. Not only that, they also seem to have fewer pictures taken and receive lesser accolades and gifts. I also get the impression that more often than not number twos tend to have completely different personalities from the firstborns and that they also seem to “grow up faster”. It makes me really curious about the little being growing inside me now and I can’t wait to meet and get to know my number two. For a start, this pregnancy already feels a whole lot different from the last but I’ll leave the details for a separate entry.

I do hope that when my turn comes, I can find the energy, time and effort to take photos and document the various milestones of the second child, like I did for my first. To kick things off, here’s a bump shot of me 23 weeks 1 day along. :D

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Get ready world- this kid is going to be a big brother!! I am due with our second child in early August and could not be more thrilled. As a matter of fact, the siblings share the EXACT same EDD, what a happy coincidence!?!

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Which means by the time Baby arrives, our little boy will be 3. Bub in belly, are you ready for this big brother? :D

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Tweaking the original with an additional layer of fresh banana silces, real rum instead of essence this time, combination of 58% and 90% dark chocolate topped with generous sprinkle of cocoa powder. May I present chocolate tart version 2.0. The smoothness of the ganache blend nicely with the taste of just ripened banana, bringing the flavour to a whole new level. Even I can’t help but give this a BIG thumbs-up myself! :D

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No second helping, the downside (or upside?) of coming from a big family… ;)

When it comes to the name game, it was pleasantly easy and straightforward process for us.

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Neither a fan nor detractor of the iconic Paul Frank brand, the Dad and I had no idea this guy’s name is Julius too, when we decided to use it for our son. It sounds endearing, well at least to us(!) for a little boy, and yet strong and masculine enough for a grown up man we thought. Being an avid history buff, he was thinking more of Caesar than this world famous primate but I guess it doesn’t hurt to be associated with a monkey with the wide grin cute as this eh?

To date, we’ve received a fair share of PF merchandise and I suppose this will not be his last. Thank you Aunty CY for this Super Julius shirt! :D

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Walking past the florist yesterday, these fresh cut flowers caught my eyes. Two bucks to brighten up my home, why not? Not only the blooms but the wrapper that came along brought a smile to my face.

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Breakfast the next morning. You can’t go wrong with a Nutella and banana panini, can you?

Spring in Singapore

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My mother took a pic of this rare, pretty sight during her morning walk around the estate and sent it over to the family group chat in WhatsApp. These trees, according to her are called 风铃木, and have been flowering all over Singapore the past week or so. Coinciding with the cherry blossom season in Japan this year, it seems (albeit at a sweltering 33 degrees) like spring has arrived in Singapore too.