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Archive for June, 2012

I had heard so much about this place that I was very keen to try it.  I’m always game for a good, hearty breakfast.  But when we finally made it there, I’m sorry to say I was disappointed.  I know this is contrary to many reviews made of the place, and I tried to see what was good, but at the end of the day, I’d rather spend my money elsewhere.

My main grouses are that their dishes are sparesly presented, portions small, and the prices huge for what they serve up.

We tried the corned beef hash which looked so good on all the blogs I’ve read.  I was happy with how it tasted, I just wished there was more for the price I was paying ($14.90).  Mind you, this is at NUS.  Perhaps I had my expectations driven up by all the hype, but I really think I won’t call what they serve a hearty portion.

Corned Beef Hash

We also had the eggs benedict with lamb prosciutto served on a scone.  At $18, I again felt it was expensive for what I got.  While the lamb was tasty, I didn’t appreciate the texture of the scone which was a bit too crumbly for my liking.  I’d also have liked a salad to go with it to beautify the presentation (and to eat of course, I always eat up my greens!).  I thought the presentation looked sparse, stilted, and unappealing with just a slice of fruit at each corner.  Definitely, without a hint of hesitation, I’d say Prive still wins in the eggs ben department, as it has so far compared to all the other places we’ve been.  Just see how great it looks!  Tastes wonderful, and you know what?  Costs less!

Eggs Benedict with Lamb Prosciutto

Ellery was sleeping during our meal so when he woke I ordered a carrot cake for him.  I was so so disappointed when I saw it.  It was smaller than my palm but cost $6.  The strawberry sauce liberally squirted over the huge plate only served to accentuate how small the cake was.   I can get a much bigger piece at almost every other cafe at that price!  And it didn’t even taste good – too spongy and dry.

Carrot Cake

If the food was fantastic and totally floored me, I might have been more willing to say the prices were ok.  By upping the price factor, I expected more, and I was disappointed.  Bottom line, even if components of some of their dishes taste alright, I’d bring my wallet elsewhere that has better tasting food, has better ambience, and offers more value.

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Febrile Fits

Another horrific experience for me.  Ellery had another febrile fit.  I did not know then that that was what it was called.  I just knew he was having a fit, and I was scared.  It was the second time, the first was when we were in Australia at the Blue Mountains, in the middle of no where.  At that time he recovered fairly quickly and was perfectly normal after.  This time around was just as unexpected though.

I had just gone to the clinic that morning for the paediatrician to check on Ellery’s cough.  At home he had no fever, at the clinic his fever was 38.1, then we gave him some paracetamol and his fever started to go down.  He was very chatty after a nap and seemed fine.  As our kitchen was totally bare I wanted to pick up a few things from the grocery store for dinner.  Seeing that he looked fine I brought him for a quick trip in my Ergo carrier.   I think that was my mistake.  He fell asleep and being in the carrier could have contributed to the sudden rise in body temperature, which is one of the triggers of febrile fits.

It was terrible.  He went stiff and jerky, his head was thrown back, his eyes rolled backwards, his lips turned blue, his teeth were tightly clenched, he was totally unresponsive, and had some frothing from the mouth (though could have been from the phlegm?).  Since patting him worked the last time, I tried that.  I also remembered that he should be kept on his side in case he choked on any phlegm.  The fit seemed to last forever.  At points I really thought I might lose him and when those thoughts flashed through my head I felt a great and almost uncontrollable feeling of panic and hysteria.  I had to make myself not dwell on those thoughts and keep to the present.

I yelled out for someone to call an ambulance, and thankfully someone did.  I ran up to the two clinics nearby, but both were closed.  All I could do was wait.  Wait for him to come out of the fit.  Wait for the ambulance to come.

Eventually he did come out of it, to my immense relief.  I was then so worried that the fit had affected him internally in some way.  He was also so exhausted after the episode that all he wanted to do was sleep.

The paramedics came, put an oxygen mask on him, put me in a wheelchair with him in my arms and wheeled us to the ambulance.  It was my first time in it.  We were rushed to A&E, and we ended up staying one night for observation.

I learned many things about febrile fits from this episode that I think will be good to share.

  1. There’s nothing you can do but to wait out a fit.  Most fits last around 5 minutes.
  2. NEVER put anything in your child’s mouth when he’s having a fit.  Yes, I know everyone says to put in a stick or spoon or something.  I didn’t know any better and let someone insert a spoon in his mouth when he eased up on the clenching.  Someone even suggested I bring a spoon with me everywhere in case Ellery gets a fit again.  There is little risk of the child biting his tongue.  If he does, it will heal.  However, inserting something could damage his teeth, or worse, the object could break and choke the child.
  3. Keep your child on his side (called the recovery position). The uncles and aunties will tell you to sit him upright.  Ignore their well-intentioned advice.
  4. Call an ambulance.  Especially if its the first time.  The docs will want to make sure it is a simple fit, not a complex fit (more than 1 episode in 24 hours).
  5. It is not high temperature that triggers a fit.  It is a sudden increase in body temperature that triggers it.  Even if your child has a sustained high fever above 39degrees, it doesn’t mean he’ll get a fit.
  6. 1 in 20 children gets febrile fits.  There are several factors that predispose a child to having febrile fits.  Ellery didn’t seem to meet any of them though.  So it’s a mystery.  It apparently could be hereditary, could be due to developmental problems in the womb or at birth, etc.
  7. If he’s had a febrile fit, there’s a 30% chance he’ll have it again the next time he has a fever until around 6 years old.  Sigh.
  8. If he’s had a febrile fit, his children will be predisposed to having it too. Double sigh.  Feels quite sad to think that his children are already predisposed to this when he’s only 18 months old.  He’s not even old enough to understand what ‘girlfriend’ means, even in the most simple way.
  9. If your child is predisposed to febrile fits, keep anal diazepam ready at home.  If by the time you take the medicine from the fridge and come back the fit has stopped, you don’t need to use the medicine.  Diazepam can help stop a fit, but there is a risk of suppressing respiration.  But since the fit itself suppresses respiration, if it lasts long you might as well stop it with diazepam.
  10. Next time he has a fever, monitor closely and give preventive paracetamol doses.  This is to avoid sudden increases in temperature.
  11. There is no damage to the child if the fit is a simple fit.  Complex fits are more serious and could have some effect.

You can read more about febrile fits here and here.

Ellery gives us such heart attacks sometimes.  It’s already our second stay in NUH, the first was when he was just three months old.

I really pray that though he is predisposed to febrile fits, that it will not happen again!!!

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I was very inspired by an entry I read in An Accidental Homeschooling Mum.  Alicia had gone into an in-depth study of the impressionist artists.  I’d really like to try out her activities with the boys one day because I really like the work of the impressionists.  It always reminds me of the museums we went to in Chicago and Paris, in particular, the Musee d’Orsay.  I loved, loved, loved that museum.

In an attempt to do something similar with Asher, I decided to embark on an Andy Warhol project since the Artscience Museum was holding an exhibition on that famous pop artist (it ends on 12 Aug 2012).

It started with a search through the library catalogue to see what books looked appropriate for his age.  A lot of them were quite detailed and wordy, and probably better suited to older kids.  But I managed to pick up a few that he enjoyed.

Books we read

I also searched for some pictures on the internet and printed them at a shop because we don’t own a printer at home!  Asher was very happy with our gallery especially after he was more familiar with the names of the pictures.

Our Gallery

We then tried our hand at some Andy-ish art.  As mentioned above we did an art activity from My Art Book.  It involved using photographs, transparencies, construction paper and glue.  Really very simple, but an attractive result.

I had to first find some photos of the boys and had them printed at a photo printing shop (I need a printer!).  It was difficult to then find a photocopy shop willing to photocopy the pictures onto a transparenccy.  Many were too afraid to try even though the transparencies I bought stated they were safe for use with regular copiers.  I thought it very strange because I remember photocopying things onto transparencies when I was in school.  One very smart vendor said, “then go to the same shop you did it at!”  But, er, Uncle, I’ve been out of school for a long time…

It was a good lesson in perseverence because Asher tagged along to a few shops before we found on willing to take the risk.  He has now learnt the word ‘perseverence’.  Now, when he successfully does something he at first thought he couldn’t, he’d say proudly, “Mummy!  I persevered!”

Initially Asher was not too keen on our activity, but when he saw how the coloured paper transformed the look of the pictures he became enthusiastic.  He did all the colour choices and the positioning.  I only helped to hold everything in place while we glued them papers down.  He was very proud of his work and brought Jon to see it the minute he came home from work that day.  Unfortunately some parts got quite scratched.  I didn’t realise how fragile the transparency prints were.  Initially we were not careful and scratched off some parts of the prints.  But I suppose you could think of it lending some rawness and authenticity to the work!

Asher’s take on Warhol.  He calls the bottom right one ‘the green monster’ :)

I did the same project with Ellery two days later.  He’s too young to put everything in place properly, but he made all the colour choices for the different parts.

Ellery’s take.  I think the bottom right one looks quite scary!

A week later Asher did his version of the Campbell Soup cans.  I bought two cans of soup from the supermarket for him to handle.  We looked at the pictures in the gallery, then he embarked on his work.  The first time he just painted a big mess of colours which he eventually said was dinosaurs…hmm…  It was only on his second go that he focused more on painting Campbell Soup cans.  He was quite happy with his work, but I could see he was more thrilled by the first activity.

Asher’s Campbell Soup cans

The grand finale of our Andy Warhol Project was to go for the Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes of Fame exhibition at the Artscience Museum.  We headed there today after church.  I was very excited because this was the goal from the start of the project – to go for the exhibition with Asher able to appreciate some background of the artist and the art.  I was going to bring Ellery because he had also become familiar with  a few of the paintings, but he was napping so soundly and I didn’t want to let another weekend pass us by (we planned to go last week but couldn’t in the end).  Jon stayed with Ellery, so it was just Asher and me as we explored the Artscience Museum for the first time.

Here we come Andy!

Beautiful water lilies surrounding the museum

Pretty purple lily

I was adament about going to the museum on a weekend because that’s when they hold a special silkscreen printing workshop as part of the Children’s Season.  Asher did not really understand what silkscreen printing was from the books, partly because there were only brief descriptions of the process.  I wasn’t too sure of what it was either, so this was a good opportunity for us both.  He chose to do the silkscreen print on a t-shirt so I bought a plain white t-shirt from the gift shop for about $13 (they don’t allow you to bring your own t-shirt – I asked hehe).  The workshop is actually free if you do the printing on paper, but I thought it’d be more fun for him to wear his creation rather than just stick it on the wall, or in some corner to be forgotten.

Asher wrapped in a plastic apron listening to the explanation on silkscreen printing

Waiting for his turn

Pleased with the result

The exhibits were good.  There were many pictures we saw in books that we didn’t see there, and many pictures we saw there that we didn’t see in the books.  But it was exciting to spot those we recognised, and learn more about those we didn’t which we liked.  I appreciated how they had catered for the kids by putting some explanations in more kid-engaging language and at kid height.  There was also one part of the exhibition which showcased the paintings Andy Warhol did especially for children.  These were also placed lower so that children could have a better look at them.  There was another part which showed Asian artists’ take on Andy Warhol’s work which I thought was quite interesting.  For example, Jahan Loh did a series of paintings on luncheon meat :)  No photos allowed so I can’t show you any.

At the end of our excursion I asked Asher which were the parts he liked best and he said the silkscreening, and two works we had never seen or read about – silver clouds (an interactive work with silver pillow-shaped balloons filled with helium that floated around the room), and the endangered animals series (a series of ten paintings of endangered animals).

Little Andy

Asher (being a dinosaur) & I outside the museum

Changed to show Daddy his work

That brought an end to our Andy Warhol Project.  We came home to flip through the books to spot what we had seen in the museum, then it was off to bed for the boy.

Some of the paintings we saw at the museum

What next? :)

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When I saw in a brochure that Frontier Danceland was offering a Creative Movement workshop for kids as part of the ACE! Festival, I was keen to sign Asher up.  I’ve danced a couple of times with Frontier Danceland and was excited to bring him into a familiar environment to expose him to dance.

Outside the studio

I think I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I sometimes dream of dancing with my boys when I’m older (maybe ballroom), or for them to sit in during one of my dance classes (when I eventually start them again *fingers crossed*) to see what Mummy is up to.  I remember as a teenager seeing other dancer’s kids sitting in their mother’s class watching what was going on.

Anyway, back to the main topic.  In the brochure the class is actually targeted at ages 5-7, 8-11, and 12-14.  But the organisers were flexible and allowed Asher to try out the 5-7 yr old class even though he’s only 3.5 yrs old.  And as it was, I think he managed well and thoroughly enjoyed the class :)  It was a parent-assisted class, meaning I had to join in the action too, which suited me fine.

Waiting for the class to start

Ms Keryn Ng was the key facilitator for the class and she had a really good connection with the children.  She engaged them on their level and was very encouraging of their efforts.  I was wondering how she had acquired this magic touch, and as it turns out, she has some experience in teaching preschool children.  No wonder!

Initially Asher was a little shy, but as he warmed up he became more vocal and participative…and unstoppably energetic!

The workshop started with a round of “Incy Wincy Spider”, but instead of the usual actions we did more full-bodied motions.  It was followed with a few more nursery rhymes to warm up the kids.

There were two activities that I particularly liked.   The first was when the kids were made to line up on one side of the room, and the adults on the other.  Keryn would give an emotion, for example, sadness or joy, and ask the kids to walk to their parents while moving in a way that expressed that emotion.  It was a challenge for the children as they mostly found it very funny and ran laughing to their parents.  We parents then tried our best to show the kids how it could be done.  I thought it was a good start to showing how we can use our bodies to express our inner state.

And the activity that I thought was fantastic was when the kids were roped in to help choreograph a short dance sequence.  Keryn asked each child for a movement and added this to the dance.  I was impressed with how she gave confidence to the children even when they shrugged their shoulders or said they didn’t know what to do, because she’d use the shrugging or whatever movement the child had done and incorporated it.  When the children saw their movement put into the sequence you could see their eyes light up :)

At the end of the event Asher was beaming, sweaty, tired, yet somehow a ball of energy.  He was so hyped up it took quite long to calm him down :)  That’s how dance is…Moving, using your body to express yourself…it’s a rush I tell you!

heeheehahahhheehaahaheee

literally ROTFL

Frontier Danceland is still holding the workshop this coming Saturday, 9 June, at the Goodman Arts Centre.  For kids 5-7, it’s from 215-3pm;  kids 8-11, it’s 315-4pm; and for kids 12-14 it’s at 415-5pm.  You can look here for more information on how to register.

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