Thursday, 14 March 2019

Snow alien

.. the first decent attempt at a snow man, err.. alien :)

Timeline : March 2019 @ the backyard

Friday, 21 December 2018

#growingup #sillyparents

.. as I near my fourth birthday :)

Time line :  Dec'18. Letter tracing and lego duplo building completely by herself


Friday, 2 November 2018

Towards Canadian PR - Part 2

Part-1 covered the process of entering the Express Entry pool till getting the Invitation to Apply. Once we get the ITA, we have 60 days (as of Oct-2018) to submit the application of PR after completing the personalized checklist from CIC. A general idea of checklist is given below. 
  • Checklist for making the application to Permanent Residence (All scanned documents MUST be of original document and NOT of photocopied documents)
    • Marriage license/Certificate
      • Scanned copy of the original of marriage license certificate) -only for the principal applicant.
    • Passport
      • Scanned copy of the front and back pages with all the stamped pages
      • Required for all the applicants
    • Medical checkup (Click the link to know more about Medical checkup requirement)
      • To be done at a clinic designated by CIC, locally.
      • The provisional medical certificates can be collected the same day, which must be scanned(originals) and uploaded later, during the application process.
    • Police Clearance Certificates (Click the link to know more about PCC) 
      • Indian PCC - We chose to get the Indian PCC from India itself and not through Indian embassy in Singapore. The PCC was issues by the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) in my hometown in India. If you have renewed the passport in the last 10 years or so at the PSK (and not abroad),  they would have your record and the PCC will be issued in the first visit itself. If not, the process has to go via a manual police verification followed by the PCC issuance (need to be collected in person at the PSK), which can take almost a month. The originals need to be scanned and uploaded during the application process.
      • Singapore PCC - As mentioned by CIC, the Certificate of Clearance need not be obtained upfront, from Singapore Police Force, at this stage. As and when the application review proceeds, a few months after we submit the final application, CIC sends a letter requesting the PCC from Singapore. We need to provide this letter (mandatory) to appeal to Singapore Police to provide PCC. However, we found that if you're a single applicant you can get the Singapore PCC upfront by just providing the ITA letter, but require this request letter from CIC for your dependents.
    • Employement Records
      • For all the past jobs, we presented a scanned copy of the original relieving letter bearing HR Head's signature, on company's letter head, citing our full name, designation, duration in the company etc. In addition, we also scanned our last salary slips in each job with the last drawn salary details. For the present job, we got a letter from the company's letter head citing our employement status with the currently drawn salary. Its a good idea to prepare this before the ITA itself, as this good be time consuming depending on your career path.
    • Educational Records
      • We provided scanned copies of the original degree certificates, original transcripts and the ECA report from WES.
    • Proof of funds
      • As Proof of the funds that we have claimed in the application to enter the pool, we showed both of ours savings bank account details in Singapore, for the last six months. The monthly account summary, with each page stamped had to be requested at the bank. Since this fund covered the claimed amount, we did not show any other source of income. A guideline to the fund requirement is mentioned here.
    • Digital Photo
      • The requirement for the digital photo and the hardcopy (required later, while stamping the visa in the passport) is provided here. Sticking to specifications is highly suggested to avoid any delays while processing.
    • Birth certificate
      • This was required only for the child. Scanned copy of the original document was uploaded.
    • Cover Letters
      • Whenever we felt that a little description is needed to explain the uploaded documents, we always wrote section-wise cover letters(as a first page of the scanned document(s) pdf), which we felt will help the reviewing officer overcome any confusion.
      • Finally, in the cover letter section at the top level, we wrote a letter citing our application giving a brief introduction to who we are and what we are and why we think obtaining a Permanent Residence in Canada is important to us.
  • Submitting the application and AoR
    • We submitted our completed PR application in February'17 and received the Acknowledgement of Receipt (AoR) on the same day. And the wait began.... In part-3, we'll cover the different steps from getting the AoR till we got the PR card.

Friday, 26 October 2018

Towards Canadian PR - Part 1

This series of posts, written over three months, aim to capture the step by step procedure of our journey to obtaining the Canadian Permanent Residence (PR) through Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) category. I try to cover as-much-details-as-possible-yet-being-precise, in the hope that someone somewhere might find it informative, just the way we benefited from reading a lot of forums, blogs etc, back during our application time and also as a log book for future reference. We will cover the process in three parts - first part will cover the process summary till Invitation to Apply (ITA), second part covers the process of subsequent submission of Application of Permanent Residence, the third part will cover the phase between submission of PR application till getting the PR card and the final part will cover a brief summary of the expenses incurred at all the phases.

  • Category
  • Eligibility assessment:
    • Create a log in under CIC and assess the score and eligibility under the Comprehensive Ranking System. A few of the criteria include age (of the primary applicant), educational level (of both primary applicant and spouse), experience level as well as proving language proficiency (English and/or French).
    • Once the eligibility is ascertained, the previous draws of application give an idea of the points statistics in the past rounds, to understand the chances. To fetch the maximum points, we had to provide all credentials and supporting documents for all three of us.
  • Language Proficiency test:
    • As part of the language proficiency test, we both appeared for IELTS. The results are valid for two years. (The IELTS results must be valid while receiving the ITA). The results were available in three weeks time. It is important to retain the hardcopy of the results mailed from IELTS, as the number mentioned in this document is needed while filling the application at CIC.
  • Education Credential Assessment (ECA):
    • In parallel, apply for educational credential assessment to claim points for the highest level of completed education. We used World Educational Service (WES). This was required as both of our degrees were not awarded by any Canadian institution. We had to provide
      • sealed transcripts from the university, in stamped envelopes 
      • copies of the degree certificates, for the highest education level. 
      • cover letter explaining the documents. 
    • Again, the reference numbers in the WES report (which cites the Canadian equivalent of the highest degree that we have claimed) are required while filling the application page at CIC. 
    • We opted normal post for the results to be sent back to us. This is okay as WES also sends the soft copy of the report via email much ahead. The whole process of us sending the transcripts to getting the ECA report took around two months. 
  • Entering the Express Entry Pool:
    • With the IELTS results and the WES results at hand, we created our profile and officially joined the Express Entry pool. 
  • Invitation to Apply
    • At our time of application, the CRS ranking from the past round of draws were all above 450 and the recent draws were in and around 480-490. We got our Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Permanent Residence in Jan'17. Once we got ITA, we had 90 (update: as of Oct'18 it is 60) days to apply for the Permanent Residence with lot of documents and a pretty long set of checklist, which is personalized by CIC, for each application. Part-2 will cover this checklist and the process of submitting the application for PR.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Review #3 - 24 piece (set of two) Jigsaw puzzle from Ravensburger (Finding Dory)

After trying out smaller piece-and-size puzzles, we decided to try gradually higher number puzzle pieces and searched a few book stores in Singapore. Most of the higher size puzzles for  an age group of 4-6 were roughly in the size of 25cm X 15cm. To our dismay, we found that most of the choices did not have a good picture quality. Moreover, the texture of the solved puzzle/ individual puzzle piece was not even plain; they appeared a little bit curvy to the extent that you have to skew your eyes ( atleast ours) a bit to see the picture properly. May be they have a reason behind it, but did not appeal to us. We further researched and went to some exclusive jigsaw puzzle shops and found some great jigsaw puzzle for the toddler group with amazing quality and decent piece size, but had higher number of pieces (50+). We liked a few of the brands we saw there and decided to browse Amazon.

So, in April'18, we purchased a 24 piece jigsaw puzzle themed on "Finding Dory"( set of two puzzles) from Ravensburger through Amazon Prime. The product comes with an age group recommendation of 4+. This has two puzzle sets and apart from the puzzles, carry two colour-printed papers corresponding to each solved puzzle. We placed each of them in plastic protectors for better longevity in our home. The pieces of the two puzzles are combined in the box, with their back sides coded to identify them. Nevertheless, we used two zip pouches to separate them. The product box can be used as the storage container for both the puzzle sets. The colour and the contrast (we are very particular about this as we realized that contrast between pieces is very important for Anouk to differentiate the pieces) were great and the solved puzzle gave a very smooth textured feeling. It was both interesting and challenging for the 3 year old Anouk. We liked the fact that her perseverance is really showing up and inspite of the increased difficulty, she was not giving up with initial trials. The size of each piece is quite comfortable for the three year old Anouk to handle well. The size of the solved puzzle is ideal for her to solve it on the table top. The pieces are quite sturdy and after been played out multiple times on most days, have not met with a single mishap over the last two months. Overall we really liked the jigsaw puzzle and feel it as a good product for 3-4 year olds or even as an introductory puzzle for 5 year old, depending upon the child's interest and ability to sit 10-15 min+ at a stretch.

Below is the snap of the product box and the printouts of the solved puzzles that come along with the product. We have also captured the videos of Anouk solving the two puzzles. These videos were taken two months after the purchase, by which time she was already solving 49-piece puzzles by herself. So she appears to be solving each 24-piece puzzle under 2.5 minutes (Initially she took around 10-13 minutes to solve it).
24 piece puzzles (set of 2) from Ravensberger
Left : Box cover (top) and box (below)
Right: Colour printouts of the two puzzles that comes with the product

Review Summary
Product : 24 piece jigsaw puzzles (set of 2) from Ravensburger
Theme : Finding Dory
Purchased from : Amazon Prime
Price : S$ 12.40 (including all taxes)
Puzzle dimension : 26cm X 18 cm (approximate)
Age group : Product specifies 4+. We used for our 3 years 2 months child.
Highlights : Excellent picture quality, puzzle piece quality, colour contrast, puzzle shape, puzzle size, texture. Comes with a colour printout of the solved puzzle. The product box can be used as a storage container
Low light : Though the back side of the puzzles are coded to easily identify between two puzzles, we found it rather tedious to sort every time we took them out to play. We used two zip pouches to keep them separate. Would have been nice if there were sub-packages inside to separately carry each puzzle set's pieces.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Review # 2 Jigsaw puzzles (set of 4) from My Greatest Child

We had written a review of the beginner jigsaw puzzles from My Greatest Child here. Following the first set, we had purchased two more similar puzzle sets, as Anouk seemed quite interested in the activity. Each puzzle box had a set a four, just like the previous. All the three sets were really good choices as an introduction to jigsaw puzzles. Each of the puzzle set had pieces varying from 9, 12, 15 and 20. Like the previous, had really good picture quality and contrast, which were very important for a 3-year old to solve it all by herself. We had purchased these two puzzles in February'18, a week after the first purchase. These three puzzle sets gave Anouk a very good idea about jigsaw puzzle solving and made her interested to solve more. In following months we graduated to 28 piece floor puzzles and 24, 35 piece puzzles from Ravensburger, which Anouk was able to solve all by herself. On that front, the beginner jigsaw puzzles were really worth it, for the sheer interest it has developed in the kid and makes up for a great hand-down stuff to her younger cousins.

Below is the snap of the jigsaw puzzle boxes and all the solved puzzles. One of them had transportation theme and the other used wild animals. All the four puzzles per set are shown and have pieces varying from 9, 12, 15 and 20.

Set of 4 puzzles: Box and the solved puzzles
 Theme : transportation (top) & wild animals (bottom)

Below are the videos of 3 year old Anouk solving these puzzles. Each video captures her solving all the four puzzles in a set. The videos are taken 3 months after we introduced these puzzles to her. By this time, she was already solving 35 piece puzzles and had just started 49 piece jigsaw puzzles. Hence she appears to be solving these simple puzzles decently fast (which was not the case when these puzzles were introduced).

Review Summary

Product  Jigsaw puzzles ( set of 4) from My Greatest Child
Theme : Transportation, Wild animals
Bought from  : My Greatest Child, # 03-91, Plaza Singapura
Price : S$ 6.90 per box (of 4 puzzles)
Dimension of each solved puzzle : 15cm X 10.5 cm
Customer age group : We used for our 3 year old ( Product does not specify any age)
Highlights : Excellent introduction to jigsaw puzzles for 2-4 year olds, budget option, sturdy and toddler friendly pieces, gradually increasing complexity from 9 to 20 piece puzzles, attractive packaging, good picture quality
Lowlights : Nothing in particular; the basic puzzles ( 9, 12 pieces) might be too simple for 4+ kids.

Friday, 18 May 2018

DIY #10 - Indoor Colouring Corner for Toddlers

Archiving this DIY activity 2 years after the beginning of the project which is still running.. 

We thought of creating a colouring/drawing/painting space when we realized that the then-16-month-old-Anouk likes to do her painting activities with partners(read, parents) and not much by herself. We introduced colouring crayons and colouring books to her when she was 15 months old and she did not appear very keen to sit by herself and well, colour J So we thought about creating a colouring space in the wall, big enough so that no one feels too cramped about hovering over a colouring book. The store room door looked perfect and we simply pasted a big white Mahjong paper (each sized ~58cm X 58cm). It really made the drawing/ colouring sessions so fun.. We never had these sessions on a daily basis, still there will be so much strokes/ drawing over it, that we had to change to a clean sheet every 2-3 weeks.. 

Materials required
  • A plain door/ wall - In our case the store room door in the living room
  • White paper - We used Mahjong paper (58cm X 58cm)
  • Cellotape - to paste the paper to the door.
  • Colouring equipments - of your choice - we used colouring pencils, crayons and water colours

Evolution : We started this activity in July'16 when Anouk was 16 months old. Anouk started with simple irregular and random strokes(?). There were coloured endless suns, moons, babies, tigers, cats, dogs, birds, houses, balloons, her parents and what not.. which all looked.. the same J This was an easy platform for us to teach her standing lines, sleeping lines, circles, curves, shapes as we would draw once and if she is interested she would eagerly try to repeat or would simply ask us to draw again by ourselves J We used to scribble enough to replace the sheet every 2-3 weeks, though there were times, we'll forget to do any of these sessions for weeks at a stretch. At the time when she was around 2.5 years, we added water colouring to these sessions. This seriously elevated the fun part in the colouring activity.. It still makes for a great indoor activity for us. 

Progress : From our experience, we liked colouring on the wall-pasted-paper (with its pseudo-easel feeling), a better activity than colouring on books (at this age), as it was easier for us to join her in the activity. Over time she mastered her standing lines and sleeping lines decently enough to write alphabets E,F,H,I,L,O,T etc quite fluently before her 3rd birthday. We later purchased a white board, where she continued her alphabet writing practices, but still continues to carry on her painting fun in this wall-paper corner. On the parents side, we found that this activity (involuntarily) gave her the idea that any colouring has to be done in this corner and she has thankfully spared the living room white walls from her colouring pencils, crayons and water colours. From once quite-disinterested with colouring books (the notion of colouring within boundaries did not gel with her J), now at 3 years 3 months, she is showing interest in colouring books where she is trying to stick to colouring within boundaries. We still keep up this activity and just dawned on me to archive this as a good DIY idea for colouring corner. 

I have snapped the latest wall paper that I pasted last night with her evening's colour splashing on it. And I managed to retrieve the previously coloured and removed paper, crumbled and in the trash bin, to get a sample snap of our fun J

The fresh paper (58cm X 58cm) pasted on the store room door, snapped after first evening's work, May'18 
The finished paper, which I had removed prior
to the fresh paper - to show a sample 2-week's work
Timeline - May'18
Update : I managed to dig around our photo archives and got a picture of our wall colouring work, captured in July 2016, when Anouk was around 17 months old.. all crayons and very random scribbling and pasted low in the door fit for a little toddler.. J
Sample artwork - Timeline July'16, when Anouk was 17 months old.