Category Archives: Parenting

Escape to Penang

When we last visited Penang five years ago, the kids were three and seven. The activities we tried then were more sedate. This time round, the highlight of the trip was the visit to the adventure park Escape.

I chuckled to myself when we saw this sign the moment we entered the park – sheer coincidence but so apt since my column in Sunday Times today was about stopping computer games at home.


I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. We planned to spend half a day there but ended up spending the whole day there because the kids couldn’t get enough of the place.

The place is not just for kids – there were teenagers and adults there too.

They were initially wary and cautious, but gained lots of confidence by the end of the day.

Their favourite was the tree monkey climb which had high element challenges of varying difficulty. They tried out the Level 1 and 2 climbs. I think there were three levels.

The weather was perfect, slightly cloudy. We went mid-week and the place was not too crowded.

There was rock climbing too.

WhatsApp Image 2017-03-15 at 10.13.22 PM

Her korkor has tried such high element challenges at a school adventure camp. But it was her first time. I think she was surprised she could manage, and even enjoyed the challenges.


Despite spending almost the whole day there, there were lots of other activities they did not try.

A sure sign of a successful outing is when they ask: “When can we come back again?”


Medan Trip

We made a special trip to Medan last month. Special because it was not our usual vacation spot. We went to celebrate the graduation of our former maid, Anna.


Taken at the Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni, the church that looks like a temple.

We visited Anna’s university next.



And finally, a shot at Merdeka Walk.


Well done, Anna!

Five things on Friday 14/10

Because it is difficult to find long stretches to write these days, I shall attempt to do quick updates when I can. Let’s hope I can keep this up!

1. Letting go – Exams are round the corner for Jason. After three years of prodding, (he is in P4 this year), he is finally coming round to the idea of studying. He still needs prodding, but I do less of it, because I’m too busy and tired. Reverse psychology works slightly. I tell him he has to manage on his own. He asks, why? Why can’t you teach me etc. But he complains less about having to do revision. If he says he doesn’t feel like doing, I say, fine, and leave it as that. Then he gets up and gets going with the revision. 🙂

Visualise our afternoons: I’m in the middle, on their bed with Sarah, Shannon is on my left, and Jason is on my right.

2. Finding the old me – I went out on my own twice this week, leaving baby with the hubby. Once, for a meeting at MOE, and tonight, for dinner with a good friend. So twice this week, I felt like my old self again, having discussions, asking questions, thinking hard about replies, and at dinner, laughing crazily as Wendy and I made up for lost time. I love my time at home with my kids, but I realise I need to snap out of Mummy-mode once in a while. It’s good for me, good for hubby and kids too!

We shared pizza and a pasta at a place I’ve been wanting to try – Italian Osteria at HillV2.


3. Last weekend was a great one, because we had nothing on the agenda. We stayed home because Jason was nursing a cough. The kids were barred from their weekend cartoons because they misbehaved during the week. (Think endless bickering for no good reason). With no screen time, they thought up other things to play. They drew, played games and we went to the park connector both days to walk and cycle. We need more of such screen-free days.

Playing magnetic darts.

4. Sarah’s still not sleeping through the night, waking up at least once, but mostly twice, to feed. Am still not certain if it’s because of hunger or habit. She’s almost nine months now. We just started her on three meals a day a week ago, so will see how it goes. Am thinking I might need to add more meat/protein to her meals, to keep her fuller for longer at night. But it’s a juggling act cooking her meals, and ours. Still trying to figure out a system.

5. Feeling old – I was browsing through Jason’s science books and commented that I did not learn about the human digestive system in primary school. He said, “Of course, yours was the olden days ” Ouch!!

Enjoy your weekend!


Since the arrival of baby Sarah in January, I’ve cut down on the freelance work I usually take on because there is simply not enough time. I would like to take on more work, but it will mean getting more stressed out etc.

One of the things I’m still writing is the monthly column for ST. I often get asked how I come up with column ideas. It varies. There are times I don’t have an idea what to write about days before the column is due. There are other times I have a vague idea in mind weeks ahead.

This month’s column idea came out of the blue. The two older kids were play a crazy game “catching” while blindfolded. The catcher would be blind folded and was supposed to throw a cushion at the target. At some point I remarked to my husband that it was ironic that they have more time to play these few weeks because exams are round the corner. “Write about it!” he said. And I did.

As for the game of catching, it ended badly – Jason, the catcher, threw the cushion at the dinner table (while blindfolded). Food, water and a small glass jar for baby food ended up on the floor, the glass broke, water spilled, food was everywhere… Ah, that’s life.

Below, trying to blow the biggest bubble they can.


Teachers’ Day 2016

After what seems like endless weeks of the flu bug going round all three kids, we are finally getting a breather!

It’s been a while since we busted out our craft supplies, so when the baby was taking her nap yesterday, the older two spent a good two hours making Teachers’ Day cards. We didn’t do anything elaborate like we did three years ago, but it was a fun time nevertheless.

My job was to just lay out the supplies and help them with wrapping simple gifts like notebooks (because I love wrapping presents), and they did the rest.

Sarah woke up and joined them towards the end of their crafting session!

Jason’s teacher whom I wrote about last year has since left the school, but there are many others I’m very grateful for.

Teachers have a tough job, tougher now than before. Not only do they have to teach, handle administrative work, they even have to communicate with parents via apps like Class Dojo and more. They send pictures, reminders, schedules to parents and are contactable anytime, anywhere. And this is not even their main job – which is to teach our kids.

Jason’s soccer teacher in charge brings them for external soccer matches, to watch an S- league match on a Friday night, organises parents briefings for school camps in the evenings and more.

Their piano teacher, who lives opposite the school, would help me send Jason to school when he was younger, so I did not have to make an extra trip. She also offered to help me mind Shannon after her lesson a couple of months ago when I had to send Sarah back to hospital because of high jaundice levels.

When teachers go out of their way to do their best for my kids, I have nothing but deep appreciation for them. I remind the kids about this often, and hopefully through the simple cards they make, they learn gratitude in the process.

Happy Teachers’ Day to all the teachers out there!

Life lately

I didn’t mean to let five months pass since my last post but I’ve been trying to stay sane as I get used to the bub and manage the older kids and the home.

Some quick updates before she wakes up from her nap:


Left picture taken at 2 weeks and right picture taken at 2 months.

And she is now six months!!

Sleep is overrated for her, she still wakes me up several times a night. But she is our most smiley baby, rewarding one and all with big, toothless grins. My frustrations at night melt away when she greets me every morning with the most adoring smile.

The older two are still very much smitten by her.

But most people say she looks more like her korkor than her jiejie.

Jason is 10!

The first-born has hit double digits!


I did not have the time nor energy to plan a proper party like the one he had last year. So we had an impromptu one for the family, whom we invited only a day before.


And another last-minute one for three of his best friends. I checked with their mums two days before, and three out of the four boys were able to make it.

I’ve come to enjoy parties for boys; they are easy to please. There is no need for any party planning, so it’s all very relaxed. Serve them a pizza, some soup and packet drinks, and they are satisfied. There is no need to plan any party games either. I didn’t specify what they would be doing, but they all brought a change of clothes and wore their sports shoes. What ensued was a game of soccer, catching, some play involving water, before they came back hot and sweaty.

They took turns to take a quick shower, before starting on more games at home – nerf guns, dart boards and I’m not sure what else.

Then we had cake, which I grabbed from the neighbourhood cake shop when I brought Shannon out for ice-cream, and it was perfect for the soccer-fanatic.

imag3455.jpgThe four boys devoured the whole cake. Shannon, who does not fancy cakes, didn’t want any.

Valentine’s Day

I had a perfect Valentine’s Day yesterday. It was filled with sweet treats, gems and a big, comfortable bed.

Once upon a time,

I might have wished for…

Breakfast in bed

Now? Nah, breakfast in bed is overrated (not that I’ve ever had it before). Who wants breakfast (in bed or not), when I’ve been up half the night nursing a three-week old? Instead, I got to sleep in all by myself until 10am – a rare luxury, while he took baby out of the room by 730am so I wouldn’t be awakened by her cries. An uninterrupted 2.5-hour sleep-in was exactly what I needed.

A younger me might have looked forward to…

A sweet treat

Yesterday, I tasted the sweetness of freedom when I brought our newly-minted middle child out for a McDonald’s ice-cream cone. With a difficult pregnancy and a newborn, it has been more than six months since I had one-on-one time with Shannon. She enjoyed her sweet treat, I enjoyed watching her enjoy herself.


All this while he held down the fort at home watching the newborn and a handful of rambunctious boys who came over to celebrate Jason’s 10th birthday.

Maybe I would have once longed for…

A romantic dinner

Instead, he knew how bored of confinement food I was, and came back with a mix of hawker fare that whet my appetite. It was one of the best dinners I had in the past month.

I might have once been excited about getting…

A gem or two

And hey, I now have three precious gems!


To be honest, I can’t remember us ever celebrating Valentine’s Day, save for one night out at Holland Village, while we were both in university and penniless.

We don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, and it’s Not because every day is Valentine’s Day.

Hope you enjoyed your Valentine’s Day too!


Brother, sister and baby

The older two have been enamoured by baby Sarah. They ask to carry her almost every day. They report almost every cry and whimper to us. Both dislike hearing her cry and Shannon is especially distressed, worrying if Sarah is ok. That’s about where the similarities end.

Shannon is older than Sarah by 7 years. For now, she’s the doting jiejie, Mummy’s best helper who helps with stacking diapers, bringing wet wipes and cream when needed. She tells me several times in a day, “baby is so cute”.


She is rather at ease when she carries baby, compared to her brother. She loves that Sarah is wearing her old clothes and marvels at how small she herself used to be. She is delighted that she is no longer the smallest/lightest in the family. “I’m so glad people no longer say I’m so light.” (Because Sarah weighed 100g less than her when she was born.)


Brothers… ahh, that’s a different story.

Jason, too, dotes on Sarah. Being 10 years older, he is much more charitable towards her than towards Shannon. With Shannon, any and every action or word can be turned into a quarrel. With Sarah, he is more indulgent. He loves smelling her head. He willingly lets her lie on his lap while he reads a book and while I take a bath.


But his favourite past time is to take (sometimes unglamourous) pictures of Sarah and give them captions.

Like this.


And this.


Siblings, what would you do without them!


Reason for the silence

Our little bundle of joy, Sarah.


This pregnancy has been the most difficult of the three. I’m just thankful she’s safely out from my womb.


More to come later…

First day of school

This was them three years ago.

first day of sch 2013

This is them today.


So yes, to the many friends who asked if she was going to my alma mater or her korkor’s school, we went the neighbourhood route instead!

To prepare for the big day, they had their haircuts a couple of days back at the neighbourhood $3.80 Snip Avenue Salon, together with their papa.

It was Shannon’s first professional haircut, at the ripe old age of almost 7. I’ve always been the one to cut her hair but we thought it would be fun for her to have it trimmed outside for once. She has always resisted going to the salon for some unknown reason, and finally agreed this time!


They jumped out of their beds the moment we gently woke them up – something I could never do. I’m glad they take after their papa in this aspect.

First day of school or not, soccer news needs to be read first…


While Shannon was too excited to finish even one slice of bread.


The best part was hearing how their day went, as they tripped over their words trying to tell us about it. They talked about friends, teachers, canteen food. Jason (the expert on canteen stalls), generously dispensed advice to his sister. Stall x has the best bee hoon, you can add this and that to it. Stall y sells ice-cream, you can try it some time, but maybe not in the first week of school. Better order proper food first.

Shannon looked puny in the bustling canteen as she followed the directions of her two buddy jiejies. She polished off what she later said was a $1 plate of dry mee siam from the Muslim stall and declared it “very spicy and nice”. Her korkor advised her to try other stalls in the next few days so she can try other yummy food.

Shannon’s verdict after the first day of school?

“Primary 1 is good, I can come home earlier to play, not like childcare!”

Santa’s gift

I wrote about Shannon writing Santa a letter last month and promptly forgot all about it soon after. When our good friend Agnes came to our home on Christmas Day, she whispered to me that “Santa” had left Shannon a gift under her pillow!

Check out Shannon’s surprise and delight when she found it that night.



It was an automated moneybox, and even her korkor and papa had fun playing with it. She was pleased as punch over the gift. “Santa really came and left me a present!!”

For posterity, I asked her some questions:

Where did Santa come from?

“Outer space!” she said confidently.

Who did he come with?

“Santarina and six reindeers. Not Rudolf, not sure what happened to him” she added.

The best part? She told her brother:

“Korkor, since you like my present so much, you can write Santa a letter next year and maybe he will leave you a present!”

Her brother just rolled his eyes…

Thank you very much for the present, Auntie “Santa” Agnes! 🙂


December 2015

We didn’t travel this time round, in fact, we didn’t even get to go out much. But we found lots of other ways to have fun at home. In today’s ST column, I wrote about how I tried to get my kids off online games and Youtube cartoons and replace them with lots of old school fun instead.

We gave Jason a book on folding paper aeroplanes for Christmas, and it provided many hours of fun for both of them, folding planes at home, in cafes, and then bringing them on test flights.



We played board games and cut paper snowflakes to decorate the home.

We found time for all the random things I’ve always wanted to do with them but did not have time to do during the school term.

Jason did a bit of cooking with his papa’s help. When the minced chicken dish he turned out tasted quite delicious, I asked him how he seasoned it. His reply? “Oh it’s easy, I just dumped in a little of all the spices you have in the kitchen!” No wonder…


The boys were way more adventurous in the kitchen than I ever could be. I suggested they search out some recipes. They came up with their own instead, mixing and matching their favourite ingredients they could find around the home. Think pork ribs with cashew nuts (not bad!) and Jason’s favourite – steamed corn with mashed bananas, topped with raisins (eewww…!) He loved it. Shannon was as supportive as a little sister could get. I figured it’s an acquired taste. I’m not sure I’ll ever acquire it…

They attempted to fix up a trolley from Ikea. Thankfully, their papa came to the rescue midway.


And while they were busy, I had time to put together some easy Christmas gifts for a few parties we were invited to. A jar of baked nuts, (nuts available at NTUC), mixed with pretzels and MnMs, and small jars of spices – all made pretty with some plaid ribbon.

The best part of the holiday? We slept in every morning, only woken up by the two early birds when they jumped into our bed. We enjoyed our snuggles (before the squabbles started).


Ballet performance

Shannon had her first ballet performance after starting lessons earlier this year. She has come a long way from her first trial class.

A couple of months after she started class, her teacher suggested she join the girls who are one year older, together with two other girls. So when the year end concert came about, she was eligible to take part.

While I wasn’t keen on the long rehearsals and time commitment, she seemed keen enough, so we signed her up for the performance, thinking it would be good for her to experience it.

She has been gamely going for extra lessons, and surprised me by enjoying the long days of rehearsals because she got to “play with her friends”.

We got to see her on stage at Kallang Theatre, and had a good time trying to spot her. Her grandma and yiyis came along to support her, even buying her mini bouquets of flowers, to her delight.





I asked her what she enjoyed about her first performance, and she said (in no particular order): Wearing a nice leotard, playing with my friends in the dressing room, getting the nice flowers.
I asked if she would want to take part again next year, she smiled and said: “Maybe”.

Soccer Camp

It was Jason’s first overnight school camp. He was reluctant to go for it initially but we persuaded him. I figured it was a good initiation to sleeping away from home – in school, which is near our home, and just for one night.

He was given a packing list. His way of packing? Glancing through the list, throwing in the items randomly into the bag, filling it until it was bulging, before proclaiming: “Mummy, the bag is too full, I can’t fit in any more things.”

His good sister took out the items, and proceeded to fold them neatly one by one.


The items did fit in the end.


He had two full days of soccer training, a friendly match and some sports lectures, and in general, lots of fun with his teammates. He had no time to miss his family. Meanwhile, Shannon was pining away for him at home. Nope, they’re not best friends most of the time. In fact, not a day goes by when they don’t quarrel. But she’s not used to korkor not being at home to tease or agitate her. She kept saying “it’s so weird not to have korkor at home”, or “I looked at his bed but he’s not there”. (They share a room.)

Our only worry was if he had an asthma attack at night. He is prone to wheezing in new sleeping environments, either because it’s too cold or too dusty. So he had his inhaler in his bag with him and I left my handphone switched on at night.

The time passed soon enough and we even saw him during a parent briefing before he spent the night in school. Thankfully, no wheezing occured, although he did have runny nose at night.


He came home exhausted but happy, full of stories of camp and the friendly match (they lost).

And both of them are back to bickering daily again. 🙂

Santa Claus is coming to town

One of the things we do during the year end holidays each year, is to get the kids to make Christmas cards for our extended family. I pack a box of festive supplies and let them lose on them.


During one such session yesterday, I overheard the following conversation:

Shannon: I’m going to write Santa a letter. Maybe he will like my card and give me a present.

Jason: (rolling his eyes) There is no such thing as Santa. Silly baby!

Shannon: Who says? I will try and maybe I will get a present and you won’t.

Jason: How is Santa going to come to our house? The only way is from the windows. And if that happens, we will think he is a thief and call the police. So there is no way Santa can come!

Shannon: I will leave Santa some cookies and milk.

Jason: The food will rot and insects will come.

I have no idea where she gets such notions from, because we hardly discuss Santa or gifts from Santa. Maybe she gets ideas from books, or her friends.

Anyway she ignored her brother and happily wrote a letter for Santa.





I’m not particularly interested in ball games, but thankfully, Jason is. In this month’s column for ST, I write about the lessons both of us have learnt from him joining soccer as a CCA.

While I would have liked him to join other CCAs he was picked for, like String Ensemble or even badminton, he firmly stuck to his choice of soccer. So we let him be.

Lessons aside, there are lots more advantages that come from letting a child follow his passion. A love for soccer is the reason he clamours to read the newspaper every day, so as to follow the exploits of his favourite teams and players. He has since branched out to reading about other sports, both in the newspaper and online.

The thrice-weekly training also means he gets all the active time he needs, which especially important for this foodie. While he sometimes drives me up the wall with incessant kicking of balls and other items at home,  I would rather he be kicking a ball than playing online games (which he is very interested in as well!)


(Picture taken by his shushu)

Stuffed toys


Shannon loves her stuffed toys. Apart from her Friend, she has a handful of other toys out with her at any one point. She mothers them, cuddles them, makes them watch cartoons with her, ties their hair and so on.

Unfortunately, her brother has sensitive nose, so we limit the number of stuffed toys she plays with. Most of them are kept in the big ladybug below. It is an inflatable pillow from Ikea, but a few years ago, I bought just the cloth cover (without the inflatable bag), and her toys have been stuffed inside ever since. They come out on a rotation basis. The rest of the time, the ladybug serves as a step stool for her to reach her books, or as a pillow for her to lie on.


So when she asks for a toy to be out, I take the chance to put several back in. Below was snake’s turn to be out.


Much as I prefer otherwise, she has a continual stream of stuffed toys that come her way courtesy of doting extended family members. So during a recent fund-raising jumble sale her school organised, I persuaded her to donate a bag of toys. She did so, only to look longingly at her toys during the sale, and asked if she could buy them back.

So we let her come home with a $1 Eeyore, in the first picture.

She celebrated her birthday last week, and received many practical presents for use in Primary 1 – a schoolbag, pencil case, wallet and so on. She loved them all. But the one and only present that made her squeal in delight, was a My Little Pony stuffed toy that her Eryi hid in the schoolbag.


She has since been grooming her pony, combing and plaiting its hair, putting it to bed with her at night.


How we cope with hazy days

Unfortunately, hazy days look like they are here to stay for a couple more weeks. The Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) hit an all time high on Sept 25, reaching the hazardous range of above 300, and schools were forced to closed for the first time, to the children’s delight. Most days, the PSI ranges from 100 to 200 plus, or in the unhealthy to very unhealthy range. We’ve been mostly holed up at home with windows shut. Our only air purifier, a two year old Novita, broke down last week, so we’ve been doing without one for now.

We’ve been forced to learn to cope with this new norm.


I was very tempted to keep Jason at home in the initial weeks each time the PSI soared above 200, because he has a history of asthmatic wheezing. I’ve learnt to keep calm and find other ways to cope with it since he can’t be skipping school for 2 months. So he has been going to school with a N95 mask and an inhaler, with instructions not to play catching during recess. PE lessons, if any, are held in an enclosed space. Lessons are still carried out in a non-aircon classroom, but he puts on his mask when needed. He takes it off from time to time “because it’s hot and uncomfortable”. Soccer training which was originally three times a week, has thankfully stopped because of upcoming exams. The school has measures to put high risk kids in air-conditioned rooms if the haze worsens – that has not happened yet.

Shannon’s preschool is fully airconditioned and her school teachers and principal are more cautious than I am because they are dealing with much younger children. So I have no qualms sending her to school every day. Since last week, I spotted a large air purifier near the entrance. It’s a reassurance to parents, if nothing.

We now live for days when the PSI drops below 100, when we can open the windows without smelling haze, when we can see the buildings in the distance.

Weekend breakfasts:

We used to head out to various coffeeshops on weekend mornings for our breakfasts. Now, I am better prepared for hazy mornings and cook a nice Western breakfast to cheer everyone up and start our day on a positive note. We each get our choice of egg(sunnyside up, cheese omelette, ham omelette or scrambled), and a portion of other side dishes.


Mid-Autumn Festival

This is the first year we did not bring out our lanterns and head downstairs for some after dinner fun. Instead, we spent the days leading up to the festival stuck at home where we made snowskin mooncakes! I found an easy recipe, bought ingredients while they were in school, and we got down to the job.

Preparing the dough (skin) – 150g of cooked glutinous flour, 130g of icing sugar, 70g of shortening and 150ml cold water plus colouring of your choice. I used a couple of teaspoons of dragonfruit juice to get a pale pink below. Just mesh the fruit using a strainer until you get juice.


I used store-bought lotus paste from a factory in Senoko (Kwong Cheong Thye), since Phoon Huat had run out of it by the time I decided to make mooncakes.


I added toasted melon seeds to the paste.


The kids helped with the shaping and moulding of the mooncakes for a while before they started fighting. I got the plastic mould from Phoon Huat.

End product:


We distributed them to their grandmothers, our neighbours, and left a couple at home for ourselves.



Shannon’s school has an annual lantern-making competition, and I relegated the task to her papa this year. He conscientiously went to Google for ideas, and this was what he found! He also found the link to last year’s lantern and we had a good chuckle over it.

This was what they came up with in the end.


Nope, she didn’t win this year.

Meeting with friends

We had a (nearly) haze-free day yesterday and had friends over for a lovely morning.



Counting down to the end of October, and the end of hazy days…

Hazy days

For the past few weeks, I’ve been devouring General Elections news daily. Having reduced the amount of work I’m currently doing, I’ve had the time to read up every last nugget of information on the candidates and parties. It’s a far cry from the last GE when I was on the ground chasing after candidates for interviews.

With the GE (and results) out of the way, the school term has restarted along with hazy days. We saw the worst of it last night (hopefully), when the PSI reached 249, and the view outside out window turned from (less hazy)


to very hazy. The yellow building in the distance was completely shrouded in thick smog. 😦


Our windows have been mostly shut for a week now. Luckily we still have masks from previous hazy days, along with some cheerful ones we got from Ho Chi Minh City last year. (Not N95, just fabric ones)


And just to quickly recap our past month.


Singapore celebrated 50 years of independence on Aug 9. Instead of heading out to join the crowds, we spent time with the extended family and close friends.



Cake was baked by Weiwei and I cut out the moon and stars from glittery paper and stuck them on sticks.


The kids had fun with the SG50 Lego set that the Education Ministry generously gave. After they finished attempting the three landmarks – Changi Airport control tower, Cavenagh Bridge and the supertrees at Gardens by the Bay, Jason came up with an SG50 robot.



%d bloggers like this: