Monthly Archives

August 2012

I can't categorise such entries

To stay home or not, that’s the question

August 30, 2012

My husband knows never to broach the subject of staying home with the kids to me. Over the years, he’s seen me turn into an insane, angsty monster (I mean, mother) whenever I stayed home with them – whether it was with one, two or three kids. I would always be the one who took time off from work to take care of them when they were unwell. It has always been this way. The kids would never want anyone else, not even their father. And then there were those times I’d take time off to spend “more time” with them. But if you hung around us longer and see me spend “more time” with my kids, especially if it’s more than forty-eight hours, you’d actually hear me begging God and everyone else to let me go back to work.

At work, I get to read the papers, check my fb account, poop in peace and chew my food during meal times. At work, I get to engage in intellectual conversations about issues concerning our society and the world at large. I do work that is meaningful and believe in what I do with all my heart. I receive little notes every now and then from people who tell me I’ve made an impact in their lives. I have colleagues who are caring and sincere, and most of all, genuine – unlike some of my friends who say they work in a place where office politics is rife and that they get backbitten on a daily basis.

Besides, I think my kids should go out there and interact with other children and play as much as they can in a happy environment for as long as it is possible. I mean, if they stayed home with a nanny, granny or helper, what would they do all day? Watch tv? At least at childcare, they get to learn and play in a protected environment with caring teachers. And when we all come home at the end of the day, we’ll get a healthy dose of one another and time spent would be indeed, quality time.

So this is what I subscribe to. Until lately when fatherkao asked me to consider staying home. And homeschool the kids.

It must have taken a lot of faith for him to even ask me to consider and for him to even think I will want to, and can, do it! Stay home, and homeschool the kids, all three of them? Hullo? Will I even survive the first day?

But I decided I will be open to the idea in the light of rising childcare fees and the fact that maybe, just maybe, this might be the best thing I can ever do for my children. So with that, fatherkao and I began a series of conversations for over three weeks, weighing pros and cons, and thinking ahead of ourselves. On my own, I thought about it every waking moment. I also checked out homeschooling curricula, spoke with friends who stayed home and those who stayed home and homeschooled their kids, worked out the finances, and prayed for wisdom.

I also had pros-and-cons “SAHM versus FTWM” matches in my head on a daily basis for the past few weeks.

“I won’t be able to get any me-time. No more pedicures, massages, foot rubs and facials.” FTWM 1, SAHM 0.

“Will my piles problem return? I won’t be able to have regular meals and then I’ll be probably constipated forever.” FTWM 2, SAHM 0.

“No more monthly paychecks! This means I won’t be able to buy things for myself whenever I feel like it! I have to *gasp* ask my husband for permission?” FTWM 3, SAHM 0.

“I’ll lose touch with the world and become an old hag with terrible hair, coarse skin and un-manicured nails. I won’t have the chance to wear pretty dresses, shoes and makeup! I won’t get to talk to adults about adult things and my brain will start vegetating for the lack of intellectual engagement!” FTWM 5, SAHM 0.

I could go through this all day and chock up at least a hundred points for the FTWM side, while the SAHM score remains at zero.

So, what is my final decision about staying home, you may ask. It seems obvious, isn’t it? That I’m not mentally prepared for it. That I’m not ready to make the sacrifice. In all honesty, I am still far from being prepared, mentally, emotionally and physically, but I do have an answer after a month of deliberation.

This is it:

If not now, then when? They are worth a try, come what come may. And so the journey begins next year.

Everyday fun! Product Reviews

Stix-ky shapes and letters [Product review]

August 28, 2012

Recently, the good people at Think Thank sent us a Wikki Stix Mini Play Pak that consists of eight Wikki Stix in assorted colours and an idea sheet on how to use and play with these sticky things. Wikki Stix are yarn-like sticks for creative play made in the States that’s totally safe, non-toxic and allergy-free. They are made from acrylic hand-knitted yarn and a food-grade, microcrystalline wax, derived from the petroleum refining process (which is also found in lip balm and cheese) and are great for independent play and learning.

When Ben and Becks saw the Play Pak, they’d thought they were in for a gummy treat! When they realised they couldn’t exactly eat them, they took the Stix apart and clowned around with them. They didn’t actually manipulate or mould them into anything immediately. We were learning a lot about animals the past week, so it was no surprise that they first imagined them to be colourful worms, and then proceeded to stick the Stix on each other’s bums and laughed at their “tails”.

I took the chance to teach them colours and shapes. Since the Stix adhered to any type of smooth surface and are self-sticking in nature, I turned an Ikea box/tray over and got them to make the shapes they knew.

I wished we had more Stix in the pack and that they were longer in length to mould and twist. At some point, the kids were snatching each other’s Stix because there weren’t enough to go around.

After playing with shapes, we wanted to see if the Stix could stick on glass surfaces too, and since we had a glass kitchen door, we used some Stix to make the first three letters of the alphabet.

Again, I wished we had more of them to go around so I could complete my lesson on the 26 letters of the alphabet. But who was I kidding? At three and two, as you can see from the last picture, they were more interested in making worms of all sorts – spiny worms, curly worms, all-bunched-up worms. They had more fun with worms and tails than shapes and letters with Wikki Stix!

MORE DETAILS:
  • Wikki Stix is now in Singapore! You can check out their facebookpage here.
  • You can also contact Adeline at info@thethinkthank.com or visit the Wikki Stix website for more details about the product and where to get it.
  • *UPDATE*: Good news! Readers of this blog can enjoy a 10% discount off Wikki Stix come September! Watch this space for the promotional code!
I can't categorise such entries

Finally, an FML post

August 15, 2012

There’s been so many times I’ve been tempted to write FML rants. Way too many times. Like when I have mommy guilt. Or when my daughter yanks my hair repeatedly when I’m already dropping so much hair post-partum. Or when the kids decide to throw tantrums / dump clothes in the toilet bowl / scatter gravel from the aquarium on every alternate tile in the living room / take a bunch of straws, forks, knives and spoons to play pick-up sticks / all of the above.

But often, I’ve decided that I shouldn’t and wouldn’t, simply because at the end of the day, they are still my darling angels and life’s good because I know I can love them forever; and all these FML moments are but fleeting and inconsequential in the grander scheme of things.

So no FML posts. Until now.

My friend, Yann (yannisms.com) recently shared that pregnancy and breastfeeding is the cure for many common woes that plague women. While that’s the fun part of having kids, I’m here to say that life’s not exactly a blast post-partum, especially if you’ve returned to work. Besides the constant rocky boobs at work, there’s the excessive hairloss and balding, the flabby tums that just wouldn’t go away and the super dark eye rings that will put any panda to shame. Add to that extreme fatigue. And lethargy. And three kids needing you every minute you’re home and I’m pretty sure you’ll be blasting the next person who comes to you to ask how you’re holding up.

My body is feeling some effects of extreme exhaustion three kids and five months post-partum. When my post-natal masseuse did a sports massage house call a month ago to help with fatherkao’s sport injury, she brought this diagnostic weighing machine that could predict a person’s age based on the amount of fats you had in your body. That stupid damn thing announced on its LCD display that I was four years older than my actual age, based on my fat and water composition, heart rate and BMI. Last week, when I went to see the TCM massage therapist whom I used to visit three years ago, she asked if I had just given birth after five seconds of kneading my back. She said that there was too much “dampness” in my body and likened it to an old woman’s! And yesterday, I woke up with a migraine, a sore right eye and sudden blurred vision. It was such a frightening ordeal; I’d thought I was gonna lose sight in that eye. I quickly made an appointment with my eye doctor and was even more terrified to hear him tell me that he’s glad I came immediately because my eye pressure has shot up way too high the acceptable level and I need to be on steriods to bring the pressure down. He was also puzzled that the pressure in my left was 11 while the one on my right was 31 (normal level is 21 and below)! And like every doctor who couldn’t provide a medical reason why it happened, it was quickly attributed to stress and exhaustion (and possibly inflammation).

So he gave me some eye medication and ordered for a review tomorrow. And when I saw the medicine, I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry:

So yea, this is my first FML post.

*Update: After a series of tests and investigation, the doctor said that I’m having acute glaucoma, something called Possner-Schlossman Syndrome. Sounds serious, but he assured me the migraine and vision would improve when the eye pressure comes down.

Going Out! Motherkao loves...

We heart the heartlands

August 15, 2012

If the wet markets ever vanished from the face of this city, I’ll pack up my bags and go for good. The heartland neighbourhoods with the all-too-familiar wet markets and hawker centres reveal such a paradoxical mix of the old and new. They showcase the richness and complexities of our heritage, culture and traditions and what truly is Singapore. It is one place you must visit to see the Singaporeanness in Singapore. It is in the heartland neighbourhood that you will find the original kway chap, wanton mee and fried carrot cake (forget about foodcourts!). Here, you can get a big glass of soybean milk for only sixty cents and order “Michael Jackson” with a straight face without being laughed at, with the same amount of money. “Michael Jackson”, for the uninitiated, is plain grass jelly (known as chin chow) mixed with soybean milk. It’s only in Singapore we find such humor and inventiveness.

We’ve been exploring the wet markets near us lately, mainly because we needed to hunt for shrimps, water snails and tubifex worms for the puffer fish and terrapins in our aquarium. And what better time to show our kids the real Singapore beneath the shiny veneer of our bustling, commercialised city, with this month being Singapore’s birthday month.

During the National Day weekend, we checked out the wet market at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 for brine shrimps to feed our puffer fish. We found an old uncle running a pet stall in the wet market, selling all sorts of tropical fish, shrimps, mealworms, mice and dwarf hamsters. Just next to him is another lady also selling pets. She has goldfish, puffers, terrapins and more dwarf hamsters. There, the kids squealed and jumped around in excitement looking at pets in a wet market. They also drank sugarcane juice, soybean milk and ate soursop ice jelly.

And only in the heartlands do you meet people who think they’ve known you forever. A few grannies smiled at me and approached me (at different times of our stroll there) to check if the two kids running around were mine; and upon seeing another one being strapped to my chest proceed to exclaim in disbelief that I was a rarity on Planet Singapore to have three kids so close together. It is in the heartlands I get a pat on the back for boosting the national birth rate.

Becks Kao Ben Kao Learning fun!

Mandarin fun at PerchingKids

August 8, 2012

I love my mother tongue. I really do. I grew up in a Mandarin-speaking environment. My parents were Chinese-educated folks who trained me well in the Chinese language. I could read and write in Chinese by four. I recited Tang poetry. I understood the history, folklore and myths behind Chinese idioms, sayings and proverbs and their metaphorical nuances. I took part in Chinese essay writing competitions in school and even once at a national level. And I’ve a few trophies in my parents’ place to boast of that. All through school, I’ve always excelled in the subject. I aced my Chinese oral and written examinations in primary and secondary school every year.

I can see some raised eyebrows now.

I also happen to be the proud owner of a certificate that qualifies me as an effectively billingual translator, written and spoken. I went to night school to study translation with the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce while at my first job a few years back.

That said, my kids can’t speak proper Mandarin for nuts. Even when they do try, their pronounciation is so off you’d be laughing on your belly. I already knew I was in serious trouble the day their teachers said they demonstrated no interest during Chinese lessons. So much for me doing well in Chinese. What happened to my offsprings?

Given the sorry state we are in, no thanks to motherkao and fatherkao not speaking much Mandarin at home (*hangs head in shame*), I’d grab any opportunity for them to be exposed to the language. So when Regina (mummymoo.com) did a giveaway for trial lessons at PerchingKids, I grabbed the opportunity. This new Chinese enrichment centre (the first in Singapore and since 2003 in Shanghai) in the new I12 Katong boasts of its success in teaching children Mandarin in a fun and rewarding way. Its programme promises to make the language come alive and to engage each child. The children learn though play and experiential learning. At PerchingKids, there are no classroom settings – no whiteboards and markers, no teacher-talk, no assessment books. Just lots of play, interaction and theme-based learning, all done in Mandarin.

Becks and Ben attended the music class and creative learning class for their age group. They were the only students in the class and the teacher, Xiao Mei, took them through hand and finger actions, sing-along, running in circles and jumping up and down for the music class. I was encouraged to accompany them and participate; which explains why I could only start snapping pictures of them learning when they were seated. One of the songs they learned in the class was the names of each finger of our hand. But I doubt they remember them. I’m embarrassed to say, I forgot too.

The creative class was the more engaging of the two. Teacher Xiao Mei helped them understand the concept of weather changes and colours during the lesson. She switched the lights on and off to show them “lighning”, got them to slap their hands on the wall for the “roaring of thunder”, had them paint the colours of the sky using their hands and fingers in a variety of shades, and got them to make clouds by flinging wet, bunched-up toilet paper onto the walls. She also had them create “rain” with a wet paintbrush and taught them to describe the “drizzling” they see on the paper and floor. And this was all done in Mandarin.

Needless to say, the kids had fun. They didn’t feel so awkward to be using Mandarin and they learned new words to add to their vocabulary. I’d be expecting them to show their vocab off the next time it rains.

MORE DETAILS:
  • PerchingKids is at I12 Katong, #-04-04/07. Check out their website for more details of their programmes for children aged 0-6.
  • You can even sign up for a demo class. Contact them direct or call Judy at 9181 1130.