Monthly Archives

March 2015

I can't categorise such entries

A closure, and a new beginning

March 31, 2015

Ride the rainbow

It’s back to regular programming on this space and most of Singapore, but I am still mourning the loss.

I woke up today feeling a huge void.

Funny how I’ve never met the man, never shook his hand, never once saw him in person from afar, and yet I teared the last seven days reading about him. Every time a tribute, a note, a link or an article was shared on FB, I found myself crying while reading it.

And this is coming from someone who grew up quite resentful of the one-party rule in her country and desiring for more credible opposition to stand for elections.

It’s tremendous; the effect this one man had on me.

Over the past week I’ve pored over scores of articles sharing personal encounters with Lee Kuan Yew and insights of him. I’ve learned about the frugality of his lifestyle, the dedication and unwavering commitment to his “abiding passion” of building Singapore, the depth of love he has for his wife cemented in 63 years of marriage, and the softer side of him – how he would care and demonstrate concern for someone with that personal touch.

What struck me most – and what struck me hard – was that he lived and breathed Singapore, and cared about this country more than anything else.

I went through this whole week thinking: What about me? How can I live and breathe Singapore in my own little way, insignificant as I may be, here at my station of life, here in this country I call home?

And while life goes on, albeit a little sadder and emptier without the man that made the Singapore dream a reality, I’m starting this day, post-LKY, thinking hard about these questions. I’ll think about them and find answers along the way – as a mother, a wife, an educator, a daughter, a friend and neighbour.

A new era has begun.

I’ll go ride that rainbow, Sir. Thank you for leaving the LKY legacy, and for building this place I am proud to call home.

LKY 30 March 2015

I can't categorise such entries

For Contributing to the Singapore Story

March 24, 2015

I’m a history buff, and a big one since young. My love for history is in part influenced by my History teacher who lost her life in the MI 185 crash on 19 December 1997. We were close, and would often chat before class. I remember her telling me that the pleasures, problems, victories and failures of the past summed up the tremendous value of studying history, and that it should extend beyond an academic endeavour to pass an examination. Because of her words, I developed an appetite for historical books, memoirs and autobiographies, and extended the pursuit of the subject beyond ‘O’ Levels.

A few of those books include the memoirs of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s From Third World to First.

I remember being in awe at the foresight and wisdom of a man whom I can call the Founding Father of my country. I remember going, right, that’s how the Merlion came about, and feeling amused that our trees are planted equidistant because this man had wanted us to be shrubby enough to be called ‘Garden City’. I remember reading about the arduous process of nation building – and feeling thankful of how far we’ve come. As a young adult, I was sometimes anti-establishment and often thought about emigrating, but who was I kidding? I teared every time the National Anthem was sung at the National Day Parade at every National Day Parade. I would always watch the parade. And feel that tremendous surge of pride for being the Singaporean that I am. My family is here. My life is here. My heart is here.

And years later when I taught General Paper in a Junior College, I found myself sharing the insights I gleaned from this man whom my students would otherwise never know much about. The Singapore we know of can certainly be known more if you’ve read his writings, was what I told my students.

But the Singapore my students knew and the Singapore my children would come to know, would never be the one my generation and the one before knows. Someday, our children would pore over textbooks and supplementary readers and tutorial notes for history and social studies, or even be made to study his memoirs as compulsory text.

But he would be just a character. A man who was important. A name on their paper. They would never know a Singapore that had his presence and indomitable spirit. The one I had always known.

***

Today was the first day of Term 2 for the kids at kindergarten. We were a little late for school in the morning because we had spent some time watching the news on TV. I took the chance to share a little with Ben, Becks and Nat about what Singapore was like in the past – swamps and mud flats and fishing village – and asked them to look around us to see what we have now in contrast. Soon Ben and Becks quickly understood that an important man died, and this important man was the one who led our country and built it to where it is today. I am sure they would recall this day should it ever appear in their history textbook in the near future.

In the evening, Ben asked if we could watch the news together and it was apparent he enjoyed listening to me explain to him what was on TV. He watched in horror as sepia images of aggression, violence and riots flashed across the TV screen and asked what happened. He watched in wonderment at how dirty the Singapore River used to be and how it is now today, having just been to Clarke Quay last week. And then he asked,“Mr Lee Kuan Yew did all these?”

And so I explained that he came up with policies and a masterplan to help our society progress and probably got people who were willing to come onboard in this mission. Then I asked him, “Will you be a man like that someday, to help your country?”

“Yes, I will. I will help MY country.”

My family is here. My life is here. My heart is here. My children are now here. In a Singapore I am proud to be a part of.

***

“We wanted a Singapore that our children and those of our fellow citizens would be proud of, a Singapore that would offer all citizens equal and ample opportunities for a fulfilling future.” – Lee Kuan Yew

LKY 23 March 2015

All this blog's PR Stuff Going Out! Learning fun! The Kao Kids

Starting the holidays on a Voyage of Big Ideas

March 15, 2015

Tis’ the first day of the March holidays today, and we were up and about, dreaming, exploring and embarking on new adventures.

At Imaginarium, that is.

Imaginarium: A Voyage of Big Ideas, the exhibition is inspired by the crescent moon on the Singapore flag, symbolising a young nation on the rise and its capacity to dream big and think large

Imaginarium: A Voyage of Big Ideas, a children’s exhibition inspired by the crescent moon on the Singapore flag, symbolising a young nation on the rise and its capacity to dream big and think large.

Imaginarium: A Voyage of Big Ideas, is the new edition of the Singapore Art Museum at 8Q‘s much loved annual contemporary art exhibition for children. Now in its fifth year running, this exhibition features immersive artworks by emerging and established artists from Singapore and around the region and interactive hands-on activities for “everyone and anyone with a head for ideas and a heart for adventure”. It’s also the first in a series of SAM exhibitions that celebrate Singapore’s Jubilee Year.

We were invited by SAM@8Q and CRIB Society, Singapore’s first social enterprise that aims to empower women entrepreneurs through networking, matchmaking and incubation, of which I am also a member of, for the media preview of Imaginarium.

The exhibition, specially dedicated to children and curated for them to learn and play, is truly one that reflects a learning-through-play philosophy and appeals to a child’s senses and sense of exploration.

The Kao kids got to wander – and wonder – a lot today. At SAM, they gamely put on their sense of keenness and exploration and their most appropriate behaviour (after many rounds of “briefing” before we came, also known as follow instructions! remember a museum is not a playground! make sure everyone gets to enjoy so no yelling and hoarding! be mindful of others around you! and other momspeak), we checked out every gallery at Imaginarium, which spans four levels.

The start of our wandering and wondering at SAM at 8Q: today we have DinoBoy from DinoMama Blog for company!

The start of our wandering and wondering at SAM at 8Q: today we had DinoBoy from DinoMama Blog for company!

Here at Imaginairum, they built their own estates and communities with these tetris-shaped blocks in this colourfully illustrated room…

Drawing inspiration from urban planning, Singapore artist Chiang Yu Xiang’s We Built this Estate! is an interactive installation that invites everyone to create their own housing estates and city skyline with Tetris-shaped housing blocks.

Drawing inspiration from urban planning, Singapore artist Chiang Yu Xiang’s We Built this Estate! invites everyone to create their own housing estates and city skyline with Tetris-shaped housing blocks.

Imaginarium_03

We built this city!

We built this city!

We built this city of tetris shapes!

We built this city!

We built this city!

We built this city of tetris shapes!

We built this city of tetris shapes!

Dropped their jaws in fascination, looking at these fantastical versions of the Singapore story and doodles…

Imagine-a-doodle by Singapore collective Band of Doodlers: illustrations sprawled across the walls and winding their way up the four levels of SAM at 8Q

Imagine-a-doodle by Singapore collective Band of Doodlers: illustrations sprawled across the walls and winding their way up all four floors of SAM at 8Q!

Made music when an adult (yes, their Mama – who else?) cycled on a stationary bicycle…

Here I am, cycling in a dark room, with the boys waiting for energy to transferred so they can start making music.

Here I am, cycling in a dark room, with the boys waiting for energy to be transferred so they can start making music. This is the artwork of Canadian-born, Singapore-based artist Vincent Twardzik’s Green II: Interstellar Overdrive. This artwork installation only comes alive when visitors cycle on stationary bicycles which are hooked up to various objects.

Created a dream world of planting sweets…

Planting rice is never fun. But planting sweets is.

Planting rice is never fun. But planting sweets is.

Nat is lost. In a sea of candy trees.

Nat is lost. In a sea of candy trees.

Someone has a sweet tooth, this is for sure.

Someone has a sweet tooth, that is for sure.

"I wish this was a real Chupa Chups," he said.

“I wish this was a real Chupa Chups,” he said.  This installation is the Dream House by South Korean artist Jeeyoung Lee. And we all know why.

Discovered magical secret worlds…

Entering into a world of magical colours...

Entering Kiko’s Secrets by Sri Lankan-born, Vietnam-based artist Kumkum Fernando. First, the world of magical colours…

And another of bugs...

And another of bugs…

Really weird bugs!

Really weird bugs!

Look, Mama! Look what I found!

Look, Mama! Look what I found!

EGGS!!!

EGGS!!!

And got a good whole hour of hands-on fun adding to a collective tapestry featuring yarn, and weaving, covering spaces and making pom-poms…

Singaporean artist Izziyana Suhaimi’s work Let’s Make! Studio explores new worlds through embroidery. In a designed workspace in the gallery, visitors are invited to make their own small objects which capture their thoughts about Singapore’s future

Singaporean artist Izziyana Suhaimi’s work Let’s Make! Studio explores new worlds through embroidery. In a designed workspace in the gallery, visitors are invited to make their own small objects which capture their thoughts about Singapore’s future.

And so the kids begin... to make something bigger than their lives

And so the kids begin… to make something bigger than their lives

Twirling yarn around nails...

Twirling yarn around nails…

Mixing colours and finding patterns...

Mixing colours and finding patterns…

And while Ben weaved some more...

And while Ben weaved some more…

Becks and Nat chilled at the reading corner, flipping story books

Becks and Nat chilled at the reading corner, flipping story books

And then of course, someone doesn't really read. He goes to make green pom-poms instead.

And then of course, someone doesn’t really read so he goes to make green pom-poms instead.

Hot favourites of the day were yarn, yarn and more yarn, and tetris-shaped blocks.

The next time round, I hope to get them to appreciate more of the details found in these art installations and contemplate on a deeper level what they are interacting with.

There’s just so much to learn and teach through art, and I am glad we had the opportunity to do that today. The kids have been experiencing more of my absence this year, and we finally got some time together today, which would not have been possible on most Saturdays. I think this is the first time this year we are spending so many hours together being meaningfully engaged in something, and I’m glad we did it with Imaginarium.

Tis’ a great start to the March hols!

Candy floss, anyone?

Candy floss, anyone?

***

Imaginarium: A Big Voyage of Ideas beckons the adventurers, the dreamers, and the explorers of today to embark on a journey of discovery, and together, sail towards exciting new horizons. From 14 March to 19 July 2015 at the Singapore Art Museum at 8Q. Free admission for Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents.

Disclosure: We were invited to preview Imaginarium by CRIB Society. No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions here are my own.

Milestones and growing up Nat Kao What to Expect... As a Mother

Terrible Twos, delayed

March 8, 2015

It’s finally here.

I had thought this was a child who would breeze through toddlerhood with a wonderfully perfect disposition and personality. He was cute, endearing, charming and affectionate at one and for a good part of the second year. He ate when it was time to, slept when it was time to, and although there was the occasional tug-of-war when it came to the battling of wills, it was usually easy to distract him and win each battle.

Until now.

Nat, my littlest, has got his Terrible Twos way, way delayed. And man, am I so exhausted now having to deal with the hugest streak of stubbornness yet. Cos’ even Ben and Becks weren’t like that.

Think sitting on ground (any ground – wet, muddy, flat, hilly) kicking his slippers off his feet and throwing the hissiest of fits. Think grabbing onto your leg and not letting you budge an inch when you refuse to do what he wants. Think shouting into your face and pinching you with all the might his little fingers can muster until he gets his way. And throwing things out and away when he doesn’t want them, screaming the moment you start scolding him and creating a scene everywhere  – at home, at  restaurants, inside the wet market, on the escalators of shopping malls, in the carpark – when he is that mood.

Yep, that’s what we’re looking at now. A three-year-old who’s testing every boundary, challenging authority and showing us what he’s made of.

Someone's throwing a tantrum here because he wants to go swimming but it's time to go to school

Someone’s throwing a tantrum here because he wants to go swimming but it’s time to go to school

I do now know. Nat’s personality, that is. Much is revealed when every child goes through this stage – what kind of a person he is when he’s tired, stressed, hungry, bullied, which is a pretty accurate gauge of the personality he would possess when he’s older.

He’s one helluva feisty, persistent and obstinate boy, I tell you.

Every day he needs to be with his scooter. And we have to lug it everywhere for him, or risk a meltdown

Every day he needs to be with his scooter. And we have to lug it everywhere for him, or risk a meltdown

But even so, there are moments of tenderness. He is quick to apologise and move on, and clever enough to use his charm to sweetly ask for things and plead with you. He’s extremely intelligent and would use all that wit to say something silly to make you laugh in your anger. And he would cry the piteous of cries, complete with those tears flowing freely.

Charming pose #14567

Charming pose #14567

Nat Kao_TT_04

Showing you the contents of his mouth so he can laugh when you feel grossed out!

Nat Kao_TT_03

Giving his cheeriest grin because he is eating his favourite… EGG!

Nat Kao_TT_07

And another charming smile with those huge eyes

Ah, Nat…

This boy’s just turned three and it looks like I am not seeing the end of the tunnel yet. So I’m going to be brainwashing myself with the “this too shall pass” chant a great deal to soldier on in this delayed phase of the Terribles.

***

And this post is going to end with this photo, which pretty much sums up my life right now, with him.

Nat Kao_TT_05

At the count of three, he decided to grab my hair! Oh well, gong xi fa cai!