Goodbye 2016

I was telling my hubs that 2016 seemed like a blur to me. Each day, I was so busy that there wasn’t much time to pause and reflect, let alone read. I wasn’t updated on news or what’s happening to my friends because every moment when the kids were awake, I had to be with them or be in the kitchen churning out food.

Yet, I know 2016 was jam-packed with activities and memories both good and bad. I had a wonderful time teaching Faith and loathe the fact that she would be in K1 next year and before I know it, she would enter Primary School and my time with her would be minimised…by a lot. I felt sad just by thinking of that. Many times, I toy with homeschooling my kids but I also know my patience would be greatly tested and perhaps in the end, I would morph into a witch. So, for now, the answer is ‘NO’.

2016 is a year of making new friends and deepening the friendship of old ones. I would never have imagined that I could make friends at my age and that we could get along so well. But yet, God knows what I need and granted me some good company and for that, I’m immensely thankful.

I managed to get a few sponsorships and media invites this year which made my life more interesting. I’m truly thankful for these collaborations but come 2017, I would love to focus more on homelearning and reading to upgrade myself. I thought of enrolling myself in some online Montessori or early childhood courses but again, the fear of the lack of time prevents me from moving ahead.

This year, however, the hubs and I dedicated our time to learning more about raising kids when we attended the 15-week-long course (GKGW) and also a family seminar by the Tripp which helped me view parenting from God’s perspective. Parenting is tough and we desperately need God’s grace to bring up the children in His ways.

I wonder how 2017 would be like…

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[Friday Flips] Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age

[Review + Giveaway]

I’ve been reading this book for over a month now and have been reflecting as much. It got me thinking about my own parenting style and how my views on education have changed since becoming a parent.

Beyond the Tiger Mom: East West Parenting for the Global Age reads like a research paper that is backed by the author’s own experience as a teacher in the US and Singapore, her own Asian heritage which shapes her parenting beliefs, interviews with Asian parents and educational research.

This is such a good read and one that causes parents to reflect on their parenting, education and family beliefs.

The author accurately described the mentality of the Asian moms and I couldn’t help but agree with what she wrote. Being an Asian mom myself, I find myself feeling anxious about getting my children to start reading at an early age and therefore find ways to create a math-rich home so that they could understand concepts early and find math in their daily lives. She also provided an honest glimpse into the lives of students in Singapore, those whose schedules are filled with tuition and enrichment classes. Is tuition necessary? The author managed to give a balanced view on that and causes readers to reflect on its purpose and if there is a need for their own children to go through that kind of ‘lifestyle’.

As a person who has grown up and taught in the US, the author was able to provide readers with the western perspective to parenting and education and marrying both eastern and western beliefs, she could give a balance view on them. My reflection as a mom is to question what is good for my children and how to parent them in this global age based on what she has shared in her book.

Questions which I find myself asking:
:: Is early math important and what can I do to build a math-rich home?
:: How to create a reading culture in my home such that my children would love reading
:: Phonics vs whole language – there could be a balance
:: There is value in individualised instruction, especially for those who need coaching at a pace that’s best for them but would I be found sending my kids for tuition just so that they would not lose out to their peers?
:: Our generation of children is brought up in a digital age. How can we benefit from the use of technology without getting addicted to it?

Of particular help are the tips that she gave at the end of each chapter, on how we we could build a math-rich, language-rich home, how to help our children memorise information and encourage critical thinking skills, how to supplement our children’s education, among others.

It’s truly a book to grab and read and then be thrust into a state of reflection.

About the author

PrintA global citizen, Maya Thiagarajan has lived and worked in India, Singapore, and the US. She earned a BA in English from Middlebury College and a Masters in Education Policy from Harvard University.

Maya began her teaching career with Teach For America, where she taught at a public school in Baltimore City for two years. She went on to teach high school English at some of America’s most prestigious independent schools. After a decade of teaching in the US, Maya moved to Singapore and began teaching at The United World College of South East Asia (UWC).

Struck by the different approaches to education and parenting that she encountered in Singapore, Maya began to interview Chinese and Indian parents living in Singapore. Using her own experiences as well as the stories of parents whom she interviewed, Maya wrote a book titled Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age. [Source]

[GIVEAWAY]

Book Publicity Services has kindly agreed to gift one reader with Beyond the Tiger Mom: East West Parenting for the Global Age. What you need to do:

  1. Like the facebook post
  2. Comment on why you would like a copy of the book

Simple? This giveaway is for local residents (Singapore) only and will end on 6 January 2017. A random participant will be picked and we will then be sending him/her a copy of the book. All the best and have a great year ahead!

Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy of this book and I chose to give a review of it because it really is a good read and I hope many could benefit from it. All opinions are mine unless otherwise stated.

Memories are made of these…

How do you preserve memories? Through photos, no?

I like to take pictures and the number of them increases by leaps and bounds when the kids came along. Is it the same for you? And it most definitely warms my heart as I browse the photos taken in the past. Awww…memories!

Recently, Canon threw a cozy Christmas gathering to a group of families and gifted us with some precious presents – wonderful time with families and sweet memories in the form of pictures, the printed way.

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When we first arrived, we spent some time with the young ones over duplo and painting of cardboard boxes. Faith has always loved Lego and Duplo so it’s no wonder that she found her way to the blocks.

We were then introduced to the new Canon PIXMA TS8070 printer and were invited to have some family fun with it! Before that, each family was gifted with a picture frame that is made of of photographs of our loved ones. Oh, dear Canon, you have done it again! What a thoughtful and meaningful gift!

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We were definitely excited as we unwrapped the gift.

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How lovely! Pictures of our daily life from our Instagram account! The kids and I were thrilled and I was personally captivated by the quality of the print. We were later told that we could try our hands on the printer and to experience its ease of use. Yay!

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These are the printers that made those pictures possible! If you observe, they are not really bulky because they are designed to fit small offices and homes in form and function so they are in a sleeker form to blend seamlessly into our study or home office.

We wasted no time in printing our photos! Since many of my photos are in squares for Instagram and Dayre purposes, I’m thankful that these printers could print them without the need for resizing. Very convenient! And because the Canon PIXMA TS8070 printers are designed for easy set-up in a wireless environment, we can readily print the pictures from our mobile phones and tablet PCs in out-of-home environments such as weddings and parties. Think photo booths!

Other ideas (for own reference):

  • craft for playdates
  • homelearning materials
  • souvenirs for home parties or celebration
  • wedding
  • travel scrapbook

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Faith and I used the photos that we have printed to do some craftwork and made a photo album from the materials that were supplied to us. It was a good bonding session!

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Ta-da! Is this nice? I’m really impressed by the quality of the print! We can definitely do lots more craftwork with these prints and  could even design and print our own customised cards. Best is they are reasonably priced at $299!

The family had a wonderful and meaningful time with Canon Singapore that day. Thank you for inviting us and giving us the opportunity to ‘play’ with the printers. The following are some precious moments captured that day by the good folks at Canon. I thought I should park them here for my own keepsake. 😉

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Here’s wishing you a blessed Christmas, from the Queks!

Our family was invited by Canon Singapore and Claudia of The Loving Mom to this Christmas party. Photographs used in this post belong to Canon Singapore. The ones in squares are squarely mine. 😉

Christmas with the Queks – 2016 edition

It has become a tradition, that we dress up a real Christmas tree during that time of the year. For the past few years, we have involved Faith in the activity but she wasn’t that keen. This year, her enthusiasm showed.

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Somehow, I find that she has matured a lot over the past one year. Is it because she has an added responsibility as a sister? Or is it just an age thing? In the above, she was trying to sharpen her colour pencils and the brother meddled with them because he wanted to be involved, just like his sister.

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Busy bee…

This year, she was the main person doing up the tree. The adults were resting by the side, watching her dress the tree up. So focused but the tree was heavily decorated on one side only!

Dan wanted to help too and managed to put up some of the decorations. He was mighty pleased with himself!

Are you ready for Christmas?

Label with Stickerkid

[Review + discount code]

About two more weeks to go before school reopens. Have you bought the school supplies and label them?

By labelling, I mean with your child’s name. And I consider quality as the main thing I would look for in choosing a label.

Thus far, I have used two brands and love both because of their quality and design. Unfortunately, the first brand has been discontinued but thankfully, the second one is still around.

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Stickerkid has been around since 2004 and all their products are made in Switzerland. They only use the highest quality materials for their labels and each of them is protected with a thin plastic layer to ensure that their products withstand any challenge that come their way.

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Prior to their invitation to review their labels (was given a test package), I have already been using them for a year and can attest that their labels last. The thin plastic layer that I mentioned earlier does protect the label and it doesn’t come off, unlike some of the labels which I have come across.

Another thing which I like about Stickerkid’s labels is our ability to customise the design, like many other labels out there. We can choose the colour of the sticker, the font size, type and colour and the cute logo that goes onto the label. Oh yes, you can also add in the chinese characters, if you want.

Source: Stickerkid

I thought these labels are good and practical as Christmas gifts to the kids. I mean, they will certainly come in useful when school reopens eh? These labels are dispatched in 24 hours once purchased.They will be in time for Christmas as gifts!

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Besides stickers, they also have removable and permanent iron-on labels for clothes. They really have a good range of labels. Do check it out!

Stickerkid discount code
[Valid until 24 December 2016]

Stickerkid is offering a 10% discount on their products for Raising Faith’s readers. Enter the coupon code “Sticker7z” when you check out. However, do note that the discount code is only valid till 24 December 2016 and does not include shipping and handling charges.

img_4079“Don’t miss the opportunity to save! Happy shopping!”

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Website : http://www.stickerkid.sg/
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/stickerkid.english/

Patience needed


It was a fine evening. The weather was great and the children yearned to go outdoors.

We did that and got the girl to bring her bicycle along so that she could practise riding it.

The hubs and I took turns but I ended up getting frustrated.

Frustrated that her feet kept slipping off from the pedals. Frustrated that she kept looking down while trying to balance instead of looking straight ahead.

Less-than-encouraging words departed from my tongue and attacked her. In exasperation, she stopped in her tracks and screamed.

I have hurt her.

Oh, what an impatient mom I am. That was only her second time learning to ride the bicycle. What was I expecting? That she could get it in two attempts?

It’s time to do a bit of self-reflection.

Fun with scissors: Cutouts with Henri Matisse

I had wanted to sign Faith up for some art classes during this hols but because of her cough, I had to stop the plan; I don’t want her to spread germs to the other children. So, I would have to scout for ideas for art and I thought reading about the lives of artists and learning about their art forms would be a good way to start. It’s pinterest to the rescue once more and I found some interesting resources that I could use.

After listing down some artists, I searched the catalogue of the local libraries and I’m so happy that there are good children’s books on artists.

The first artist that Faith and I learnt about is Henri Matisse who was famous for his cutouts later in his life. We read these three books to get to know the artist more and all three can be found in the Junior Lending Picture Books’ section in the (selected) libraries.

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After reading, I selected some key words to go through with Faith. She could sound out CVC words but I thought there’s no harm in getting her to learn some new words.

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Prior to the ‘lesson’, I drew some squares and rectangles on a drawing paper so that she could paint on them.

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It’s interesting to observe the colours she chose and how she painted the shapes. I tried not to interfere but to allow her to enjoy the process but…

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While waiting for the paint to dry, I got her to imagine and cut out any shapes she could think of. The girl loves to cut but she often cuts the paper into small pieces. This time round, I requested that she be bold and cut big curvy shapes and guided her into cutting them. She wasn’t comfortable and wasn’t too keen to do so but at least she tried, for some.

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After that it’s pasting time! I wanted her to pair contrasting colours together just as Mr Matisse did.

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Almost done! Since she was the artist behind this piece of art, she must sign off!

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Our first lesson on the study of Henri Matisse and cutouts!

Related and useful resources:
:: Painting with scissors: Kids study Matisse
:: In the style of – Henri Matisse

 

Busy tables, busy cards

[Review + Giveaway]

Busy tables. Any idea what they are about?

When I first got an email to preview Busy Cards at Busy Tables, I was curious and wondered what this was about. I have apparently not heard of Busy Tables and my first impression was some kind of cafes that could cater to kids and provide them with a set of tasks while dining in.

I was wrong. Just a little.

Busy Tables is located at Rochester Mall and is an indoor educational playground suitable for children under 6 years of age. Educational ? Yes. You will find that the setup is different as compared to the indoor playgrounds that we commonly go to. Here, you will find educational toys and resources that encourage children to use their senses to explore.

As we entered, I was asked to have Faith explore the various spaces and toys at Busy Tables. The girl got busy instantly. There were toys which she had played with before and there were also those that she was really interested in like car tracks and rainbow nesting wooden block stacker.

There was minimal guidance from me but she was totally engrossed in those that she was interested in; she was trying to make sense of the toys.

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Then there was this dark room that really attracted her attention and she stayed in there for the bulk of our time at Busy Tables. I’m quite certain that was the first time that she has ever seen a light box and with so many toys to play with, who would want to come out?

We must have sat there for quite a while until one of the staff at Busy Tables came over and tell me more about this indoor educational playground and Busy Cards. Essentially, they hope that parents could learn and bond with their children through working with the resources. They believe that children learn best from their parents and thus create such an environment for them to learn and have fun together.

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I was then introduced to Busy Cards which is an assortment of curated cards which give children ‘missions’ to complete. As can be seen from the picture, there is a variety of activities that involves literacy, numeracy, fine-motor and problem solving skills. The cards and missions are divided into various stages and tiers to pose as incremental challenges to them. It is hoped that children could acquire the discipline to concentrate on a task as they work together with their parents and to learn to keep and return each set of resources back to their original postion. Good habits, I say! These cards also assist parents to explore the many resources available at BusyTables. 😉

If you find the activities on the card given to your child to be on the easier or more difficult side, you can definitely ask for one that suits your child more.

The girl was very motivated to want to complete six activities because upon completion of those tasks, she could get a coin token to play on the slot machine (she loves it!). And, it’s no surprise that she chose to work on the activities that were found in the dark room.

If you look through the resources at Busy Tables and scan the Busy Cards, you would find that you might have some of them at home. For us, we have some of the puzzles and toys that are found there. Obviously, we do not have all and I definitely won’t be able to recreate the dark room in my home ( I don’t want to do it). I would think that this is a good place to hang out if you want to spend some quality time with your child and to have him/her do some “brain work”.

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We saw a group of mothers and children having a playdate while we were there and I thought that is a brilliant idea. I mean, all the resources are there and you don’t have to spend time making resources.

According to the staff of Busy Tables, the peak hours are in the morning, early afternoon and evening. There are fewer people between 1 to 4pm and you guess it right! It’s nap time! So if your kids don’t need to nap, that period is the best time to go! If you are curious about the pricing, you can refer to this on their website.

[Giveaway] Busy Tables has kindly agreed to give FIVE passes to readers of Raising Faith (residents of Singapore only)! Hooray!  All you need to do is to comment on this post or on Raising Faith Facebook Page who you would like to bring to Busy Tables and do leave your email address for us to contact you! 😉

You can find out more about Busy Tables via their website or facebook page. The giveaway will end on 16 December 2016 and I would announce the winners on my Facebook Page and IG account.

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All the best!

A year older…

I turned one year older this day  and both my kids were not feeling in tip-top condition. It wasn’t anything serious but they have been coughing for weeks and I wanted them to fight it. But Faith had a pair of swollen eyes on Sunday evening, complaint of stomachache and ear ache that night and broke out in rashes all over her body yesterday. It’s time to visit the doc. Both of them.

We had wanted to visit her in the morning but we were too early and decided to go for a hike. So it’s to the tree top walk we went!

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It’s Faith’s first hike and we had to manage our expectation, that it would be a pretty slow walk.

Don’t think a stroller can do a good job and it’s babywearing for Dan! He looked displeased but actually I think it’s comfy because he fell asleep minutes into the walk.

The city girl was amazed by the nature and stopped every few minutes to exclaim over the slightest thing. Ants, leaves imprinted on the board walk, sounds in the nature, the canopy… There’s so much to explore in nature!

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This teacher in me will use every opportunity to teach. Signboards on the way are good teaching aids.

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As expected, the girl grew weary about 2.5km into the walk. But hey, that’s a good start for a 4YO!

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We had to think of ways to energise her. Singing gospel songs help! Or pretend that you are a superhero!

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We made it! But this was only the halfway mark!

On the return leg, everyone’s tired. Faith couldn’t walk any longer and needed to be carried. Thankfully, we could always treat her like a backpack.

We took 3 hours to complete the 6km walk. Tired but happy would be my description for that morning. I’ve always loved the outdoors and it’s definitely wonderful to be able to so on my birthday.

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That evening, we made it to the doctor all right. It’s viral infection, as diagnosed by the doc. The swell and rashes are symptoms of the infection. Dan’s cough was worse than Faith because his immunity was weaker.

Both are on antibiotics now.

This birthday, all I want is for my family to be in good health. Not too much to ask for eh? 😉

Oh yes, if you are keen to participate in the Safari Zoo Run 2017, do take note that the early bird rate extension is till 9 Dec 2016 and do remember to use the code SZR2017BGPRFAITH10 for a further 10% discount. This unique code is valid till 15 January 2017.

Sending sweet treats the Sophisca way

If you are looking for Christmas gifts that are practical and cute at the same time, head down to Sophisca! It is Taiwan’s very first specialty candy brand that was started in 1997 and has since established itself as Taiwan’s beloved and top confectionery retailer. Sophisca’s saccharine staples are an array of candied fruits, soft bonbons, chocolates and more!

Last weekend, the family headed down to its media preview of their Christmas collection at Marina Square and yours truly went a little crazy over their very adorable packaging. Thankfully, their prices are really reasonable so I didn’t burn a big hole in the pocket when I left.

These Christmas Reindeer and Santa gift boxes are only $4.90 each.

The daughter had a good time trying out their candies and she had reached her quota of sweet treats that day.

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These are at $11.90 each.

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This is my favourite corner. Just look at the designs on the boxes. And some are really local-flavoured with our beloved Singlish words on them.

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I purposely chose some of these to give to a Taiwanese family who will be leaving Singapore for good. They have always been fascinated by our colloquial English so I thought these are apt. There are three slices of chocolates in each box ($2.90 per box).

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Sidetrack. The girl has officially taken over the ownership of my Canon camera. So that day, she was just happily snapping pictures.

 But I got her to concentrate and pick some of the boxes as gifts to our friends.

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I prefer chocolates to candies and got this box of different-flavoured chocolates as well. Actually, I honestly think the packaging got me to part with my cash.

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So that night, we had our farewell dinner for our beloved friends whom we have met in Boston.

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They were family to us when we were all in a foreign land and naturally we grew close to one another. So that night, we had food, cakes, chocolates and laughter and sent them off with our blessing.

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So long, farewell! It’s time to say goodbye!

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Disclaimer: The family was invited to Sophisca’s media preview and were treated to complimentary goodie bags for the kids. However, items purchased as mentioned were from our own pocket.