Happy Mother’s Day

There was no breakfast prepared by the husband or the children. No flowers were in sight. No present. No lunch.

It’s just, another Sunday.

But today, my phone kept vibrating, to inform me of new messages from WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook and they were all beautiful pictures and quotes about Mother’s Day.

How do you spend today, fellow mothers?

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I could have indulged in some self-pity. could have yearned for some fancy dress or lunch but as of now my heart is full.

Full because of Christ’s love for me and I’m overwhelmed by it. Full because He has blessed me with two beautiful children who keep asking for me. Full because I have a great companion in my soulmate, my husband. Full because….

Just yesterday night, I was in tears as the rest of the family members turned in. Because of a conversation I had with Faith, I felt the mother guilt creeping in. I felt I didn’t spend enough time with her and she was asking more of my presence, my time.

Such is motherhood, at least for me. It is full of (emotional) ups and downs. On some days, I have victories but on other days, I fail. On a few occasions, the house is spick and span but more often than not, it resembles a battlefield. But it’s all right. I’m still learning to be a parent and I don’t think I would ever graduate from this course. There’s too much to learn. What I need to do is to stay humble and work under the grace of God.

Today, on Mother’s Day, Dad went back to church for the first time in many years. There was a few adjustments to be made because we wanted to accompany dad to the Chinese service. But the kids enjoyed themselves in the Chinese Sunday School. And Mom? She thought of me as she went to the market to do some grocery and sent over stalks of big, juicy asparagus for me.

That is enough for me.

I call that simple joy.  Or contentment.

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Of all the quotes that I received, this one caught my attention.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Oh yes, perhaps I have a Mother’s Day gift after all. Remember I went to try out some of the clothing from iROO? In the end, I selected this set, a blue off-shoulder top with a pair of white pants. It’s refreshing to try something new once in a while and I must say this set of clothing gave me confidence; I thought I look good in it.

Anyway, have a great day with the family and remember (and note to myself), our children will grow up in a flash so cherish them, their noises, their pestering, their nonsense while they are still young and when they are still willing to come to you. 😉

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Hello 2017!


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Good morning to a brand new year! We are off to somewhere! Guess where?

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To the Botanic Gardens we go! This year, I hope that we will be in the outdoors more as a family, to learn and explore!

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Learning takes place everywhere and every moment. So don’t waste the opportunity! There’s so much in nature that we can learn. I only hope that we have the patience and knowledge to share with the kids.

This year, I want to continue to focus on relationship – God, husband, children, immediate family members, friends (new and old). So, yes, I want to make time for them. My family is important to me and I want to invest my time, effort and resources on them. I have chosen to be a SAHM and I want to stay focused on my calling and STOP thinking about venturing into other areas. It’s not fair to anyone if I don’t do a good job in the various areas that I am involved in.

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I want to give more attention to Dan this year. I hadnt’t been able to give a lot of my time to him last year and his development hasn’t been as good as the sister. There shouldn’t be any comparison but to be honest, he is spoken less to, read less to, taught less and less stimulated. There is always the guilt in me but it hadn’t been a smooth ride last year. So I hope I could concentrate on him more this year.

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Needless to say, I will still continue to work on the girl but at the same time I’ll get the girl to teach the boy. It’s time for her to impart some of her knowledge to her brother and one learns more when she teaches. Since the girl would be in the afternoon session this year, I hope to utilise weekdays’ mornings well.

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I’ll be more diligent and work on teaching and learning resources. I mean, as a teacher, I have to come up with lesson plans and related resources. Now that I’m a teacher to my kids, I should be equally diligent, if not more!

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As a family, we will still be attending BSF and this year, I hope to have small scale family devotion on the materials given by BSF rather than to be doing it on an ad-hoc basis. Faith could sit through longer stories and I want to read more biblical stories to her this year. For family worship, we could sing worship songs together. The hubs will play the piano and the rest will sing. It’s time to be intentional about teaching her gospel songs and not merely leave it to her to learn by listening.

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I want to save more for the family and that means we intentionally don’t eat out that often and even if we have to, we will go to the hawker centres and coffeeshops more often.

The other day, the hubs and I were discussing about some financial issues after a recent talk which I have attended. He mentioned that if we want to model thrift, we should eat out at restaurants LESS often. I agree.

I need to start teaching Faith about the value of money and shall start this year. Will write more on this (if I have the time).

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Direct application: So we stopped by Food for Thought for playground time and knowing me, I would normally order a drink or small bite. But today I decided not to. We will just (shamelessly) use the playground and not spend unnecessarily.

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I’m still trying to figure out Faith’s interests. I don’t think I will get Faith to have music lesson unless she specifically asks for it or that I could find a good teacher. I’m not even sure what I want F to learn. I can expose her but till now I don’t know what instrument she wants to learn although she is still keen on ukelele.

I will concentrate on sports because that is the area the adults are interested in too and thus could motivate them a wee bit. Swimming for both, hiking, frisbee, cycling, in-line skating, rock wall climbing, ⚽️…

Oh yes, they do need to play and pray more.

Personally, I want to read more and enrich myself. I do think that my language ability has deteriorated over the years. I could no longer write fluently and at times, I need more confidence to speak. Of course I’m all right when it comes to casual talks with my peers but it’s a different story if you ask me to present before a crowd. Maybe I should really sign up for a course eh?

So yea, these are my quick thoughts for 2017.

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Some food-for-thought.
[Source]Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Pre-school years

[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.

A Day in A Life (of a mom of two)

The last time I participated in the DIAL blog train, I was a mom of one. Then I could plan and carry out a lot of homelearning activities for Faith. Fast forward one and a half years and I became a mom of two. Attention is divided between the kids but I am thankful that I could count on the older girl to take care of her brother when household chores call out to me.

On average, my day begins at 6am. On good days, the boy would wake up later, like 6.30am but more often than not, he wakes up before 6am. The hubs would have gone to work before 6am and thus my duty commences then. When the boy wakes up, so does the sister. Yawn!

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Breakfast is usually bread and I absolutely need my coffee to stay calm and loving. When I’m more hardworking, I would prepare a more decent meal but most of the time, not. Once the kids have had their fill, they would go off to play on their own while I have my five minutes of coffee break. Most of the time, Faith would play pretend and imagine herself to be a teacher. Occasionally, she would do some work. Dan, meanwhile, would seek to disturb his sister. Thereafter it’s a rush to get everyone ready before we set off for Faith’s kindy at 7.50am.

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Faith’s in school! It’s time with Dan! Before the boy turned one year old, I spent most of the morning at home because he needed to nap. These days, I try to go out with him more often. I would use one day for grocery shopping, either in the wet market or supermarket. It’s a good way to let him know about this world he’s living in and the things he sees as we shop. Two of the mornings are for exercising. I would put Dan in the stroller and do a slow run or brisk walk. 90% of the time, he would fall asleep in the stroller. If I could get help with childcare, I would go for my Minus Calories session.

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Once a week, I would also visit the library with him. I would love to bring both my children along but I know I will go mad with them going in different directions and in the end, I wouldn’t be able to pick out good reads for them.

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Faith has her lunch in school and this frees me up from having to prepare her lunch. Normally I would just grab anything to fill my stomach. Dan’s food is easy to prepare – just steam and puree. Yea, he still needs to eat pureed food.

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We would pick up Faith at around noon time. Dan would have a little playtime at the school compound. Faith would also spend some time playing with her schoolmates before we head for home. While she plays, I chat with fellow moms. Oh! First adult conversation for the day!

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By the time we reach home, it is 1pm. Faith takes a quick shower before spending some time with her brother. Once in a while, I allow screen time but more often than not, I don’t because the boy would find his way to the screen and stare at it. Not good!

Nap time is 2pm. Faith could nap on her own while I need to babywear Dan. It’s a bad habit, I know but he takes a really long time to fall asleep and if I am to get him to nap on his mattress, he would disturb the sister. I’m not sure when I can stop babywearing him; I hope I could see the light at the end of the tunnel soon.

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Faith normally wakes up earlier than the brother and since I’m still carrying Dan, she would have to work on her own. I wish I have more time to coach Faith but it’s been tough. I have to steal whatever pockets of time that I have to teach her. Thankfully, she is rather independent and would get to complete the task that I have set out for her to do. These days, I tend to focus more on her recognition of English sight words rather than the Chinese characters.

Most of the time, Dan would have gotten up at around 4pm and it’s ‘Big Muscles’ time after some snacks (which mostly consists of fruits). I believe in outdoor play for children and it’s also a good breather for me. If I can find fellow moms to chat, that would be my second adult conversation for the day. Sigh!

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Once a week, I send the kids to swim at their cousin’s and when I’m in the mood, I would bring them out for waterplay. Other times, it would just be playground time.

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5pm. It’s time to prepare dinner. It’s always a challenge with Daniel around. More often than not, he would crawl into the kitchen and want my attention. I can’t move that freely too because he is hanging on to my leg for his dear life. That’s when I get the sister to ‘entertain’ him. Most of the time it works. Those times when it doesn’t, I roar!

Dinner is mainly one-pot dish. I wish I could cook more dishes but I have to be practical and settle for easy-to-prepare meals although at times when I have the mood, I would prepare dishes. I’m bored with the same old stuff that I prepare and suspect that my girl is getting sick of the menu too. That day will come when I will try out other dishes…when Dan is a bit older and more independent and you will be sure that I will post pics of them on my instagram account.

The hubs comes back home around 6.30pm and I can finally have some real help. He has dinner while I clear the dishes and after he’s done with the meal, he would help to bathe the boy and sometimes the girl if she requests for it. I would have my time alone without the kids when I’m in the shower but at times, they will still look for me. Grrr…

By the time the hubs is done with shower, it is 8pm and it’s time for Dan to turn in for the day. He would have his last feed and we have our family prayer time. Then the hubs turn in together with Dan while I spend the next 30 minutes with the girl.

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We usually read storybooks or work on the world map (Geography) before her bedtime. Sometimes when she feels tired, she would inform me that she wants to sleep and she retires for the day. From 8.30pm onwards, I could have peace and no more calling of ‘mama, mama’.

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What do I do after they have gone to bed? Meal preparation, reading the Bible, reading up on early childhood education, reading and replying emails and more recently, doing up teaching and learning resources for the kids. I love the free resources from these two websites – this Reading mama and the measured mom – and as you can see from the picture, I’m working real hard on the materials.

I normally turn in latest by 11pm. I could have slept earlier but I really do cherish the time alone to do my own stuff. 😉

This post was written as part of the Day in a Life (DIAL) blog train that is being hosted by Mum in the Making. Do click on the button above to read more DIAL posts. It’s been so interesting to take a peek into the lives of fellow mums!

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Next up on the blog train is Dawn, the voice behind Daprayer.com. She’s a modern mama who seeks to live life beautifully, while #LearningParenting and #LearningGrace along the way. Through her blog posts and hand lettering artworks, she hopes to offer some inspiration and encouragement to mamas out there to create beautiful memories, build beautiful relationships, and be the most beautiful versions of themselves, inside and out.

That magical night

Daniel turned 10 months old last week but I was too tired to record anything concerning him then.

For 10 months, I was sleep deprived. As a newborn, he woke up every 3 hours and we thought his sleep pattern would change for the better as he grew older. But we were kidding ourselves. We didn’t sleep train him since we didn’t want the sister to be interrupted in her sleep. Every night, da man would do night duty but I also gave him the comfort suck that he wanted, thereby creating this habit of having me to soothe himself back to sleep. This persisted for months and the past couple of months had been terrible with him waking up every 2 hours, then 1 hour and towards the end of September, every half an hour. Both da man and I were near fatigue and in the end, we decided to do something about it because if nothing was done to improve the situation, our health, both physical and mental,  will deteriorate.

We kept the cot and lay the mattresses on the floor. Co-sleeping? Yes. As suggested by the man in the family, I was to bring Faith to my mom’s and stay overnight. He would be with Daniel to let him learn to soothe himself to sleep.

That was last Saturday. I lay on the bed at my mom’s, wondering how Dan was doing. Would he be hungry? Would he need me? Would da man be too frustrated with him? There was no return message from him that night and I was worried. Faith was fast asleep, thank God for this ability to sleep anywhere.

The next morning, we returned and da man, upon seeing us enter the house, exclaimed,”Yay, we are alive!”

Jokes aside, all was well indeed. Dan just needed to pat himself back to sleep and the next few nights, it was really blissful. Da man turned in with him at night and I could use whatever time that was left to do some reading or work with Faith.

Huh? Just like that? So easy? I should have done so earlier! But I tend to think this is timely because he has had experienced enough discomfort during these few months of teething to overcome any similar-type of pain. He has eight teeth now for the record.

His appetite returned and increased in leaps and bounds. From mere breastmilk, now he needs more solids to fill his stomach. He’s no longer a picky eater and all these changed in just this week!

Honestly, if I could do it all over again, I would adopt what Maria Montessori advocated. Please do read up for yourself if you are interested. I would still be using the Montessori method in bringing Dan and Faith up. I’m not a purist though.


Now that I could sleep 5 hours in one shot which is truly a luxury, I could appreciate what this wonderful Makura Health and Neck Support pillow does to me. I woke up refreshed and ready to meet the demands of the day.

Because both he and I have enough rest for the night, we could do more things in the morning when the sister is in school.

On Wednesday, I was in the mood to hang out with him and after dropping Faith in school, packed the hauck Viper and zipped to Gardens by the Bay for a slow morning run.

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For once, life as a SAHM is so attractive. While others are working, I could have the luxury to enjoy these beautiful sights and the lovely orchids in the Flower Dome.

It was also quite coincidental that my friend had taken leave from work that day and could meet me for good old local-styled breakfast at the gardens.

Ok, I need to mention that this is really rare and that’s why I am recording it. But after 10 months, I could almost see the light at the end of the tunnel! So much joy! I’m waiting for the boy to turn 1YO because that’s when things get better (hopefully). It happened to me when Faith turned 1YO so I hope this time round, things would not be drastically different.

After the visit to the Gardens, I could still pop by Pip’s PLAYbox at the Esplanade for Dan to have some stimulation. What a wonderful morning eh? Taking care of young ones can be fun if they cooperate!

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Would you stay this way please?

Thank you, dear friends, for your prayers over Daniel. We truly appreciate it and it’s exciting to see the Lord at work in our lives.

Faith turns 3

Dear Faith
You turn 3 years old today and Mama is blessed to have you as my daughter. You are truly a gift from God.

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You have grown to be more independent as the days passed, preferring to do things yourself instead of having us help you. You have an inquisitive mind and love exploring and asking questions to the point of irritating me. I remember I was once fearful that you were the quiet sort or that you had speech delay and before I knew it, you were chatting non-stop. During the recent Parent Teacher Meeting, all your teachers sang praises of you, commenting that you are independent, sociable, learns fast and are well-liked by all and I’m comforted that you truly love learning.

However, you do know that I had a difficult time with you recently, eh? You have always been my little companion and I like doing things with you. But nowadays, I would have to spend some time with your brother since he’s still quite helpless in a lot of ways and would need me. I thought you knew that before he came out of my womb. For the first two weeks since he was born, you were really sweet and I thought you would have no problem in adjusting to your new role but apparently, I was wrong. You began to throw tantrums, big ones, and cry for no good reasons. Mama was completely caught off-guard. “What on earth is happening to you?”

You didn’t listen to us and went ahead to do what you wanted which really upset both Papa and me. When you couldn’t get your way, you cried out really loudly and hysterically, kicking your legs to show your frustration. You really tested my patience. I am human after all and there is only so much I can handle. Taking care of both you and Dan is a challenge when there is no help. The last thing I want from you is your tantrums. I find myself scolding you so much to the point that I just want to stay away from you. And when I did that, I could see the sense of abandonment in your eyes and my heart broke when you cried out helplessly to me, “Mama!”

To be honest with you, I feel resentment slowly welling up in my heart. I was exhausted and it didn’t help that you were not cooperative. I felt like a total failure at times because I didn’t know how to handle you all of a sudden. Where is the Faith that I knew all along? The sweet and caring girl, the one who came rushing up to me when I puked and asked,”Are you ok, Mama?” when I was carrying Dan during the first trimester. Where, oh, where has she been?

Faith, I love you. You should know that. You don’t have to act up to get my attention. You definitely don’t have to take the cue from Dan and cry so that I would tend to you. In fact, the more you throw your tantrums, the more I want to get away from you. I know you feel insecure right now but your fear is unfounded.

I’m sorry that I hit you out of anger that day. I know it’s wrong and that’s why I want to stay away from you lest I respond in anger again.

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Despite all these, I’m immensely thankful that you have been treating Dan with great care and I can totally sense that you are proud to be a big sister to him. Whenever we go out, you would proudly announce to my friends or even strangers that he is your baby (anyway, you should say’brother’ instead). You help me take care of him when I’m busy in the kitchen and even read him stories. That’s so sweet of you!

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Dear Faith, as you turn 3 years old, my prayer for you is that you will grow in wisdom and maturity and continue to be a good sister to your brother. I’m praying constantly that this difficult phase be over and that we could have fun like before.

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I love you. Do not doubt me.

Lovingly,
Your mama.

img1448026637057We celebrated her birthday with our cell group as requested by her and of course, a ‘Let it go’ chocolate cake specially made for her.

Ten parenting points to note

The hubs and I helped out at the parenting workshop conducted at our church as we wanted to learn more and are passionate about this topic. Our pastor sent us the following ’10 ways to raise well-behaved kids’ and I find them relevant. I’m sure the article is from some source (but I can’t find the link!)

Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
Proverbs 13: 24

Both of us abide by the above and we absolutely do not want to raise spoilt brats. I don’t think any parents would want that to happen! But oh, it takes a lot of patience, hard work and determination to raise kids who are able to practice good behaviour. So here goes:

1. Model good behaviour. The best way to teach kids how to behave well is by showing them how to do it. Actions are more powerful than words. If they see you practice good behaviour yourself, then they are most likely to follow your example. So true! I see the little one imitating what I do and I have to be careful how I present myself in front of others.

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The LO giving thanks to God, together with Papa.

2. Communicate rules and expectations clearly. Kids do not know right from wrong. They need to be taught which actions are acceptable and which are not. Use words that they will understand and make sure that you are very specific. It is the responsibility of parents to help their children have a sense of with-it-ness by constantly giving them reminders so inappropriate behaviour can be prevented.

3. Reward good behaviour immediately. The best way to help children to behave well is to give them rewards whenever they do something good which can be in the form of words, gestures and gifts. Right timing is essential as children should be able to associate rewards with good behaviour. If you give the reward too late, they may not understand what it is for.

A simple pat in the back or “well done” is usually enough to tell children that they have done the right thing. We clap to show Faith that she has done something right and her smiles show us that she understands our gesture. We are not so keen to present her with gifts lest it becomes a bad habit and that she expects such form of reward for doing well.  I also tend to think that extrinsic rewards can be reduced when they are of a certain age.

4. Encourage them often. Children are inspired to practice good behaviour if they know that you believe in them. Constantly rooting for your children will help them to make better choices.

5. Train them early. Your kids are never too young to make good behavioural choices. Experts say that a child’s foundations

Sharing her toys with others.

Sharing her toys with others.

for character are established before the age of five. So it important that you do all you can when they are still in preschool to prepare them for the real world.

6. Be firm and consistent. Your children are smarter than you think they are. When you give in to what they want once, they will expect you to give in to them all the time. They are most likely to test your resolve when you are in a gathering. Do not waver just because there are many people around, stick to the rules. If they persist and throw a tantrum, deal with them privately.

7. Give them room to grow. Allow your children to make their own decisions as it is not healthy for you to always shadow them.  Let them make mistakes sometimes so they will learn to be more responsible for their actions.

8. Do not deal with your children when you are angry. It is unwise to correct them when emotions are running high as you might just say or do things that you will regret later. Allow yourself to cool off before you talk to them.

9. Provide a healthy and positive environment at home. Allow your children to grow according to their unique personalities and characteristics. Never compare them to other children as this can only cause them to experience undue pressure and stress. Not to mention that it can cause them to have low self-esteem.

Oh! I find this so true and is a constant reminder to me. Do you often find that you will inevitably compare your kid with others when parents come together? Every child is unique and they grow at their own pace. I honestly don’t like to do comparison and shun such conversation when parents come together. A little of these topics is fine for checks. Too much of it is really just dampening to the spirit. Stop comparing!

10. Love them unconditionally. Correct your children when they are wrong but love them regardless of how they behave. They have to understand that your love for them does not depend on their actions or performance.

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The LO, at 17 months

Sleep-training and a change in diet

There have been some changes in Faith’s sleeping and eating habits recently.

Last week, we finally conducted sleep training on her. It was painful, to me. Her cries were so pathetic and I nearly, at that instant, dropped the plan to sleep-train her. But we all know that this will ultimately be for the good of everyone so I’ll just had to bear with those wails.

It got better by the third night. Faith was learning to self-soothe and could get herself back to Zzzzz land. The hubs did all the training, not me. I merely sat on my bed, waiting anxiously for her to stop crying. By Sunday (yesterday), the hubs and I could get a more restful night.

With sleep-training comes a change in her diet. The day after the first night of sleep-training, the little one suddenly decided to stop feeding from my boobs. I should have seen that coming since she has been eating more solids and biting my nipples. Ouch! Now, Faith doesn’t even want to drink formula milk and also finds the yogurt that I give her funny and pushes it away.

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This does pose a problem, at least to me. How would she get the calcium that she needs?

Thankfully, she loves, loves bread and last Saturday, a friend passed me a recipe on yogurt bread. So, you can expect me to bake more bread like milk bread, cheese bread and the like.

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And now, I must busy myself with coming up with more Faith-friendly recipes! The above is pumpkin soup with broccoli, yogurt and cumin added. All thanks to the SIL. I added steamed sweet potato and chia seeds as well. Power food!

By the way, I really love the travelling spoon and fork set from Pigeon. They are the right size for Faith to handle and she could immediately use them to feed herself. Phew! All the other spoons are too long for her to transfer the food to her mouth. These are just the right size for her at this point in time!

Food education the Japanese way

I’m no nutritionist but I do know a little about food education, a result of growing up with a mother who cooks meals 95% of the time. It helps greatly that she dragged us along to the wet market and taught us how to spot the freshest meat and vegetables. amongst other things (like haggling with the stallholders, for example). Obviously, we were also involved in the cooking and baking process since young.  But I must qualify that we weren’t very enthusiastic then (even dreaded it) but whatever we were taught stays with us. Incredible!

So, it’s no surprise that I would start Faith early on eating well and recognising the various foods in their original state. I’m not a fan of store-bought food because they do contain preservatives and therefore not good for the little one. However, for convenience’s sake, they can be a good substitute.

I continue to be intrigued by how the Japanese and the French cultivate good eating habits in their children since young. In my humble opinion, teaching good eating habits is as tough as inculcating values in a being and it has to start from young for once he/she has a good foundation, the person will grow up distinguishing right from wrong and will (hopefully) make wise decisions along the way.

Some points on the Japanese way of eating (for own knowledge and reference):
Source: Parenting without borders

– What a baby eats is important but the attitude toward feeding a child is equally important. Eating in Japan is a communal matter and babies should NEVER eat alone. Even when the baby is too young to eat solids, he is always kept with the parents at mealtimes so that when he gets older, he eats together with them. This is a cardinal rule. To make babies feel even more like a part of the family, parents give them the same foods as everyone else. So, one can hardly see children’s menu in Japanese restaurants. From the time babies start eating, they’re eating the same things as adults, just more lightly seasoned or modified for the baby’s age.

– Presentation is important because when food is appealingly prepared and laid out, with an ideal mix of colours and textures, the baby will be more likely to eat it. I’m not sure about you but when I see those beautiful Bento boxes such as the following, I couldn’t help but be attracted to them and eat the contents.

{Source}

– In Japan, the thinking is to introduce young kids to a wide variety of tastes and textures, teach them to appreciate food, teach them never to waste and get them used to structured mealtimes and mealtime behaviour. The Japanese ate three proper meals each day and though overall portions were small, each meal was balanced and filling.

[Source]

– Snacks are not liberally given so kids do look forward to treats because they were rare and presented as a special privilege.

– It is considered a moral good to teach kids to eat properly and it is also an adult’s job to teach children the concept of gratitude for every bit of food on their plates. All children are taught to think of the animal who provided the meat, the farmer who grew the produce, the person who make and serve the food. Children are encouraged to eat everything they are served, to try everything they are given.

– A good parent helps her children to learn to eat anything, and she believes they can and will become good eaters, through high expectations, patience, beautifully crafted meals and lots of exposure to new foods.

– What make Japanese raise healthy eaters is the consistent support they get from others. Food education is woven throughout school life and kids grow their own tomatoes, eggplants and cucumbers in first grade (they have a standardised national curriculum so most kids experience the same kind of food education. By fiftth and sixth grade, children are learning cooking basics at school and lunch is an actual class in the curriculum. I like that! It’s a class to teach children where food comes from, how to enjoy a meal and how to serve others.


Pictures above are from an account of an elementary school principal who visited a Japanese school.

Needs of a child

 

It’s not something new but I thought I should just place it here so that I can refer to it. ;P

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A busy saturday and a madeleine recipe

Saturday is always a busy day for us as we attend church service in the evening and thereafter, host our small group. Yesterday, it got really exhausting since we had a wedding lunch to attend. Thankfully the food was good and little Faith did not act up.

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Made our way to the hotel and took a snapshot of this. I would never take blue skies for granted again after the recent haze experience.

20130707-145353.jpgSince we were rather early for the lunch, we chilled at Joe & Dough and father & daughter spent some quality time together. Faith was eyeing the blueberry yogurt tart which was rather yummy.

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I was brought up with the belief that we should always make our guest(s) feel welcome and ‘full’ as a host so no matter how tired or busy the day could be, I would try to make it a point to bake something for the small group. A few days ago, I finally got my hands on the madeleine pan and well, you guess it right, I made honey-spiced madeleines for my guests. The recipe is taken from my favourite cookbook author, Dorie Greenspan. Since this recipe requires you to chill the batter for at least 3 hours, I prepared that early in the morning and I just need to bake them in the oven when I got back home in the afternoon.

It was easy to make and the madeleines found their way into my guests’ stomachs quickly so maybe they were good?

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Recipe taken from about.com

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves (or a little less, if you prefer)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Grated zest of 1/2 orange
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, spices, salt, and pepper.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Fit the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or use a hand mixer or a whisk; add the eggs to the bowl and beat until the mixture is light colored, fluffy, and thickened, about 2 minutes. Beat in the honey, then the vanilla. Switch to a rubber spatula and very gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter.

3. You can use the batter now, but it’s better if you give it a little rest. Or, for real convenience, you can spoon the batter into buttered-and-floured madeleine molds, cover, and chill, then bake the cookies directly from the fridge. (See below for instructions on prepping the pans.) Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

4. When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 200C. Butter 12 regular madeleine molds (or 36 mini-molds), dust them with flour, and tap out the excess. (If you have a nonstick madeleine mold, butter and flour it or give it a light coating of vegetable cooking spray. If your pan is silicone, you can leave it as is or, just to be sure, give it a light butter-and flour coating.) Place the pan on a baking sheet and spoon the batter into the molds, filling each one to the top.

5. Bake large madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes and minis for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden and the tops spring back when prodded gently. Remove the pan from the oven and release the madeleines from the molds by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter. Gently pry any recalcitrant madeleines from the pan using your fingers or a butter knife. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to just warm or room temperature.

6. Just before serving, dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Joy of Learning Workshop

I had an overdose of caffeine and definitely, information.

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I was invited to attend Fisher Price’s Joy of Learning Workshop which was held this morning and to be totally honest with you, I was skeptical at first. Will it be another of those workshops which tries to entice you to purchase their products at the end of the session? I need to have an open mind, I know and boy, am I thankful that I went.

Perhaps I am just a newbie in this motherhood journey but I find myself soaking in all the information that I receive about parenting from various sources. Because my learning style leans more towards auditory, visual and kinesthetic, workshops suit me perfectly.

The workshop started at 9am but I was early and treated myself to a complimentary cup of Nespresso coffee (couldn’t decide if I want TWG or Nespresso). I figured I would need all the attention to take in the important information later.

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There wasn’t a real booth selling Fisher Price products wich was a pity because I would have wanted to buy something for Faith. It would be good use of time to browse the items for those who were early too but oh well, it’s really not a big deal.

The participants started streaming in slowly and we didn’t commence until 30 minutes after the stipulated time. It’s a tad disappointing but perhaps it’s just me – I’m not very fond of lateness. Ok, I need to practise mercy.

Thankfully, the presenter, Carrie Lupoli, got the workshop to a good start. She is IMG_1933one lively individual who shares her invaluable experience and knowledge with the audience. I was engaged throughout in this interactive workshop. I don’t think it is possible for me to consolidate my learning in just one post and definitely cannot complete it within a day because I have my responsibility to perform as a mother. But yes, I hope to share what I have learnt with you and it will be an on-going thing.

For a start, I’ll just share this graphic with you which I have gotten from Carrie Lupoli’s facebook page. Her page is a good resource guide so if you want to get updates, do LIKE her. 🙂

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First message: The first FIVE years of life is when the most significant growth and development occur in a human.

Questions to ask (myself): Who is the person in charge of facilitating this growth and development and how will he/she go about achieving the desired outcomes (which is ultimately his/her goals of parenting).

Food for thought and I’ll be back.IMG_4273

But one thing that I will certainly be doing (application) is to be consistent in documenting Faith’s milestones.

And no, I didn’t buy anything from Fisher Price (no proper booth anyway!) but I got a whole lot of parenting info from this workshop and a bountiful goodie bag to bring home. Certainly hope that Fisher Price would conduct similar events again. It’s worth the fee that one pays.

Disclosure: I was invited by Fisher Price to attend the Joy of Learning workshop for review purposes. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions are mine. Where pictures or information belong to others, I will always try to have them credited as such.

MTP | Faith’s development @ 6 months

While parents met their child’s teachers last Friday to get an update of their development, I thought I should pen down Faith’s since I am her teacher (Am I not?). Here goes.

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Faith’s two lower teeth have grown by the sixth month and the days leading to the ‘eruption’ saw her crying out in discomfort every night. It’s such a pain to see her in that state but she’s better now.

She takes to semi-solids well too. In fact, she loves the fact that she could sit on the high chair and have a meal together with us. Nope, we don’t encourage switching on the TV or to have any other forms of distraction. Meal time is a time for the family to be together, to enjoy the food and each other’s company. Her appetite is good; she could finish the portion of puree in 10 to 15 minutes. It isn’t too much mess either when feeding her but when she’s tired, she likes to kiss the bib and that’s not very desirable; it’s messy. So far, that’s no rejection of food on her part but let’s just wait and see.

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Faith is also a happy child. My parents have no problem in handling her. In fact, the evening I was away for a dinner, she stayed up to play with her grandmother. My mother gave good report about her! Faith has also grown to be more at ease with my in-laws which is definitely a good thing. Way to go!

In terms of sleeping, Faith still has trouble falling asleep on her own. Currently, she needs to be soothed and wants to be breastfed before she could fall asleep. Ok, I recognise that I have contributed to this problem. This is a bad habit and I have to retrain her to sleep on her own. When she was younger, I was definitely stricter and sleep-trained her. Recently, I let go and well, bad habits are formed. Argh! At times, she wakes up in the middle of the night and I believe that’s because of teething. Other than that, she could sleep from 9pm to 7am. We will have to continue to monitor this area of her development.

Faith loves to play and is very active. She could sit up straight with minimal assistance now but we are hoping she could do so WITHOUT any aid in the very near future. She loves music and responds to the same song(s) when I play them on my iphone. However, her interest for books has not been detected. Oh well…

On the whole, Faith is growing well and she is much loved by God and her family!

A ME morning spent in Patisserie G

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It’s the last day of May and I’m getting a bit emo(tional). Nope I’m not having PMS. Fact is, today is the last day of my No-Pay-Leave. Instead of cooping myself up at home, I placed Faith at my parent’s and went down to Patisserie G for brunch. I needed some time to read up on the notes from Parenting with Confidence before I go for lesson the next day.

I had wanted to visit Patisserie G after I was lured by the aroma that perfumed the surrounding environment when I passed by that 14-seat French bake shop the other day. Perhaps, I was also enticed by the Japanese outlook of the cafe, the simplicity in decor and the Maruni Hiroshima armchairs. Whatever it is, I’m going to have my ME time there.

Patisserie G opens at 8am (good for early-risers) and it was empty except for a customer who had almost completed her meal. The desserts were not displayed (pity!) and I had to settle for a latte and a croissant with ham and cheese.

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Going through last week’s notes, I was most impressed by this – 2 related things that threaten successful parenting and lead to the demise of the family are:
1) Not understanding the importance of the husband/wife relationship in the parenting process
2) Having a child-centred parenting

It is important to maintain the husband-wife relationship as the greatest overall influence we can have on our children will not come in our role as a dad or mom but as husband and wife. The quality of parent-child relationship depends on the quality of the husband-wife relationship so do make the latter an ongoing priority throughout the child-rearing years.

I thought it is important to note that there are 3 basic emotional needs of young children.
a) A child has a need to know that he is loved by Mum and Dad.
b) Every child has a need to know where he fits in Mum and Dad’s world.
c) A child has a need to know that Mum and Dad love each other.

While we want to meet the needs of our children, we have to be careful that in doing so, he does not become the centre of the family universe thus resulting in a me-ism attitude. Healthy families, on the other hand, produce children with a we-ism attitude.

There are 5 ways to meet all our child’s needs and not be child-centred:
1) Maintain your relationships that were important to you before your children were born
2) Get back into the habit of dating our partner and allowing friends or relatives to take care of the children
3) Continue to do those things that were markers of your special relationship before the children came.
4) Invite friends over for a meal or an evening of fellowship. Being hospitable forces us to focus on our home for the sake of minitering to others (healthy distractions such as these show children that service {to others} should be part of their lives)
5) Practice “Couch Time that takes place when the children are awake. This provides children with a visual sense of your togetherness.

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As I took a bite of the croissant and a sip of the latte, I wish the former could be a tad more buttery and crispy and the coffee to be warmer. They didn’t meet up to expectations and I so wish they could play some French music in the background, rather than some American pop music.

Proceeding to my next read, the peace was disrupted by two customers who were rather loud in their conversation. Distracted, I bade the ME time goodbye. It’s time to head home, to my baby. By then, the desserts were out on display and I purchased The G Spot (Dark chocolate mousse with chocolate meringue, on a chocolate hazelnut praline crunch) to try. Hopefully, it will turn out to be good.

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So, I would be back to work in June, though not on a permanent basis. I’m serving my notice, you see, and that is another story in itself.

Update: The cake is good. I should just stick with her desserts/cakes.

Patisserie G
9 Raffles Boulevard, #01-40
Millenia Walk

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