Memoirs of a Budget Mum

Mother to five, parent in progress and occasional kitchenista cookerella

Category: About Me (Page 1 of 2)

Parenting 5 & Making it Work


If you’d asked me 13 years ago when I was expecting my firstborn, if I had ever thought I’d be a mother five times over, I would have stared at you incredulously. It was an obscure thought. 

I didn’t consider myself very motherly, let alone think I had the womb-numbing grit to endure the pain of childbirth! In all honesty, I had the tenacity of a marshmallow.

13 years later, the situation is reversed. Most people stare at me and the hubs incredulously when they find out that we are parents to five kids, and often follow up with the questions: “How do you do it?” How do you cope?”

It is almost as if we’d discovered a certain elixir to surviving parenthood so much so that we would “risk our sanity” doing it again and again. 

**For those who really want to know, we share a glimpse of our dose of “madness” here. 

A Magical Freaking Unicorn? 

I share this notion of a “unicorn” mum, tongue in cheek by the way. 

The thought that we could be parenting “experts” by now, couldn’t be further from the truth. 

I would have trouble even beginning to write a manual on how we parent. 

Maybe only: “How to Swiftly Avoid Stepping on Lego in your Kid’s Playroom Warzone” or “Three Perfect Hideaways so your Kids Won’t Find You.”

Why is this so? 


The Paradox of Parenting 

So what’s our approach to day to day parenting and how do we cope with it all?

The real truth, pardon the oxymoron, is disappointing. 

We are still coping. 

We’re still trying to figure this all out. 

We’re trying our best everyday to make it work. 

This is further exacerbated by what I term as the Paradox of Parenting: everytime you reach a stage where you think you’ve “figured it all out”… boom, something comes crashing, to throw you off-course. 

In the perilous world of parenting, there are just too many “firsts”: 

  • The nerve-wrecking day when you wait for your uncontactable teen to reach home, 
  • The sudden outburst from a normally placid child,
  • The days when you genuinely scratch your head at how to respond to your child’s interrogative questions beyond “Because I say so”.
  • The methods you use that used to work on Child A, which doesn’t work on Child B, which is totally laughable on Child C, …you get my drift.

The MORE you know about Parenting, the MORE you realize you don’t. 

Surprisingly, this brings me much relief as I continue to navigate the parenting jungle. Uncanny, but it’s true.

No Magic Formula 

I’ve stopped searching for that one magical formula or method that works. There is none.

I’ve not picked up parenting self-help or manuals, that either get me excited or stressed at milestones/strategies or lack thereof.

I stay clear from the temptation to compare: to see how people raise their kids vs how I raise mine.  There is no benefit in choking yourself with feelings of inadequacy and tormenting yourself with thoughts of shortchanging your kids.

I’ve stopped weighing in too heavily on other people’s opinions about how I should be doing things or running my household. 

Mothering from Rest 

Instead, I’ve begun to mother from a state of rest. 

Yes, we need physical rest and I do take my afternoon naps very seriously, but this is more than that. 

Mothering from rest means choosing to function from a state of calm and quiet trust that I am my own person (with all my strengths and imperfections) and so are my children. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, unique in our dynamics as a family. We are content. 

Sarah Mackenzie, who authored the book Teaching from Rest, says it so perfectly:

“You are made in the image and likeness of God, and you have exactly what you need to be the mother that He wants you to be. Figure out what drives you and then let your kids shine within the atmosphere you create. Trying to be something you’re not, trying hard to provide your kids with the education that the blogger-next-door is giving hers will burn you out make you want to quit the whole project entirely.”

Sarah Mackenzie, Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace


I believe that if I sow with the little that I have everyday -with more heart than self-imposed expectation, things will somehow work themselves out in the end.

It’s not so much what I do and how I do it as a mom that will make a pivotal difference. Rather, its more important where my heart is, in everything I do

This is essentially what keeps me going. 

Making it Work 

Motherhood is about making it work for the long haul and in the greater scheme of things.

The small stuff, the everyday grind, the nuts and bolts of managing the household, well, they do matter. Yet, these must not consume and nor take too much of an emotional toil.

“Rest begins with acceptance. Or, perhaps more accurately, with surrender. There will always be more you can do. 

You will never complete your tasks entirely, because just on the horizon is tomorrow, and tomorrow the to-do list starts anew. 

It is so exhausting—sometimes even demoralizing—to realize that our work in raising up and teaching our children is never really done. But we must remember that we were never intended to finish it.

The true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes, and surely it is in the everyday things around us that the beauty of life lies.”

Sarah Mackenzie, Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace

My mothering goals are not so much about getting my kids through to the best universities and getting them settled for a bright future in the horizon. 

My goal in the long view of things, is to be a fellow soujourner, a comforting companion, a supportive help; a wise advisor.

 Being a mother means providing a safe and restful place in MYSELF for my kids to find their rest and come home to. Mothering requires us to guard that peace as an anchor to our relationships with our husbands and children. 

There, I said it. 

I really do hope that sharing my journey of “making it work” brings you some soul food ❤️.

P.S. No magical unicorns were harmed in the writing of this post. 😊

https://owlswellblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/01/mothers-make-it-work-a-blog-train-hosted-by-owls-well/

This post is part of the “Mothers Make it Work! Blog Train hosted by Owls Well. To read other inspiring stories, please click here.

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5th Legoland Brickversary Celebration!

Media Invite

Our kids never get tired of Legoland even though we’ve been there more than three times! 

And when we were invited to visit again, no surprises that the kids were super excited! After all, it’s where their childhood memories were made! It was a drizzly day but we were undeterred! 


LEGOLAND® Malaysia Resort is throwing it’s fifth birthday bash this year with lots of goodies and fun-filled activities in store, from 21 August to 30 September 2017.

If you are thinking of popping over to LEGOLAND® Malaysia for a short weekend getaway or 2-3 hours of fun,you can look forward to a host of stunning family fun: a giant sized Lego cake, minifigures exchange, and much much more!  

Here are some Upsized Fun for the Family during Brickversary!: 

  1. Brickversary Goodies Coupons Up For Grab (1st – 30th September) – Stand to win discount vouchers, Lego sets, minifigures, and an all-expense paid trip to LEGOLAND® Japan for the family! See kids frantically scratching their cards out for discounted meals..hope you have better luck!!

2. Jumbo Minifigure Trade – Bring your own minifigure to trade! Go on a Jumbo Minifigure Trading craze with 1,000 kinds of Minifigures and challenge your kids to see who can collect the most Minifigures from the park’s Trading Hut

3. Giant LEGO® Birthday Cake – Who can take the best iconic shot of themselves with a Giant LEGO® Birthday cake made up of 150,000 LEGO® bricks?


4. Fifth Brick-versary’s Edition DUPLO® Bricks – Are you a true blue LEGO® fan? Find out more about the activities that lets you win one of the fan favourite limited edition DUPLO® bricks
 


5. Family Fun Shows and Parades! 

Brickdance by 12 LEGO® costume characters – Mums, dads, boys and girls, get ready for a dance showdown. Battle it out with the adorable LEGO® costumers.

Brick-Dance Parade @ Lego City (daily) — 3:45pm

Photo Credit: herneenazir.com

Character Dance Show @LEGO Star Wars Miniland ( (Weekends, Public and School holidays) – 4pm

Awesome Parade @ The Beginning (Weekends, Public and School holidays) – 6:30pm

The Big Party @ The Beginning (15, 16, 17 Sep) – 6pm – 6:45pm

                                      ***

Top Picks!

Here are some of OUR family’s best recommendations for LEGOLAND and rides that our kids go for again and again! Definitely check out these classic rides and newest attractions! 
1. Ninjago The Ride

We went for this 3 times in total and we rate it hands down, one of the best experiences in the Legoland theme park! The 4D interactive attraction packs a great visual and virtual punch….and workout. Your arms will feel like you had a great workout after! 


2. Splash Water fun! 💦 

My kids love getting super-soaked. This ride gives them the thrills and spills. Super fun.


3.  Raging Rollercosters!

My teen and 7 year old are adrenaline junkies. They come back time and again just for the Dragon Rollercoasters. They dragged me up the big one in the last visit but I managed to escape this time 😅.

4. Playgrounds Galore!

There’s really no age too young to have fun at Legoland. Playgrounds and playmates abound. 



Definitely a fantastic experience time and again! We’ll be back! Thank you Legoland Malaysia! 😊 

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Don’t Judge a Fish by its Ability to Climb a Tree…

It’s that time of the year again where many parents are on tenterhooks and many children stand at the crossroads of Ambuiguity,  pondering the paths their lives may take with the turn of the national exams. 

The tensions remain.

Parents may have bought into the myths of early success and its apparent ramifications for the future. 

At their tender ages, some children may have had unfortunate encounters in school. They might have felt boxed up, and fitted into a prototype of what a successful student SHOULD look like–only to find that the “package” doesn’t quite fit comfortably. 

It’s not a new story. Our systems have little tolerance for perceived exceptionality and mediocrity. 

According to the article “Why there’s no such thing as a Gifted Child”, Guardian’s Wendy Berliner recounts the classic tale of the misfit:

“Most Nobel laureates were unexceptional in childhood. Einstein was slow to talk and was dubbed the dopey one by the family maid. He failed the general part of the entry test to Zurich Polytechnic – though they let him in because of high physics and maths scores. He struggled at work initially, failing to get academic post and being passed over for promotion at the Swiss Patent Office because he wasn’t good enough at machine technology. But he kept plugging away and eventually rewrote the laws of Newtonian mechanics with his theory of relativity.” 

Phew…

Most of that description sound like us and for the most part, our children, doesn’t it? 

Einstein WAS that fish out of water. It was only when he found his ocean, that the tidal wave of discovery broke through. 

Considering Einstein makes us circumspect that there can be a quick fix to achieving real success. 

Allowing our Fish to find the Ocean

How can we as parents, ensure we cast a long view towards education and not be too quick to judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree? 

According to Berliner, who collaborated on the book Great Minds and How to Grow Them, “the latest neuroscience and psychological research suggests most people, unless they are cognitively impaired, can reach standards of performance associated in school with the gifted and talented. However, they must be taught the right attitudes and approaches to their learning and develop the attributes of high performers – curiosity, persistence and hard work, for example – an approach Eyre calls “high performance learning”. 

In essence, we can help our children achieve their level of giftedness eventually, if we sow powerful attitudes and approaches to learning. 

This brings me to the point of this article. Our family is truly heartened to have discovered that there ARE good providers in the marketplace that are centred on that philosophy and who are committed to support our child’s quest towards their own exceptionality. 

Flying Cape – Our Holistic Education Partners

Flying Cape, a holistic education platform,  believes that maximizing learning potential in our children starts with understanding how each child is unique in terms of interests and learning styles. 

Their S.M.A.R.T framework is taken from the best research from renowned academics all over the world and translates into clear and actionable plans for parents and children to employ.  


1. SEEK Out Strengths

If you don’t already know by now or are just going by guesswork or instinct. It may be good to find out your child’s strengths, interests and learning styles using Flying Cape’s diagnostic assessments. 

Flying Cape’s free Multiple Intelligence assessment, designed by globally acclaimed educator Dr Brenton Shearer, can help refine our expectations about what our children are good at.


My son, who’s into Lego and Robotics was found to be logic smart (all that tinkering made sense!) while my daughter fared well in the picture smart category (countless doodles). 

Knowing this, gives us a sense of how to create that supportive environment for our kids to bloom. I don’t expect my daughter to excel in all areas but knowing she has an artistic streak helps me focus on where her strengths lie.

The good thing about Flying Cape’s selection of class package is there is no one size fits all programme. 

Let your child try out a wide range of activities using the All-You-Can-Learn Class Buffet and determine a fit of school and teaching style. At 5 classes for a flat fee of $99, it’s a steal. 

2. MAP Out Personalized Plan

Flying Cape’s Compass Map reveals their philosophy and position on education. In fact, academics is just one launchpad to realworld success.  

Pivotal to the CompassMap, is the idea that  success in academics is not the only way to ensure success in the real world.

Working alongside, are a host of character attributes and multipliers that can accelerate and trigger that significant development and growth. 

Particularly notable is the emphasis on performance character which is termed as “Having the internal drivers to overcome challenges”. 

Performance Character refers to habits and/or dispositions that an individual uses to motivate themselves to overcome personal challenges and hardships. This is not unlike what Angela Duckworth has popularized, in the form of GRIT. It coheres too, with the importance of equipping children with core character traits that will help them push through till they achieve success. 

Interaction Multipliers are focused mainly on socials skills, such as Public Speaking, Leadership and Negotiation Skills.  Learning Multipliers focus on “Techniques on HOW we learn what we need to learn” such as memory recall, speed reading, mind mapping. These skills are rarely taught in schools but are equally important for learning.

3. ACCESS Classes & Activities

Next, search for your desired classes at flyingcape.com.sg. Classes are sorted by category (according to the 8 intelligences and via age groups). 

The friendly customer service is impeccable and the Flying Cape Team fields your questions and concerns while facilitating your booking if you encounter any issues or difficulties.

Get your child’s active input in deciding on the type of classes. Commitment to learn is always stronger if it is a joint decision between parent and child.

4. REVIEW Progress & Achievements

Get regular feedback from your child’s teachers. Measure what matters – Flying Cape’s holistic scorecard helps you track all the activities and classes your child has attended, all in one place.

5. TURBO CHARGE For Greater Success & Confidence

Affirm your child’s progress and jointly determine next steps. Increase the level of difficulty or try out new ways of learning where appropriate. Explore practical applications of new found skills and knowledge.

It takes a village to raise a child and Flying Cape are our family’s trusted partners. The road ahead is long, so we invite you to come onboard.

***

One of our favourite Dr Seuss books inspires with a few wise lines to all who want to succeed:

“So be sure when you step, 

Step with care and great tact. 

And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. 

And will you succeed?

 Yes! You will, indeed! 

(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed)

 Kid, you’ll move mountains.

You’re off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting,

So… get on your way!”

June Holiday Fun at The Kidz Academy 2017!

Media Invite 

The Kidz Academy is back in 2017 with a local twist from 9 to 11 June 2017 at Suntec Singapore Halls 404 to 406.


The three-day event this year is going local, with a focus on showcasing Singapore’s rich history.

Here are the key highlights not to be missed: 


1. Immerse in Local History & Folklore

The Kidz Academy Storyland segment will feature live theatrical acts, and showcase performances based on Singapore’s urban legends – The Legend of Bukit Merah, The Legend of Badang and history of Sang Nila Utama. 


Friday 9 June 

Saturday 10 June 

Sunday 11 June 

2. Step Back in Time & Nostalgia

The event will also feature back-to-school games, activities and food from the 60s to 90s with the objective of introducing children to a non-digital era that their parents have grown up in. Parents will love this as this will be a blast from the past of their growing years! 

3. Environmental Entrepreneurship 

Partnering with Youth Leader Singapore, the event will debut TKA Care Challenge: a collaborative effort between ten local primary schools to raise funds for The Straits Times Pocket Money Fund. The students will be creating special knick-knacks made from mostly environmentally-friendly materials to be sold at the respective schools and during the three-day event.

4. Get Preloved Children’s Books at $2.90 each! 

Another fundraising effort will witness the organisers working with The Salvation Army Singapore to raise funds for its local causes through The Kidz Academy Book Cart, which will make its round to schools, offices and the event venue to sell second-hand children books from local and international authors at a fixed price of $2.90 each. 

 The Kidz Academy will take place from Friday 9 June to Sunday 11 June, 10am – 9pm (9 – 10 June) and 10am – 8pm (11 June) at Suntec Singapore Halls 404 to 406.

Other Event Activities:


1. Meet & Greet sessions

The Kidz Academy will bring forth characters from Robocar Poli featuring Poli and Amber for three days of performances and Meet & Greet sessions. Online registrations for the meet and greet sessions will be announced at The Kidz Academy’s Facebook page.


2. Free Trial Classes

Three days of trial classes from educational and enrichment providers will happen from 10am to 8pm daily. The programmes are tailored for ages 2 – 12 years old, encompassing English, Maths, Science, technology, arts and more. Registration will be available at the official website.

3. Daily Stage Activities

A comprehensive set of stage segments from various exhibitors encompassing education, the arts, sports and more.

4. Daily Lucky Draws with prizes worth more than $14,000

Visitors will be entitled to one chance in the lucky draw with every receipt of purchase. Happening twice daily at 2.30pm and 7.30pm, a total of more than $14,000 worth of prizes will include a 2D1N in a One-Bedroom Villa at Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa worth $4,100 as the grand prize.

5. Goodie Bag Giveaway (Worth up to $50)

With a total of 1,500 goodie bags to be given away, registrants are to redeem the Goodie Bags at the event from 10am onwards. Participants can reserve a goodie bag through online registrations or be the first 200 to queue at the door. 

6. The Kids Academy Play Pass

The Play Pass is an interactive activity for children of all ages. Participants are to complete activities from different pit stops held at various booths at the event. Completion of the Fun Passport entitles one to a game of Tikam-Tikam with exclusive prizes up for grabs.

7. The Young Singapura Girl Contest


Introducing a new stage segment, the contest aims to crown the most creative display of the young Singapore girl in their best ethnic wear. Open to children from ages 5 to twelve. The top participants will walk away with prizes which includes Universal Studios Singapore® Admission Tickets and retail vouchers. 

8.The Kidz Academy Village 

In collaboration with partners such as Loacker, the The Kidz Academy Village offers complimentary refreshments for children of all ages at varied timeslots throughout the day. Limited quantities will be available each day.

9. The Finals of Speak Up! Kids Public Speaking Competition

Happening on 9 and 11 June 2017, the finals of the second public speaking competition – a joint collaboration between The Kidz Academy and Speech Academy Asia will showcase 24 teams from three different age groups and various primary schools.

10. Safe Cycle Programme

A dedicated zone that imparts basic skills training and road circuit simulation to educate kids on safe cycling, children will be certified as a young safe cyclist at the end of the programme. Registration is available here.

11. Free-to-play Inflatable Zone

Three inflatable attractions will be available across three days on within an allocated space of more than 200sqm. The inflatable zone will include attractions such as Ninja Run, Discovery Box and Ultimate Rebound – the only of its kind in Singapore. 

For more information on the latest updates and event highlights, visit www.thekidzacademy.com.sg 

I’m a Social Media “Mom”Derator

Social Media has been both a boon and a bane in my life. Being a stay-home mum, who’s mostly home bound with the kids or otherwise shuttling around with errands to run, leaves me very little time to connect face to face with friends and the “outside world”. Believe you me, it’s been challenging.   Logistically, it has been hard to find a sweet spot in my schedule for “me” or “we” time, if any at all. The truth is, I have come to terms with the stark reality that without technology, I might have very well become a primordial cave woman, stuck in the trenches of my own jungle. 

Like it or not, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat(the list goes on), have all been ubiquitous features of modern digital survival that we live and breathe with.

This joke is a case in point:  

 

Social Media & Me

These social media platforms function so efficiently to “feed” me information, updates or photos of my friends’ activity and help me feel more in touch with them in the midst of my grinding routines and chores. 

I never have to worry about missing another birthday as Facebook reminds me so. 

I am also reminded of “memories” of what I said in status updates yonks ago. Occasionally, a cute picture of my now grown-up kid crops up, together with mom-guilt regarding the fun and crafty things I USED to and no longer do when I had more energy and fewer children. 

FB Messenger helps me to network efficiently. I can drop a text instantly in such a way that makes email feel snail-crawlingly slow.

 Instastories show me live snippets condensed in 5seconds of airtime and I can “follow” people I like from all over the world without so much as moving an inch.

  Image credit: Mashable  

As a blogger and writer serving the needs of my clients online, I am further vested to read more widely and deeply, mostly from online sources and links. 

I do confess enjoying exchanging quick texts and messages on my social media groups on WhatsApp that help me move the social pinwheels of my life, slowly but surely. I have multiple social groups on a myriad of topics and with various people that revolve around all my direct needs in life: education, faith, exercise, prayer, friendship, business.

 Amongst a group of us mums, we joke and banter with one another like we would face-to-face in a cafe–except that we’re not in a cafe, but a chat group. And only in the digital economy of today, can we describe and identify with how an “existential and ephemeral space” like a chat group, can actually feel nice, warm and cozy. 

At the risk of sounding like a technological luddite, how can this possibly be?

 There’s nothing remotely welcoming within the hollow echoes of chat room walls apart from cutesy or pretty wallpaper we can choose to download…but how is it that we can actually connect intimately, deeply, and superficially all at the same time?   Image: Cute Bebe Kitty

How is it that something that brings me such exponential good and convenience can also bring some equally dilemmatic and compromising concerns as well? 

Social Media “Mom”derator

The dilemma started when I became a social media “mom”derator to my 13 year old who recently acquired a mobile device of her own.

 I’ve purposefully played on the word “moderator” because it is undeniably and shockingly apt. Ever since my daughter started to be the first child in our family to be using a phone, we’ve have invested hours on end researching strategies to moderate her use of it, whether it is through reading and formulating social media contracts, trying out parenting control apps, setting time-outs and implementing privacy boundaries. 

  
Image: Netgear

In doing so, it feels like we have unlocked the dimensions to a whole new parenting universe; finding ways to keep up with social media controls and up the ante on our technological backwardness! 

Why are we struggling? It’s obvious that the same staggering convenience opens up the Pandora’s box to a host of other not-so-good issues that most parents would be or should be acquainted with: digital addiction, pornography, preying, extremism, scam & fake news, cyber bullying, pornography and even (gasp) online drug purchase.   At Facebook Singapore headquarters playing with the humongous touchscreen 

Thus, when I was invited to attend a panel discussion covering issues and trends in social media use and helping children build healthy media habits, I didn’t hesitate. 

The panel discussion, entitled “How To Raise Kids Wisely in a Social Media Generation”was jointly organized by Facebook Singapore, Flying Cape and Trainium Academy, and supported by the Media Literacy Council

Facilitated by Trainium Academy founder Mr Eugene Seah, the panel comprised the following panelists from the Media Literacy Council:

  • Mr Alvin Tan, Head of Public Policy, South East Asia Facebook
  • Ms Iris Lin, Head of Youth Services, Fei Yue 
  • Walter Lim, Founder, Cooler Insights who shares the finer points of discussion here

 Held at Facebook Singapore Headquarters, it pieced together some insights for me. Here are my key takeaways in three Ps: 

1. Plug into Relationships

The greatest asset we can create for our children in the digital age is the security and solidarity of our relationship.

More than ever before, our children and teens are looking outward for affirmation and something to rest their identity upon. They are constantly saturated with all kinds of images, influences and ideas in a one stop multi-sensory click. 

In a transient online world where things are here today and gone in 30 seconds, tangible real life relationships are what counts and helps them anchor themselves and balance their perspectives. 

Parents need to set boundaries for our children and observe their online and offline behavior. We need to plug in…less into our devices but more into our relationships with our kids. 

When we set rules and guidelines, we need to walk the talk ourselves and model what good online habits are. In managing their social media challenges, this quote says it well: 

“Rules with relationship lead to respect.

“Rules without relationship lead to rebellion.”

2. Protect with Parental Guidance 

Protection is not a bad word. There are so many things we can do to prepare a safe place for children to connect healthily online.   Image: Kapersky Kids

We can start by using privacy settings on our computers or blocking sites with unsavory content as far as we can. We can use time limits to moderate healthy versus excessive screentime.

We can take interest in reviewing the kind of material, movies, you tube vids our kids are watching or keen to watch, and share with them our viewpoints on what is desirable, what is not and how to discern between the two. 

We can teach them the lens from which to view what they read online with a critical eye. How do we discern real from fake? What makes this piece of news balanced and credible? Should we rant online? How do we use it social media positively?  

The key thing is to educate rather than evade. Rather than merely setting limits, take a keen interest in understanding social media trends and bring them up for discussion at the dinner table. 

3.  Personify our values 

 Image: Media Literacy Council

The evidence is clear. There’s really no room for distracted parenting. If we have heard cries from our kids to “Put the phone away Mom, when I’m talking” and we rationalize or justify it as multitasking, , we might be missing the point. 

We could be subtly rejecting communication and it makes our children feel invisible. Soon, they too might be drawn by the allure of media devices, and  use them as substitutes for unmet attention and affirmation. That would be a sad, sad day. 

Here are some pro-tips for us to personify the values of responsible media use as adults to our children. 

  
Image: Media Literacy Council

With the March holidays getting ready to roll, let’s give our children a gift that’s priceless, and worth more than any data plan. It is the gift of our presence: by plugging into them and taking interest in what they are doing, providing parental guidance and personifying our walk so that they know we mean what we say!!

**The Media Literacy Council has produced an excellent online resource called Clique Click: Bringing up Children in the Digital Age which is available here

Highly recommended:

http://www.medialiteracycouncil.sg/Pages/default.aspx

X’mas Giveaway: JJ Science Adventures: Heat & Light by Aurelia Tan up for grabs!

A Budget Mum Review & X’mas Gift-Away!

The best thing about Christmas has to be the giving–the jolly time of the year where we make a mad dash to nearby suburban malls, join snaking queues, grab some gifts that would bring cheer, to the ones we hold so dear. 

Forgive me for that terribly cliched mouthful–perhaps picking out products thrown out on the aisles during Christmas flash sales are a tad consumerist. After all, we don’t need more stuff, do we? 

If I had my way, there’s probably only one kind of gift that the world needs more of. Can you guess it? 

Yes, to all you excellent mindreaders. Books. There’s always room in the universe for another book.

Those who know me, know I have a slight fondness for books (ok, it’s probably more than that.) I might not spend much in a jewellery store nor blow my money in a hair salon or pedicure, but a bookstore almost never allows me to leave empty-handed and wanting.

Books are a thinking girl’s soulmate. They add warmth to my home and character to my household mess-at least that’s what I would like to think. They also manage to cosy up next to my bedside table with a good number of them making pleasurable bedfellows. My husband ought to be jealous.

As a family, we love that good books are gifts that GIVE: they give us time to ourselves, deeper insights and pleasure. They can be enjoyed over and over by different people, and contain timeless messages while filling the creative canvass of our imaginations.  

Physical books help us spontaneously unplug. For a few years now, the kids have taken to comic books because they are mainly visual learners and always enjoy a lighthearted reading. So imagine our delight when we were invited to review JJ Science Adventures:  it was a perfect addition to our comic book collection and our book shelves! Boy, were we in for a treat. Aurelia Tan’s JJ Science Adventures got us right into the thick of action, fun and learning all at the same time.

JJ’s Science Adventure is a series of educational comic books, authored by Aurelia Tan and illustrated by Nicholas Liem,  designed to help young readers  grasp science concepts following the key learning objectives stated in the Ministry of Education’s Primary School Science syllabus AND enjoy them!

 In this reading adventure, the twin protagonists, Joyce and Jonathon (JJ)journey into the World of Heat and Light to unlock challenging puzzle traps. Armed with the birthday presents from their grandfather ; two bags which transform into a talking robot (Robo) and a teleportation portal, the kids discover a portal into a sub-dimensional world created by the ‘World Maker’, an incredible invention by their grandfather to help them learn science.

Through stunning manga-worthy illustrations and intuitive storytelling,  Aurelia, a passionate and experienced Science educator and former teacher, does what she does best: 

The scientific concepts of “Heat & Light”, a primary 3-4 Science topic, are skillfully and effortlessly woven at every twist and turn in the narrative such that the children do not feel they are being presented with a “lesson”. 

It is a graphic novel with a heart: the heart to teach children where and how they learn best: with an engaging plot and context, tight storytelling and a wonderfully illustrated cast of characters. 

“Heat & Light” is the second book in the series. The first, “Magnets”, uses a similar approach to learning. If only Science textbooks were this way! 

Here are a few reasons why this book series is worth a space on your bookshelf:

1. Science concepts are made accessible and relevant 

Science is used to problem solve within the narrative. As the characters go through obstacles, the thought processes of characters  demonstrate how Science is relevant in helping to diagnose and solve problems. 

In this example below, the protagonists attempt to open what appears to be a metal vault. The characters try different methods outlining principles of expansion and contraction to find a way to open the vault, which they eventually do.

 

In this next example, the sibling duo attempt to save the day by creating a shadow.  

 

The factors affecting the size of the shadow are explored by the protagonists: namely, the wall (or screen), object and the light source.     

These practical examples are littered all throughout the book and children get to encounter and revisit their understanding of these concepts. It is incidental learning at its best. 

It’s no wonder my 10 year old has read it five times and my 7 year old three times so far: learning doesn’t get tiresome at all when its this appealing!

  
Don’t worry if you have younger children who have not been exposed to Science. The concepts, being part of the narrative, pose no hindrance to understanding. This book might just get them curious and interested about Science on their own! 

2. Parents learn too!

The key teaching points are printed in colour and in bold so that parents can easily identify them as learning points to highlight to their children.    

As a parent, I greatly appreciate the attention to this detail.  It’s a great bonus when we read with the kids and know exactly what elements to focus on!

  

3. Beautiful and Clear Illustrations
After all that’s been presented here, need I say more? The diagrams are well presented and the scenes humorously and colourfully crafted. It is just delightful flipping through this vibrant book as it feels like a Studio Gibli Science production of sorts!

4. Street Cred

This book has won the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards 2015, Bronze Medal for Best Book Series and was the Winner of the USA Best Book Awards 2015 in the comics and graphic novels category! Now that certainly says something! 

JJ Science Adventures can be purchased online at the Harvest EduStore or in these retail stores. 

The Great news is that, this X’mas, Harvest Entertainment has sponsored 3 copies of JJ’s Science Adventure: Heat and Light exclusively for Memoirs of a Budget Mum readers!( 1 copy per winner)

Enter this GIVEAWAY in 3 simple steps:

1. SHARE this blog post on your Facebook Wall and TAG 3 friends! Please set the Share settings PUBLIC so we can see. 

2. COMMENT on the FB or MOBM blog post, and tell us 1) what excites you about this book and 2) who you would like the book for. 

3. LIKE the Harvest Edutainment FB Page and Memoirs of A Budget Mum Facebook Page. Proceed to the giveaway below.

*The Giveaway will end on 22 December 2016. 

*Please state your email address as winners will be notified via email. 

*This giveaway is open to those residing in Singapore.

Congratulations to our Giveaway Winners:

1. Shirley Chin

2. Grace Wong

3. Grace Tan

Happy X’mas to all! 

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of JJ’s Science Adventure: Magnets for the purpose of this review. All opinions are mine.

PSLE Results: What’s in a T Score?

The day draws near. This day, the PSLE Results Day, is all too familiar for parents in Singapore and needs no introduction. The results and the yearly sorting exercise of thousands of primary school children send many into states of mild panic with careful analysis of cut-off points, school research, strategies for application and thoughts about what this might mean for our children. 

Every year, we live to retell the tale: we are still that tiny nation that’s continually obsessed with big grades, one that houses a booming home tuition industry, and an educational system in overdrive. 

 In 2016, the Ministry of Education announced that “the T-Score Aggregate will be replaced by the PSLE Score, which is the sum of the AL for each subject. PSLE Scores will range from 4 to 32 – reducing the number of possible PSLE Scores to 29, from more than 200 T-score Aggregates currently.” This is a move in the right direction and commendable. However, it is left to be seen how this move might pan out in effectively releasing the pressure in the intense, high-stakes educational climate of Singapore.

Over the years, the T-score, has really sealed and defined our concept of education more than we realise. Many seem to have bought the idea that the score alone, is a huge indication of success. It is the impetus for some to improve and excel. For others, it drives them to outdo competition and gain that definitive edge that is worth all returns in time and investment, judging from the size of the tuition industry here.

The T score has caused the hearts of many parents to do curious flutter kicks and flip flaps. In it, lie glimpses of hope, pride, dread, doubt and fear. They indicate the start of a new beginning, one that seems to set forth a pre-determined course. These numbers are the aggregate of much toil, support and hard work. On their own, they have shifted family dynamics, routines and relationships in many households. 

The T score has captured the imagination of parents left to contemplate an expectation of the future and what it could behold. A future littered with “what ifs” for a life laid out in a reel of endless possibilities. Like a deck of cards, we’re not sure if we’ve played it right and if we would be dealt the upper hand. It’s the day of reckoning for some. For others, a wild card. 

The T score is also the way we have as a society, conveniently learnt to assign meaning: by making it easy to mentally sort, categorize, typecast the future of other human beings by a mere number. 

Not surprisingly, the T score has also taken hostage of many dreams. These numbers, have been given the power to cruelly differentiate – to sift the wheat from the chaff, the cream from the crop, the scholars from the farmers. There is no nuance in it. For some, these numbers elevate. For others, they are cold, hard numbers that offer no solace. As a whole, these numbers have fueled desires that can be inspiring, ambitious or punishing. We have, in fact, been taken captive by it—more than we should. 

Last month, a community group 100 Voices, came together to rally for a change of mindset and push forward the message that “grades aren’t everything”. Led by Mr Dean Yap, a stay-home father, 100 Voices is a laudable attempt to speak a new voice for success apart from the narrow definition of grades, numbers and t-scores.

The campaign seeks to share the stories of at least 100 individuals who can give testament to the fact that you do not necessarily need to be academically smart to excel and find success in the real world. These individuals, comprising both ordinary residents and well-known personalities, intuitively know and have personally experienced success in many different forms apart from conventional routes. The message is simply to celebrate our children’s progress in multiple facets, wherever they are on the academic ladder.

How can we take a leaf or two from this ground initiative in our response towards PSLE scores? 

How should we take this opportunity to expand on our narrow and limiting beliefs? 

How can we prepare ourselves to face our children, our nephew or niece, our student, our neighbour’s child down the street, so that we can be quick to encourage in speech rather than judge in our minds? 

How can we lend our voices to define a realistic and inclusive idea of success? 

More Than A Number

First, we need to understand and believe without a doubt, that our children are more than numbers. These test scores certainly do not represent the entirety of who our children are and what they can become. 

We have to internalize this fact more than ever. 

The road to education must first be a pleasurable journey of sights, sounds and wonder. It’s aim-to create a pool of cognizant, wholehearted individuals positioned to do better for society and the generations to come. If we take education like a mad sprint to finish and as an end on its own rather than a means, we will lose many precious opportunities along the way. 

Our children need time to pace, and discover where they fit themselves in this rapidly changing world. They need white space to explore in order to find real purpose and meaning. The T score is just a signpost along the way on that huge journey of discovery. 

 

A Broad Definition of Success

Next, we need to have a broad definition of success. One that not only celebrates success where it is evident and acceptable but also accords strength and value in making mistakes. Failure is a wonderful teacher whom we give less credit to, than we should. Some people take the longer route, and like the proverbial tortoise and the hare, there should be no shame nor stigma attached to that.

Don’t Take These Grades Personally

Lastly, and most importantly, we must be careful that we do not let this number take on more power and significance than it should. As parents, we need not take our children’s grades too personally. If our children are struggling, we may reflect and question our own efficacy and philosophy in parenting or we blame their bad habits. Most times, our pride gets in the way: we encounter brutal attacks on our own self-worth while squirming to find the right ways and methods to parent. We are aching from our harsh words and bowing at the burdens of our self-imposed expectations. 

Let’s be released from this weight. Let’s take the lessons and move on knowing that the true prize is not that medal or academic accolade, but the hearts and happiness of our children when they find their purpose and significance in life. Let’s have the assurance that if we walk wholeheartedly with our children, they will find their way. 

A good T score may make some immediately great. But for many others otherwise, it is merely the start of many great beginnings. 

Review: DIY Pretty Accessories Workshop for Kids!

The holidays are a week away and already, the girls are gearing up towards their “Beads Fest” which comprises a good few hours each day, of squeezing strings into little holes and making patterns with brightly coloured and finely detailed accessories.
 

We had rearranged our bead collection recently using recycled mooncake box skins that came in really handy to create tiers for classification and organization. That revived some interest and the girls were happy to play with their really “neat” beads.  

 

Also, when you’re the mother of girls, you might have a  happy problem:  you’ll understand what it means to have girls who possess a whole collection of every possible kind of bead and still never feel like they have enough! My girls are avid collectors of all wierd things and beads are one of their favourites. 

Beads, to me, are in the same category as Lego; they could drive you insane if they spew over the floor – the only redeeming thing about that? They are slightly prettier and more charming. Nevertheless, most of the beading collection is kept well-hidden from sight most days, and then magically taken out when the days are longer and more free, for a fun afternoon of busy hands, pretty colours and girly imaginations. 

The girls interest in beading went up a few notches recently when a dear friend of mine, popped over recently for afternoon tea. She brought along her whole collection of big beads, small beads, fat beads, patterned beads, cloth beads–you get the picture–it was beads galore and the girls were fascinated. 

Ingrid is a crafty mom. And crafty moms are one of my favourite kind of moms :). She’s  has magical fingers that weave, a keen eye for design & a predisposition to create — juxtaposing simple elements together into a unique and interesting pieces.   

She taught the girls how to thread and how to arrange the pieces in an interesting manner. The girls had a free hand in picking their choice of colours too and were twiddling their fingers at the sheer choice of possibilities.

To top it off, Ingrid’s bead collection is amazing: so much variety to choose from that the girls couldn’t complain. Also, the beads are of the right size for small fingers: unlike the commercial beads, these are big enough for small fingers to manage with holes that are easy to thread. 

 
Together with Ingrid’s help, this was the work of their fertile imaginations that afternoon. My favourite has to be the blue one…as it looks like something I could wear too-gasp! 

The good news is…Ingrid is one of the instructors for the “DIY Pretty Accessories” Workshop happening next weekend. 

This is one of the series of workshops organised by CraftySG, a community of crafters in Singapore, which has been tailored to accommodate both newbies (children 10 years and above) and hobbyists to work on independently in an afternoon of crafting fun.

In this workshop, the participants will learn to make 3 different bespoke accessories out of a variety of craft supplies. 

 * A Pretty Keychain (that doubles up as a charm)  * A Chic Bib Necklace (with chain)  *A Funky Beaded Necklace (for the young at heart)

Participants will get to choose from a variety of materials to create their own bespoke accessories, so that no one piece is alike. 

<<DIY PRETTY ACCESSORIES WORKSHOP>>

Date: 19 Nov 2016 (Sat)

Time: 2.30pm to 4.00pm

Venue: Block B, Goodman Arts Centre, #03-1

Course Fee: $50 (includes materials) 

**Promotion: Sign up with 1 friend to enjoy a 5% discount. Sign up with 2 friends or more to enjoy a 10% discount.

Sign up here

Follow Ingrid on Instagram or contact limeflower@me.com for enquiries on customized craft workshops for birthday parties, private or community events. 

*Each participant will be given a set of materials, which they will get to take home. 

*Leftover supplies can be taken over after the session. No tools are required for all 3 projects. 

*Some material used may differ slightly from pictures on the day of workshop.

*This workshop is recommended for ages 10 and above.

Image courtesy of CraftySG

Quick Family Getaways that Won’t Break Our Banks Nor Our Backs

Being a mum of five has always been challenging. But bringing five children under the age of 12 on a vacation takes “challenging” to a whole new level. Most people might look at us queerly with visible question marks emanating from their foreheads (of course, I’m exaggerating) but I can so feel it. THIS question:

 “Is it even possible to have a get-away with so many kids?!”

And of course it’s a valid question and completely logical to wonder so! First, together with my dear obliging better-half of a husband, travelling as a family of seven leaves us grossly outnumbered (2parents vs 5kids). In fact,it feels like we’ve signed up on the threadmill for the qualifying trials of the Justice League of Superhero Parents. 

Not that we ARE superheroes don’t be mistaken, but we definitely need to channel some superpowers: 

Imagine if one of us became Dr Packer. He’s the one who will multitask for our multiples by counting, auditing and accounting for every shirt, dress, and underwear that’s needed, smack it in, and whip it in and out of the luggages in a jiffy at our command. All this before you can say “Where’s my neon pink -coloured hair clip and notebook that I put in my grey coloured duffel bag?”. Well, “rummaging” won’t even be a word anymore and Dr Strange may be put to shame. 

And imagine again,Mrs Itinerarine, sister of Wolverine- but more organised. She can incredibly put together in a split second, a spectacular programme for everyone (from whiny kid to grumpy adult), schedule activities around meal time and naps, eliminate complaints and make everyone super pumped up, relaxed and amazingly happy. I’d apply in an instant. 

Unfortunately, no one at Marvel has thought of our piteous plight as parents and our dreams of applying for superhuman upgrades is far from happening. So we do the next best thing, bite the bullet and make it work. We did manage to skim the surface. 

This is what we did in two short getaways that didn’t burn our pockets and which felt good enough to want to do it again.

1. Lock in Family Deals
We’ve been to Legoland when it first opened and when the kids were younger. However, we thought it might be worthwhile to go again as they were now older and could finally qualify for all the the hair-raising roller coasters with their latest height. 
We chanced upon the Legoland Kids Go Free Promotion while surfing the Internet. This promotion is quite a deal: it includes 2 paid adult tickets and three complimentary child tickets for Legoland and the Waterpark  for two days when you book a minimum one night’s stay at the Legoland hotel with breakfast thrown in! (Terms & Conditions apply)  

Photo credit: Legoland Malaysia Website

That meant we didn’t have to rush through panting our way around two huge parks and could park hop as and when we felt like it. The key thing that spoke to our large family logistics: there’s no need to rush. And that’s what a holiday should be about: resting from all that rushing around!

“I want to stay here forever!”

With this as a starting point, we booked one nights’ stay without hesitation and spent two full days exploring both parks without the hassle of long queues and without time constraints. We then further trimmed the budget by not incurring a second night at Legoland itself by moving to a nearby hotel. Stay tuned for our next post on what we did around Legoland! 

Meanwhile, aside from the regular rides at park, we were happy with the ongoing FREE activities that were at the hotel. There was something on everyday and they held mini contests everyday to encourage the children to busy themselves with Lego. The kids would never be bored and we enjoyed the various challenges that encouraged them to think, create and play!

  
  

 

Halloween corner

 

 

30 min 3D building challenge

 

 

3D cat

 

2. Minimise travel and expenses 

For us, we had great fun and ease when we chose to go to Malaysia for a short getaway. We could gain mileage from saving both energy and time because we didn’t have to travel far. One hour and we’re in. That meant less packing too. The currency exchange also brought much relief and we could happily spend without feeling the pinch. Travelling with young children is tiring both for you and for your kids. So plan not to go too far and energy can be spent enjoying each other’s company instead. 

3. Go Budget, it’s not THAT Bad

We spent a weekend staycation at a budget hotel in Singapore only a few streets away from our home. At first, we were doubtful if we could experience the “get-away” experience. Strangely, it worked out. The quaint heritage hotel at Joo Chiat was quite accommodating towards our large family and we managed to get rooms big enough for us and at a reasonable rate when we booked through Agoda. Also, we saved some cash with last minute deals (booked the morning we checked in) to take advantage of rack rates. 

Aqueen Heritage Hotel sits at a quiet corner in the heart of Joo Chiat and has charming Peranakan Styled rooms and decor. The rooms are tight but very comfortable. Best of all, we could take our time to explore the good eats and richness of culture around Joo Chiat. It felt like a multicultural experience without having to leave the country!

Photo credit: aqueenhotels.com

 
 

King bed with single

  

Vintage lamps adorn the halls

   

Pretty Stained Glass

   

Lobby

 

Stay tuned for our unbiased review of our stay there and what we did around Joo Chiat. 

Here are our tips when a large family with many kids travel. It’s achievable and affordable. With our experience, we didn’t need to do very far or plan very hard-and that was the best part! 

Share this if it gives you ideas for your quick getaway! 

*Opinions all our own. No compensation was received for sharing this.

To Stand and Stare

What is this life if, full of care, 

We have no time to stand and stare.    



The hauntingly wise and poetic words of William Henry Davies echo in my thoughts this evening as I wind down, and try hard to keep my eyelids open, mildly conscious of the dull ache in my ankles and muscles from a day spent standing,cooking, teaching and doing chores.  These are the last hours and moments of the passing of a yet another day…a day well “spent”? 

It’s easy to let the days of motherhood slip by. Time sneaks past my bedroom door and when I’m not aware, I am reading to my Cares bedtime stories. Tonight, I pause for a moment to take stock. 

Did I take it all in?  The richness and brevity of this season in its fullness and glory? The million little echoes of laughter and wonderment? 

***

No time to stand beneath the boughs 

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

***

Mum, are you listening to me?”

“Yes I am…”

“No you’re not. Put down your phone. Now.”

“Yes…”

“Now look at me…as I was telling you…”

***

No time to see, when woods we pass, 

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass. 

No time to see, in broad daylight, 

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

 ***

  
“Mummy, look here, I want to show you something…”

“Not now darling, I’m in the middle of something important now..”

“Will you just take a look here, it will only take 5minutes…”

“Oh alright….what is it you want to show me?”

“Look at this, it’s a spider and it’s spinning a web!”

***

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance, 

And watch her feet, how they can dance. 

***              

“Hey sweetie, did you notice the flowers here? They’re in bloom. I wonder when they suddenly sprung up.”

“They were here last week, and maybe even the week before, mummy.”

“Really?”

“Uh-huh.”

***

No time to wait till her mouth can 

Enrich that smile her eyes began. 

***  

“What are you doing sweet pea?”

(Giggles) “Nothing much.”

“Oh?”

“Just counting the number of moles I have on my hand.”

“Haha!”

“And how many do you have?”

“I have three and this one’s the biggest!”(wide grin)

***

A poor life this is if, full of care, 

We have no time to stand and stare.

***

  
Counselled by the words of this poetic balm, I am: 

1. Thankful for this ride called motherhood. Sometimes I need to come off the driver’s seat in order to take in the beauty of it all. 

2. Thankful for my children who help me keep the right pace, and stop me from hurtling through life like a speeding rocket. They are such a blessing and joy. 

3. Reminded to take my cares a day at a time, to be awake to stare into each living and breathing moment. These are the most divine gifts we must never take for granted. 

Good night and love to you all. 

***

“Leisure” is a poem by Welsh poet W. H. Davies, appearing originally in his Songs Of Joy and Others, published in 1911 by A. C. Fifield and then in Davies’ first anthology Collected Poems, by the same publisher in 1916.

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