Memoirs of a Budget Mum

Mother to five, parent in progress and occasional kitchenista cookerella

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Post-Exam Idea: A Free Parent-Child Workshop  On Critical Thinking & Creativity!

A Budget Mum Review: Artistic Strategies: A creative writing course for children.

With the exams drawing to a close very soon, what better way to spend time with your child then doing something creative and meaningful together!

The good news is Artistic Strategies, is offering you all of that, and more! The creative writing academy, whose mission is to groom young writers, is celebrating the opening of its new think space at Kitchener Complex by organizing an exclusive Artistic Strategies parent-child workshop (valued at $45) on critical thinking and creativity at absolutely no cost!  This is such a seriously great offer and here’s why: 

Writing has always been a passion close to my heart. As a former teacher and now homeschooling mum, writing represents the art AND the heart of expressing oneself. 

Words can weave magic, heal, whet our imagination and take our emotions on a tailspin and back. When expressed well, the gift of words is probably one of the most treasured gifts. Thus the art of honing this gift to emerge from each one of us is a valuable exercise in and of itself. 

Recently, we had the pleasure of chatting with Ms Claudine Fernandaz, founder and principal instructor of Artistic Strategies, a creative writing program that uses the arts both as a lens to view the world and as a tool for generating ideas.

Harvard-trained Ms Claudine makes it her personal mission to groom the next generation of writers through the arts and help children navigate a major pitfall of creative writing: a lack of original idea through various modalities.

In fact, the Artistic Writing™ programme, according to Ms Claudine, is the first in Singapore that marries the arts and writing. “By engaging in the arts, our students become inspired to write about their artistic creations. Many come up with such original and inventive narratives, surprising even their parents.” she explains.   

Claudine instructs E to fold an origami heart where she pens an original haiku to her bffs.


Creating before writing is a staple feature of the course .It makes a remarkable difference when children write about what they have created!


Budding writers do NOT start with a long dreary list of good phrases to incorporate or model essays drilled by rote methods. 

Instead, every writing activity starts with a creation: origami, food craft, modelling clay, storyboard or recycled materials. Students create something from scratch and through Art, grow ideas and process their thoughts about what they want to express and why.   

This is such a difference from the staid method that the kids go through in school due to the lack of time, and a punishing volume of syllabus to cover. As a parent, I benefitted from observing Ms Claudine combine so many different modalities: song, art, craft, poetry into one lesson. It really showed me how the barriers can be broken and our thought processes free to roam creatively. Writing doesn’t have to be dry!

Creative sticks : used to pick elements of plot, character, setting. Seriously funny when put together. The kids giggled like crazy.

It was great to have experienced some of the artistic strategies in writing, employing some of the many fantastic ideas from her book “Every Child’s Guide to Write Away”, a guide to inspiring children to write.

Overall,the class was a breath of fresh air and we picked up some tips on how to trigger and inspire writing through artistic activities. 

Here are some writing tips from Claudine and suggestions on how to use the book.

1. What should children write? How should they write? 

“Children should write about what interests them and not worry so much about form or structure at first. The main thing is to put their ideas down on paper, whenever they feel inspired. It could be something interesting that they had experienced or noticed on a normal day or it could be a life changing event.

Additionally, they shouldn’t be too bothered about writing the “perfect” piece. Writing, like any art form, is a process, and it never is completed. One can always go back to it to rewrite or change certain parts.

Even at a young age, children should get feedback from their peers and adults about their writing. By being open and receptive to what others have to say, they can work on getting better at their craft.”

2. Tell us more about your book and how it can be used.

“The book that I wrote features a variety of artistic and writing exercises revolving around universal and accessible themes like family and friendship and includes opportunities for children to experiment with writing about imaginary worlds and characters. 

Both teachers and parents could use this book as a guide to encourage the love of writing in children aged 7-12. The exercises also include guiding questions and examples, so that children would feel reassured and comfortable while navigating through the different exercises. There is also a chapter entitled, “Making your writing better” which provides concrete strategies for students to edit and improve upon their work.”

Exclusive: MOBM readers and get a 10% discount of “Every Child’s Guide to Write Away!” at the workshop. Promo code: MOBM

Claim your Free Parent-Child Workshop (worth $45) on Creativity & Critical Thinking Now! 

When: Sunday, 6th November, 2016

Where: 809, Kitchener Complex, #04-160 S(200809), next to Lavender MRT

Time: 10-11.30am OR 12.30pm-2pm

Seats are limited so participants will be selected on a first-come-first-served basis.

Participants get to use Tickle Your Senses sensory products and Stabilo stationary for free. All materials provided.

Register now!:

Be a Chemist for the Day at BASF Kids’ Lab Singapore 2016!

A Budget Mum Review: Free event

Think kids in lab gear, rubber gloves, cool protection goggles and a tray full of scientific apparatus with real LEGIT chemical solutions–now that’s a sizzling mad science day waiting to happen.

At least for us, it DID happen when we were invited to catch a media preview of the BASF Kid’s Lab 2016 at Playeum this morning. The kids were stoked and so was I. They get to learn, have fun, mess up, pretend they were on route to being little Nobel Laureates, at absolutely no cost at all? That’s enough mad science on its own!

Mad Science apparatus

As we settled in, friendly Dr Bubbles explained the scientific mission at hand. The children were tasked with two dynamic science investigations to be completed within 1hour and 15 minutes. 

Investigation 1: Where is Vitamin C?

The aim of this experiment is to investigate which food and drinks contain Vitamin C. The kids were asked to drop iodine drops into lemon water and green tea to determine which solution had more Vitamin C. 

Investigation 2: UV Investigation: 

The aim of this experiment is to create their own sun screen and observe how it can protect us from UV rays


Dr Bubbles explaining the mission at hand




E hard at work


Apparently, this method is known as titration of Vitamin C with iodine. The kids used a dropper to drop iodine into both lemon water and green tea, counting as they went along. The solution which turned colourless faster and with less drops, had more Vitamin C. 

I thought it was a no-brainer. Of course, lemon water would have more Vitamin C. Turns out, I was completely wrong. Green Tea had more Vitamin C! The molecules in the lemon starts breaking down faster, rendering very little Vitamin C within lemon juice itself!

Baffled by the new discovery, we moved on to Investigation 2: UV investigation.

R getting ready for the next experiment.

The cool lab assistant explained what UV was and its radiation can harm the skin.

UV rays explained


The kids were each given a UV torch and were asked to experiment shining the UV light on different surfaces like cloths and newspapers. They then tested if normal beauty cream could shield us from UV rays when applied to a translucent disc. By shining the light on, the kids saw that their discs turned purple and were not protected by normal cream. 
They then proceeded to make their own UV cream with oil, water and two chemical gels to bind. 



E very pleased with her concoction.


They tested their creams with the discs by coating one side with the UV cream and the other side without.    
They then shone their UV torches to see if their cream worked. See the difference?   

The side that did not turn purple was protected!

R’s notes


BASF’s FREE education program aims to raise awareness and develop positive attitude towards chemistry for children aged 6 –12 through interactive experiments and I think they have achieved the objective!  It was an afternoon well spent in fun and scientific inquiry and the kids enjoyed themselves tremendously. Look at all the learning that they jotted down in their BASF journals! 

Here’s the good news. This November, BASF will be running the same series of experiments that you and your children can be part of!

Registration for BSAF opens tomorrow, 17 October and here are the details! Please share the news so that the children can experience chemistry come alive for them this school holidays. 

Date : November 15 – 20
Cost: Free

Sessions: 10:15am, 11:45am, 2:15pm, 3:45pm (Each session is limited to 40 participants) 

Venue: Ang Mo Kio Public Library

Duration: 1hour 15mins per session

Register: Log in to starting tomorrow 17 October.
Facebook: BASF Kids’ Lab Asia Pacific 

BSAF is also launching its New Virtual Kids’ LabOnline platform where children can conduct ‘hands-on’ experiments online. 

Spread the love and don’t miss this opportunity!

The Legacy of a Good Marriage

  Today’s mind jolt came after reading an excellent forum letter by Ms Diana Chandra of Eagles Mediation and Counselling Centre which ended with phenomenally wise advice to parents, and I quote:

“Ultimately, the best legacy parents can leave their children is a strong relationship. We spend too much on the “best strollers”, “best milk formula”, and fail to realise that the best investment in our children is loving each other well.”

I think Ms Chandra has hit the nail right on the head in her observation of modern-day parenting. Any well-meaning parent can fall into the trap of well-meaning intentions, without a clear sense of why we do what we do and end up missing the point altogether. 

21st century parenting is by no means an easy feat- it is both exhausting and mind boggling. We are led by the nose by corporate brands which lure us with hype and superfluous images of what ideal parenting and ideal children should look like. In return, we work ourselves hard into giving our children what we think to be some of the best gifts: products, opportunities and academic advantage.

In doing so, we continually invest our time and channel our energy into our indomitable quest to be “good parents”. Good-enough parents to be exact. 

Admittedly, it is hard not to feel insecure or  “good enough” by the numerous research claims and parenting practices that point at our glaring shortcomings. They work wonders in prodding our imagination to run wild with fear or guilt with regards to the ways we may be “ruining” our children. More often that not, they leave us more befuddled than when we first began.

In actuality, our children do NOT need very much at all. Forget researching on branded strollers, the latest parenting theories, the best developmental new toy, newest playgroup and our obsession with wholesome organic food. Our children will probably never ask us our justifications for these nor remember. Even if they did, these will be of little consequence. Instead, what they need best is to have two people who mean the world to them remain in a loving and trusting relationship. It’s that simple. 

It remains a fact that the memories that will stay with our children for a long time to come are our mundane, daily interactions with our spouses and how they observe us working it out—over the days, weeks, months and years. It is our faithfulness to our better halfs that will bring uncompromised security. It is not the image that we project outside our homes that make us good parents but the image we keep inside of our homes. We need to intentionally weave a solid tapestry of love into the very fabric of our being and into the knittedness of our household–for ourselves and our children.

No marriages, including mine, are perfect. Most are hard work, but if we invest time, commitment, love, respect, kindness into our significant other, we are demonstrating a loving inheritance that is caught rather than taught and which has worth far greater than gold.

A strong marriage is one of the greatest gifts and the most lasting legacies. 

First Flight

There’s a mixed pot of feelings you experience when your eldest child stands at the cusps of independence, perched ready to take off into full-fledged adolescence.

On one hand, there’s relief. You can move on from the crucial first six years of childhood where you’ve survived bumbling through one of the steepest learning curves of your life.  

On the other hand, its strangely nostalgic. That was you some 20 years ago. You can identify with this quest for identity and then suddenly not, because this brave new world has been swirling around you at a hurtling pace.  You’ve known this journey, yet you can’t tell what’s ahead. 

It is scary too, in many ways: to watch with baited breath,  the uncovering of a shell that we as parents have constructed over her, unfold. 

This same shield of good intentions that we have cloaked around her to protect her from the harsher realities of the outside universe, must soon be put to the test: Have we built the foundations right? Did we dig deep? 

Unchartered journey

Unchartered journey


This releasing of one’s child into a bigger world that’s not your nest can be an intimidating experience for both child and parent.  All too soon, she will be subject to the wider enclave of the unknown and unchartered- one that is governed by a different set of laws, risks and dangers. 

Intimidating though it may be, it is a necessary rite of passage that every parent knows must be carried out, if not sooner then later: it will affirm your little one’s ability to survive and allow her to win her first fruits of independence and success that is apart from your warm nurturing grasp. 

Just look at any creature of nature; perhaps the way a mother swallow releases her young for its first flight and watches from the side at how her baby gets tugged first by the weight of gravity, only to discover in mid-air relief, that its primal instinct to spread its wings will take it into its victoriously-sweet virgin ascent to freedom.

First Flight

First Flight

The gravitas of that moment hits home and is significant on its own. You pause for a moment to take stock and wonder if your child is resilient enough for these first few tests of Life. 

Your heart skips nervously as you pray that the world won’t swallow her up, or chip at her self-esteem or dull her senses or coat her with the first clothes of cynicism that you’ve worn yourself advertedly or inadvertedly in your 30-something, weary, wary adulthood. 

Obviously, you know the answer inside. Of course it will happen. Because that’s what happened to most of us. Until…Yes, until… we discovered that the wind that charted our course was not construed merely by this greater universe but by its Maker. 

These were the winds of Grace and breath of Salvation that rescued us from the brevity of flitting aimlessly in this strange world and the condemnation of waiting for the next unexpected turn to crash into us or for the next ruthless predator to swoop in for a kill. 

We can find shelter in the One  who gave us the form not merely to survive but to soar and to live beyond our wildest dreams, and who whispers purpose and destiny into our feeble Spirits. The One also, who has the ability to still a raging tempest both within and out.

  25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 

26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 

29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 

30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’

 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

And then, there is release…true release. Not just to anyone, but to the Father. Those fears, they are unfounded. Those worldly questions that have creeped into your mind on more than one occasion (“What school shall she go to?”, “How far can she go?”, ” What shall she eat?”, “What shall she wear?”) retreat and take on a sudden insignificance. You’re aligned to a broader vision and you look UP. You learn to let go and release your precious one onto the the wings of the Abba Father, to be carried by His Everlasting Arms. 

This is the necessary ritual that every parent who understands the heart of the Father partakes in. In fact, this is the primary step that will make a marked difference in that child’s life- and yours as a parent:

When you will sacrifice that burden of human effort, relinquish self-imposed determinism and lay down parenting trophies at the altar, you will await to receive the immeasurable grace and richness of God’s great plan that will far surpass any human plan you have for that child. 

Abraham did that for Isaac, the birds do that for their young and I will need to do that for my children. I need to follow Abraham up that mountain. And so I discover, as my child takes her first flight, that it is not so important what I do or what she does, but its more important what He will do, what He already does and what He’s already done. 

It is a coming-of-age development for me as a mother, to invite and not fear the unknown, with its risks and its dangers, its knocks and occasional devastations, by just finding peace in His love and will. By trusting God with my children- to trust that God will see them through every obstacle, every hurt, every temptation, every failure, every imperfection, every blessing, every joy. 

“Are you not much more valuable than they?” Indeed, we are. There is no doubt about that. Allow me to end with this poignant excerpt by Tim Keller in Counterfeit Gods:

Abraham took that journey, and only after that could Abraham love Isaac well and wisely. 

If Isaac had become the main hope and joy of Abraham’s life, his father would have either overdisciplined him (because he needed his son to be “perfect”) or underdisciplined him (because he couldnt bear his son’s displeasure or both. He would have overindulged him but also become overly angry and cruel, perhaps even violent, when his son disappointed him. 

Why? Isaac’s love and success would have become Abraham’s identity and joy. He would have become inordinately angry, anxious and depressed if Isaac ever failed to love and obey him. And fail he would have, since no child can bear the full weight of godhood. Abraham’s expectations would have driven him away or twisted and disfigured his spirit.

Here then, is the practical answer to the “Isaacs” in our lives. We must offer them up. We need to find a way to keep from clutching them too tightly. We will never do so by mouthing abstractions about how great God is. We have to know, to be assured, that God so loves cherishes, and delights in us that we can rest our hearts in Him for our significance and security and handle anything that happens in life. 

When the magnitude of what He did -by not withholding His One and Only Son on the cross of Calvary- dawns on us, it makes it possible finally to rest our hearts in him rather than in anything else.”

Slaying the PSLE Beast

There are weekends in life that come and go. Then there are weekends or rather, one special weekend to be exact–that’s sandwiched in between all others, which all parents and children eagerly pray for to be over and where time seems to stand a tad too still–the PSLE weekend.

This is when deliverance seems near, when hope peeks around the corner, where light emanates and where Life awaits to be picked up where we left of.

Seeing the Light

Indeed, taming the PSLE beast has been harder than I thought. As a first-time mum walking my child through this weighty national exam, these are some of my thoughts:

First comes the slaying of expectations. This is a slow and arduous process , perfectly punishing for any typically eager Singaporean parent with a checklist of ideals waiting to be fulfilled and unleashed. The PSLE forces us to reexamine this checklist for what it’s really worth: it is the process of holding a mirror out to ourselves and to our children. It means asking honest questions of what we want to see in our children in the final analysis and the “costs” and “casualties” it might take to get there.

These reflections can brutally expose some of the values which we need to revisit and times where we may have let our fears and worries chase after us.

Ultimately for us, this is how we have chosen and it is the core of our children we must protect: it is their laughter and their spirits. Their eyes must light and their hearts must be free to dream. It is the carefree abandonment of childhood we must hold dear.

Second, the months leading to its (PSLE’s) culmination are intense. Akin to preparing for a military attack are the requisite arsenal of rigorous worksheets and assessments. Brain numbing drill and practice characterises most of it, together with the consistency of pacing (sometimes plodding) towards the finish. 


Onslaught of revision


It is also an intense mixed pot of feelings: some days feel good when we overcome roadblocks. Some days are worse, when we do not. Most days, are managing the multitude of emotions that come along with the ups and downs and then steering them back where they should be: quietly poised and positioned for what lies ahead.

Third, we are forced to choose our battles daily and wisely so.  It is not the number of wars we win but how we approach them with dignity and honour. In this case, it is not the score that determines our worth but our perseverance and attitude that truly matter. Our children may not necessarily be ready to peak now. They will do so when they are ready. Life is not always a sprint.

Most significantly, it is our relationships with our children that are the GOLD and not our certificates and trophies. Not all can be winners but certainly none are losers and many are unsung heroes. Fear failure we shall not. It is wise to demonstrate in our actions and speech that failure is no impediment but a mere stepping stone to greater victories. It will never be the final death knell as long as you believe so.

Above all, we have to seize this opportunity to exemplify love and support to our children in a time when they most need it. Our patience and endearment are the real badges of honour that we must valiantly bear with pride. We must be so genuinely and unabashedly embracing  of our children and who they have become in the process.  This growth, this struggle is worth its value because of its refinement of character both in them and within ourselves.

These are our humble lessons from our journey. Hope it will encourage all parents and children to the finish.

Days with our Children

There are so many ways I’m an imperfect mum. These are one of them: can’t keep a tidy house. This is breakfast, homemade bread in a my trusty loaf pan, taken haphazardly over toy knick-knacks strewn over the kitchen counter. 

This mess is a constant. It never really goes away. It nags and scratches at my seemingly capable veneer of motherhood.
The desire to want to be able to “keep a neat house” creeps in insidiously and I suddenly feel the urge to start yelling: “Who’s things are these…come and keep them!” for the umpteenth time…in a week or so, or more accurately many years or so…of picking up on toy trails and running after the little ones to keep house.

This desire…wells up…


But am glad it hits me fast. These terribly imperfect messes are actually really pretty perfect.

They are perfect traces of the days with our children. The times that they are with us, under our rainbow of care and love.

They are the perfect present of the NOW: the heady schedules, dirty laundry, tumble and fun, picking of fights, wiping little tears…

How utterly foolish we might be if we are tempted to strike them off as messy and undesirable, just because these don’t make US look good on the outside…

This amazing season of living with young children in our homes and hearts are not going to last forever.

In a flash, we would wish we were picking up toys. We would miss witnessing the crazy, bustling, messiness of life within the home. We would miss having breakfast and seeing traces of the children at every turn and corner in the echoes of our empty hallways. Our furniture would look and feel tidy but cold without a warm little body to snuggle close. Indeed,the days are long but the years are short.

This desire, it dissolves…

Only to return, in the thankfulness and resolve to live in the joy, abundance and the mess of each and every imperfect day…

I love tidy homes, but as a mum, I am convinced it is so much more important to keep a tidy heart. Weeding out our blatant insecurities, worries and expectations at the start of each day and enjoying, no, reveling in the spirit of a happy home filled with dirty laundry, tumble and fun and trailing toys ❤️.

#mumphilosophy #gratitude #keepingatidyheart


10 Quotes on the Importance of Play

This afternoon’s play transported us into an imaginary Lilliputian small-land and my little inhabitant, on a Gulliver’s travelogue. Together, the children added to their fantasy world unplugging their ideas from the rims of their most fertile imaginations. The finale creations were limited edition lego duplo “sushi bento sets” nearing dinner time…

The way a child wants to play is often very different from the way his parents want him to. Most times, our children know there are no limits to how they can express themselves through play…if we let them.

This evening, we share some of our favourite quotes on the importance of play. May it inspire each parent here to schedule in purposeful playtime everyday for the children.

1. “Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.” – Abraham Maslow

2. “You don’t remember the time your dad held the handlebars, you remember the time he let go.” – Lenore Skenazy

3. “Play is the work of the child.” – Maria Montessori

4. “Give childhood back to our children: If we want our offspring to have happy, productive and moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not less.” – Peter Grey

5. “It is a happy talent to know how to play.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

6. “Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.” – Mr. Rogers

7. “Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.” – O. Fred Donaldson

8. “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”-George Bernard Shaw

9. “Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play.” – Plato

10. “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” – Fred Rogers

Coq Au Vin (Chicken in Wine)

My first attempt at Coq Au Vin is recorded here.  This classic French dish premiered fashionably in my trusty Dutch Oven…which is made in France by the way. Cry foul or cry fowl, if you will, because this dish is just unjustifiably good.


There is absolutely nothing, NOTHING that can go wrong when you start with frying some lardon (or more commonly known as bacon) and you leave the drippings of that in the pot to brown the chicken, and leave the drippings of that to fry the onions, celery, garlic, carrots, cremini (brown) mushrooms, potatoes and whatever else have you (it doesn’t matter really because whatever is in that oil is already a winner).

The stars–definitely the wine. Slush up the crusted drippings at the end of the pot with some white wine (I used Hua tiao jiu because am fusion and brave like that), followed by the deep rich red wine. Throw in the herbs; bay leaf, thyme, tomato paste to give some tang and then the chicken stock/water and then you whack it in the oven.

Out comes magic. Fall apart chicken and the flavours of the rich braise in velvety wine. Julia Child might be proud.

Ingredients (Serves 8)
200g back bacon (cut into thick strips)
2 tbsp olive oil
1kg or so of Chicken parts (I used 3legs and 6 thighs)
Salt and ground black pepper
2 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup Hua Tiao Jiu or any cognac or white wine
1 big yellow onion diced
2 carrots diced
2-3 sticks celery diced
500g fresh cremini (brown) mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
2 potatoes
3 tbsp plain flour
2 garlic cloves smashed
2 cups of good red wine
2 cups of chicken stock
2 tbsp of tomato paste

1. Toss in the bacon in a heavy casserole or dutch oven and fry the bacon with olive oil on medium heat till oil renders and lightly brown. Transfer bacon out and leave drippings in pot.

2. Pat dry chicken parts and season with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken till nicely brown on both sides. Work in batches, turning frequently and don’t crowd the pan so chicken can brown evenly.

3. Set aside chicken and leave the drippings. Fry the onion, celery till its aromatic and onions soft, 5-8min, add in garlic, carrot, bay leave, mushrooms, and thyme herbs. Fry for a few minutes.

4. Pour in the Hua tiao Jiu or cognac and let it deglaze the pan and bits at the bottom. Now add in the red wine and cook for about 8minutes. Add the tomato paste and flour. Paste should be thickish and slurry. Add in the chicken stock next and bring to boil over the stove. Return the chicken to the pot and add potatoes. Simmer on medium low for 20minutes on stove.

4. For fall apart chicken, pull out some chicken pieces to the top of the Dutch oven/casserole and put uncovered in oven for another 20minutes at 200degrees. This is to let the chicken brown and crisp nicely.

Enroute to Happiness: How we are coping with PSLE

We’re merely two months away from PSLE, the major high stakes national exam  in this country for primary schoolers. Concerned ones have been asking how we are coping and it seems like a concern: It’s a first for both of us: first time candidate, first time mother-of-candidate. It all seems like a big deal with quake-sized trepidations but… we’re glad that we’re managing.


We’re managing to shrug off the stress and the pressure cooker environment.

We’re managing to prioritize our relationships above the results.

We’re managing to keep our eyes on long term goals and not invest our all on a short term sprint.

We’re learning it’s important to pace, and enjoy the ride.

We’re managing our expectations of what it means to be successful and that it’s more than a t-score.

We’re managing to find our security in our faith rather than our fight.

The best part?

We’re managing to relate deeper and build into our collective memories as mother and daughter.

Spending a sizable chunk of our time talking and communicating is pivotal. There are crazy homeschooling days when our “home room” breaks out in spontaneous conversations about anything and everything! Sometimes there’s just so much to be done, but we just talk.

It is an absolute delight when the 11year old comes to me when she’s stressed or in need of a break and she goes on and on for 2-3 hours at a time, sharing what’s on her heart.

I confess it’s nerve wrecking at times when I’m in mumzilla-mode and think of how she could otherwise be using time more effectively scribbling on some practice paper or burrowed deep in a book somewhere. I’m thankful though that there’s a glitch in me that ensures I snap out of that faulty thinking.

When our children have that much to say…we should count it an absolute privilege to listen. We learn so much about them when we do: their encounters with friends through the week, their lofty ambitions and nagging anxieties, their perspective of life, their reactions to people and random situations, their hum-tune of the week & admiration of Megan Trainor.

Over the months, I’ve listened to her spiel memorized lines from my Baby Blues comic stash that she’s read from cover to cover, over and over. She artfully throws out choice quotes which so resemble my stay-home mum struggles that we both crack up and laugh our socks off. Laughing at ourselves is so important in times like these.


She has time to draw, which is priceless. All her random sketches, I don’t take them at all for granted. Every single one, an expression of who she is, and what she’s like at a single moment in time. She’s expressed her keenness in graphic design. It’s what I aspired towards when I was her age. Life comes a full circle, doesn’t it?

Whatever the future holds, I have faith she’ll find her way. If I may distill some thoughts on parenting a tween through this:

– Always welcome your children. When they want to talk, listen. Not listen while scrolling on your handphone, listen with your heart.

– Refrain from judging and over-evaluating. Many times they know what their offense is, but they need the moral courage to do what’s right. Knowing you’re on their side goes a long way.

– Pace them in their journey. It’s always a comfort for them to know they have you near. Stretch them with warm-ups. Be a running partner at times. Otherwise, cheer from the sidelines.

With the incessant demands of today’s pressure cooker society, these are happy gifts we can’t buy but can give freely to our children. They are, an open heart, an attentive mind, a willingness to connect. Top that with an ice cream, and we’re en route to happiness and happy children!

The little things matter. Everyday I become more and more mindful of the little things in our lives and how utterly significant they can be.

Face it, we all don’t have it all together and there are no perfect families. But when we begin to accept that it’s all ok and that we grow better and closer each day into togetherness and acceptance of one another, we stop making a big deal of the big things and start to treasure the little ones:

We notice what is present rather than what is absent.

We tune our hearts to leap at little growths and improvements. Efforts don’t need to be staggering before we take notice!

We see every missed step or failure as a potential for growth and impending victory.

Taking time to remember the little things that captured my day teaches my heart to be thankful and contented:

1. A warm cup of fennel tea made thoughtfully by the hubby to ease my indigestion.

2. Enjoying the innocence of the 4yo recounting her wide-eyed introduction to penguins, flamingos and snow owls.

3. Admiring these two cute feet pictured in the photo below and the memories that come with them.

4. A threatening storm and son’s quick offer and dash out to bring in all the clothes! I can nap in peace nowadays because of his watchfulness!

5. Seeing my 12yo find some headway over some geometry sums after an afternoon of hard work

6. Learning to work as a tag team: the 4yo had a pee accident on the carpet. We, the parents, swept the carpet up for a wash and scrub, 12yo swooped in to take the baby off us, 7yo took her wet and crying sister in for a bath, and 10yo rearranged the toys and vacuumed the room. Within 15minutes, everyone was happy and having dinner.

The little things are the big things after all, and help me get through my day with much love!

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