Memoirs of a Budget Mum

Mother to five, parent in progress and occasional kitchenista cookerella

The Mom-of-Teens Textbook

There’s only so much knowledge you can amass when you’re a parent. And almost always, when you think you’re about to nail it, the kids move on to a different stage of development and you’ve suddenly left scratching your head and thinking of how to reinvent the rules.

Parenting -the proverbial Catch 22: Parent your child, and your child “parents” you. Hits, misses and some learning curves after, you gain experience, only having to deal with and understand your next and very different child all over again.

It likely gets more confusing when you hit the stage of parenting a teenager. That’s when all that you never knew you never knew, comes hurtling towards you…and hits like a ton of bricks.


Teens can be fun to parent; they can throw punchlines, serve you back all your sarcastic jokes (proud mama), introduce you to cool stuff so you might not be labeled archaic or prehistoric.

At the same time, there are days they annoy you to no end, because you both want so badly to win the argument…and because they don’t like to clean their rooms!

Here are some of my personally amusing observations as a mother of a three teenagers:

1. You have to watch the general mood when they step into the house. Is it the chirpy-guess-what-happened face or the stay-away-for-now face. If it’s the latter, smile and stay away. They need SPAAAAACCCCCCCCEEEEEE.

2. Choosing the right moment to speak and how much becomes an art form to master. Do NOT talk more than you should and know when to end your sentences. Period.

3. There’s ALWAYS some form of music blasting in the house…music is life. Even if it is coming from the toilet.

4. They binge watch Tasty/TikTok food videos and learnt it from you. Guilt pangs (mine) to accompany hunger pangs (them).

5. Your fridge is always raided. Past midnight. Get used to it.

6. You’re try to render meals at the impossible speed of Tasty videos, and they just finish whatever you just threw on the plate at the same speed. Insatiable.

7. And with the space you give them, they sometimes give you mess. Learn how to close an eye, or two.

8. Opens an entire wardrobe full of clothes and proclaims: “Mum, I’ve nothing to wear.” The catastrophic dilemma of about every teenager on this planet hits close to home.


Opens an entire wardrobe full of clothes and have everything fall out.

9. Mothers with girls…we get a little more empathetic towards each other at THAT time of the month…?


Look out for more shouting matches. Hormonal teens vs Peri-menopausal moms? Lethal.

Jokes aside.

I came across this cute pin and it gives genius advice for moms with daughters:

For moms with sons: Do monosyllabic answers sound familiar?

“How did the outing go?” “Okay.”

“How’s the food?” “Good.”

“Pack your room..please..?” “Later.”

And when they feel like it, they give you hugs when you least expect☺️.


Last words…

Teens are fun. Enjoy the living daylights with them!

One of mine introduced me to this insane video some time back called Killer Karaoke ?

Seriously, it was ridiculous but had me in stitches. Have a watch…

You’re welcome. Happy mothering!

Morning at Sembawang Hot Springs

We jumped at the chance to spruce up an otherwise routine Monday with a morning trip to the recently revamped Sembawang Hot Springs, with friends. We decided to aim to reach the park at 7.30am and by the time we parked (nearest parking is at Blk 114, Yishun Ring Rd) and made our way there, the park was already teeming with with communal life and activity at about 8am.

The girls didn’t quite know what to expect as they had never been to a hot spring. Soon, we figured our way around.

There is a communal foot dipping pool with water of various degrees of warmth (40-70degrees). We realised after awhile why many people were huddled on one end of the seating area of the communal foot pool – because the water was not so stingingly hot there and more amenable to foot washing.

Over at the other end there was what appeared to be a sheltered area filled with wooden benches and seating. There were wooden pails and scoops hanging at the side of the covered areas in a quaintly cute fashion; almost Muji-like in feel and it was a nice feeling watching people carry heavy pails of water to find a spot to soak their feet.

Mostly elderly, some brought herbs and we soon observed the rolling of trousers and pants, and people using the scoops to pour water up to their knees; in a bid to soak up the benefits of the spring water.

There were interesting and curious users as usual. One man brought an entire plastic tub to soak himself in and another family brought a baby bathtub to bathe their toddler.

The water is actually too hot for immediate use. One has to wait a significant amount of time the water to be just the right temperature for soaking. The gushing water spews out generously from the tap and one has to be careful not to fill their bucket too full for fear of the hot spring water splashing on.

The girls, especially the 3yo, was hesitant to try soaking at first but after awhile acclimatised to the temperature and enjoyed two rounds of soaking.

Our lovely friends also brought the full works: kampong eggs, pots and condiments!

That was surely the highlight of our cozy trip- we had started the eggs to cook upon arrival and had to make about 5-6 changes of water over a 1hour duration for the perfect “even better than” Ya-Kun-styled eggs, sprinkled with pink Himalayan salt, a dash of soy sauce and pepper.

Pro-tips for cooking:

1. To cook your own eggs, bring a covered pot (steel preferably) and start them off with 70 degrees hot spring water before you go foot dipping.

2. Leave the eggs covered in the pot every 15-20min and change the water to keep it hot and under pressure.

3. Crack a test egg to check doneness. We tried this a few times with a few eggs to get it to the doneness we desired- about 1 hour.


Nparks has really envisaged a pretty cozy communal space that is unique to Singapore, to engage with nature and communal foot soaking. Crowded with urban cityscape and run of the mill malls that are a sine qua non of modern heartland living, this place is a breath of hot “spring” air.

We were pleasantly surprised by the thoughtfulness of the space and design in pulling disparate segments of life into one spot: not surprisingly, we saw many elderly folks, many who came with their spouse, daughters and sons, grandchildren. Some brought herbs and natural remedies to pair with their foot soaking experience.

It is easy to see why everyone is excited with the novelty and the possibilities of what one could do when natural spring water is made so available and pleasantly accessible. After all, the space beckons like a public spa of sorts that serves the common man- an idea that is pleasantly attractive and inclusive to all.

Hopefully, we can all do our individual part to preserve and protect the space for communal use in both big and small ways; thinking and using things with consideration of hygiene to other users and graciousness in sharing pails and not hogging amenities. I was touched to be on the receiving end of random acts of kindness from strangers who offered me their soaking pail and a seat to sit with my koala baby in tow. That made our visit to the hot spring so much more special.

The Teenage “Textbook”

Parenting Teens…

I’ve moved on to a new and seemingly terrifying stage of parenting – parenting teens. The world tells me this is intimidating: after all, you’re fighting against raging hormones, moody swings, irrational outbursts with emotional hypersensitivity and the clincher: somebody that’s starting to remind you exactly of …you. Your bad habits come throttling back full circle if you don’t model it right. This special breed of adolescent humans also detect hypocrisy like a GPS radar. You better walk your talk or they might bite back.

Nonetheless, you forge ahead, take a deep breath and make the most of it, while trying to demystify the teenage human staring back at you.

An Opportunity…

This afternoon was good training for me to practice relating to my teen.

But first, a little crisis…

Said teen came back and spent more than an hour gaming in the toilet. Again.

My rules are: No gaming in the toilet. No gaming without asking for permission and letting me know. No gaming till your homework’s done. No gaming more than 30min.

Essentially, he had broken all the rules.

This boy. Rarely disobeys.

But he has disobeyed me three times on this issue for the past three months.

What changed?

Before I reared my ugly mother- monster head, I thought of what I would do. Usually I would start thinking of kicking in with punitive measures: delete his app (AGAIN), give him a piece of my mind, remove his access to the phone. But wait, I’d already done that previously. And it hadn’t worked.

I had to work at parenting his HEART.

Parenting the Heart

So we sat down. And he obviously knew he was wrong. He apologized and started looking sheepish.

“Why did you do what you did?”

I could see a tear at the side of his eye. He was remorseful but silent.

I repeated my question.

“Am here to help you understand, why you did what you did, so you can do better.”

Then it started slowly…the trust knowing I was not there to condemn him for what he already knew was wrong.

We talked more freely from there….about why he did what he did. He shared with me that he had to watch his friends play during recess and he held back and did not play coz he had limited data and didn’t want to blow his plan. That’s why it was hard to resist when he came home and there was WiFi.

I empathized and commended him that he had the ability to restrain himself in school.

We then proceeded to discuss why it was a lure. We also discovered this particular game though harmless in content, didn’t have a depleting lifespan. So basically, you could play on and on.

I shared why it was important to learn how to run from something that might have a unhealthy hold on you and why it was of greater importance to master control over it rather than let it control you.

We also talked about how self control needs to start with the will- a personal choice to say I will choose not to go “there” because it is not honoring and it’s not right.

Naturally, we also discussed about the potential temptations online or otherwise there might be in the future that would need him to build and exercise this muscle of discernment and self control.

He shared some thoughts about how he felt and ways I could help him manage that better.

We prayed and read a bible verse together to guide us to understand our whys. And we decided to put in some processes to let him try to manage again- to practice making the right choice.

I felt we had connected. Parenting teens is hard work but it is worth the investment. I learnt many times over it is important to not just parent them just to control or change their behaviour but to parent them deep- from the heart. That also means we need to not condemn but CALL out the potential of what we see IN them OUT of them.

John Duffy, clinical psychologist and author of the “The Available Parent: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens.”

“Conversations also shouldn’t center on lecturing. “The occasional conversation may be a chore, a bit of a lecture, or a focus on behavior we as parents do not favor. But the lion’s share of the discussion has got to be connecting, talking, laughing and sharing,” Duffy says.

Connecting, talking, laughing and sharing. That’s the Lion’s Share. Definitely working towards that in the days to come!

Is there any room this Christmas?

We have just returned from our holiday in Penang two weeks back. We had planned for 4 days in Penang before taking a domestic flight to KL for the next 4 days.

Despite the big family logistics, all went well for our trip until the 4th day when we received news that MFA had just issued a travel advisory for all Singaporeans to cancel all unessential travel to KL in preparation for potential security/safety threats as a result of a convergence of about 300,000 Malaysians in the city centre for a political protest/rally.

After some research, we realised roads would be closed and our accommodation was barely 1km away from the rally site.

With thoughts of travelling into a potentially dangerous and hazardous situation the next day, with 5 young children and while expecting, it soon became clear that we were not prepared to take the risk. We decided to stay in Penang and change our plans.

Happy holidays busted?

The next few hours was a mad scramble of trying to book a returning flight home for 7 without much access to the internet and without OTP access to verify any legitimate credit card transaction. This led to several failed attempts to secure plane tickets at a favorable price.

As the hours ticked by, the calm dissolved into stress. We had checked with the hotel if we could extend a night but due to peak season traffic, they couldn’t accommodate us and it was hard to find room within our budget that fulfilled either of two criteria: a whole apartment with enough room or two interconnecting rooms that could accommodate 7. We called a few hotels to hear they were full. The other hotels, were selling their rooms at a high premium we couldn’t afford.

Hours turned to minutes and by 10pm we had barely resolved our air tickets nor accommodation for the next day. I remember my feelings then:

Frustration: Why did this have to happen, at this time, and to us? What a terrible holiday…

Loss: Our insurance policy stated that unless the rally turned violent and became a riot, we would not be able to claim anything much. We had lost a few thousand dollars in a few days.

Fatigue: Tiredness and stress had chaffed off every remaining bit of good humour, patience and calm over the situation.

Fear: The reality had sunk in; the next few hours were uncertain and we were not sure where we would lay our heads the next day.

As I lay in bed wrestling with all these negative thoughts, selfish emotions and praying to God for a solution, something within prompted me to consider the familiarity of my “circumstance” with the birth of Jesus.

A pregnant Mary and Joseph were in a rather familiar situation with us. I had only begun to realize how much more muted our condition was. As I closed my eyes to contemplate Mary’s journey to deliver Jesus’s birth, my heart became flooded with the grace to accept the things that were not within our control.

The Saving Journey of Faith

(Flickr: Jeff Weese, CC BY 2.0)

Like us, Mary and Joseph too had to prepare for long travel due to Ceasar Augustus’s decree for a census registration in the whole of the Roman world.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.

He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Unlike us, this couple had no luxury of modern travel comforts, and made arduous journey on a donkey or possibly on a caravan with other travelers, returning for the census for the safety and companionship of traveling in numbers.

We don’t know exactly what route they took—it was certain though that they had to climb up mountains and on foot through the Jordan River Valley. Regardless of the route, the approximately 100-mile trip would have taken them 8-10 long days of walking. This must have been a scary journey for young, pregnant Mary.

Like us, she too, was rejected with no room to stay. The innkeeper, not knowing, could only tell the tired and hungry couple that they were sold out and offer her a hay stable for smooth delivery.

In our modern equivalent, even Airbnb had failed her; no clean linens or freshly laundered towels, possibly not much opportunity for a bath or to freshen up.

It was a lower than one-star treatment for the baby that was destined to bring Hope to the world. The “room” that welcomed the Son of Man and the Saviour King was but an animal stable; not a sanitized hospital nor a warm home. His first smells would have been of the rancid odours of a filthy stable. Anyone on Trip Advisor would have given it an awful review.

In exchange, however, the world was infiltrated with the heavenly aroma of Peace, Hope and Salvation.

God, despite being God, had not prepared an easy journey for His own son’s inauguration nor reserved special treatment with the best service and accommodation to lay his head.

2000 over years apart with seemingly similar plights within our own contexts; yet devastatingly stark was how our family without a doubt, had fell upon immeasurably more grace.

Because this couple has pressed in and pressed on, it enabled our fates to be lovingly exchanged. Love came down for us; travelled long and hard; delivered us from eternal peril through a divine exchange at a humble stable.

It was only the beginning of Jesus’s arduous journey of bringing those who would be willing, to everlasting joy and redemption.

Immanuel means God with us.

On the night Jesus was born, that had finally became a reality.

It suddenly became a reality to us on that stressful night and gave us the Grace and Help through beloved friends and family who came alongside to help us resolve the situation; making calls, booking tickets. Bonus: we managed to find a nice, new cozy accommodation that fit us all at 2am for the rest of our days in Penang!

It’s still a reality today. God is still with us- for every heart that’s willing to open and embrace His presence.

The Christmas spirit is synonymous with Giving. But the real Christmas gift didn’t come prettily packaged as we would have liked to imagine in the midst of our merry making.

God came down to be WITH us despite being on the sour end of a very sucky gift exchange. In His sorrow, we exchanged Joy, in His trouble, we gained Peace, in His brokenness, we became whole. In his death, we became forgiven and reconciled.

There was little revelry, feasting nor merry making on the night Jesus was born.

It was shrouded in the silent and holy love of the Father and the glorious promise of his infant Son.

Angelic voices penetrated the hearts of those who knew Him.

It was a miracle in the highest that is still unfolding today.

My prayer this Christmas is that many other Christmas miracles will continue to unravel; that many other hearts, including ours, prepare Him room and receive the miracle of Immanuel with us ❤️.

Krabi 2018: Panan Krabi Resort Review

We almost didn’t make it for our June 2018 vacation….but we’re glad we finally did!

Work has simply been crazy and pooling together our schedules combined, has made this getaway a hard knot to unravel. In the end, we could only travel on dates when our older girl was away at camp. It wasn’t the best arrangement but we were looking forward to having some time to rejuvenate with the younger ones in some sand, sea and sun!

Thanks to Beautiful Krabi, which offered the best bang for our budget: pristine beaches, magnificent national parks, outdoor and water activities all rolled in one — and ONLY an hour or so plane ride away!

As usual, we were looking for a family -friendly resort that could accommodate the “truckload” of us and offer us a convenient yet contained base for which to explore all our activities — we were excited find it in Panan Krabi Resort.

A view of Panan Krabi Resort

A Little Corner to Chill in Ao Nang

We booked our entire 6 day, 5 night stay at Panan Krabi Resort, which is a fairly new resort snuck in the corner of busy Ao Nang.

Tucked inside away from touristy streets, yet right in the heart of town, Panan Krabi Resort offers both location and privacy. A 5 -min walk and you get to Starbucks, McDonald’s, Subway and tons of eating and food outlets, intermittently stacked between tour booking services and massage parlors.

Panan Krabi Resort is not a beachfront resort nor does it have a private beach but it makes no apologies for it with a gorgeous view of a huge mountain and TWO pools –one on the rooftop with a gorgeous view and one with a kids pool and slide on ground level!

It is however, a 10min walk to Ao Nang Beach but we didn’t need to troop there as the resort was self-contained with enough to do. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time there and the newly furnished kids club!

**Side note: Look at that gorgeous mountain….Krabi is full of these…the naturalist in me is “drooling” from an overdose of polished urban spaces that are missing ruggedness.

When we were there, the resort was still undergoing some renovation work in certain wings in certain blocks and it felt slightly raw depending on which wing or block you stayed.

It’s understandable to have teething issues but the hotel makes up for this with with genuine hospitality and sincere service. The staff are friendly, warm and welcoming, and nothing is too small to ask for. I approached them to arrange dinner and a external massage and the staff were ever obliging and warm.

One of the staff Bean, was so cool to share with us his experience and advice regarding tours and whether we could safely kayak in the given weather and helped on several occasions to get us where we needed to go. *Grateful* always…for cool service!

Ok, let’s cut to the chase. Our favorite things to do during our stay. Let us “show” you around the Panan Krabi experience…from our family’s perspective!!

Reception & Welcome

We arranged for pick up once we landed and were swiftly brought to our resort about an hour’s drive from the airport.

Once we arrived at the hotel lobby, we had our luggage swiftly taken aside and brought to the welcome lounge where we were handed…

…Cold towels to freshen up!!

We were invited to partake in the small bites and drinks at the lounge.

The open lounge is accessible like a central “living room” where guests are welcome to relax with some free-flow biscuits, snacks and traditional lemongrass drink. The kids visited this area many times during their stay ? for obvious reasons!! And I was happy for obvious reasons—no need to feed them!!

My favorite part of the lounge, the floor tiles. Love black and white on the FLOOR. Who else agrees??

Look at those happy no longer hungry faces!!!Check in was smooth and we were taken to our rooms.

Our Room Experience

We booked a suite for our stay which came with a small but separate living area, a large king bed and a warm welcoming jacuzzi tub. The kids had their own deluxe interconnecting room.

We were thrilled to be able to have our own private cordoned space yet be within reach from the kids! Can’t you hear me screaming ….”FINALLY?!”.

The rooms were also tastefully decorated with a modern garden theme.

We enjoyed the comfortable beds, fresh clean sheets and the luxury of having our own ensuite jacuzzi tub to relax in.

Loved that the room provided beach slippers AND bedroom slippers to convenience our use of casual footwear outdoors.

The view from our room was partial mountain and sea view. We spent many hours in this super power jacuzzi bath. Such a treat for the fun-loving babies and for all my aching muscles!!! Behold the view from our room…

Food & Feasts

Breakfast was inclusive of our stay and it was served at the main hotel restaurant international buffet style. The hotel was pretty well occupied for the last three days of our stay but we never had to contend with queues or crowds for peak hour breakfast.

The spread was a satisfactory mix of local and western flavours. More of an American buffet breakfast style with some local fare. Most days we skipped lunch!

The kids had fun assembling and constructing their “self-made sandwiches” from different stations. “Subway” experience, case they wanted to work there one day ?.

There are many dining options in and around Ao Nang. Plenty of restaurants on the street just 5 min away but with four kids in tow it was easier to eat in and we did for at least two of the days.

What we really enjoyed though was our in-room dining experience or room service. Room service was priced very satisfactorily at $180 baht (about $10sgd) for a good sized burger/pizza. And we would order some to tide over dinner considering most days we were abit too full after breakfast to eat lunch and only needed a nibble at dinner! The portions were generous and meaty!

Look at that huge chunk of meat!

Well divided by the four hungry kids, gone in 50 seconds.

Newly Furnished Kids’ Club

The kid’s club was also where we hung quite a-bit while we were there. The kids club is newly furnished and appealing more to preschoolers and toddlers —which was perfect for us! It’s facing the pool, so if the kids are ok, they could even play behind the glass doors and you can have a dip in the pool!

The colourful room is brightly decorated, has an indoor toddler playground and age-appropriate puzzles and toys. A majority of the books were in Thai and hopefully they would include more English titles in time.

Here’s a glimpse of how the little ones spent their time there, while we went for massages and sorted out our tours.

I spent some time trying to solve this wooden puzzle! ? I do wonder sometimes what motherhood has done to me.

The girls could engage in simple guided craft. Here they are attempting a paper flower with the help of the kid’s club staff. I like that they were usually the same staff so the kids saw their familiar faces and could warm up to them over our stay!

Finally, the best part of our stay…

Splashin’ Good Fun

We spent so much time this holiday relaxing by the pools and it was a real luxury to…just looking at the 2yo lounging in this first shot cracks me up!

The ground pool had jacuzzis which the kids enjoyed, a pool bar with super cheap cocktails and a simple kids slide and water feature.

We even spotted a resident monitor lizard by the pool side area which the kids were playing “hide and seek” with for a few of the days we were there!

The pool bar where you can order nibbles and get cheap mock tails.

The rooftop pool is small but boasts gorgeous views and it’s my favourite spot in the hotel. The backdrop of the pool is this fantastic looking mountain which tips towards a view of the sea. Super cool and relaxing.

Our serious and fun shots…

Reality check: Ok this next photo is me looking a tad worried my phone will drop INTO the water…but the hubs looks cool enough to buy me a new one if it happens, right?!?

We are parents first, then heavyweight champions after this shot. Putting it down in my resume.

Don’t we look like we’re having fun? I love that gorgeous mountain. Can’t. Stop. Gushing.

All in all, we were grateful for a relaxing time away to chill, bond with each other and have a little something for everyone to enjoy in our short stay.

Loved reconnecting with nature, sunshine and the great outdoors. Thank you Panan Krabi Resort for making us feel welcome.

Stay tuned for our next blog post on what we did in Krabi and the activities we explored.

Disclaimer: We were sponsored a complimentary room for the purposes of this review. However, the opinions expressed in this blog are our own.

A Science Escapade!

A MOBM Review

The Enrichment Conundrum

We’ve always been rather selective about what enrichment programmes our kids participate in.

Why? You might think…

Firstly, LOGISTICS. In caps. That can be a nightmare. Period.

Second, budget (in a large family, that’s pretty obvious too).

Third, time. We usually try to guard our time. We tend to leave spaces during the holidays (which usually manages to rapidly fill itself) for downtime, rest and sheer boredom. Yes, we’re not too afraid to have the kids home with us…doing nothing very exciting and hanging out.

Fourth, we are pretty chill (maybe lazy) parents…so unless a child expresses rabid fascination or an utter desperate need for a particular activity, we fill our time in with our own chill (or lazy) things to do.

Fifth, as educators, we do really look forward to seeing that “something special” in the programme curriculum that our kids might enjoy, before we send them anywhere.

Science Escapade by Cognitive Whizz!The last holidays though, we did send the kids somewhere! TA-DA!

This blogpost today is on one such holiday programme which we encountered, with that X factor.

In fact, we didn’t think very hard about whether to send our 5 and 8 year old to the four day Science Escapade – a holiday Science program for 4-8 year olds, by Cognitive Whizz.

Led by founder Denise and her team and jointly organized by BrainFit, Science Escapade focuses on teaching science creatively through storytelling, songs, play and simple hands-on experiments.

Image courtesy of Cognitive Whizz
That piqued my interest. Science and storytelling make a charming pair.
I had some reservations though, to be honest, Physics and Chemistry unpacked for kids as young as four sounded a tad intimidating.
After all, how would such abstract concepts be pitched and clearly communicated to a bunch of little kids?

Escape to FairyLand!
Step into the “Land of Fairy Tale Emergencies“, the backdrop for their exploration. Science themes are explored within the familiar narrative framework of fairytales. In fact, each day’s theme is helmed by an interesting story/tale. No prizes for guessing which my girls were really excited for.

And hardcore science made digestible through literary tales? Now this interdisciplinary invitation got this literary mum’s heart a thumping!

I trailed my girls into Day 1’s mission with much anticipation to bring you our FIVE Behind-the-Scenes Observations about Science Escapade and what the children were engaged in:

1. Problem Solvers on a Mission!
One of the great things about Science Escapade is how it endeavors to teach so called “abstract science concepts” through practical and simple problem solving.
What do I mean? Well, think this.
Children are exposed to big concepts in the pure sciences like atoms and molecules, protons and electrons and static electricity in ways that are easily relatable.
I don’t think this is meant to be or should be taken in the spirit of hot-housing but on the contrary, the heart of the programme lies in desiring to throw out the big questions to little people!
When children are immersed to learn through new experiences and critical inquiry, Cognitive Whizz believes, they make neural connections of great impact.
Image courtesy of Cognitive Whizz

Learning is made fun, and accelerated while the children are encouraged to share their hypotheses, validating them through hands-on experiments, and evaluating the data to form their own conclusions!

The mission of the day began with an intriguing proposition:

How could we use electricity to help Cinderella turbo charge through her chores in time to rush to the ball?

We saw the kids excitedly buzzing and connected to how they would be learning something that would be part of the solution on several points of the problem solving process!

2. Social-Emotional Awareness

Through the course, there was a constant and regular attempt to get children in touch with their emotions and feelings for the day. I thought this was particularly commendable.

After all, we don’t want to send the message that we are only after information and knowledge as an end but as a means to relate with and help others.

The kids were taught a range of complex feelings; ecstatic, alarmed, downhearted, jealous, and what they meant.

During Storytime, this was brilliantly reinforced:

E.g. Cinderella was ecstatic when she learnt about the ball! She was however downhearted when the unkind stepmother did not allow her to go, despite how hard she worked. Her stepsisters were jealous of her, as she was very attractive. When she finally got to go to the ball, and met the prince, she was ecstatic and got carried away! She was alarmed when the clock struck 12!

3. Role playing is Fun!
Role play was also one of the definitive highlights of the program, complete with singing, dancing and definitive props that would make children beam.

The reenactment of Cinderella was carried out with simple placards and dramatized by teachers and student volunteers. This made the classroom come alive with participation as even the “audience” had roles to play.

That’s E and F with their fairy wands in their bid to help “wish” the tinsel dust away!

However, instead of a “bipparty boppity boo”, the kids had to figure out how to use static electricity on a balloon to pick up “dust”!

Children use science not magic to deliver Cinderella from her household chores and zip to the ball.

Immersive storytelling…enraptured the children and was the real magic of the day!

4. No Limits to Curiosity!
This is actually the best part of the programme:  the experiments. In the 3 hour course on Day 1, the kids did and watched a total of 8 experiments. Yes, you heard right. 8 whooping ones!

The experiments were fun, exciting, relatable and concrete enough to engage young learners.

Check out these highlights:

(A) Science concept: Static Electricity

Cinderella was exhausted after all the laborious hardwork. She found a rainbow duster which cheered her up! She became downhearted when she realized that the duster was unable to trap the tinsel. How could the children help her?

With the aim to solve Cinderella’s headache, the children get off to work. They explore rubbing tinsel with cloth and discovered after the rubbing, the tinsel got attracted to the static duster!

That’s E smiling her way through her brilliant discovery- think her excitement says it all.

Expt (2): Hair-raising experience!

Cleaning the house, Cinderella caught a glimpse of the photo of the Scientist, Albert Einstein. She loved his hairstyle – all the hair was jutting out! She found some balloons. What should she do?

The children had fun rubbing the balloons on their hair to create the new hairstyle for themselves!

After that, they tried using the balloons to pick up the tinsel, it worked too!

Here are more sneak peaks at what went on that day:

Little “electrons” huddling together to visually see how protons and neutrons respond to one another in a little nucleas.

F looking satisfied at how many styrofoam beads her “charged” hands could pick up all over Cinderella’s house!

A visual demonstration of static electricity through a charged balloon to create dancing bubbles!

As we moved the “charged” balloon around above the bubbles, the children were amazed to observe “dancing bubbles!”

Exploring a simple circuit
The kids learnt what was a closed and open circuit and the children connected the wires to form a closed circuit to light up the bulbs!

The younger children were tasked to fix the batteries in torch lights in the correct arrangement (positive connected to negative), to help power up Cinderella’s house.

When every group is done, the lights were switched off. The children saw how they have helped to light up Cinderella’s house with the electric circuits they made!

Fun with an energy stick to examine what conductors would cause it to light up! Children made their predictions based on simple objects!

Here’s my girl’s favourite activity. Creating an electric cleaner for Cinderella!

5. Learning & Creativity Ruled the Day!

The entire programme of Science Escapade blew us away with tons and tons of opportunities to explore and create.

The pacing of the workshop was intense but everything well-connected and meaningfully planned to enrich the children’s exposure to phenomena and offering good experiences towards scientific curiousity.

Certainly, Cognitive Whizz has prepared a worthwhile programme for 4-8 year olds who want a primer into the fascinating world around us! Do check it out during the next school holidays!


Promotional Offer for MOBM Readers:

*Discount Code*

Keen to expose your children to intriguing Science concepts through holistic joyful learning? There’s good news!

**Readers who cite MOBM are entitled to a promotional rate of $290 (U.P. $330, 12% discount) for sign-up before 31 May!!!**

For enquiries:

Contact Denise@9009 7086 or email Cognitive Whizz on Facebook

Disclaimer: We were invited to attend the 4 day programme in exchange for a review. Opinions of programme are my own.

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. ?

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

If you’ve enjoyed this post and would like to read more, do share this link. Join us on Facebook or follow us at Instagram

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:

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! ? 

If you like this post, please share your thoughts with us in the comments below or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

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.” 


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 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!”

{{Giveaway}}:Hassle-free Baby Weaning with Haakaa from Mama Warehouse!

A MOBM Review & Giveaway 

I’m a busy mama, like the rest of you reading this and the busiest hours of our day have got to be mealtimes, hands down.

I mean, meal planning and grocery shopping are already mentally and physically exhausting.

Throw in prep time for ingredients, cooking early (so we can clear up early), and then the actual “peak hour” where hungry little ones start hovering earlier that you expect…boy…you need several handfuls to feed these many mouthfuls!

Our kids have rehearsed their “Mum, I’m very hungry” cue-pitiful-look line to the T and some days, it is enough to make me warble at your stove, while I desperately scavage for a cracker or two to divert them from swooping in too soon!

At this point, I haven’t even begun to describe the mealtime “carnage”.

Reminders to the kids to eat neatly, even the older ones are still in order. “Eat with your mouth over your plate please.” is on repeat mode. Nonetheless, drips and drops are still inevitable.

And then, we have the one year old who is currently keeping me on my toes in her self weaning, food exploratory stage—read utterly, completely, messy dining.

Sometimes I swoop in to collect the spills but most times, I have to pick up half a ton of food which lands in her bib and on the floor, dig out sticky  rice on her clothes and food bits wedged between her legs.

Not sleek at all. 

Imagine the “yays” in my head when MamaWarehouse sent the Haakaa Silicon Cloudmat and Haakaa Silicon Breast Milk/ Baby Food Freezer Tray our way!

If you’re a busy mama, you know what I mean when I say we constantly look for TOOLS that actually HELP us get better at our mothering jobs – tools that help us be nifty, quick and actually help to make our life easier!!!

Let me start first with the Silicon Cloud Mat:  

1. Haakaa Silicon Cloud Mat 

If you have a baby or toddler who’s started self-weaning, the silicon cloud mat is quite a dream.
These handy little placemats have suction cups so they stick to the table and the perfectly positioned food tray hangs off the front catching all those bits that drop down.

Suction cups work really well as they stick to most surfaces very well and baby can’t pull it out like they tug at bibs.

My 1 yo loves touching and exploring her food and the textures with her fingers. The silicone cloud mat really pairs well with this stage and minimizes the hassle for me.

The mat is perfectly contoured to fit the perpendicular groove at the table edge and the catch-all bin is deep and prevents food bits from falling out.

Dishwasher safe and heat proof this handy little placemat allows you to put warm food on a slip free surface and chuck in the dishwasher when you are finished.

What I like: 

  • Large surface area…catches 90% of the food bits especially if you pair it with a bib with a pocket.
  • No more wiping off rice or food bits on the table. Just peel off the whole silicon mat to wash at sink with all the food bits on it, leaving your clean table surface.
  • Portable: You can roll this tightly into a tube and slot into your baby bag to use outside on high chairs when you eat at the food courts especially when you’re not sure if table surfaces are clean.

Finally, our trusty silicon cloud mat taking up no additional space and making our kitchen sink “pop” with colour!

2. Haakaa Silicon Breast Milk & Baby Food Freezer Tray 

The next kitchen tool that has really helped is none other than the Haakaa Silicon Freezer Tray. 

Each tray has six compartments where you can make-ahead soup stock,  purees, homemade baby food and portion them out to freeze for a rainy day.  Breast milk too!!

Before this came along, I was using a plastic ice cube tray and a silicone IKEA ice cube tray where I had to waste additional cling wrap to protect the food.

Needless to say, it didn’t work well with soups and thin liquids. I tried this on the ABC soup that I wanted to save up for no-cook days and I loved that I could pour the warm soup right in without worrying about  letting it cool down first.

The compartments come in three different sizes (125ml, 50ml, 35ml) (with the deepest being most versatile , in my opinion) and is made 100% food grade silicon! I was able to even put the potato and carrot bits into the deep pockets of the tray.

As you can see, the Haakaa tray makes baby food storage safe and practical with a customized cover.

It is also totally heat proof, microwave safe, BPA, PVC and Phthalate free, dishwasher safe and free of any leaching nasties. You can keep food fresh up to 6 months.

The best part of it is the easy pop out silicone body makes removing cubes a breeze.

Just watch how easy it is: no frantic knocking…just gently twist and the crack line will appear…

Effortless easing out of its shell. And this is rock hard immediately out of the freezer!

Neat!! The good quality silicone saves me time and effort than it would normally take! Love this sooooo much.


Here’s the good news…

Mama Warehouse is giving away 1 Haakaa Silicon Cloud Mat (worth $32) to ONE lucky winner and 1 Haakaa Baby Food Tray (worth $29.90) to a SECOND lucky winner! {one different winner per product}

Click here to enter the giveaway!


Winners of Giveaway! Congratulations! 

Winner of Haakaa Silicon Food Tray

Yin Shian

Winner of Haakaa Silicon Cloud Mat

Karen See

Thank you all for participating! We will be contacting winners via email shortly! 

Terms and conditions

1. This giveaway ends on 15 July 2017; 12am. The winners will be randomly selected from Rafflecopter and announced on this blog post the following day. 

2. Winners will be contacted via the email address provided and will have 48 hours to respond; failing which a new winner will be selected.

3. By entering this giveaway, you agree to release your email address to the sponsor for verification, contact and marketing purposes.
This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook.

Disclosure: We received a Haakaa Silicon Cloud Mat and Food Tray for review purposes. All opinions are our own.

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