Mother to five, parent in progress and occasional kitchenista cookerella

Category: About Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Legoland Malaysia Website

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

“I want to stay here forever!”

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

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



Halloween corner



30 min 3D building challenge



3D cat


2. Minimise travel and expenses 

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

3. Go Budget, it’s not THAT Bad

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

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

Photo credit:


King bed with single


Vintage lamps adorn the halls


Pretty Stained Glass




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

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

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

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

To Stand and Stare

What is this life if, full of care, 

We have no time to stand and stare.    

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

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

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


No time to stand beneath the boughs 

And stare as long as sheep or cows.


Mum, are you listening to me?”

“Yes I am…”

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


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


No time to see, when woods we pass, 

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass. 

No time to see, in broad daylight, 

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.


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

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

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

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

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


No time to turn at Beauty’s glance, 

And watch her feet, how they can dance. 


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

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




No time to wait till her mouth can 

Enrich that smile her eyes began. 


“What are you doing sweet pea?”

(Giggles) “Nothing much.”


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


“And how many do you have?”

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


A poor life this is if, full of care, 

We have no time to stand and stare.


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

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

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

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

Good night and love to you all. 


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

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. 

Tomato Soliloques

Sometimes you really can’t help but scratch your head at what to cook… call it the proverbial Hamlet in the Kitchen playing out his culinary vexation: what to eat and what not to eat, that is the question–which includes you frenetically poring through mentally stored-up recipes from your tired “Mom-mory drive” while struggling with a theatrically-waning willpower to execute them.

Other times however, you just know. It clicks immediately and you’re filled with clarity, vision and gut-sized determination. The ingredients just sing their lines and you know exactly how to cast them in character.

So the story goes that I found myself mid-smack in tomato season with 14-16 tomatoes going for only 60cents at the local grocers. It was a no brainer: it made sense to make my own tomato pasta sauce, instead of hacking it with the usual canned tomatoes or bottled paste. Never mind the little extra work. These tomatoes deserved their own soliloquies and I was determined to take them to stardom.

Stars they were: the natural sweetness in the fresh tomatoes really trumped the sometimes overly sourish store-bought pastes, making the natural tang and sweet complement the savoury and herby chicken and bacon bits like a midsummer night’s dream:)

Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce

What you need:
2 tbsp olive oil
10 medium tomatoes
2 tbsp wine
1 yellow onion chopped
5 garlic cloves chopped
250g chicken breast chopped
100g of bacon (prefried and chopped)
Pinch of Herbs (cayenne pepper, Rosemary, red pepper flakes)
Parmesan Cheese


Tomato Spaghetti

Tomato Spaghetti

Here’s how:
Feeds 6-8
1. Wash 10 medium tomatoes and carve an “x” at the base of the tomato with your knife. Put in pot with water and boil for about 5minutes till skin comes off easily. Rinse in cold water to stop the cooking.

2. Marinade chicken with a little bit of oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper and pinch of herbs for 15minutes.

3. In a saucepan, fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil till aromatic. Add in the bacon to render some oil then the chicken to fry. When almost done,add in a splash of wine to deglaze the pan. While it is simmering, add in your peeled tomatoes and let the heat and with your slotted spoon break it down to a saucy texture. Serve with spaghetti and a generous topping of parmesan cheese.

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