Encouraging the learner

Encouraging the learner

As J1 progresses to K2 in 2018, he has been very keen on improving himself. He thrives on attempting workbook exercises on his own and wanting me to teach him ‘what I always teach the Kor Kor’s and Jie Jie’s’ who come for weekly lessons. It’s been very heartening.

While it may be too complicated to bring primary school mathematical concepts down to his preschool level, I attempt to teach him simple ‘counting on’ and ‘taking away’. He was keen on experimenting with my calculator as well, so we took the opportunity to explore ‘division’, using the words ‘sharing equally’ instead.

I hope his enthusiasm in attaining knowledge will continue to be there even as he enters formal education and the rigour of homework, drills and practices takes over. While it may seem mundane and tedious, meaning and purpose in his learning would be an added dimension of motivation for him as he journeys on. 💪

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One man’s meat is another man’s poison

One man’s meat is another man’s poison

Food has always been a part of my life, more so, after having children, and needing to see to their developmental wellbeing.

Before having children, food was a means of survival. I eat to live, and nothing really more. I am not a foodie, and am still not quite one. 😆 Since having children, food was like a science that I had to learn to put various ingredients together to make up something decent and delectable. In the recent years, as I explore deeper into food, food became medicine to me. Food has properties, good and bad. I read about them, scrutinised them and applied what was learnt into my (almost) daily cooking. I explored the realm of TCM as well and used herbs to balance out the state of Yin and Yang in the family. Lately, food took on another interesting role, in fact, more complicated than how I used to perceive it… it became ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’. I am still in the initial stages of learning the ropes and everyday is an exciting discovery of something I used to pass off as mundane.

An acute attack almost a month ago was what triggered it all. That was the awakening to this frightening truth. As was any usual Saturday, I stuffed myself with a heavy breakfast of coffee and instant noodles (I haven’t touched them in years!), and… BAM! I was down in pain. With less than 30 minutes to the start of my 4 hour sessions, there was little I could do to salvage myself. I tried. Passed motion, induced vomiting… thank God I could. Yet the pain continued to grow and I was clutching my stomach in the toilet. Cold sweat broke out and I was seen crawling to the room, grabbing my phone to call each student up to cancel lessons. I could not carry on.

Staggered down to the GP with my children holding me, I asked to be seen by the doctor ASAP as I felt I could not hold out any longer. The pain was out of the world and other patients were staring. Yea, but I couldn’t help groaning… what to do leh? 😞

Thankfully the GP saw me and quickly jabbed me with buscopan, a potent painkiller and discharged me with a week of gastric medication. My intense pain had settled within a day, but I continued to experience weakness and dull pain. Decided to look up a gastroenterologist and was found with gallstones and my innocently looking bowl of instant noodles was the culprit. From that incident, I started to look upon food with greater caution.

Food is beneficial, and yet food can also be lethal. As I go into a new season of discovering food, I exercise more discretion in the preparation of meals. I learnt much (as I always do when some illness hits me!😆), and it has been a blessing in disguise to discover that there are two sides of a coin to some foods that are touted beneficial to health. For example, I have read about the extensive uses of turmeric and how it fights inflammation. I have been adding it into rice and even fish. A friend cautioned me against its uses and I later found out that it is not recommended for patients with gallstones. What a timely advice and a lesson learnt, before the onset of a potential attack.

I hope that in the weeks and months ahead, I can gather more insight into this aspect of food and continue to share in this space. Food preparation can be seen as a science, or an art, or a weapon against illnesses/ageing/moods as well. Let us all be mindful of what and how we eat, so that the food we take in can serve to strengthen us and build us up.

Cheers!! 💪

Growing up…

Growing up…

As a child, I couldn’t wait to grow up, be independent, start doing and thinking about the things that adults do and think about. I see that in my children these days, as they take bigger and bolder steps in achieving milestones.

J1 outgrew many of his toy cars and is well on his way to create new craft from various art materials. He finds thrill in drawing the trains and cranes he previously read about from Thomas and Friends and excitedly shows his drawings to the rest of the family, asking us to identify one vehicle from the other. 😆

On the other hand, there’s J2 trying to take over grocery shopping and disallowing me to carry the basket. When the items inside the basket got too heavy, he would improvise by dragging the basket on the floor. 😊

As I tapped both boys to sleep last night, amidst the thunderstorm, it occurred to me how many more times I’ll be doing that, before they grow up to be independent on ‘Mummy-ing’. By then, I hope I’ll be ready to let go and let them explore greater heights with the gifts and talents they have been blessed with.

Managing cravings and treats as a family

Managing cravings and treats as a family

I cringe at the sight of J1 returning home with a goodie bag full of sweet treats. 😅 Next thing that comes to mind is how to manage the sugar rush, the crave for more sugary food, a withdrawal from real food and perhaps, even to deal with cough and phlegm, and obesity (along the way).

Both my children have the sweet tooth, and since the time they can put food into their mouths, it’s not been easy encouraging them to choose wisely between various treats.

I recognise that I cannot fight this battle since the lure of unhealthy treats is also a struggle for adults. So I resort to two approaches, in the hope of raising awareness in my children on how to manage their intake of these food.

1) Educate them

As children, they are naturally curious. They ask endless ‘why’s and I thought I’d capitalise on that to their health benefit by sharing interesting facts about food and nutrition with them. It need not be intentional, but coming from an angle of feeding their interest in how things work, and why it is so.

Over at breakfast today, J1 was eating a strawberry yoghurt muesli bar as well as half a cup of less sweetened soy drink. Not to mention, the yoghurt bar was a sweet treat indeed and he takes it once in a blue moon. Anyway, I resisted restraining him from this request of eating a bar at breakfast. His face crumpled into disgust after he took a sip of the soy drink halfway into the yoghurt bar.

I asked him, “Doesn’t it taste yucky?” He nodded. I went on to explain why food that was supposed to be great tasting would suddenly turn yucky after a really sweet snack. His eyes widened.

We concluded that perhaps his yoghurt muesli bar may sound like a healthy snack, but was in actual fact too sweet a food item for him, and that he could consider consuming less of it from time to time. After the chit chat, he seemed hesitant to finish up his soy drink. I told him that since he had stopped eating his bar for quite awhile, the soy drink would not taste yucky anymore. Reluctantly, he tried the drink and was surprised that the drink tasted normal now. 😁

2) Replace processed sweet treats or provide snacks that are healthier options. I find this sustainable and also gives alternatives to feed that sweet tooth… 😆 Examples include wolfberries, cranberries, cut fruit (apples, pears), with dressings such as Greek yoghurt and cinnamon to spice it up. These days, we try jam made from fruit as well, with less added sugars and peanut butter, which does not spike blood sugar levels.

Of course these go a long way, and I look forward to seeing my children make more informed decisions as they grow up. What heartens me is that these changes don’t come overnight. When they come, it simply brightens your day to know that they are a step more aware of the implications of eating different types of food.

I have a lot to learn as well, and every time a discovery is made, it helps to apply it so that the knowledge sticks better in memory. ☺️

We don’t necessarily need a health scare, or a diet restriction by the doctor, in order to change our lifestyle. Try that better lifestyle every now and then, where there lies a choice to. You’d be surprise of the benefits that they bring you (and your family).

Cheers to a healthier living!

P/S: My heart skipped a beat when J1 told me to fill his water bottle a little fuller today, before he went to school. His reason?

“Mummy, today my snack in school is a bit more unhealthy. It’s char kuey teow… so I’d like to drink more water with it.” 🤗

No, I do not pity myself

No, I do not pity myself

A fellow Mum who found out my previous vocation rolled her eyes and gave me the most indignant look, and the conversation went:

Her: So when will you be returning back to the workforce?

Me: Oh, I’m not returning back any time soon.

H: Why?! That’s so wasted. It’s so much better that you are earning and the kids can be looked after by someone else.

M: I’m staying home because of my children.

H: Hiya, such a waste. Tell you what, get a helper to do the chores for you, care for your children, and then you can work. Isn’t that a good way to get around things?

M: It’s ok.

H: I know of someone who is like you… in your line of profession as well. She ah, also didn’t want to continue after some years. I don’t understand… she would rather do her own business from scratch. But then again, she’s earning so much now. Maybe you can think about something like that la.

M: We will see about that. How many more years can we be really there for our children? We don’t have that many years, to be honest, and I’ll like to be there for them, for now. As for other plans, we will take it one step at a time.

If that conversation were to take place a few years ago, I might have been upset by the caustic remarks. Today, I was surprised that I wasn’t the least depressed. I spent a day figuring out why and came to the conclusion that I’m proud of being a stay home Mum. It is not a pride that I boast about, that I get to sleep in (hardly the case!), have no deadlines (sure?) and bosses (God oversees and I cannot slack on that) to report to, and run the home in whatever way I want (that would spell disaster). Not that.

My pride stemmed from the fact that I was privileged to be around when the children and Home needed me to be around most, in place of someone else who isn’t the Parent. I recognise that not every mum has the opportunity to stay home, due to different family arrangements, financial situations, priorities and even temperament; these are valid reasons and not by no means to be faulted. Myself included, I try to stay relevant and supplement the family finances on a part time basis from Home, having to start work only after the children have slept.

While it takes a fellow stay home Mum to identify with a typical day of mine, it’s a 24/7 responsibility, with much forward planning to do and little down time for reflection and self improvement. Anything and everything falls under the scope of a stay home Mum. 🤣

Tired and never ending, it seems. Yes. It is a fact, tried and tested, everyday. Ha! Then you must be thinking that I’m insane or living in some form of a false sense of happiness to be a SAHM.

But, since the day I threw in the letter, I’ve never looked back in regret (though I absolutely love what I used to do, and still do) for this decision because of the family and children. They are never a hindrance, never to be sidelined just so that I may accomplish my dreams. And they are so precious that it would be quite impossible to do so.

What makes me happy is seeing the home personally cared for, boys’ needs personally looked into, meals being personally prepared, and having the ease of knowing that it is for the best interests for the family.

Of course finances would be more of a strain than if I had returned to work, and I’d have more opportunities to dress up and look (more) presentable, and have a social life…, the list goes on. However, connecting with the family has become priority, giving quality care is of utmost importance and nurturing the boys to be great men of worthy character is crucial. With all these, I would want to continue to be present in the home while I can, to be the best mum for my boys and the anchor at home to care for the nitty gritty when my Husband is out at work. This is my calling for now and I gladly take it on each day, rain or shine, sick or not. MCs don’t really apply to mums, do they? 😅

So, heck the remarks, and cheers to another fulfilling day tomorrow!

Water challenge!

Water challenge!

My boys have not been drinking much water lately and I’ve been wrecking my brains on how to motivate them. So there came the water challenge… not against each other, but to see if they can hit their daily ‘five half cups’ (700ml) of water, while I hit my daily ‘five full bottles’ (2.5litres) of water.

With each half cup/full cup drunk, we would be awarded 1 smiley sticker on our lids. By the end of the day, we would count the number of stickers on the lids and transfer it to a piece of paper where it is tallied and to be displayed as encouragement to hit our daily intake the following day.

Yes, upkeeping any discipline is tough initially. Hope this will gradually instil the importance of drinking water throughout the day with some element of fun. 😉

What are your methods of encouraging children to drink water?

Milestones are not just for children…

Milestones are not just for children…

Being a SAHM means I might be able to witness more milestones achieved firsthand. This is probably the biggest reward for my extended time at home.

J2 has been with me 24/7 since the day he was born, and having seen the developments and growth stages he has went through so far never fails to amaze me at how much God is working in his life.

Be it major milestones or minor ones, I make it a conscious effort to celebrate them (of J1 and J2) with the rest of the family, and more importantly, to affirm them that they are growing up normally and healthily.

Growing up should never be an embarrassing thing even though in the midst of growing up, there can be awkward moments like bed wetting. But, it is okay, and part and parcel of growing up.

J1 had such an awkward moment yesterday morning and while I was helping him clean up, he reminded me with my very words: Mummy, everyone makes mistakes, don’t we?

I can’t agree more. We are all on a journey to be better people, adults included.

J2 couldn’t settle for the potty today and ‘baked his cake’ on the toilet floor. He knew it wasn’t the right place, so took it upon himself to try to do it correctly tomorrow. For that, I applauded his effort to try, considering that today, he actually ‘baked’ it in the toilet for the first time, instead of letting it happen in his diapers. Milestone achieved anyway!

How about me?

I see myself as work in progress as well. Learning new things almost everyday, intentionally or through trial and error. We are all too human to be saints and perfect people. So we keep trying and we meet our own milestones along life’s journey.

These continue to keep me humble and down to earth.