Monday, 23 March 2015

A legend

I thought it was time for the Monday morning routine,
I woke up strangely, but not yet
I went back to bed.
I probably know by now, why that jerk from sleep.

I drove my kids to school,
It seemed like an unusual morning drive.
Perhaps, because of different sound from the radio.
It was radio silence. 
A respect and mourn for a noble man.
I was teary, but I knew you've led a glorious life.

A mind of yours is not an easy come by, 
and you were called to be this one history maker.
You had foresight and hindsight,
but we knew, you too, ain't perfect.
You never wanted a decision to hurt your country mates.  
 A founding father indeed. 

A better place and future was your vision.
While we shouldn't be complacent, 
It seemed we're almost there. 
You may rest in peace.

We hold on dear to those you've built and solidified, 
We're blessed to reap the fruits of your labour. 
You first gave us stability, just so we could build a family in peace.

In years and generations to come, your story will be told.
Courage, leadership and perseverance,
You will always be remembered.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Nostalgic dragon playgrounds

It's most often that we start to miss and treasure places only when we hear of them being on the verge of vanishing. We had always wanted to visit some of the still existing heritage playgrounds and had recently got it checked off our list. In view of SG50, A juggling mum had initiated a blog series of heritage playground among fellow Mummy bloggers. I am very excited to share our contribution on this.

If you lived as a kid in the 80s, Heritage playgrounds might be looking very familiar to you. Specially the dragon playgrounds that are now iconic to most Singaporeans. Not many left, but we've recently set foot in the baby dragon playground at Toa Payoh.

This friendly baby dragon, not standing it's full size is now co-existing with a new generation playground just next to it. Looking like a play battle of the now and the older generation kids, I've to say they didn't really blend well standing side by side. It's perhaps true when we say there's a big gap missing between generations. Don't get mad if our kids don't understand us. We might not quite know them well too. After all, we've been on different playgrounds.

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Love the nostalgic effect my man took with this

This orange baby dragon playground that's being densely surrounded by built up flats, seemed rather abandoned on the weekday evening we visited. There were fallen leaves all over the vintage steps and slides. You can see them on the rubber flooring too. Nonetheless, we swept them off the dragon to have some play on it. We were surprised that this friendly dragon first appealed to Js instead of the modern structure next to it. I chuckled at their refreshing choice of play.

They had fun simply by climbing to the top of the mini dragon and wading down the gentle winding slide. Just like this, they knew it was something different from their usual playground. Yeap, that's the type of playground your mama and papa went on in the past.

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Looking majestic with mini dragon

We didn't stay too long, had some pictures and play with it then left. Honestly, fun factor wasn't that great on the baby dragon. Since we were in the vicinity of the iconic full bodied dragon, also in Toa Payoh, we knew visiting it was a must for a higher fun factor. It wow-ed the kids! Dragons are always impressive huh. Something of the past may be nostalgic to us, but definitely new looking to the kids of now. Needless to say, this was where they spent most time getting adventurous with.

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Great fun he had!

 photo 1f57424d-1aef-4671-ab14-81169192152f_zpscz5rjmuy.jpg
Dragon playgound

The blocks of flats that guarded around it had been demolished. This tough standing playground is mostly likely to stay. Standing alone, it really is looking more majestic than before. 

As a parent of today, I wondered how did we, kids of the past adventured on these playgrounds. I went on the steps and found them really steep, went on the dragon's body and found myself struggling with height phobia. I couldn't imagine my man telling me he jumped off from the highest point when he was playing catching with his friends. Oh my! Significant difference between the playing journey of the past and present. It looks like we aren't giving our kids of now enough room for adventure. Still, where adventure is, safety must be present. I guess that must be one of the reason why these playgrounds are being phased out.

Oh well, there are more playgrounds of yesteryears awaiting our discovery. Some may have vanished and some are staying strong. Treasure the past and present, while they last.

Mini dragon playground
in front of Block 240 Toa Payoh Lorong 1
In front of Block 240 Toa Payoh, Lorong 1

Full bodied dragon playground
Toa Payoh Lorong 6
Toa Payoh Lorong 6
Near Blk 29 Toa Payoh, Lorong 5

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Media literacy - Let's be kind!

Have you recently watched an interesting commercial on the TV that promotes media literacy, about how negative comments can pull one down and affect the mood of a person? It was a commercial about a happy lady holding onto a huge heart, and it started to shrink as she met negative comments along her travel journey. So yeap, let's guard everyone's heart by sharing on the Internet wisely. Create a better Internet together for better media literacy.

In midst of going through a tough time with our respectable forefather, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, I am dishearten to see and read about hoaxes and negative comments some people blatantly made. What profit do they gain from this? I'm even more curious about what they are angry at. I count my blessings to be under his leadership.

I'm glad to see on my Facebook feeds, the positive voices of our citizens. Lets dump out the negatives and uplift the mood with positives. I've asked my Facebook friends if I could share their kind and encouraging thoughts on my blog and they agreed instantly. Thank you! And here goes:

"it saddens me to see this... and the nasty comments that follows made it worse.
we are where we are today because of the leadership. I wouldn't say it's always good - no policies in the world is perfect because there's always 2-sides to a coin.
he and his party had been doing a good job to keep, well, the nation moving forward. and because of that, our words hold some weight globally.
to the haters, it's all politics. he may be ruthless in his methods but don't make him sound that bad. I'm sure you will do the same if you were him back in the days. trust me... you are not that noble."
Eric Lim

"Its saddening to see many people writing unpleasantary stuff about legend off without getting any official news or.I have seen him in many of the grassroots events and by far he is one man who i can define - visionary with class.By right,he is the real messiah in why we are living through the good jubilee years of Singapore.He is the Mr SG50.Even though,Singapore is a very expensive country to live in but its because of your vision and ambitions sir,we are all proud to call ourselves Singaporean.Thank You."
Naresh Jaiswal 

"LKY. An amazing man, super privileged to be alive during his lifetime. Hope good health be restored to him and that he be around to be a part of our Jubilee celebration"
Delia Bay 

"LKY. People with nothing nice to say ought to just keep their mouths shut. The old man is about to pass on. The last thing his family needs is nasty words from the public.
Yes you may hate him for his harsh ways of leading. Yes you may hate him for many other reasons. However, look around you. If not for him and his team, would Singapore be where we are now? Yes it may have gone beyond highly developing to being painfully expensive but you can't deny that he has his contributions to Singapore.
Keep your harsh words to yourself."
Cynthia Lim (The Baking Biatch)

"Prayers for the man who I used to complain so much about, and then realized I had taken my country for granted, after being away for long.
And who he is for me now, is an inpiring, dedicated person, committed to his country.
You know when you start having haters, you have definitely made a difference in most people's lives.
Yes, I am a minority, and it may occur for my community that he is to be blamed that we are so-called 'second class'.
But I invite you, for one second, to be the cause of your own lives. and even if the conspiracy theory is true, so what? You can choose to be a victim, or a victor. Its your life, you CAN have anything you want.
I want to remember him as the person who generously created a safe and thriving space for me when I was growing up.
Thank you, SM Lee."

Shahila Brandt 

"So much has been said about his leadership, his pioneering spirit, his courage to tackle the hard issues, and I am so very glad for that. It gives people in my generation and after us a greater appreciation of the man who brought Singapore to be where it is today.
I can't help but think of my grandma, and countless others in our oldest generation, who have grown up under his leadership, and now wait with heavy hearts. I can't help but wonder how his children feel, caught as they are in the limelight amidst such family sorrow. I can't help but wonder about the struggles left unsaid and misunderstood.
"Each heart knows its own bitterness,
and no one else can share its joy." - Proverbs 14:10
Praying for you, dear MM Lee."
Dorothea Xu (A pancake princess)

"Along with the rest of the nation, we are heavy-hearted and saying a prayer for the founding father of our nation and his family. Our humble nation will not be where we are if not for your foresight and perseverance to prove the naysayers wrong. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you."
Susann Koh (A juggling Mum)

I stand and share the same voices of my friends. Thank you ordinary people, for making a better Internet in your own way! Let's all learn to be smart and kind online as we await and pray. I too, say my heartfelt thanks to Mr Lee Kuan Yew for bringing our nation this far. Small as we are, there's much power within. It's not who we are without you. I will raise my kids to be a generation of grateful and thankful people.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Academic enrichment for Trend or Need? defines peer pressure as, social pressure by members of one's peer group to take a certain action, adopt certain values, or otherwise conform in order to be accepted.

My definition, it's everywhere! Conformity to get hooked and cooked up under pressure is a decision, isn't it? Over the years, academic centres are seen sprouting almost everywhere. Even in the most isolated corner of our island. It's good evidence that enrichment demand and supply are in prosperity. It really is looking like a national parenting obsession now.

Js don't do additional academics classes out of home and school, while the social circle around us have their kids, almost all embarked on various academic programs, 'strawBerries', 'Tian shang' 'Learning Lap' 'Mind straighter' and the you name it centres. We decided not to be succumbed by pressure. I've to confess, it wasn't easy to self convince that it's alright to be playing monopoly junior, scoot, ride or play in the hours of their free time.

Many told me it wasn't a choice, it's survival. Oh well, we do know choices fall in the power of our mind and hands. I get a tad concern if our little ones have choices too. Do we pay some attention to their desires and needs, which could simply be the need for more sleep or play.

If you ask, was I ever concerned or worried? I say, Yes! It's a rat race we're in after all, can't beat them, join them. That's the impulsive thought I had on many occasions, and was at different point of time spurred to sign them up for Chinese, Math and English enrichment classes. It helped manage things better when the man rejigged and calmed my thoughts. Okay I said, let's focus on discovering talents then. Talents that can be advantageously nurtured from young. I had Jazz embarked on piano and both Js are on swimming.

I share my views on why we don't do academic enrichment:

1. It boils down to expectation. I guess we are calm to accept if they don't write or read English and Chinese as fluently as the elites or enrichment going kids. The  formal education begins in Primary 1, I'm sure schools' syllabus has been well organized for every child's pace. Hopping into primary school, I don't think we'll have any big expectations of them getting to the cream of the crop. Being average is our expectation, moving beyond average will be a bonus to us. So yeap, manage expectations. 

2. It really is alright to hold the fear of having our child left behind, because I fear too. In my parenting realm, if they don't make it academically outstanding in life, they should however, not fail in values and character. That will then be my biggest parenting failure. I mean, whether or not God bestowed extraordinarily ingenious children to us, we'll still work our best and love them for what they are.

3. The big question - Are we doing this because we, parents fear failure much more than our kids? It's reasonable because some failures are irreversible. We know what's best for them when they don't seem to know. In midst of counter fighting fears, we can teach the responsibilities of being a student, the commitment to learning and the methods of conquering subject fears. It trains a child not to have too much reliance on the additional enrichment classes.

4. Now we say, our kids don't speak Mandarin at home. I firmly believe all preschools are bilingual. The amount of time spent learning and speaking mandarin in school seems well sufficient than the weekly 1 or 2 hours of enriched mandarin session elsewhere. I believe lessons in schools are as fun as anywhere else.

5. When they do school full day, I do get a little worried about the everyday structured learning in school. We know kids lead and learn best in unstructured environment. It's feels overwhelm to be embarking on additional series of structured learning out of school hours.

6. Over the past few months, we've been school hunting for Js, I was impressed by the academics coverage some schools offered, which left me pondering on why parents are still doing additional enrichment. Trust is a two way traffic, we need to trust the school we've chosen. 

7. Now that both kids are in full day school, it means enrichment classes will spill over to precious weekends. We love keeping weekends relaxed and spaced out. The only weekend class we're doing now is swimming. Jazz's piano session is on a Tuesday evening. It feels good having a full day freed for any family activity filler. 

8. Jazz is 5 and Jare is 4. I don't see the need to burden or overwhelm them with enrichment classes. Would really love to watch them play and enjoy childhood more often now than later. More play would probably aid ideas for interesting composition write ups.

9. We aren't talking about quantum physics, relativity or thermodynamics. I think I can still handle the teachings within our household. No time is quite an excuse. The journey of sending our child to and fro a class is good enough for a quality 1 - 1 lesson with Mummy or Daddy. Though I understand the challenge of teaching our own child, but the best thing about being our child's private tutor isn't just knowing about their progression, it allows us to know our child better. His cognitive and creativity skills, as well as interesting discoveries to his character and learning style.

10. It makes more sense to outsource their swimming, piano and creativity classes, which are those that we can't handle or teach at home. Some of which are better in group learning. So yeap, those that we can't teach, we outsource.

11. Enrichment is not trend where you get followers because you look good in it. It really is a personal choice and style catered to the character and progression of every unique child. What looks good on others may not look good on me. It's essential to identify the learning style of our child - the auditory, visual or kinesthetic learners. It all begins with us being involved in their learning journey and style.

12. For now, we are being prudent about the non-necessities. Enrichment isn't what they need now. The linkage between richness and success seem to light a glow. The richly provided family has it all for their kids, the mediocre or low earning family has its lacks. I will say richness is in love.

Oh well I'm only a mum of preschoolers. I've no foresight of the moving forward and whether or not, I will embark them in academic classes. For now, I can only say I might if they request for it. If not, cultivating the habit of active learning and self revision is always the best discipline. Instilling the attitude of being hungry for knowledge is a always a good trait to adopt.

While I understand every family has its story, this is my story. I fully comprehend the decisions every parent take to mould their children all for the better and smarter. I love you all too! It is however, important not to lose track of the necessities of enrichment classes. The purpose for need or trend? Peer pressure is not a benchmark. There's just this amount of after school hours a kid has, let's fill them wisely.

Not doing enrichment is definitely Not deprived learning, because learning is everywhere. Not doing enrichment is Not a weak or shaky foundation, because we being the 'workers' make sure we cement it really well with our mighty own effort. So everything begins from home. 

To my comrades sailing the same boat as me, I know it isn't an easy decision to get off this trend. Have faith in our decision and kids! Whatever decision made, I'm confident that every parent has the best interests for their child. 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Goldilocks and the Three Bears (金发姑娘和三只熊) - Checked!

Goldilocks and the three bears (金发姑娘和三只熊) is a timeless classic play that we should not miss! Much more when it's a mandarin play. If your kids need to skip a session of Chinese tuition just for this, you will agree it's worth it and probably a better and more fun way to loving and learning the language.

As always, we are great lovers of any The Little company (Division of Singapore Repertory Theatre) productions, especially the mandarin ones. Watching English plays are very common, but good Mandarin plays for kids aren't an often come by. The SRT's productions we've watched this far never fail to impress us. Here are the various reasons why we love SRT's productions:
  • They were never cheesy or lacking. We love every part of their stage, from their head to toes costumes and to every single prop. There's effort in every crafted piece.
  • Their songs and lyrics are very catchy. Those that will still run in your mind for a few days, even after leaving the theatre.
  • And of course, the very entertaining and professional talents that brought us right into the story.
  • The Little Company is always producing quality plays for little children who deserves the equivalent amount of professionalism. 

Photo credit: SRT

I would usually pre-empt the kids about what we'll be doing or watching for the week. Somehow, I've no idea why I missed out telling them that the Goldilocks we're watching will be played in Mandarin. When the stage curtains unveiled, Jare turned to Daddy, and Jazz turned to me and asked, "Why is it in Mandarin?" I had in my mind, "why not?!!" But well, it's good evidence that we're not having enough dosage of Mandarin plays.

The story was brought through in an interactive manner without much spin off from the classic. On a trip into the forest, Goldilocks ventured into a seemingly uninhabited house. In the process of making herself home, she turned the place into a terrible mess. Little did she know that the house belonged to a family of three bears who were out walking while waiting for their porridge to cool. You can already imagine the commotion they had, when these bears met a little human in their habitat.

Photo credit: SRT
The story continued with a chapter about deforestation to make way for new roads, which got the bears worried about their home being demolished. But having made friend with Goldilocks, all was made well and preserved. It taught us to be kind and receptive to someone even if we're of a different breed.

A very good show overall. Extremely interesting to be watching this familiar tale in Mandarin. Where they would use and correct words like 熊爸爸 and 熊宝宝, and then differentiating that it should not be pronounced as 凶吧吧 and 熊爸爸, which sounds quite alike when mispronounced. So yeap, we should not mispronounce to get misinterpreted. Mandarin is a beautiful language.

Other than learning not to fiddle with the belongings of other, we've all learned much more from this version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Don't miss it! One of the winner we picked from our giveaway had actually emailed me that they enjoyed the show very much too. Lovely gesture.

Get your tickets from sistic. Or if you plan to catch the upcoming shows by SRT, you may get the season pass for a more valued deal of 20% discount.

Show Dates and Time:
11 to 29 March 2015
Mon to Fri: 10am
Sat and Sun: 11am and 2pm

Approximately 50 minutes

DBS Arts Centre - Home of SRT
20 Merbau Road,
Singapore 239035.

Disclaimer: We were given the opportunity to watch this production for the purpose of this review. All opinions and photos are solely ours.