Sunday, April 1, 2018

Parenting with Love: Educating for the Future World

I never thought that I'd say this but comparatively to many to other mums, it's evident that I will never qualify to be a "tiger mum". To be one, you must have an iron will as well as the tenacity to weather all storms (including rebellions and meltdowns), not to mention pretty deep pockets. :p  I bumped into a mum a few weekends who stopped me in mid tracks to ask about a Netball organisation that Dumpling was with for the last 2 - 3 terms. From that discussion it evolved to many other side topics but all driving towards how I am steering / preparing my child for an elite Secondary school.

It was clear that this mum was at the top of her game and mind you, I must say that I am very impressed as her child is a good couple of years younger than Dumpling, having only started in Primary 1. Honestly, I could not keep up.

I have recently moved on from the Early Childhood industry (after having spent the past 6 years in this industry) where I am now taking back on a team leader position, overseeing a department. (Please stay with me, this is leading to something.) As the role was left vacant for a while, there are "headcounts" to fill. So, over the past few weeks, I have been actively interviewing candidates for 2 positions as well as understanding the dynamics of my new team, and learning more about my various stakeholders and colleagues.

After viewing what feels like a gazillion CVs, it suddenly hit me that my managers and I were hardly looking into the academic achievements of the candidates. Rather, the candidates that caught my eye were those who cited leadership experiences, commitment (e.g. no job hopping), problem solving skills, etc. During the interviews, traits such as a willingness to collaborate, high EQ (I sometimes ask fairly far out questions to see what response I'd elicit), creativity are things that I look out for.




Dumpling is turning 10 this year and it made me rethink ~ is the future world or are future jobs just about grades? Will interviewers be looking into her PSLE and O level scores comes 10 - 12 years time? Or are there other skills which are more important? What are the jobs which are yet to be created, for the future world?



As parents in this meritocratic society, I believe that many of us were brought up with a view on the utter importance of grades. But what is an irony to me is while as a society, many areas such as technology, medical research, etc. have progressed but our education system seems to be stuck in some sort of a time capsule. The relentless chase for grades is still ongoing, evident in the thriving billion dollar tuition industry here in Singapore.

And I must say that some parents start their kids "early" on these. Dumpling had an interesting encounter with a classmate last year where they had to construct a boat individually but work as a group to present and share their thoughts, findings and rationale for the choice of materials for their boat. Dumpling was in charge of collating the slides and was repeatedly "chasing" for the slides from a classmate. After 2 - 3 weeks (nearing the deadline), the girl shared that her parent does not allow for her to email or share her slides with anyone prior the presentation. Frankly, I was mind-blown. 😐

Collaboration, problem solving skills, conflict management and the ability to lead, to me, are skills which I'd like for Dumpling to hone as they are key to her working well with her colleagues and team mates, no matter where she goes. After all, no one has all the knowledge in the world. And if anything, always choose to be kind. The world is not just about grades, and certainly not just about possessing this tunnel vision of being so "me-centric" and causing much inconvenience where, in this instance, the form teacher had to insert the students' (lone -ranger) slides into the group deck so no one else could see them prior.

I still recall my brother purchasing his first computer (286!!!) from years ago and that the shop assistants were playing computer games when we got there. I recall that "gaming" was being frowned on then, by the older folks as it was not really "a job". Just take a look at our children now. Many parents are signing them for robotics and coding classes, and even MOE has released a statement to share that all primary schools are to set up an applied learning programme by 2023. So who's to say what future jobs will be created in 10 - 15 years down the road?

So are grades, then, truly enough? Or are we, as parents of this next generation, missing out something that's beyond the academics.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Mortality

“Mama, you will be fine right? All you have to do is to take medication which the doctor prescribed and you will be fine right?” Dumpling asked with tears streaming down her face. My heart shattered as I held on to that very fine thread of sanity for strength.

Please allow me to “rewind” back to the start of the year for January was a really challenging month for me.

My helper had to leave very urgently on compassionate leave and because everything happened so fast, I had no turnaround time to look and arrange for a part time cleaner. As I had very few days of leave left transitioning into a new job, I had to juggle work + scheduling for the pick-up of Dumpling + working out her food schedule as she was staying back in school from Wed – Friday weekly. Add laundry, medicating the dog, cooking / washing of dishes + mopping, supporting the kiddo with her homework; you can tell how packed each day was over the course of those weeks. 

Along the way, I went for what I thought was a “regular” Pap Smear test. “Regular” because the last round was almost 5 years go. Yup yup, before you diss me, this was what happened. My gynae appointments are usually made way in advance (like months ahead) because his schedule is really packed. What happened was I totally forgotten about it and I got busy with the everyday "busy-ness" and mum duties and then it dragged on and on until very strangely, I had this sudden and persistent “urge” to head for the test. So I booked myself one and a week after doing the test, the nurse called me up and said “Alicia, your test came back with inflammation with Parakeratiotic cells seen. Doctor Ong would like to see you tomorrow.”

I was totally taken aback “Para what?” I asked. “What does this mean?” And of course, she couldn’t answer further and the next day, I met up with the doctor to explain to me that basically because there’s inflammation in the cervix, the cells sort of build up as they layered and layered over, almost like a self defense mechanism to deal with the inflammation. BUT here’s the thing, HPV also causes inflammation and for some kinds, they are so called the high-risk (types 16 & 18) lead to the majority of cancer and get this, cervical cancer is most commonly linked to HPV.   

So I went for a further test / scope and the waiting game started. It was a week of yoyo moods for me. I hadn’t intended to tell Dumpling anything but she knew that I went for my regular check up as I had picked her up from school that late afternoon and so, she was really intuitive as to why I needed to go back for the second time. Sigh… Hence the water works started.



I’ve always been iffy about the mortality discussion. When suddenly thrusted into this situation where I may be at high risk for cervical cancer, my first thoughts were “Oh dear. What’s gonna happen to the kiddo? How am I gonna break the news to my parents, who will be utterly devastated?” I started tearing in the car, texted some close friends & colleagues and called my bro who unfortunately was away on business travel.

Over the course of the week (where my helper was still away), I tried very hard not to think about it but honestly, that’s akin to ignoring a time bomb ticking away in your head. I posted up a status on FB asking for prayers and many replied back / PM / What’s App me.

And for that, I am utterly thankful ~ mummy friends helped me to pick Dumpling up from school, close friends prayed for me daily and continued to encourage me and some met me for lunch to cheer me up. I was reminded to be still, and to trust in God. Dumpling and I prayed together and amazingly, she kept assuring me that I will be alright. As for me, I basically passed the driver's seat to God. I told Him that my life was never mine in the first place so I am good if He wishes to take me with him. But if possible, I'd like to be able to parent and witness the kiddo grow up and to spend more time with my parents and loved ones. 

I am glad to share that I am tested negative for HPV (Thank you Lord!) and I am on a course of medication for bacteria where I have to repeat my tests again in 3 months time so it will be another waiting game. :( 

Having gone through this crazy scare, I was encouraged by my gynae to go for a HPV vaccine which I will be doing so. A girl friend incidentally texted me last evening to check on me (thanks June!) and I will share with you all the same thing that I shared with her then. 

I am also not a big fan of any vaccines but this episode has made me really glad that I’d still have that option to choose. If you were to be tested negative for it and the vaccine can provide some degree of coverage for HPV, then why not? 

To quote a read on a website:

"Cervical cancer: Virtually all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV, and just two HPV types, 16 and 18, are responsible for about 70% of all cases (7, 8). Anal cancer: About 95% of anal cancers are caused by HPV." 

So, have a think about it, my mummy readers and friends. Let's take some time for self care so that we can continue for a longer period and go a farther distance. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Parenting with Love: Developing Good Habits

My post is a tad late I know, as most of my friends posted their “Goodbye 2017” post end of last year. While I slowed down towards the end of the year (especially with a small accident) and reflected internally, I did not really have the time nor was I in the right frame of mind to sit and type it all down.

On the parenting front, one of the hardest challenges I faced last year was parenting a “tween”. I did not experience any terrible 2s with Dumpling so I was totally unprepared for the struggles we had last year. Then I went on to google and realize that 9 is the start of TWEENAGE. Yup, welcome to this urban term where it is defined as girl aged about 9-14...too old for toys, but too young for boys (thank God!)

One of the key areas which I would like for her to work on is to develop good habits for this year. As a FTWM, time is something which I lack and with her in Primary 4 this year, I’d like for her to take on more ownership of her work and responsibilities. Add to the fact that I am a Type A, I need things to be planned out properly and way in advance because of the big E word – Efficiency. With a helper to the equation, I realise that Dumpling hasn’t quite been given the chances to plan and manage deadlines on her own. This has resulted in many nagging sessions from me which sometimes lead to intense frustration on my end.

For this year, her schedule seems to be getting crazier primarily because of supplementary classes - the kiddo will be staying on in school for E2K twice a week (will blog about this once she starts and when we have a better understanding of the programme). Added to the fact that she has to also stay on for CCA, I am really worried about her ability to finish her school homework on time and have a little down time to herself.

So with the imminent tight schedule, I took the opportunity to talk to her about setting goals and creating an agreement. I hope that I do not have to nag too much.

So yes, for 2018, my focus is to for her to develop good habits because I believe with good habits,  everything else will follow. And these are what we agreed to:

1. Be responsible for her homework. Namely:
  • No devices from 330 to 5pm until school homework is cleared (on days where she does not have to stay back in school)
  • Complete school homework on supplementary days after taking an hour break upon reaching home

2. Keeping to the scheduled time slots to complete the individual items then personal time

3. Practising violin daily (even if it is just 20-30 mins)

4. Understand deadlines – e.g. be in room by a certain time

5. Praying before bed



As for me, here’s my focus for the year

1. To set aside me-time: my weekly Yoga and to continue with my self-care skin care regime (Mary Kay!)

2. To guide the kiddo in planning her schedule though it is much quicker for me to do it!

3. To be more prayerful and continue to have positive thoughts  

EDIT: Here's a simple goal setting file which I created for Dumpling so that she can list out her top 3 goals where we can pin it up and we can both view daily. It also includes a simple sheet where you can track your progress some weeks (determined by you and your child) down the road. I hope that it is useful for you guys!

Goal setting printable for children

Do you do goal setting with your child? How do you do it? Has it proven to be successful? I intend to review this a month down the road so wish me luck all! 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Review: The Sound of Music

Five days after watching one of the world's most famous musicals "The Sound of Music", the songs are ringing in my ears, and in good way. The Marina Bay Sands Theatre was indeed buzzing with the sound of music last Thursday, where Dumpling and I attended the Gala Night. Melodious songs filled the air over the 2+ hours stellar performance which had Dumpling and I singing and tapping along with the singers.


The Sound of Music was an all time favorite when I was a little girl – especially since I play the organ and we had to learn solfege so the musical’s theme song resonated well with me.  When I became a mum, I was very intentional in sharing the many classic movies which I enjoyed with Dumpling and The Sound of Music, is one such treasure.

The Sound of Music is a production inspired by a true story: The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. In this broadway musical, it centers on Maria Rainer, a-nun-in-training, and a widowed Captain von Trapp, with seven children. The story takes place preceding WWII where the underlying tension between the Germans and Austrians was felt in the production.

That evening was the second time catching the musical for Dumpling and myself, and it amazed us no less. Carmen Pretorius, who acted as Liesl in the last production when it staged here in 2014 now returns as Maria. Frankly, at the start, I thought that she has large shoes to fill but her delivery was on point throughout the whole show; she did not even look like she broke a sweat as she hit those high notes with such clarity. :p

Pretorius was believable as the young and carefree Maria (employed as a governess) who looked like she’s one who’d scrapped knees, climbed trees and sang freely on mountains yet in the same breath, was mature and brave enough to stand up to the regimented Captain von Trapp who runs his household military style.  


The story's main theme is notably on love. Not just the love story which blossomed slowly between the Captain and Maria but also the motherly love that Mother Abbess had for Maria, and the sisterly love between the nuns. From the start of the show, it was clear that Maria somewhat stuck out like a sore thumb in her study to be a nun where she was always breaking rules. However, Mother Abbess was patient and kind and saw more in Maria than Maria ever saw in herself. 

The exchanges between Maria, the nuns and Mother Abbess treated us to the lovely prowess of the performers' vocals. The show started with "Maria" where the nuns harmonized beautifully. Mother Abbess was also exceptional and stole the show in her solo rendition of "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" where the theatre rang with her high notes. 


The von Trapp children were absolutely adorable (with local cast members too!). Dumpling and I actually had a "double" treat because we were seated directly behind some of the children cast members whom I noted, could not help but hummed along during some songs. :)

The little star of the show (both in the 2014 and this production) was Gretl who had the crowd eating out of her little hands with her performance of "So long, Farewell". Brigitta also brought many moments of laughter with her precocious personality and (sometimes too) honest views. Friedrich was well casted as the gangly teenager. The audience around me were clearly engrossed as many (including Dumpling and myself) sung and hummed along with the famous "Do-Re-Mi".

With such strong performance from the cast, it would be easy for Captain von Trapp to be overshadowed. Instead, he held his own with his duet with the Baroness (How can Love Survive) and the ever famous "Edelweiss" as he bade farewell to Austria.


Because this is a love story which took place with an impending war, there were discussions of it between Captain von Trapp, Baroness Schrader (the captain's original love interest) and Max Detweiler (the captain's friend). The captain's political views towards the Germans were all too obvious and this created much tension between him and the officers where he was forced to flee from Austria and the audience was once again treated to "Climb Ev'ry Mountain", ending the show on a crescendo. 

As this is sung "live", it would not be realistic to expect the same plot development as the movie because of time limitation. The whole background of the war may be lost on younger children but I'd say that the songs and sets will more than enthrall them. A musical that is great for the family; highly recommended! 

:: PERFORMANCE TIMES:                
Tuesday to Friday:           7:30pm
Saturday:                          2:00pm and 7:30pm
Sunday:                            1:00pm and 6:00pm

:: TICKET PRICE:                                   
From $65*
* Excludes the booking fee of SGD$4 per ticket


:: BOOKINGS:
INTERNET:  www.MarinaBaySands.com/ticketing or https://www.sistic.com.sg/events/sound1217
PHONE:   +65 6688 8826
IN PERSON AT:
Marina Bay Sands Box Offices (Museum, Theatres, SkyPark, Retail Mall and Hotel Tower 1 Lobby).For more information please log onto - www.MarinaBaySands.com

Disclaimer: Dumpling and I were invited to the Gala Night so that we can share our experience on it. All views expressed are entirely mine and does not represent the organisation that I work for.

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Gogoprint - Your "Go-to" digital printer for personalised printing!

Amongst my own circle of friends and contacts, I have noted that increasingly, we are getting more entrepreneurial as many are dabbling into small businesses. With that, having ready simple collateral such as business cards, tags, and even brochures are important in communicating the services and products we carry.

I, for one, definitely should look into the printing ofbusiness cards for my blog, something that I have put on hold for the longest time. But with the kiddo’s party, that’s another story altogether. I find planning for her parties easy as they are usually theme bases are you can read more about a “Frozen” party here and a “How to train your dragon” art jamming party here.

I have been doing self design for the invitation cards as well as gift tags etc, for the last few years where I print them at a digital printer in Bras Basah. But this year, I decided to try out Gogoprint's online service as it even provides door-to-door delivery! 


Gogoprint is a leading online printing marketing and technology firm, which has the distinct vision to make ordering printing products easy and cost-effective, thereby helping small- and medium-sized businesses to market their businesses and to grow. From popular promotional materials such as flyers, brochures and folders, to business cards and digital booklets, choices are aplenty. So this year, I decided to try out Gogoprint where everything is done online, with just a few clicks!

Gogoprint’s products are listed on the mainpage where at one glance you can click and enter into the dedicated product page where you can then specify your requirements by choosing:
  • Size
  • Materials
  • Finishing
  • Quantity, etc

In the case of our gift tags, we can even opt for the position for them to punch the hole for us to loop in the strings!

As Dumpling’s birthday theme this year is on Star Wars, we decided to print a booklet in addition to some gift tags and sticks using similar artwork like what we did for her e-invitation.

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The party booklet which turned out gorgeous. The print was crisp and the matt lamination looked really great with the black!

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Check out our stickers and thank you gift tags! We could print round shaped stickers with Gogoprint! Something that I couldn't do with my previous printer! 

Best of all, the order was done in just 3 steps! 

Here’s a walk through of how simple it was to order:

:: Step 1: Choose my options

So this is where I get to customise on materials, size, finishing (glossy or matt) and the number of pages for my booklet. What was useful for me was the short description for the under “materials” which helps me make better choices on the type of materials to choose.



:: Step 2: Choose Quantity and Delivery Speed

 The website shows very clearly the various price range for different quantity and different delivery dates. For my 8 pp booklet, I noticed that the incremental difference for non urgent orders is only about $1+ per booklet!  



 :: Step 3: Upload File
And just like that, I was brought to the next section to upload my file (free for pdf files). (For my artwork, I used both powerpoint as well as Canva to create them.) 

And once the file is uploaded, I was then prompted to checkout where I can make my payment via credit card. 

 


:: What about delivery?

The delivery was prompt as per the date indicated in my cart and the booklets were gorgeous! The printing was crisp and sharp and the paper, as per what my order was (I opted for a thick paper for the cover). Check them out! 



Disclaimer: This is a sponsored conversation where Dumpling and I were invited to review the Gogoprint's digital printing service so that we can share our experience on it. All views expressed are entirely mine and does not represent the organisation that I work for.

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 
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