Category Archives: family

Nothing says it better than your kid

I tried this “how well do you know mom” interview with B, and his honest and hilarious answers melted my heart today.

My mommy’s name is Mei
She is 19 years old
Mom and I like to paint and play
Mom likes to say I love you
My mom really loves me
She likes to eat ice kacang
She likes to drink tea
My mom’s job is to help me
If she had time, she would like to play with me
Mom is really good at typing
If I could go anywhere in the world with her, we would take roller coasters in Japan
I love my mom because she loves me

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I also had a flashback to the past when us CRIB founders were interviewed for a Mother’s Day feature last year. Here’s the coverage 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms – you are indispensable super women!  And for those trying to conceive and/or moms to be, take care of yourselves, and while we trust and hope for a future to come, don’t neglect to live fully in the now.  Hugs.

For updates, reviews and more, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram.

Conversations at four

Four years old.  These precious moments with B remind me how he’s growing up. Though mama has less time for him, he finds every opportunity to catch up together, to the point of “moving in” at night and talking a LOT about his “day” (which could mix a few days up) when he didn’t use to before 🙂

B got off his chair and ran over when he saw me return from work:
B: Mama! Hug 20 times! (We totally did). Missed you, mama
M: I missed you too, B.  Mama’s not feeling too well unfortunately….
B: Wait, I get you something (Runs off, returns with the thermometer). Here, let’s check
M: Thanks B, so thoughtful. Pray that mama recovers over the weekend, OK?
B: OK. I pray that the germs go away. Mama gets well soon and we can play.

After dinner, we make time for music (violin, sometimes piano), read (alternating between Chinese and English), then wind down for bed. Just when I’m snuggling down in my room, B comes inside, bearing another book, his pillow, blankie, soft toys…
B: Mama, see I brought all my things over. I’m sleeping with you tonight!
M: You know, B, you’ve been sleeping on your own since you were one. Don’t you like your own room?  Where’s daddy going to sleep?
B: I like my room but I want to sleep together mama. Maybe until I’m 20 years old (!) (Heads out to find daddy).
B: Daddy, you sleep in my room, ok?  I’ll leave the door open for you

At the end, he talks about “his day” while we lie in bed in the dark:
B: The other day at school, N and I came early. We ate something and then biked around. N told me I was going the wrong way. But I was right, he was wrong, and we banged each other.
M: Oh no! Did any of you get hurt?
B: No. Wait, maybe. N fell off a bit and cried.
M: Was he OK? Did you say sorry?
B: Maybe.
M: Maybe?
B: Well, I said sorry when we banged. And then he stopped crying and asked me to say sorry again, but I didn’t because I alrady said sorry. Then we played some more.
M: Hmm… It’s good you apologized. Please be careful the next time! (Note to self: Check with N’s mom and teachers). How was lunch?
B: Good. We had pasta. With chicken rice.
M: Pasta and chicken rice? Are you sure?
B: Errm we had pasta, peas, carrots, corn.  I like corn. Also, some chicken. I ate all my food.
M: That’s good! Did you eat fast like we’ve been talking about?
B: I ate faster than J! I said “Hurry up, eat faster!” But J doesn’t like corn. So he ate slowly.
M: Besides J, who ate with you?
B: (Tells me who sat exactly where and in which table)
…..
B: Mama, mama! I’m still talking. Are you listening?
M: I’m listening, but I’m quite tired too.  Talk more tomorrow, B? Love you, good night.
B: Love you. Good night, mama.  (Starts humming while I fall asleep)

For more updates, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram.

Joy. Peace. Hope. Love.

My annual leave starts this week. I look forward to disconnect (as much as I can!) from the day-to-day hecticness, and reconnect with who and what matters the most to me.

“LOVE makes our friends a little dearer, 
JOY makes our hearts a little lighter, 
FAITH makes our path a little clearer, 
HOPE makes our lives a little brighter, 
PEACE brings us all a little nearer.”  

JOY: While passing through US airport immigration last week, I flashed a smile to the duty officer, relieved to be done with my 15+ hour flight. I was taken aback when he aggressively challenged me “Why did I smile? Was I not taking him seriously? I can decide to let you in this country, or not!” How do we remain joyful in a world filled with suspicion, superficiality and self-centredness?  B may be little, but he is one of my biggest sources of joy as he reminds me to keep a cheerful disposition, and don’t let negative moments or thoughts ruin your day.  Christmas is a time to make spirits bright, to laugh and sing, just like this song says!

PEACE: As I spend more time than ever with my parents in their golden years, I’ve been reflecting on the peace of mind that only family and community can offer, and also the inner peace that comes when you care for and center yourself.  It could be as simple as sneaking in some self-reflection, reading a devotional like this or this, expressing gratitude and praying each day.  For busy bees like myself,  Christmas is a time to place the important ahead of the urgent for a change.  Let’s look in, up and outwards – and gain perspective and a measure of peace as we do that.

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A family that holidays together, stays together
Developing peace of mind by staying mentally and physically fit

HOPE: Harsh words, unexpected news, broken promises, lack of trust from others or self-confidence are difficult issues to deal with. In those moments, I’m encouraged by how my siblings stand by each other through life’s ups and downs.  Two weeks back, I placed a tearful call to my sis after a particularly rough day, and she gave me exactly what I needed – a listening ear and affirmation.  We pay her a visit when things come up, and don’t let her be overwhelmed alone.  I also look forward to catch up with my brother and his family everytime I’m in the US for work. For me, Christmas is a time to cultivate those relationships and build a faith that give us assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of things not seen.

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Bonding over design and engineering 🙂
Aunty and her pumpkin 🙂

LOVE: I’ve been tugged in many directions by my various commitments this year, and often felt that I’m running on empty with no reserves left to give. As we prepare our hearts and our homes for Christmas, I’m thankful for the man who walks beside me in this journey of love. It’s not been easy, as we are both so imperfect. I appreciate his support to let me refuel on me-time and the things I’m passionate about – causes, family, good friends and new discoveries.

Christmas playdate
Christmas playdate
No, mama isn't kissing Santa Claus
Sorry Santa, mama ain’t kissing you

Wherever you are this season, here’s wishing you a blessed Christmas filled with joy, peace, hope and love. Do share with us how you’re celebrating this season and holidays too as we continue this blog train on:

PrayerFull Mum

Next up is Valerie:

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At Mums In Faith, she shares her passion for books with other mums through a convenient book-lending service and reviews on good Christian resources. She also writes articles giving an encouraging Christian perspective on issues pertinent to modern-day mums. Together with her co-founder Danessa, she hopes to build a vibrant community of Christian mums who will love and pray for each other, providing the support we all need as fellow warriors in faith.

For more updates and reviews, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram.

A Thanksgiving reflection

Hooray! B has finally joined the rest of his classmates who’ve turned four. As his last week of nursery approaches, I’m looking forward to our Thanksgiving break together before he gets promoted to kindergarten. Here’s some reflections on his first full year in childcare.

Dear B,

You’ve shown social maturity and adaptability with the many changes this year. There were farewells to old playmates and adjustments to new friends and teachers at school. You didn’t like spending less time with mama as I not only returned to full time corporate work, but travelled away on business quite often – at one point for almost 3 weeks straight. Yet your teachers remarked on your “very positive self identify and sense of belonging”, 他会告诉老师:“妈妈不在新加坡”“我的爷爷来接我” as you figured things out and embraced the village of caregivers around you.

You’re growing in knowledge and imagination (and negotiation skills)! Being constantly surrounded by books has motivated you to learn how to read, first reciting from memory, then through sight words, and now as you blend and decipher more and more each day. “There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”  We try to read together every night when I’m at home, borrow or buy new readers (like the Timmy and Tammy series below), and write down “new” words together.

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Flipping through our notebook with all the new or tough words

You are learning to persevere and not give up. You were frustrated that you couldn’t draw or write as well as some of your friends but I’m glad we encouraged you to keep on doodling and scribbling. Since you like mixed medium, illustrated stories and numbers, we incorporated math and sensory play, gave titles to your art and made collages of our holidays. Mama too has learned to be patient and not compare! Remember Leo, the late bloomer.

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Colouring isn’t my favourite, but completing a number puzzle is!

Speaking of perseverance, you completed your first sport events this year. Mama crazily signed us up for an 800m Cold Storage kids run (which I thought was only 100m – oops), and I am so proud that you finished it even if we held hands and walked part of the way. You also biked solo in the OCBC Cycle event and grew confident enough that you cycled with us around Maldives. You didn’t even realise that those training wheels never touched the ground! We’ll upgrade you soon to a 16″ big boy pedal bike once you’re tall enough 🙂

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You’re starting to apply yourself in things that interest you, like violin. Though some days I bribe you to practice with car stickers, you surprise me with your progress and willingness to continue each term. Your teachers even invited you to perform as one of the musicians this year, and you did wonderfully! I’m glad you’re learning that “what separates the talented individual from a successful one is a lot of hard work.” While we’ll still explore many things and may drop others as you grow up, I’ll always support you in your pursuits as long as I can and you want to 🙂

Perhaps mommy and daddy could also work on two areas this coming year while your fantastic four is “under construction.” One is to more intentionally live out our faith as individuals and as a family. B may not like sitting still to pray, but he loves the bible stories and has made more friends at church. How can we help you grow into a godly man?  How can we serve our church community together?

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Same, same, but different! B likes to compare between the kids bibles

The other area of course, is Chinese. Although we found a good programme at Sparkanauts, I still wish for more time with you since no one else speaks Chinese at home. Your teacher suggested that we use videos, games or apps – 在家中可以观看有教育意义的卡通短片或者儿歌 。或者通过 ⼀些华文的电脑游戏来学习华文。家人可以使用华语和他进行沟通,增强他的日常生活⼝ 语。老师可以在和他的沟通中纠正他的句型错误并完整他的句子 –  beyond continuing to speak in Chinese. Mama has been quite strict about screen time, but perhaps we could try this in the coming year? That way, maybe ama and 公公 could get immersed too 🙂

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Some of the things we’ve tried for Chinese, if only I had more time!

My darling B, you melt my heart when you say, “I love you more than all the numbers, mama” and you make us laugh with “Now I like daddy, but I really like mama … when I’m old and I like mama, I’ll really like daddy.” I thank God every day for you and how blessed we are as your parents.

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For more updates and reviews, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram.

To Market, To Market … at Pek Kio

“A bridge to the past, which reminds us what was here, what our previous generations did here, what our parents built here and what we have inherited and want to make here.” – PM Lee Hsien Loong, re-opening of the Pek Kio Community Centre, 28 July 2013

Pek Kio is bordered by Balestier Road, Kampong Java Road, Moulmein Road, and Serangoon Road.  It’s named after a “white bridge” (in Hokkien) that once spanned Kampong Java Canal. When Singapore’s bridges were first built, they were named after the colonial authorities – and promptly nicknamed by the locals who couldn’t quite pronounce ang-mo names! So the areas around the bridges were named after their colours, such as O-Kio (Black Bridge) = Balestier, Pek Kio (White Bridge) = Moulmein and Ang Kio (Red Bridge) = Ang Mo Kio. Pek Kio was also known as Little England, as many roads are named after English places, such as Cambridge, Hampshire and Oxford.Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.47.38 pmThe (redesigned) Pek Kio Market and Food Centre was completed in 1984. Although not as large or popular as the nearby Tekka or Whampoa Markets, it’s a place we visit almost every Saturday morning as it has something for everyone: Eat, shop, play and exercise!

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First: “Train” at the IPPT track opposite the center
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Next: Eat breakfast, alternating between peanut pancakes, chwee kueh, carrot cake, porridge, prawn mee, wanton mee…
After breakfast, check out old school treats like butter cigarette sticks, egg pandan, gem and ABC biscuits

Then, hop by the wet market to re-stock on local goods and browse fresh supplies while the kiddo heads off to the (many) playgrounds nearby with dad. We don’t do our entire week’s shopping here – as there are 6 of us at home and we’ve got rather varied diets!  IMHO, the selection isn’t that fantastic here, but it’s a good place to pick up something you’ve missed (or couldn’t find) – and it’s definitely cleaner and less crowded than many other wet markets.
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Fresh, tasty fish balls!

Support local fruit farms

How to get here:
Bus 131 – bus stop B50081 right in front of the center
Farrer Park MRT – 8 mins walk from Exit D
Ample parking around Cambridge, Dorset and Owen HDB sites

Want to know more about Pek Kio’s history?  Check out:
http://www.ghettosingapore.com/key-historic-events-in-pek-kio/
http://www.nea.gov.sg/public-health/hawker-centres/the-story-of-hawker-centres-upgrading-programme-(hup)/did-you-know-/pek-kio-market-food-centre
http://remembersingapore.org/2011/04/04/old-names-of-places/

Follow our “To Market, To Market” Blog Train as we visit a different market each day with a different parent blogger!
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Next up is Meiling, a mom blogger who blogs at Universal Scribbles about her parenting adventures with her two children and her personal growth as a mom, wife and business woman in sunny Singapore. While she has fond memories of her weekly trips to the Tiong Bahru and Chinatown wet markets with her mother, she has no such luck with her children who much prefers the appeal of newer marketplace. Check out her post next and see where she takes her kids to market to market…

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For more updates and reviews, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram.  

There’s no place like home

Last weekend, hubby and I went to Maldives with little B to celebrate our tenth anniversary.  It was a magical time where we unplugged, soaked in nature – sun, sand and water, ate fresh organic food, and rode bicycles, boats and buggies as our only mode of transportation from sunrise to sunset.

Magical MaldivesLast week’s trip did wonders for my soul, but this recent long weekend back in Singapore warmed the heart.  The SG50 celebration meant a lot to us in big (national) and small (personal) ways, and it was this extended time – with family and friends, locals and expats – who all call Singapore home, that made it so special for us.

IMG_4695Like many, we had a wet start to the celebrations and tried to visit a few SG50 public events (e.g. Marina Bay Sands, Botanic Gardens). In the end, the highlights were the parties we hosted at home – an evening NDP 2015 viewing party with good friends, and a brunch playdate for B’s friends the next day.  There was more fun and laughter, food and drinks, adults, kids and babies, and TV watching (i.e. live streaming via AirPlay) in our house than we’ve had in a long while!  We spontaneously broke out into ooohs and aaahs when the jets flew past and the fireworks came on, sang along to HOME when Kit Chan took the stage, stood up to sing Majulah Singapura and recite the national pledge. Hubby and I also had a sense of nostalgia as this might be the last time we could view all of this – from a distance at our balcony as we will be moving next year.

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CG Connect Viewing Party, August 9, 2015
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SG50 Playdate, August 10, 2015

The kids got on famously (thank God!) and devised their own impromptu games and craft (who said creativity is dead in our age of technology?)  We even made our version of old school pick-up sticks with some paint and extra wooden chopsticks 🙂

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B and I had some 1-to-1 learning moments together too, thanks to the Sparkanauts National Day parent bonding package:

My heart is full as this long weekend draws to an end.  Happy 50th Birthday, Singapore!  I’m grateful and proud to call you my country, my home.

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SG50 Carnival at Botanic Gardens

For more updates, reviews and giveaways, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram.  If you too call Singapore your home, come join us at this month’s blog train on “What Singapore Means To Me.” 

What Singapore means to me

Hope everyone is having a great, not too wet, start to our Golden Jubilee celebrations! I’ve been looking forward to the long NDP weekend all week. We caught a fleeting glimpse of the RSAF Black Knights before the aerial show ended early, lunched at MBS and snacked at the nearby home cooked food fair (tip: don’t bother). We’d also planned to visit the Art Science Museum but the queues were just too long. Still, that and the rain didn’t dampen on our spirits as we found other ways to celebrate while being thoroughly drenched!

I’m also excited to kick off a blog train on “What Singapore Means To Me” with my thoughts as a naturalised Singapore citizen. Links to all contributions will be updated below – do join us this month and/or simply enjoy browsing through the posts about Singapore 🙂

Home and a bright future. We relocated here 8 years ago from the US, and friends and family from all over the world would often visit or transfer in and out due to work. One day, I realised that hubby and I had stopped thinking about Singapore as a place to “transit” but one that we truly wanted to raise our family in, stake our careers on, and play our small part in nation building too. So I took up Singapore citizenship 2.5 years ago – and look forward to what lies ahead.

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Little Green Dot.  Growing up in Malaysia, Singapore was always perceived as the “atas” neighbour that was so lucky to have many parks and tree-lined roads. Today, from its freshly minted UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Singapore Botanic Gardens, to the ubiquitous sky-rise gardenspark connectors, nature reserves and neighbourhood parks, Singapore’s delightful and thoughtful approach to urban development has benefited residents and visitors alike, and inspired fans worldwide. What’s more, these are all FREE public spaces despite the immense effort in creating and maintaining them.  So thank you, NParks, the late Lee Kuan Yew and our leaders for setting Singapore on a transformational path that started from the 1960s to become a Garden City and now, “City In A Garden.” What a living example of 前人种树, 後人乘凉 (“one generation plants the trees, the later generations enjoy the shade”).

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Haven for multiple generations. Since making Singapore our home, we’ve also encouraged my overseas parents and siblings to not just visit, but consider staying on as longer term residents.  Many cities don’t fully support the needs of a multi-generational family, with its complex mix of jobs, education, healthcare, transportation, security, social, emotional and physical needs. IMHO, Singapore meets and balances those demands better than many other countries. While not perfect, the government also constantly monitors changes and tries to make improvements on the quality and cost of living, childcare, eldercare, the school system and public transit, and has also acknowledged the role grandparents play in the decision to have (one or) more babies 🙂 Our lives have been so much richer and busier, with three generations in our family to care for each other and make memories together.

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So, whether you’re Singapore born, a naturalised citizen, a permanent resident or just a visitor in “transit”, if you call Singapore home, this “What Singapore Means To Me” blog train has a stop for you. Hop on the MRT by adding your links below and include the blog button (copy the code) in your post.  Majulah Singapura!

Finally Mama

Next on the train is Jenn, who blogs at mylilbookworm. This is where she documents her thoughts on educational, parental, health and investment topics. Check out her blog post on what Singapore means to her and how she spent her National Day long weekend!
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Contributions on “What Singapore Means To Me”:
Aug 9: Mei at Finally Mama
Aug 10: Jenn at My Lilbookworm
Aug 11: Cynthia at B.C.D.E. That’s Us
Aug 12: Waiwai at PeiPei.HaoHao
Aug 13: Qian Wen at Raising Our Successful Children
Aug 14: Edlyn at MummyEd
Aug 15: Natasha at So Natty
Aug 16: Jennifer at Dino Family
Aug 17: Lin Ying at Bumble Bee Mum
Aug 18: Danessa at Prayerfull Mum
Aug 19: Rachael at MalMal Our Inspiration
Aug 20: Yanxiang at The Littlest And Us Makes Three
Aug 21: Meiling at Universal Scribbles
and more here!

For more updates, reviews and giveaways, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram.