I practiced piano with GerGer, finally.

GerGer turned six in June this year, and we started her on weekly piano lessons in August. I am ashamed that I have little time to practice with her. Her progress was actually good, despite me having no time to practice with her. However, she could not play any song with confidence, according to our observations. As the school year reaches the end, pressures on weekly school homework and learning for spelling tests have lifted. Our confectionery retail business also softened as families started to eat out, and buy less bread, pastries and cakes (sob…this is reaKeyboardlly sad news for us). For me to practice piano with GerGer only when school work pressures were lifted and our business schedule relaxed, is not good. I know I should do it with her regularly. I do not know how else I would have the opportunity to practice with her though. It is a daily struggle to get through each day, juggling with coaching the children with their character development, academic learning, and business (i.e. work) which involves operations and development. Despite having a domestic helper to do the household chores, and Ah Gong and Ah Ma to mind the children (including BayBee our niece), my time gets eaten up in a flash, before I could blink my eye even!

Anyway, with just one week of practice with GerGer, she could play with confidence and we can see her enjoy playing the keyboard (we have yet to purchase a piano). She grinned with confidence as she played and we all gave her thumbs up and praises, explaining to her that her improvement boiled down to having enough practice. We hope she would learn to practice on her on in futureGrand Piano Necklace.

Some months back, I revamped my online shop, and now I carry new items which includes music-themed accessories. I believe that GerGer would love them, especially the piano-themed ones when she is older. Visit my shop now to see more items (click here).

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Chinese Character Stroke Order (Sequence)

In Singapore, English is the language used for all teaching subjects. That is why we (parents) read to our children, exposing them to the language from young. In our multiracial country, children of different races will take a Mother Tongue subject. For Chinese like us, we have to learn and remember Chinese words (or characters) with strokes looking like pictures. When GerGer was four years old going on five, she found it difficult to write Chinese words, and as such she was not motivated to complete her K1 (Kindergarten One) homework.

It did not take me long to think of how I could help her. I took advantage of her intense interest and talent in drawing to help her. I told her that each Chinese word is like a picture. If she practice writing them well, it would improve her drawing skills. One magical suggestion and she had no more issues with Chinese words. Of course, my task was so easy because GerGer is a self-motivated, and hard working girl. She is able to put thoughts together to come up with her very own way to learn most things.

When BoiBoy started K1 this year, I knew it was going to be tough for me to motivate him and engage him. I am thankful that he has a very kind and motivating Chinese Teacher which helped him build up his confidence in the language. Her secret was kind and motivating words to feed his ego.

Being a busy self-employed Mom, my spare time was mostly filled with work related tasks. I feel guilty everyday for not spending enough time to coach them in their learning journey. So I asked myself what should I equip them with? A formula somewhat, … perhaps….., which will help them till they are into their Primary School learning journey.

I searched the internet and decided that I should teach them to memorize Poem (or Verbal Formula) about the correct sequence of strokes for Chinese character writing. There are plenty of such Poems when I “Google-d”, and not all suited children at 5 to 6 years old. Children their age need Poems with rhythm, or the same number of words, so that it is easier to recite and remember.

After a few days of research, this was what I picked out and taught them:

Chinese Word Stroke Order

Chinese Word Stroke Order

I taught them only two lines per week. They were told to recite after me for about six times. It only takes about ten minutes to teach three children (GerGer, BoiBoy, and BayBee). After five weeks, we recited the whole poem together as and when we have MeeMee’s classes. It had been more than six months, since I taught them the Poem. GerGer, who is a self-starter can recite the whole poem independently. BoiBoy who needs a lot of motivation to learn languages, can recite the poem too, well, except for the last two lines. He needs more practice, but I would not force him. I like to use a casual and fun way to teach them. No stress = better retention.

IMPORTANT NOTE for Parents:

Some stroke orders which we learned in our times might be based on an official publication 《现代汉语通用字表》 dated March 1988 (hmm.. I was in Upper Primary Level then). And in 1997, there was an updated publication 《现代汉语通用字笔顺规范》 which included some Word Order Strokes having different sequences from what we might have learned back in our days. Take a look at the image below on a couple of most discussed “changes” to the stroke orders.

Stroke Exceptions

Stroke Exceptions

I would term the changes as “Exceptions” to the rule. I am sure that the language researchers have a reason for how the stroke orders should be, and these are not exceptions to them.

Oh well, when my children get confused, I’ll need to make up a story to help them understand that sometimes not everything falls within rules.

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Power Up! our children’s thinking with Eu Yan Sang

[Sponsored Post]

I am always dreaming up new ideas to coach GerGer and BoiBoy to be thinkers, and problem solvers. For the past few years, I have used my self-taught super duper time-consuming ways to teach them that crying over an issue might not be the best way out. I took opportunity of every incident they faced to show them that thinking about what best they should do next might be a better way forward. Of course, I do not force them to bottle up their emotions. I let them cry it all out when they fall down, when their favourite toy is damaged, or when our very big child -DeeDee- secretly finished up their ice Milo or ice cream. ^_^

When they cry, I would first attempt to calm them down, and then explore options with them. I must admit that this journey has not been easy. BoiBoy has only recently started to apply what I taught him for the last two years. I have been observing the duration he needed to calm himself down, and I’m glad the duration is getting shorter as time passed.

Parenting is an uphill task. Regardless of a child’s personality, or character, when he or she feels tired, behavioural problems will show up. Fights are easily triggered, wants become unreasonable demands, and a lost toy seems like the end of the world. Adults face the same issues. When we feel tired, our patience run out faster, we raise our voices easily, or we don’t want to think about a question our boss or spouse asks.

It is important that parents are able to distinguish the reasons a child refuses to obey. They might be simply tired, or we might be dealing with a defiant child. This may sound easy, but to working mothers who juggle daily between work and parenting, we get tired too, and our ability to distinguish may be weak. Over the long term, if parents mistaken tired children that are disobeying, from children developing intentional defiance, we might be on the road to possible parent-children relationship problems in future.

Fred not, parents! Eu Yan Sang’s POWER UP, Essence of Chicken for our children can help us. They are specially made for children aged 2 to 12. Daily consumption can help our children perk up their day, stay more alert and think more clearly!!! Better thinkers means better behaved children, and parents will have a smoother journey in molding our children’s character.

What is Chicken’s Essence? It is chicken meat double boiled for hours. Double boiling is a technique that ensures no loss of liquid or moisture during the boiling process, usually used for handling expensive ingredients.

There are in total three types of Chicken’s Essence Eu Yan Sang made for children. I received two types as samples from Eu Yan Sang. The first type comes with no added herbs and has yellow packaging. Daily consumption can (1) boost mental power, (2) improve concentration, and (3) promote growth. The second type comes with Dangshen, Huaishan and Fuling extract, and has blue packaging. Daily consumption
can (1) boost mental power, (2) improve appetite, and (3) aid digestion.

Eu Yan Sang POWER UP 01

What do I love about Eu Yan Sang’s POWER UP? (1) No Caramel Colouring, (2) No added flavouring and salt, (3) No preservatives, (4) No sugar, (5) No fat, and (6) No cholesterol !

Before I was introduced to Eu Yan Sang’s POWER UP, I did not realise that it actually has NO Caramel Colouring. Oh my! Seriously!!! No Caramel Colouring!!!!!! This is SOOOOOOOO good for mothers like who take extra care about reducing our children’s consumption of colouring agents, additives, and preservatives. There has been a lot of discussion on the impacts of Caramel Colouring which we can read about on the internet.

Anyway, so much about a busy mother loving Eu Yan Sang’s POWER UP. The next question which most parents cannot wait to find out: Will my children drink it? We have fussy eaters!

Bingo! GerGer and BoiBoy could not accept the taste and smell on first attempt.

Eu Yan Sang - GerGer firstEu Yan Sang - BoiBoy try

But a mother never gives up on what we think is good for our children up right? ^_^

Right! 

For the next six days, I poured Eu Yan Sang’s Chicken’s Essence (POWER UP) into the dishes AhMa cooked for the family. I separated the children’s portion before adding in Chicken’s Essence, and I only added them just before they have their meal. The daily dishes that are more suitable for adding of Eu Yan Sang’s Chicken Essence should be the soup, as well as the dish of stir-fried meat in dark soya sauce. Soup or gravy will help to dilute the smell of the Chicken’s Essence which children may not like. Let’s take a look at the delicious dishes and soup AhMa cooks for us for our usual lunch or dinner.

Eu Yan Sang - stir fried meatEu Yan Sang - cucumber soupEu Yan Sang - stir fried chicken

 

 

Eu Yan Sang - pork ribs soup

Eu Yan Sang - meat with straw mushrooms

 

Eu Yan Sang - Tou Fu Soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And guess the results ……..

 

Eu Yan Sang POWER UP - Hurray

It was a 101% success throughout the six-day trial. GerGer and BoiBoy finished their food without realising that I have added in Eu Yan Sang’s Chicken Essence!!! Hip Hip Hurray to smoother parenting journeys with Eu Yan Sang’s POWER UP Chicken’s Essence for children aged two to twelve!!!

For more information on Eu Yan Sang’s POWER UP Chicken Essence, visit http://www.euyansang.com.sg/power-up/

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Venting my anger on GerGer – Yet another Motherhood Failure Moment?

My life has entered another stage in April this year. Two staff members have left our retail store due to health reasons. My consolation prize is that one will be back in two weeks, hopefully. At the exact same time, three part time students have left as they prepare for their tertiary education. It’s weird how things happen all at the same time. DeeDee is now in between jobs and seeing this on the bright side means he is able to help me out at the store while we desperately hire.  Hiring the right candidates is harder than climbing the Mount Everest.

My emotions are not under control lately. I’m struggling to enjoy the day. It seem like everyday I’m rushing between home, shop, children’s enrichment classes, attending to the children’s attention needs, guiding the children in completing their homework, handling work emails, phone calls, and the list goes on and on………… The pressure is worsen by BoiBoy’s condition. He had a bad cold, and was not breathing too well by the time DeeDee and I managed to squeeze time to bring him to his regular Pediatrician.  We feel guilty. BoiBoy was given Antibiotic and it is so challenging to feed it to him.  (Since young, it has been a nightmare to feed him antibiotics – see previous post here)

Last week I directed my suppressed anger at my precious GerGer over lunch. I knew all along that she has a super small appetite and a bowl of cream soup would suffice for a meal sometimes. I brought her to Poulet Restaurant after her enrichment class, and initially ordered a bowl of mushroom soup for her (it is our favorite soup). Seeing that they had a set lunch which gave out a free mushroom soup and a drink, I ordered a half chicken meal set, thinking that I can share the chicken with GerGer. As the soup base was too milky, GerGer was full after three quarters bowl of soup. It triggered my out leash of anger and I said hurting words.

“Don’t ever ask me to bring you for a lunch out again.”

“You cannot even finish a bowl of soup? Look at how much chicken we are wasting? Do you know how much it costs me?”

She tear. My heart ached with guilt. She moved over to sit on my legs and I hugged her with deep apologies. Kissed her on her cheeks and spoke softly to her. “I’m sorry. I ordered too much.” “I have thrown away my angry monster.” I tear too, discretely. (see past post on Angry Monsters)

I am struggling with my emotional turmoil lately. But I’m sure I’ll survive well if I keep calm.

Keep calm and carry on “Motherhood Means Business”.

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A drawing of our extended family

There is a header banner on my blog. It has our extended family in it.

What?! You mean you have never noticed it? Oh well, it is my fault as I am equipped with self-trained cum quarter-schooled drawing and design skills.

When I designed the banner, a few close friends helped gave comments on how it should be improved. I also consulted DeeDee, and of course our budding artist GerGer! Most of the time, she was sitting by me watching me draw and amend when I created the banner. That process might have made an impression in her memory, as she drew stick figures of our extended family two days ago, resembling a banner.  Her drawing included BayBee, and her parents who are temporarily staying with us while their new flat (just across the street) is being renovated.

They are stick figures, simple and not too difficult. Nothing too detailed, but I simply adore them. I can admire for days, how she carefully drew each of our hairstyles differently, according to her observations. I appreciate that she drew heels for the females and shoes for the males. This is a priceless piece to me.   I guess she gives my works the same admiration.  She can flip my sketch book of stick figures I did for this blog, time and time again. She would request I tell her the story behind my sketches, and she would tell them to BoiBoy and BayBee with the sketchbook.

Hopefully GerGer and I can create works together in future.

My Extended Family

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BoiBoy’s Art Classes (Part 3) – withdrew

At the start of 2013, I shared about how BoiBoy resisted school after the long “winter” (we have no winter being on the equator) school holidays. I also shared about how he refused to attend his Art Enrichment Class in his Kindergarten.

Motherhood Failure Moments – BoiBoy’s Art Classes

BoiBoy’s Art Classes (Part 2)

This post is a long overdue update following Part 2.  After a few more weeks of attending his Art Classes, he told me he does not like Art Classes. Considering DeeDee hated Art when he was younger, we decided to give in. However, I set a condition that he should continue to attend his Chinese Enrichment Classes.  He also resisted going for his Chinese Enrichment Classes, so we were not sure if he just did not like staying back in school for extra classes, or he genuinely dislike Art.  The condition I imposed was to seek out the real reason.

From middle of March 2013, he attended Chinese Enrichment Classes with no trouble.  But somewhere in April, he requested to have his Chinese Enrichment Classes stopped. So I replied that this was not an option, and that if requested that again I would add back his Art Class. I was very careful to pick my calmest and gentlest voice when I replied because I wanted my message to go through to him effectively. Deep in my thoughts, I know imposing on him did not sound right, but I wanted to see if it was Art that he dislike, or if it was attending more lessons he disliked.

He never requested again to have his Chinese Enrichment Classes stopped.

B Colouring_smToday I still don’t have the answer, but I guess he genuinely does not like Art, and he gets a little tired attending after-school classes as he is a child that requires more nap time than GerGer. A year later (this Feb 2014) we can see from his school work that he still dislike detailed colouring. He has the big picture plan to complete his colouring fast. And DeeDee and MeeMee will accept and celebrate his need for efficiency. ^_^

Motherhood is truly a Trial And Error journey. To persist or not to? To set conditions or not to? There is never a definitely correct option. DeeDee and I always remind ourselves to consider things from our children’s perspective.  We may not have perfected this skill yet but we will keep ourselves on track.

If you have any motherhood, fatherhood, or parenthood stories to share, do add a comment, or drop me a personal email at MotherHmeansBiz@gmail.com. Sharing stories can help other parents in their Trial and Error Journey.

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Our Angry Monsters

It was somewhere along my Parenting Learning Journey (in early 2013 – if my memory does not fail me), that I thought of a way to impart Anger Management to my children (GerGer & BoiBoy) and niece (BayBee).

Young children get angry easily (well, many adults still do).  In 2012 I blogged about teaching “Life Skills for my Children – Identifying Emotions and the Cause“. Identifying the negative emotions and understanding the trigger point.  In early part of 2013, an impromptu concept about OUR ANGRY MONSTER was conceived and used during a BoiBoy-throwing-a-tantrum moment.

MeeMee said in a story-telling tone to BoiBoy when he was furious: “In everyone’s life, there is an Angry Monster. He loves to enter our stomachs and disturb us daily.  We spend a  lifetime learning how to counter him.  We learn not to feed him with our tears, screams, and fights.  We practice improving our mental strength so we can throw him out of the window when he starts feeding on our negative acts.  There is danger in keeping him in our stomach for too long because he grows bigger really fast, and once he gets comfortable in our stomachs, it will be hard for us to throw him out of our stomachs.

How can a four year old boy understand this? Make it fun, and he will!  I made huge movements with both hands pretending to pull out something from my stomach using a lot of strength, and screamed as I pretended a strong force pulled my hands back onto my stomach.  Acting out how I attempted to throw out the Angry Monster, and how I only succeeded after a few tries, made BoiBoy laughed and forget his anger, breaking the negative energy building up in him. Then I helped him to pull out his Angry Monster with great difficulty, and showed empathy : “no wonder you were so furious! he is big and strong!“. And in a panting state, I finally managed to throw his Angry Monster out of the window.

The Angry Monsters

The Angry Monsters

For the past year, I have used this concept to remind the children not to be angry for too long because nobody likes to house their Angry Monster forever.  It works well for us.

When I get angry with the children, and raise my voice at them. They come running to me and then pretending to pull out my Angry Monster to throw out the window. This act melts my anger away every time.  And when this happens, I remind them that we all need to practice throwing out our Angry Monsters in our life journey; it does not stop even when we have grown up.

This week is the school holidays and I was very honored to have successfully made time to coach and teach the children.  Every morning for the last four days from 10am to 12pm, I (“Teacher MeeMee” they call me) conducted lessons for them.  (I hope my Friday -tomorrow-  will be the same).

Attention span for children is short and about half an hour into handwriting practice, the children start to yawn frequently and hard.  So I would change activities to make them alert.  I would end each day’s lesson with an high-energy activity or act.  On Tuesday, I ended the class with a “Draw your Angry Monster” activity.  Here are our Monsters (now pasted on the door of the children’s room.

Hope my story helps other parents out there who are pulling hair about sibling fights and angry children.

 

 

 

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Business means work life integration

Running a small business is time consuming.  Well, “running” small family is much more time consuming. I missed blogging, and today I have squeezed time for a simple post on how my typical mornings pass by in a flash.

I had a late night, so I stayed a little longer in bed this morning (this is the best part of owning a business, but I pay forward with late nights).

10.20am – I was awaken by screams and cries. GerGer and BoiBoy quarreled over a name tag. I went over to them to just talk to them.  My usually style is : (1) First seek to understand, and so I asked them what happened, without judging. I listened and let them have an outlet for their anger as they told me their views. (2) Second, use stories to associate their behaviour with. There is a story about two squirrels – siblings – who quarreled and was almost eaten by a snake because they didn’t stay vigilant and wasted time on arguing over a sweet. (sorry readers, I made this story up. I don’t know if snakes eat squirrels and I know squirrels don’t eat sweets.  I just had to have a story that they can associate with). After I refreshed their memory of the story, they hugged one another.  I felt good that I helped.  [I am grateful that I had time during their younger days, to make up stories that are personal to us, for me to use as character molding teaching resource now.]

10.40am – I washed up. Heard grumpy noises and went over to the other room. BoiBoy wanted Grandma to feed him his lunch, and GerGer wanted Grandma to bath her. I raised my voice a little as a sign of warning. Told them to make peace or the next time I’ll be using the cane to speak to them. I walked away.  At the corner of my eye, I saw GerGer teared but went on to let our Helper bath her.

10.45am – I switched on my laptop to check on an invoice.  Mum-in-law walked into my room and reminded me to have my breakfast. Oh!!!  I totally forgot about breakfast.  I went to have some food, and made coffee. Before I had my coffee, I heard Mum-in-law kept asking BoiBoy to change into his uniform. He was moody. So I went into the room. He was on the mattress, with his head upside down. I took a carebear which we always played with and held it upside down, as it if was trying to look at BoiBoy in the right direction. He smiled.  (great! I broke the ice).  I offered to carry him to the hall to his uniform. He let me.  In the hall, Mum-in-law offered him a sweet to reward him, as I went to drink up my coffee.

11.05am – as I returned to my room, I went to the store room to pick up an empty envelope. Wrote the address on the envelope, slipped in the cheque, preparing for it to be mailed later.  Mum-in-law reminded me about an enrollment form in BoiBoy’s bag for next year’s Kindergarten. Oh!!! I have forgotten about it the entire weekend!!  I took out the forms from both GerGer’s and BoiBoy’s bags, checked their homework, packed their bags (removing items no longer needed in school), and checked the deadline of the forms. Phew! due only on 14 March.

12pm – Just completed this blog post.  On to my daily task for the business.  Time flew away in a wink of an eye.

Lots of adhoc matters happening now. I’m trying to be more organised, but keep getting disrupted.  I guess I’ll only get better at it. !!!

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I feel lost

DeeDee and my hectic lifestyle has remained as hectic now that we are about 8 months from the opening of our shop. From 2nd Jan, I feel more stretched, having an additional task of coaching my children their homework from kindergarten. My boy’s lack of confidence in writing and thus reluctance makes me feel guilty for not spending the last holidays revising with him. Part of me says let nature takes its course, the other part blames myself for agreeing with DeeDee to start a business.

For the whole of Nov and Dec, sleepless nights were spent doing up our company’s monthly accounts, to analyse our monthly Profit & Loss. I neglected some of the operations in the shop as a result (eg didn’t follow up on missing price tags), and felt it isn’t right.

GerGer had her urgent milk tooth extraction in early January, upon discovering her adult teeth growing out behind it. She cried but I’m absolutely sure she is the bravest among the three kids (BoiBoy and my niece). I was proud of her and brought her to a nearby shopping mall to choose a toy to purchase home.

Our dear BoiBoy still insists on wearing nice clothing at home and to bed, eg polo tees and jeans. (In addition to his Buzz Lightyear pajamas. I give in, after two years of counselling and coaxing. Well, the price for him was no skipping of school and tuition. Oh yes, this Jan, all three kids started to go Morris Allen (long story…. )

Amidst all these craze on top of daily issues from our shop, I feel lost today. TIRED. It’s 4am local time now, I just finished filing the last bits of Dec invoices. I think it’s time for bed.

I’m not sure if my readers still follow and read my blog. I do hope so as this blog is my motivation to walk on.

Good night

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Impromptu Celebration !!!

I must say that having no expectations seems to give room for impromptu celebrations! DeeDee brought me to a small Chinese Restaurant for a meal to mark our 7th wedding anniversary. It was near where we stay so it didn’t take up much of the little time we had before we made way to our shop; our nightly routine.

Well, to end off the day we had another impromptu celebration! We brought home a lovely cake from our shop and had a simple yet romantic cake lighting and cutting ceremony.

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