Saturday, 30 November 2013

Awards, awards..

We got back from our enjoyable little trip and upon opening the mail, I found 2 letters from MOE addressed to the girls. #2 had a certificate of academic achievement and #3 had an Edusave Character award. So proud of the 2 of them. 
#2 and #3's awards
It's not easy for the teachers to decide who they should nominate for the character award as it is difficult to quantify, so I'm sure #3 must have 'demonstrated some exemplary character and outstanding personal qualities' throughout the year. Ah, if only she could demonstrate these qualities all the time at home too! 


~ www.mummyweeblog.com - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore  ~

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Penang - Golden Sands Resort

We had to go to KL for my mum-in-law's birthday so we decided to make a family trip out of it. We chose Penang as I heard that Golden Sands Resort has an indoor playground within the compound which would be handy for Kate if she gets bored of the sand. Besides, the hubs was keen on going to eat all the authentic Penang food so we were game for the 4 hour ride up from KL. It was a relatively uneventful drive up, and we managed to get Kate to nap for half the journey, and we kept her happy with snacks and toys for the other half. Penang is more modern than I expected and apparently they are more affluent than the other states as the manufacturing industry fuelled their economy. We passed several hotels that dotted the beach, but we missed our hotel's entrance as the signage was rather discreet and we had to U-turn back.  After we checked in, the kids were itching to stretch their legs and they immediately changed into their swim wear and headed for the beach.
Fun in the sun with their cousins
We were rather disappointed in the quality of the sand as it is not fine like Redang or even Pangkor Laut resort, and the water is not clear. After awhile they headed back to the resort swimming pool.
#3 ready to catch #5
This slide may look simple but they played here for almost 3 hours!
And… caught!
Somehow, #3 became the designated catcher.
E's turn
This slide is partially shaded during the day so the kids played here most of the afternoon.
That was fun!
The shallow pool was good as there was a big shade over it.
Nice relaxing swim in the pool
They played in the water until dinnertime and we went out for seafood. The next day, we had breakfast at the hotel, then we decided that the kids should play at the indoor playground as it was too hot to swim. The older kids went wild with all the different slides there. We have never seen a slide this steep at any other indoor playground. Only #3 dared to try it.
Demon Drop slide (24 ft vertical drop slide)
I saw many kids sitting for a couple of minutes at the top psyching themselves up before they dared to take the plunge. But after the first try, they kept going back. This slide is most suited to those 10 and above (or younger, for the dare-devils! Min age - 7 years old)
Customized drop slides from UK
#3 took Kate on the Hyperglide Astra slide and she enjoyed it! I think they are grooming her to be a dare-devil.
Grab a sack and get ready to slide!
The kids spent most of the 2 hours on the slides. Their younger cousin who is 3 did not dare to go on the slides, although she did manage to entertain herself with the rest of the play areas. This indoor playground would be best enjoyed by kids 5 years and above who would dare to go on the slides. As for Kate, I reckon it's because she's too young to have developed a fear.
Kate clapped her hands when she landed!
There is also a small play area for the younger kids. This area is free if they don't intend to play at the main play area.
Toddler Zone (for the under 4s)
After 2 hours, we went out for lunch then the kids registered for the Kids Club activities. That day, they were having T-shirt painting (RM20), followed by free play at the indoor playground, and when the sun went down, they headed out to the pool for group games. As the kids were occupied, the adults took the opportunity to get their massage and foot reflexology by the beach. The massage hut is very spartan, but at RM60 for 1 hour of massage/foot reflexology, we weren't complaining. Besides, with the sea breeze and the sound of the waves, I couldn't be happier.
Massage by the beach
My mum took Kate back to the room for her afternoon nap. Meanwhile, the kids made friends with this lovely lady and they had a great time playing 'Monkey' with her, while her husband and kid looked on. A big shout-out to Vicki from Melbourne, whom #4 fondly named 'Pink Shark". She's a real hilarious lady and just watching her play with my kids with her constant banter made me realise that parenting doesn't have to be a dreary job. 
Their new friend, Vicki
Vicki left to tend to her son and they went to join the pool games which had just started. They made friends with a lovely 9 year-old girl from Oregon. (I think my kids learn more about Geography from newly acquired friends than from school!)
Pool games organised by the Kids Club
Seeing that they were all in good hands and were enjoying themselves, I found a hammock a slight distance away and relaxed in peace.
Time standing still.. what a lovely day
Kate woke up from her nap and the hubs took her swimming. He couldn't find her swimming costume. This is what happens when the hubs is in charge. Oh well.
Kate wearing #4's extra pair of swimming shorts
All in all, it is a good family holiday destination. The indoor playground, the Kids Club and the swimming pool with the slide are enough to keep them occupied for a week. The only disappointing thing was the rough sand. While the kids were occupied with playing, the adults were occupied with hunting down the best Penang food… More about that in the next post.



Adventure Zone

Opening hours:
10am - 7pm

Admission fees:
For resort guests:
Children RM40 for half day
Children RM 20 for 2 hours

Public:
Children: RM 30 for 2 hours

All children must be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times.
Socks must be worn when on the play equipment.
Long sleeved shirts must be worn when using any of the Drop Slides.
No wet clothes or swimming costumes in the play equipment area.



Related post:

Penang - good food everywhere?





~   mummywee - parenting 6 kids in Singapore without going mad or broke  ~

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Our anniversary trip

On his last trip to Hong Kong, the hubs was taken to many nice places to eat and he kept showing me photos of the food. I told him to stop sending me food that I can see but not eat!

So for our anniversary, he asked if I wanted to go to Hong Kong to eat and shop. Ah, 2 of my favourite past times. Most definitely, yes!
Am I going too?
Kate woke up at 5.30am to say goodbye to us. She's a really light sleeper and our noise woke her up.
Sunset
The children have become so much a part of our lives that if we were to leave them all behind, we would be constantly thinking about them and wondering if they were all ok. #3 loves to shop and eat too and we know she would enjoy Hong Kong. As she did really well this term, we wanted to reward her and further motivate her for next year so we decided to take her along. Then we remembered that the last time we took her alone on a trip, she missed them so much she kept asking to go home. So we took #4 along to accompany her. If you're wondering 'what about the rest'? Well, #1 has a band concert coming up and she has to go for practices every day. #2 dislikes shopping, and #5 dislikes eating, and of course taking care of Kate would be too much work for me to enjoy my trip. So it was just the 2 of them. 
My favourite dim sum dish
I enjoy such simple short holidays because there is no agenda and no rush to see the sights. We can just walk and stop as and when we feel like it and really take in the moment wherever we are and whatever we're doing.

I'm so thankful for the support of my mum that we can get away knowing that the kids are well taken care of. It's also a good chance for the other kids to step up to the responsibility of helping to take care of Kate in our absence. 

More about our trip when we get back!


~  mummywee - parenting 6 kids in Singapore without going mad or broke  ~

Monday, 25 November 2013

Berjaya Times Square Theme Park - Kuala Lumpur

Last weekend, we drove up to KL for my mum-in-law's 70th birthday party. I asked the kids if they wanted to spend the afternoon in Bejaya Times Square and they all shouted "Yes!"

We used to take them there every year when they were younger, but as they grew up, we explored further holiday destinations. Going to Times Square was one of their school holiday tradition and they missed it very much.
Our road trip began at 7am
We allowed the kids to watch a movie on the iPad for awhile, and once we hit the highway, got them all to take a nap. The older 5 had a nice long nap while Kate fell asleep only 10-minutes before we reached KL. That's how it always is, isn't it!

We had lunch, checked in, then headed straight for Berjaya Times Square, which is located in the Bukit Bintang area. We always stay at Park Royal Hotel as it is within walking distance from Times Square, Overseas Restaurant and Pavilion (a huge mall that I love).

If you are wondering which hotel is more suitable for your family, Park Royal is newer and nicer, while Berjaya Times Square Hotel is well-worn, but the rooms are larger and more convenient if you have young children.


It sounds illogical, but they still prefer this theme park compared to Disneyland, Universal Studios and Legoland simply because it is in air-conditioned comfort and everything is very compact and you don't have to walk as much. The upper floor is for the younger kids and they have a whole range of rides suitable for tots from 1-6 years old.
Kate on the Merry-go-round
Besides the merry-go-round, they have the bumper cars, viking, bumble bee, train ride and botanic drive.

Bumble Bee
They had a swell time with their cousins, and could have happily played the whole day if given the chance! There's also a mini movie theatre which screens different movies throughout the day.

Botanic Drive

Crazy bus
#5's favourite is the bumper car. Even on a Saturday, the queue for each ride is only about 10 minutes long.
Honey Bump
I remember Parkway parade used to have this viking swing when we were kids! The good ol' days..
Molly's Cool Swing
They have 2 playgrounds, one for older kids and one for toddlers. They also have a mini theatre where movies are screened for free.
Playground
The toddler playground..
Don't ask me why she wanted to go down head first!
For the adults, teens, and brave tweens, the lower floor has enough thrilling rides to keep them entertained for hours.
Dizzy Izzy
#1 asked me to accompany her on the rides but there's no way I'm going on any of them!
Spinning Orbit
In the end, she went on this roller-coaster by herself as none of her younger siblings dared to join her. 
Supersonic Odyssey
I heard lots of screams coming from this one.
DNA Mixer
After about 2 hours, the kids were still playing happily so I passed Kate to my mum and headed downstairs to FOS. We used to joke that it's an acronym for 'Full-of-Singaporeans' as we were likely to bump into a fellow Singaporean.
Factory Outlet Store
The prices are really cheap, but it is not always possible to find the correct sizes for the kids. However, this time I managed to find lots of bodysuits for Kate. What a steal at RM30 for 3 pieces!
Love the captions
It is interesting how this is a Muslim country and this mall is not one of the newer malls, yet their Christmas deco can rival Takashimaya's in scale. 
Nice big Christmas tree
The kids played until it was time to head across the street for their grandma's dinner party. It was a surprise party with about 70 guests and everyone managed to keep the surprise! This is our favourite Chinese restaurant in KL.
Restoran Oversea
At Times Square, we tried to get Kate to have a nap but she couldn't as it was too noisy. First time in her life that she did not have a nap in the day. Before the first dish was even served, she drank her milk and promptly fell asleep. As we did not have any more boot space to bring along a stroller, she slept on 2 chairs.
Seriously K.O
They have quite a lot of good dishes like the big head prawn, salted fish with slice pork, special bean curd and their steam fish. But the most popular dish is the char siew which has to be pre-ordered.
Oh so succulent

Longevity bun
It was a long day filled with lots of fun and excitement for the kids. We walked back to the hotel for a good night's sleep before driving up to Penang the next day.

Sane tip: Even though this theme park is old, we have come every other year and the kids can spend a full day here. I find it enjoyable as it is not under the hot sun and we don't have to wait long for each ride.

Save tip: For a theme park, this is really value for money. It cost us about S$15 each for a whole day of fun!


Operating Hours:
Mon-Fri: 12noon - 10pm
Sat, Sun, Sch hols/Public hols: 11am - 10pm

Admission rate:
Adult (13 & above): RM48
Child (3-12): RM38
Family rides (only 4 rides at upper level): RM25
Family (2A & 2C): RM138
Senior Citizen (55 & above): RM15


~ www.mummyweeblog.com - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Sunday, 24 November 2013

My eldest turns 15!

(HOW TO KEEP BIRTHDAYS TO A $100 BUDGET)

How time flies. In the blink of an eye, my dear little baby is now 15! She spent the day shopping with her best friend, then came back for tea. With so many kids, how do I handle their birthdays? 

Initially, their parties were 'normal'. But as we were living in a condo, they got invited to many neighbours' kid's parties. And some had the works.. face painting, balloon sculpture, jumping castle, magician. Of course kids being kids, when their birthday came, they would ask if they could have "a princess jumping castle just like so-and-so". And as parents, we would want to make them happy on this special day once a year, so we conceded. Over the years, the parties grew to become $1000 affairs, what with the entertainment, catered food, and obligatory party bags. Not to mention all the planning and organising that came along with it. And I had to do it a few times a year!

We were seriously party drained, and the worst part was, after every big party where at least 30 kids were invited, when I asked them if they enjoyed themselves, someone would be upset. Because "so-and-so hit the piƱata first when it was supposed to be me", or "so-and-so played with the other friend the whole time and ignored me", etc, etc. I realised then that a huge party with lots of money spent and lots of friends invited did not equate to a happy birthday child. 

So I decided that all this had to stop, and I re-evaluated what a birthday party should be. I also realised that when we did not set a budget for them, they didn't know any better and would request for things which we had to refuse and they would be upset. For example, they would ask for a '3D Winx club cake' which they saw at another friend's party. Such a cake would cost upwards of $200. Furthermore, as we had so many kids, it was hard to be fair, and there would be constant unhappiness when I had to say no to a particular thing they wanted and they would say "so unfair, how come the other sibling could have such and such a thing".  
My oldest and my youngest
I scaled down all their parties, and gave them ample notice that once they reached P1, there would be no more big parties and I would instead give each child $100 on their birthdays to do as they pleased. They could invite their friends over in the day, and then we would have a family dinner or BBQ in the evening. They would also be in charge of organising their birthday parties by themselves. They got really excited and started listing down the things they wanted and asked me for the cost of each. 

For the birthday cake, when I told them "3D cake, $250" they were stunned. They asked how much a normal cake was. I told them $30. They discussed better ways of getting a cheaper cake. They ended up buying pre-mix from the supermarket and baked for each other on their birthdays. Subsequently, they realised that if they sweetly requested their aunt to bake them a cake, it would be free! And they loved their aunt's cakes.

As for entertainment, they made up games for their friends to play. They did Amazing race, played pool games in the swimming pool, and planned other games, all of which cost them nothing. And in fact, they had so much more fun than before!

Instead of catered food, they decided they would just order MacDonald's delivery. After checking the prices on the website, they realised it amounted to a huge chunk of their $100. They asked me how else could they get cheaper fries, nuggets and pizza. I suggested the supermarket. They were delighted to see that they could get it for a fraction of the price there and just cook it themselves. 

The best part was that after paying for the food, the free entertainment and the free cake, they still had money left over which they could use to buy themselves a birthday present. They were overjoyed.. and so was I.

As they grew older, their friendships also changed. #1 now prefers to spend the day with just 1 or 2 good friends, and they would go bowling, have a simple meal, and spend the rest of the money on some trinkets for herself and her friends.
the awesomest sticky date pudding
Her godma baked her signature sticky date pudding - moist and full bodied. Actually, I really missed eating it so I requested her to bake it for #1's birthday. And now they all love it too!
#1 and her godma

Sane tip: Organising their parties used to be so tiring, but now that I outsource it to them, not only does it relieve me of the unnecessary stress, but it has taught them so much. The value of money, budgeting, and planning and organising skills. And most of all, that happiness does not come from 'the bigger, the better', but from being with a few close friends and your family.

Save tip: I managed to scale their parties down from $1000 per party to $100.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Girls night out

During the school holidays, everyday is a busy day for me. Today I took #5 for a classmate's birthday party. It was so nice to get to know the mums of the boys he plays with in school. This is the first time I am at a gathering where there are no girls. The birthday boy comes from a family of 4 boys! Must be a handful, but I must say they are very well behaved.
Happy Birthday, Nicholas!
In the evening, it was the 4 girls' turn and we went to watch the Wild Rice production of Jack & the Bean-Sprout! We were slightly disappointed though. We had thoroughly enjoyed the previous years' productions and we laughed till we were in stitches. But we felt that this show was not tight enough. 
Ethel Yap surprised me with her vocals… and er her alien outfit. Well done!
Nevertheless, it was a nice change to be out with the girls, instead of putting Kate to bed. All thanks to my sister-in-law for getting us the tickets!


Sane tip: It's good to get out at night once in a while and do adult things. There was a time when I did not leave the house past 8pm for a few years! And when I finally did, I was marvelling at the night sky. Funny how deprivation makes you marvel at things you used to take for granted.

Save tip: Get a really nice SIL! *wink*



~   mummywee - parenting 6 kids in Singapore without going mad or broke  ~

Friday, 22 November 2013

Trip to the dentist

Took #3 to the dentist for her half-yearly check-up. She has been seeing Dr VicPearly for the past few years and strangely, she looks forward to her dental visits! Probably because Dr Vic is very good with children, and there is a TV screen on the ceiling to keep her distracted. This round, she says that she has been monitoring #3's front teeth and they are starting to flare out. She will have to do a retainer-plate thing and hopefully if #3 is diligent enough to wear it all the time, she won't have to do braces in future. I really hope it works, as getting braces for 5 kids is really no joke. It will indeed bring new meaning to 'paying through your teeth'!
Dr Vic said #3 is doing a great job brushing her teeth
#3 took a mold of her teeth and we have to come back next week when it's ready. 
Orange Orthodontics is a family dental clinic
Orange Orthodontics is in Lucky Plaza Medical suites so we hopped over to Tangs to get some Krispy Kreme donuts. They taste sooo good warm out of the oven, but way too sweet though. I'm sure Dr Vic won't approve of all that sugar ;)
The famous Krispy Kreme donuts


~   mummywee - parenting 6 kids in Singapore without going mad or broke  ~

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Discipline #3 - Never, ever, tell your child that you will go away

The early days were crazy days. As we live with my in-laws, it didn't help that there were a total of 13 people living in our small condo apartment, so there was no space to take a breather and calm down. There were some days where I told them (and probably meant it then) that if they didn't stop misbehaving, I would just go away. I was that near losing my sanity that I felt I had to walk away. I kept dreaming of rolling hills and green fields. There were days when I wanted to run away and be alone. I was dumbfounded when #3 told me recently that she remembered me saying that to them. She was probably only 4 or 5 then. I can imagine what those words would have meant to a child. It probably brought out all sorts of insecurities in them. It probably made them so afraid that one day they would wake up and find their mummy gone.

So no matter how difficult things are and no matter how much you want to escape from it all, don't ever, ever, threaten your child that you will go away if they continue to misbehave.  It is better to remove yourself from the situation, tell them you need to go for a walk to clear your mind. If you don't have the option of leaving the house, lock the bathroom door and have a soak in the tub. No tub? Sitting on the floor with some chocolate works too. But the best place I found to take a break from the screaming kids? The stairs right outside my house. I realised that if I locked myself in the room, I can still hear them quarrelling outside which doesn't help me to calm down. Worse, they would sometimes keep on banging on the door (I'm not sure if it was to irritate me more or to see if I was still alive in there). So I would leave the house, shut the door, and sit at the stairs. That way, I got a chance to get away from whatever was driving me nuts and yet I was still close enough to know what was going on in there. And you know what? The kids will immediately stop their nonsense when they see mummy leaving. But before you walk out the door, tell them that you need to take a 10-minute break so they don't think you are going for good. 

It is very important to take time out to care for yourself. We tend to keep on sacrificing and putting the needs of our kids above our own. Before we know it, we have turned into grumpy old women and I realised I was constantly simmering just under the surface. #4 who is very sensitive, gets upset when I'm in a bad mood. Now, we make a pact and she would tell me "mum, you are getting very grumpy" and that's her sign that I need to chill. I have a good friend who goes away by herself once every year while her wonderful husband takes care of the kids. That is one smart husband, if you ask me!

But not everyone is so fortunate to be able to take a few days and scoot off. If you do have enough family support, checking into a hotel for a night would be a great option too. That was my birthday wish for many years, which never materialised. I felt that I couldn't leave them and because there was always a child who needed me in the middle of the night, I never gave myself permission to put my own needs above theirs. And in the end, I was like a wound up toy that would jump at any slight provocation.

L O V E

So what do I do when things get really bad? Like when you are pregnant and 4 other little kids are sick or/and misbehaving and you are about to go mad? I take one day at a time and keep reminding myself that "This too, shall pass."

And above all, always keep love in your heart. Only if you love yourself, can you love your family well. To all the mummies out there, you are doing the best you can, so give yourselves a pat on the back!

Other discipline tips (which I've learnt after having 5 kids):

Tip #8: What do you do when your 2-year old lies?
Tip #9: When the gramps can't say 'no'



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