Thursday, 29 May 2014

Discipline #5: How to talk to boys vs girls

My first 4 kids were girls. Being a mother, I had no problems communicating with them. Then along came my son. I would be nagging him constantly to tidy up his room to no avail. Finally one day, I was having a conversation with some friends who only had boys. They told me their house sounds like a military base, where orders are given straight and curt. I was telling them how my nagging seems to be falling on deaf ears. I would be standing at the doorway to his room saying, "Look how messy your room is! How many times must I tell you to clear up the mess? Why don't you ever listen to me?" With my girls, they understand these implicit instructions and immediately they will start to tidy up their room. However, my friends laughed and told me that with boys, I had to be direct. And explicit. With my earlier instructions, #5 must have been thinking, "Ok, I'm looking. I'm not sure how many times. I am listening."

They said that with their boys, getting them to tidy their room sounds more like this: "Ben, pack all the Lego into the blue box now." Clear, precise instructions.

For showering, I would tell my girls, "Why haven't you showered?" And into the bathroom they would go. For the boys? They taught me that I should be saying: "Ben, take off your clothes and go and shower now." 

When I was sharing this with some other friends over breakfast (who also had girls first), one of them told me that her son was the same. He would constantly forget to close the cupboard doors and she decided to nag him incessantly until he remembers to do so. Obviously, that isn't working, and he has probably learnt how to tune out her voice.

On the other hand, for those of you who had boys first and are used to the command driven method of communication, take more care when you speak to your girl. My friend who had 2 boys followed by a girl was so used to 'commanding' her boys that she automatically did that with her girl. And the poor 2 year old used to break down in tears when her mum forgot and said to her in a stern voice, "Girl, go and bathe now." Her hubby chided her gently and told her not to speak to their daughter so firmly, and when she spoke to her girl in a nice and gentle tone, her girl smiled, said "Ok mummy" and happily went in to shower.

We also realised that boys are generally not able to multi-task. If they were thoroughly absorbed in playing their Lego, they can't hear you speaking to them even if you were right next to them. Once, when Kate was just a few months old, she was crying in the room next to where #5 was engrossed with his Lego. I was showering upstairs and heard her cries. When I went down and asked him why didn't he go to her when she was crying so hard, he replied: "Oh really? She was crying?" Sigh. But at least now I know why the hubs doesn't reply me when he is engrossed in his movie. And all along I thought he was pretending not to hear me…



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

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Thankful… for my mum-in-law

We live with my in-laws and my mum-in-law wakes up the earliest. When the kids were young, we didn't know much about children and their sleep patterns. We used to let them sleep around 9pm and they would wake up at 6am. The hubs thought why not let them sleep later so they would wake up later. We allowed them to fall asleep naturally at around 10pm but they woke up even earlier, sometimes at 5 or 5.30am! Now I know that sleep begets sleep and I've learnt so much more about proper sleep patterns. My MIL would put the child in the stroller and push her around our condo at that early hour so that the rest of us can continue sleeping for a bit longer.
Kate and her cousin on their morning walk
Even till now, my MIL would take Kate for a stroll every morning. That frees up some time for me and I can have my breakfast and read the newspaper in peace. Something simple like that allows me to start my day nice and slow, and I would be ready to tackle the long day ahead. Now that my sis-in-law has a child the same age as Kate, they would play together and my MIL would watch over them.

There's also another thing I'm really thankful to her for. My own parents seriously spoil my kids by buying them too many toys and giving them whatever they ask for. When the 5 of them were younger, my dad used to buy 5 of the same toy just to prevent any disagreements! He gets very stressed when they start to bicker and that was his way of handling the situation. My MIL on the other hand, frowns on waste and excessive consumption. She does not buy them any toys and instead puts a sum of money each month into their bank accounts from the time they enter primary 1, for their future tertiary education. Extremely practical and wise. Well I guess both sets of grandparents balances things out. One makes them feel loved and doted on, while the other teaches them thrift and planning for their future. Aren't they lucky.


Thankful Tuesdays:

"He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has" - Epictetus

Thankful… for the hub's cooking
Thankful… for #5's cooking and caring of Kate
Thankful… for #3 in so many ways
Thankful… for sister-in-law #1
Thankful… for our helper
Thankful… for my family
Thankful… for my mum-in-law

Linking up with:


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

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Roomraider - Great fun for teens and adults

One of the latest in entertainment for teens and adults that I have been hearing about is something called Escape Room Gaming. You go with a group of friends and enter an interactive real life puzzle where you work as a team to solve a mystery within a time limit. We were offered the opportunity to try it out for ourselves, so I took my older girls and their friends along to experience something new as I had heard good reviews from some friends. I was looking forward to going in with them, however at the last minute, I realised that the doors are bolted and some of the areas are narrow, and as I am claustrophobic, I decided to back out.
@ Orchard Central
After the hour was up (they were given an extension as they did not manage to solve the puzzle within the 45 minute time frame), here's what my kids had to say about it:

"Roomraider is a really exciting and intriguing experience that has opened our eyes to a whole new world of fun using codes and secrecy. Through the extremely important use of communication and collaboration between teammates, we had to put our heads together to manoeuvre through a maze of rooms to try and solve the mystery."
Encourages teamwork
We went for 'Prison Break' which is their most popular theme. This is also the most challenging one and the kids had to press the buzzer for help a couple of times. They were then prompted with clues. There are other themes to choose from including SWAT: Firestorm, Where's Cuddles?, Hyperion and Dark Mansion. The different themes have different environments, different gadgets and different objectives.
Having a swell time
The very friendly young people who were manning the counter advised me that it is most suitable for children above the age of 12 as some of the puzzles are quite challenging and younger children may not be able to solve them. You have to form teams of between 2 to 8 people, however the fewer people there are in the group, the tougher it will be to solve the puzzle. If you come in a party of less than 8, there might be a chance that you would have to combine with another group to form a group of 8.

Sane tip: Great to take the older kids during this June holidays for a different experience. Also good for girls night out or couples date night with a bunch of friends. Do book in advance to avoid disappointment for your preferred time slot, and come in comfortable clothing.

Save tip: Cheaper on weekdays - $22 per person. Regular price (Fridays from 5.30pm, Sat & Sun, & Public holidays) - $28 per person.

Roomraider

181 Orchard Road
Orchard Central
#05-45
Singapore 238896

Tel: 6636 8470


Disclaimer: Our session at Roomraider has been sponsored. All opinions are my own.


~ mummy wee - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Mexico City - Pyramids, Volcanoes and fried worms too

Besides visiting churches and the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we took time to visit Mexico's grandest archaeological site known as Teotihuacan or the City of the Gods. Skulls of children have been found buried in the pyramids, presumably as human sacrifice to their gods. I didn't think I could climb to the top, but after seeing the other people in our group who are in their 60s doing the climb, I was encouraged and managed to reach the top with much huffing and puffing. Another reminder that I need to start on a regular exercise program.
Ancient city of pyramids
We went into the city for lunch and did a city tour. This meteorite fell in Chihuahua, Mexico. Didn't think meteorites were so big.
Meteorita De "El Morito"
Such adorably pruned trees
We couldn't believe our eyes to see this kid carousel which uses real life horses. Poor animals.

On our trip, we chanced upon 2 church weddings. The Mexican people go all out to dress up for such occasions and even the little boys are in tuxedoes. Several people from our group started inching closer and closer to take pictures of them, and instead of finding us a nuisance, they warmly invited everyone to get into the photos with the bride and groom and their families.
Beautiful flowers for a church wedding
We also witnessed a girl and her chaperons on her way to church to celebrate her coming of age. This is celebrated when she turns 15, with Mass and a reception for hundreds of guests thereafter. Again, our mob surrounded them and started whipping out phones to take pictures. They must have been in a rush to head off to their celebration, and the guys were feeling really hot in their suits, but they patiently posed for us. I'm sure if the reverse were the case, we would find the tourists bothersome and intrusive and would probably give them dagger looks to make them feel uncomfortable. It was a simple but powerful lesson to me, that we have to learn to be more gracious and to embrace life and unexpected things that come our way, instead of always being in a rush and being 'kan cheong' about everything.
Coming of age celebration

Very elaborate interiors of churches
Spotted this street performer with incredible jumping and balancing skills. He jumped from the top of one black stump to another all the way to the end.


Street vendors cooking pancakes on the sidewalk
Lots of sculptures all around town, for both aesthetic and practical purposes.

This was the first post office which was built in 1904, and is still in operation today. Grand.
First post office

Cutesey gelato
Someone in our group ordered this plate of worms and ants eggs which was a first for most of us ignorant ones. Have to say the worms were nice and crunchy.
Fried worms, anyone?
Some of us commented how sad it must be for the locals to live like this. However, we came to an even sadder conclusion that our children of this generation, despite all the material things they have, may well experience less happiness in our stressful society than these children who are free to run and roam.

I left Mexico with a sense of how fortunate the people are to have warmth, community and faith imbued in their culture. And how their children seemed so well loved by parents and grandparents. Their passion for life and love also touched me deeply. Isn't it sad that we are lacking in such important aspects, without even knowing we are lacking in it?
Active volcano in the background
We had a lovely Mexican tour guide who explained everything very well to us. Here's his email if you're planning a trip to Mexico.

Francisco Gonzalez: fransergoz@hotmail.com


For the other half of our pilgrimage in Mexico, click here.

For what the beauty of nature did to my soul, click here.


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

Friday, 23 May 2014

My guest post on A Pancake Princess blog

I was invited to do a guest post as part of a mother's day tribute on this lovely blog, "A Pancake Princess".


Dotz is a mummy to 2 very cute little boys and she shares her parenting journey with a lot of honesty. Do also drop in at A Pancake Princess to get some creative craft ideas!



For the full write-up of my guest post, click here.



~ mummy wee - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

#2 topped her level in English! Wow.

Today was a very happy day. #2 texted me to say that she topped her level in English! Wow, that was excellent news. She asked if I could pick her up from school and take her to Sogurt as a reward. Most definitely, I replied.

The younger ones end school earlier so I went to pick them first. #3 burst into the car and was so excited to tell me that she scored As for all 3 subjects (except for Chinese, of course). That was a vast improvement from a fail to an A for Math, from a C to an A for Science and from a B to an A for English. I was so proud of her! I could also tell that she was very proud of herself that her hard work paid off.

Next, we picked #5 and told him the good news about his 2 sisters. He said, "Me too! I got this Mamee from my teacher." We said, "No boy, only those who did well can get Sogurt later. He replied, "Ya I did well too. I got 38/40 for Math which was the highest mark, so I got a Mamee from my teacher." Awesome. I couldn't be happier. When I was away, the kids got back their practice papers for the mid-year exams and it was a pretty bleak picture. As the kids had to get daddy to sign, the hubs was quite shocked (he assumes they are all happily sailing along in school) and texted me pictures of some of their grades with some fails and lots of barely passing marks. With my kids, I don't put any undue pressure on them, so they are very calm during the actual exams and usually perform better then.
Looks like the toppings are more than the yoghurt!
#4 did top her class in English, but she herself felt that she didn't put in much effort for this round of exams, so she took the smallest cup and only filled it a little bit as she didn't think she deserved a big reward. Notice how the other 2, who were so proud of themselves, gave themselves a big treat!

What was really interesting was that even though I didn't set any rules on how much they could take (as the price goes by weight), the kids themselves can self-regulate based on how much they feel they should be rewarded for their efforts.

Oh yes, this reminds me, there were some readers who asked me to summarise my talk about how to tackle school with minimal stress and money spent for those who were unable to attend. Now that I'm back and settled, I'll get down to it! (Haha, knowing me, if I don't declare it, I'll never get it done)

*btw, if you're starting to think that my kids are geniuses, er actually it's because they are either not in the top classes, or not in top schools, that's why they are able to top their class or their level in certain subjects. But the thing is, we celebrate effort and achievement, not the grade per se. So we're all overjoyed!



~ mummy wee - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Monday, 19 May 2014

Kate's antics: Hey doggie!

Some mornings, Kate prefers to take a walk instead of play at the playground.
She's a big girl now, pushing the stroller instead of being pushed.

Although she loves this dog, she's a little apprehensive.
"Hey, hey, what are you doing?"

"Stop harassing Mickey.. or else"

She walked for almost half an hour and was getting tired… and grumpy. A hungry child is an angry child.
"I can't find my snack box"

"Found it."

But alas, it was empty. Mummy forgot to top it up.
"Maybe if I stare at it long enough, some food will appear"

Well, that didn't work, so she climbed into the toy stroller and declared that she was too tired to walk back.
Putting on her best innocent look

By the time we reached home, I had a good and proper backache. Lesson learnt - never allow her to push the stroller out again.


~ mummy wee - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Friday, 16 May 2014

Cafe Melba @ Mountbatten

Took our mum out for dinner with my siblings over the mother's day weekend. I wanted a place where the food had enough variety to suit both the kids and the grandparents and where the kids could stretch their legs. This place fits the bill, and I just love the laid-back ambience.
Indoor and outdoor seating available
There was a little gravel-filled pit which the kids all seemed to be poking straws into. Kate was obviously having a great time imitating the older kids.
Gravel-filled pit
As it was a weekend, they had 2 little jumping castles to keep the kids entertained.
Best suited for those under 8
Their food was decent, with a selection of mains, pastas, pizzas, sandwiches and salads. They also have a kids menu priced at $15 each, inclusive of a drink. The kids said that the truffle fries ($13) here are one of the best they have ever eaten. And yes, they have eaten a lot of truffle fries.
Peperoni pizza $18
They also have fusion dishes like this crayfish pasta, and we also tried their beef rending. While the standard of their food was nothing to shout about, at least they were very accommodating with the needs of the old folks and our requests to remove certain ingredients were accepted readily.
Crayfish linguini $27
I couldn't resist ordering from their All day breakfast menu.
Eggs benedict $20
Sane tip: Love this little gem of a place tucked away at the Goodman Arts Centre. The atmosphere was nice and relaxed, parking was easy, and the kids had lots to occupy themselves with after dinner.

Save tip: The prices are actually a little above average, compared to similar cafes.


Cafe Melba
90 Goodman Road
Goodman Arts Centre
Block N #01-56
Singapore 439053
Tel: 64406068

Operating hours:
Mon - Fri: 10am - 10pm
Sat / Sun: 8am - 10pm


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

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Thankful… for the beauty of nature

As part of our pilgrimage, we visited some Missions in California. The peace and tranquility of the Missions brought such calm to my spirit which I so badly needed. Being in contemplative silence, the beauty of my surroundings penetrated deep into my soul. How lovely it would be to live here for a couple of days every once in a while. Somehow I lost my spectacles here. Well I guess when I get too burdened by our busy lives, I can close my eyes and look through the lenses of my glasses and re-live the quietude of my time there. 
Mission San Luis Rey
Thanks to the time difference, I woke up early in the morning and headed for the beach. So nice to have the beach almost entirely to myself. Sitting on the sand and listening to the waves crashing on the shore was wonderfully therapeutic.
Pismo beach - California
On our drive up to San Francisco, we enjoyed the scenic tour of the 17 mile drive. We stopped for photos of this lone cypress tree which has been featured in many movies for being, er, lonely. What struck me was the vast expanse of the ocean in front of me. Made me feel the awesomeness of the universe and recognise just how tiny we are in this dance of life. Very humbling. 
17 mile drive - Monterey
On returning home, many friends remarked how fresh and radiant I looked, and that my happiness was palpable. How did I manage to survive the past 15 years with hardly a break from the kids! If only I could take such a wondrous breather every year to renew and recharge.

I am absolutely thankful for the 2 weeks away where life stood still and I had time to smell the roses.

Beautiful huge roses

Thankful Tuesdays:

"He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has" - Epictetus

Thankful… for the hub's cooking
Thankful… for #5's cooking and caring of Kate
Thankful… for #3 in so many ways
Thankful… for sister-in-law #1
Thankful… for our helper
Thankful… for my family
Thankful… for my mum-in-law
~ www.mummyweeblog.com - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Mother's Day. Hmmm.

It's another one of those occasions. Where everything gets hyped up. I get lots of text messages with lovely sayings and videos to wish me a Happy Mother's Day. And you know what? It gets me thinking. The messages are always about how great we mums are, holding the family together, loving unconditionally, always being there for everyone, shaping lives, being such wonderful, almost perfect beings. If I had been all of those things to all of my children, I'll probably be grinning from ear to ear and giving myself a pat on the back. However, I'm only human, and there were definitely times when I was none of those, and when some days wore on too thinly, I was probably closer to a monster mum than a loving mum. Oh well, all we can do is to try our best to be the best mum we know how to be, right?
Cake baked with love (reads: love mum)
I am again blessed to be lavished with so much love from my kids. I guess the slate is wiped clean and I can start again on this day to try even harder to be a better mummy to them in this next one year. Children are so sweet and forgiving. I hope I never inadvertently cause them to grow up hurt or broken in any way. My own friends have shared that they still carry with them a lot of the hurt caused by their parents when they were growing up. It's really not easy being a parent.
Up-cycled bag
With 6 kids, I was showered with gifts, cards and cake. #2 carefully cut and stitched her t-shirt into a lovely bag for me. I have to say her workmanship is excellent!
The new in thing: rubber-band loom bracelet
As I was surrounded by all these mother's day happiness, I couldn't help but think of friends who had lost children, through illness, accidents, miscarriage or suicide. How unimaginable the pain must have been. We can only pray for them, especially on this day where they are reminded of their loss. I have learnt never to take anything for granted and to be grateful for everything that we have.
Thoughtful gifts and notes
The hubs went to the market early in the morning and cooked a really yummy seafood soup before he left to catch a flight. This time we even had Mexican abalone. What a treat.
Nothing like a home-cooked meal
At the end of the day, #4 helped me to shower Kate and dress her for bed while I relaxed and enjoyed their company. This is a far cry from my early days where I didn't have time nor energy to be fully present to them, and where I insisted on things being done the 'proper' way at the 'proper' time. Now, I have learnt to strike a balance, loosen up a little, and enjoy the little moments.
Kate trying to run away before #4 can button her PJs
I was very touched and contented to receive all their gestures of love, knowing that they had put in a lot of effort to make me happy. At bedtime, something else happened which really warmed my heart. Kate accidentally scratched #5's eye while he was getting her ready for bed. It was really painful and he was sobbing quietly. Nothing I said could console him. #3 heard what had happened and came into the room. She went to fetch his favourite book and read to him the funny parts, dramatising it so much that he burst out laughing. To see them care for one another like that was the best thing to end this special day.
Sibling love
I humbly salute all mums out there who have managed to forge close and loving families, where their children have warm smiles and beautiful hearts. And where their adult children can say with all sincerity that they have the best mum on earth. I hope that day will come.



www.ajugglingmom.com



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


(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-43179904-2', 'mummywee.blogspot.com'); ga('send', 'pageview');