Tuesday, 29 September 2015

We are getting 2 new acting ministers for Education

I read with great sadness that Mr Heng Swee Keat is no more our Education Minister and has been appointed as the new Finance Minister.

Great sadness for 2 reasons.

One, because he has been student-centric and we are starting to see the fruits of his labour and two, because 4 years is simply too short to see real changes as the education cogwheel is so complex. Another term helmed by Mr Heng would have been good.
Source: Channel News Asia
After reading the article MOE to get two new acting ministers in today's Straits Times, I feel even worse.

"PM Lee had said two years ago that the Primary School Leaving Examination would be revamped, but no details have been released since."

I raised this issue with Mr Heng about a year ago when I had a chance to speak with him at a dinner. I shared with him some sentiments on the ground. I told him that after it was announced that the PSLE aggregate score would be scraped, kiasu parents have been scrambling to sign their kids up for more enrichment classes in the creative arts to boost their portfolios, in the void of further information on how all the A students are going to be differentiated.

Just when we thought things are moving forwards, would it be back to the drawing board? Besides the PSLE aggregate problem, there are many more issues at hand.

When I attended a dialogue session at the MOE 2 years ago, they shared with us that with some policies, it is one step forwards, two steps back. Many a time, it is the parents who need convincing.

I totally agree that the ministry can't work alone and that parents play a huge role.

However, to build a good relationship, doesn't it take time and trust?

Over the past 4 years, we have come to like and respect Mr Heng and his views, and parents are more open to the directives coming from his office.

There's another aspect of the re-shuffling which unsettled me.

Mr Lee said yesterday that he has known Mr Ng and Mr Ong before they joined politics and that they "have potential but need the exposure and experience. I'm able to supervise and oversee and mentor them."


Commentator Ho Kwon Ping described the education portfolio as "one of the most important ones and is usually a prerequisite for someone en route to being a PM".

Why do I get the sense that it's politics before people?

I thought it strange that some teachers who had been teaching for decades had this to say about the Education portfolio, but now I understand their acquiescence.

"We are like a ball. Always passed around."

Finance needs Mr Heng but we need him too!

I can only hope that the 2 new ministers work fast to get a feel of the situation on the ground and address the pressing problems facing our children, as the education situation from pre-school to tertiary not only affects their future, but also has a direct impact on the lives of families in the here and now.

On a brighter note, something to cheer about is having two new acting ministers.

Mr Ng Chee Meng will oversee pre-schools, primary and secondary schools, and Junior Colleges. He has served for three decades in the Singapore Armed Forces, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed as to his direction.

Mr Ong Ye Kung, who has served as Mr Lee's principal private secretary and was NTUC deputy secretary-general, will be in charge of ITEs, polytechnics, universities, private education, and continuing education and training.

We wish Mr Heng Swee Keat all the best in his new appointment, and warmly welcome Mr Ng and Mr Ong in their new positions and hope that this change in leadership will bear much fruit for Singapore in the coming years.


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


Friday, 25 September 2015

CitiBlocs for creative play

I love open-ended toys with limitless possibilities to stretch their imagination, for pretend play, and even to learn math concepts like counting, sorting or patterning effortlessly.

A mumtrepreneur friend who runs the local online shop My First Games brought over a set of CitiBlocs in cool colours, and we've been having good fun with it.
CitiBlocs 200 pieces ($89.90)
It comes with a little manual with some suggestions of things to build and the required number of blocks. #5 flipped through it and asked Kate what she wanted him to build for her. "House!" she exclaimed.
House under contruction
#5 picked up some blocks, looked at the manual, then realised that it doesn't have step-by-step instructions like his Lego sets.

He looked at me, looked at his little sister and said, "Don't worry ok, gor gor will figure out how to build for you."
Kate's tiny house
Within minutes, he finished constructing an adorable little house for Kate.

That was fast!

I was still studying the diagram and didn't know where to begin. Guess #5 doesn't need any help from his clueless mum when it comes to construction toys.

With the remaining number of pieces, he did some quick math, and figured that he had enough blocks to build this robot-looking model.

He got stuck after building the base, thought a little while, then beamed. "OH! I know."

Over the past few years, I have discovered that he is very strong in his spatial abilities so looking at a picture and replicating it is not too difficult for him.
Robot man
He was done for the day, and the little ones happily took over. It was interesting to watch how they started by lining them up in a row, and slowly progressing to stacking them up horizontally.

Over time, I prompted them on other simple ways they could build with the blocks.
Free play
Another day, I took the box out for Kate to play with and #5 came over and suggested we have a competition.

We divided the blocks into half, and the category was "Vehicle".
#5's ship with mast
We were not allowed to look at each other's work, and halfway through, I was stuck and wondering how to fashion the sides of the ship to make it curve upwards.
Mummy's ship
#5 took some of my blocks, aligned them properly to give the sides a tilt and taught me the physics behind it.

See, if you put it like that, it will tilt up. If you want a greater tilt, you add more blocks here. But if it becomes too heavy, you need to...

Ok, I can't even remember everything else he said. Mummy has absolutely no aptitude nor interest in engineering and construction. But I still get involved to support his interest and learning...
Making a tilt
He appointed his 5-year old cousin as judge, and no surprises who emerged as winner.
Living room
The next category was "Furniture". #5 had great plans to make a towering chair. However, he built it too thin and too high that it collapsed.

So the score was 1-1.

Till next time!

Save tip: Not to be missed promotion going on now! 30% off all CitiBlocs from My First Games. Enter code CTBTHIRTY at checkout. While stocks lasts.

Sane tip: Kids may not naturally know how to create with blocks. Kate is quite clueless where to begin and prefers to ask #5 to build something for her. I encourage her to fiddle with it and gradually she is learning more ways of stacking them. Slowly she will improve on her fine motor skills and creativity and be able to work on it herself!


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


Monday, 21 September 2015

Steamboat: Hai Di Lao Hot Pot

Friends have been raving about this steamboat chain but somehow we never got round to trying it. Finally I went to the IMM outlet with my ex-neighbours to celebrate their birthdays, and I'll definitely bring the kids the next round.

I've heard how great the service is. They provide waiting customers with manicures, fruits and popcorn.

A manicure? Sounds bizarre. I didn't fancy having my nails done while fishing out morsels of food from the pot.

Well, the average waiting time during the dinner hour is about 2 to 3 hours. Ah, I get it. Free manicure while waiting for dinner. Sounds like the perfect place for a mummies' night out. Efficient.

Hai Di Lao Steamboat
We did not get to have a manicure as we arrived at 10pm for supper. I had forgotten about a dinner meeting so since we were all prepped for it, decided to push it back to supper instead.
Soup base
The good service was apparent from the time you are seated as the waiter offers you a ziplock bag for your phone and special wet wipes to clean your spectacle lenses! Feels kind of pampered.

We went for the popular tomato soup base and the chicken soup. Both were not bad.
Beef slices $18
Ordered the usual like beef and pork slices, fish and tofu. Everything was fresh and well presented.
Promfret
What I really enjoyed was the Handmade mashed shrimp ($16) that came wrapped in a plastic bag. We ignorantly attempted to squeeze it into the soup, and it became little stringy worms. We gave up and asked the waiter for assistance, and he deftly sliced them gently into the pot.
Handmade mashed shrimp ($16)
They cooked perfectly into little prawn dollops. Definitely my favourite dish here!

The other dish I also enjoyed was the handmade noodles. You only need to cook it for a minute and it comes out nice and chewy.

The kids will most certainly be entertained by the amazing noodle demonstration. He is so skilled that he is able to 'throw' the long string of noodles inches from your nose. We joked with him and he entertained us with more of his deft strokes. Our waiter mentioned that he was a former martial arts expert. Not sure if he was pulling our leg, but I wouldn't be surprised!
Noodles ($4 per portion)
This place is slightly more pricey than other steamboat places, but the service and freshness of the food makes up for it. We had the above dishes with some other side dishes and it set us back $45 each.

Before I got round to posting this review, I was back, with the kids and grandparents for a nice dinner to round off the September holidays. This time, we got to experience their pre-dinner service.

As it was the weekend, I thought we could beat the queue by reaching at 5pm. Guess it wasn't early enough. They gave us a queue number and would give us a call once our table was ready.

The kids were highly amused that there was FREE food while waiting. Prawn crackers, banana crisps, and fruits. Kate filled herself with it, got up and declared, "Ok, I'm done. Let's go home."
Pre-meal waiting area
We didn't bother queueing for the manicure as we thought it would take too long. On hindsight, we really should have, as we waited 2 hours for our table!

My parents were getting really cranky and wanted to leave. The kids decided to give it 15 more minutes since we have already waited so long.

In the end, my parents were appeased by the good service of the wait staff who served us. She gave us aprons and even helped Kate don hers. She handed out the handphone covers and hair ties for my girls with long hair. Whilst waiting for the soup to boil, she brought over a plate of fruits.

She asked if we wanted the prawns peeled and seafood shelled, and did all of that before cooking it in the hotpot for us. She then proceeded to scoop us each a bowl of soup.

I'm not sure if the remarkable service was standard, or because my folks made a fuss, but the kids had a thoroughly enjoyable meal, and commented, "The lady is so nice. And she doesn't stop smiling!"

Talk about excellent service.
Mini playroom
After a satisfying meal, my mum said that the only thing lacking was entertainment for kids which would have made the waiting more bearable for Kate.

#2 pointed out, "There was a playroom right next to the manicure booth. Didn't you guys see it? I thought it was so small that you didn't bother putting Kate in."

Ah well. Next time then. The kids are already saying that they want to come back for the noodles and shrimp dumpling.

On a weekday.

As we left, the kids spotted a fridge at the entrance with free ice-cream to end the throughly enjoyable meal. And popcorn in sealed cups to take along.

Sweet.


Hai Di Lao Hot Pot

Clarke Quay (10.30am - 6.00am)

3D River Valley Road #02-04
Singapore 179 023

Tel: 6337 8626 / 27


313 Orchard (10.30am - 6.00am)

313 Orchard Road #04-23
Singapore 238895

Tel: 6835 7227 / 7337


IMM (10.30am - 4.00am)

2 Jurong East Street 21
Singapore 609601
#03-01

Tel: 6896 4111/222

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

Thursday, 17 September 2015

DIY calendar craft

#4 made a really pretty calendar for her desk. She got some of my scrapbooking paper and fashioned a simple calendar out of materials found around the house.

Materials:
  • Scrapbook paper or slightly thicker paper
  • 3 toothpicks
  • 3 or 6 mini pegs
  • Hole puncher
  • Scissors
  • Black marker
  • Washi tape (optional)
Daily table calendar
STEP 1:

Cut scrapbooking paper into rectangles and punch holes on the left.

You will need 26 pieces of rectangle slips.

If you don't have scrapbooking paper, you can use washi tape to decorate plain coloured paper.
12 months
STEP 2:

Write 1 month on each slip of paper (January to December). Total: 12

Write 1 numeral on each slip of paper.

Write a set of numbers 0 to 9. Total: 10

Write a set of numbers 0 to 3. Total: 4


STEP 3:

Paint the toothpicks if you wish. #4 painted them gold.

STEP 4: (Optional)

Use washi tape to decorate the mini pegs.

Peg the mini pegs onto the toothpick and slot the pegs into the weave of the box. If you don't have such a box, you can perhaps tape it onto a shelf.


STEP 5:

Peg another mini peg at the front of the toothpick to prevent the paper from slipping off.




That's it! #4 is delighted that she will know exactly what date it is every single day.

For more craft ideas, here's a really lovely and easy to do DIY vacation box craft from A Juggling Mum, and #4's DIY calendar idea can easily be taped on the top of it. 

And here are 8 more activities from Mamawearpapashirt blog to check out!


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


Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Our September holidays 2015

The one-week holiday has turned out way more eventful than I had planned. Sometimes just going with the flow is best!


We used to go up to KL very frequently when the kids were younger, as they enjoyed the Berjaya Times Square theme park immensely.

As they entered their teens, they were not so keen on that nor Sunway Lagoon anymore, so we started venturing abroad.

Now that the ringgit is at an all-time low, there is no better time to drive up to eat, play and visit grandpa.
With relatives in KL
We discovered a new super cool facility and the 6 kids spent the whole afternoon having fun climbing, sliding, swinging and jumping with their cousins. District 21 is located at IOI City Mall, about 30 minutes drive away from the city. Will follow up with a review of the place shortly!

After dinner, the hub's cousin took us to Kuala Selangor to the Firefly Park. We sat in little sampans in the still of night, while being paddled down the river.

The fireflies looked like tiny blinking lights in the trees! What a sight. I joked to the kids that we should uproot one whole tree home and it would feel like Christmas all year round.

En route to Singapore, we stopped over at Malacca for a night. We strolled along the river and had a nice slow day doing well, nothing much, really.
Enthralled by feathered friends
We drove about 20 minutes out of town to visit the Submarine Museum. It was surreal to imagine what it must be like to be in this monster of a machine, several decades ago, submerged in the deep, blue sea.

Being claustrophobic, I remarked that I can't imagine what it must be like to live in such a narrow, confined space.

As for #4, she couldn't quite believe how it cost us just 30cents each to visit a tourist attraction, and kept on repeating, "30 cents! Can you believe it? Just 30 cents for that?" Yeah, my kids are strange like that.
Submarine Museum - Melaka
In the evening, it got slightly hazy and the hubs decided we would stay indoors and have dinner at the Italian restaurant in our hotel.

Italian? While in Malacca??

If not for the haze and the fact that I was tired from taking care of Kate the past few days, I would have insisted we go out for some good local food.

I was pleasantly surprised that the bread came out warm, and soft in the middle. It was also a nice change from the coffeeshop meals we've been having, and I didn't have to get up repeatedly to fetch extra bowls for Kate and #5, nor re-clean the tables myself. Ah, the night started to look real fine.
Olio Italian - Ramada Plaza Hotel
The seared tuna appetiser was good, and the kids lapped up the carbonara.The meal came up to less than S$15 per person, with appetisers, pizzas, pastas and dessert. Add to that the warm ambience, attentive service, and live band which started at 8.30pm (perfect to entertain Kate while we relaxed and enjoyed our dessert) it was a wonderful last dinner in Malaysia. How ironic huh.
DIY craft
When we got back, the girls were content to stay at home and relax, doing simple crafts to decorate their rooms and making healthy smoothies (their new craze).

And little Kate? I was too busy to entertain her so she occupied herself by getting in everyone's way.

What I love about school holidays is that there is no rush and no agenda. The kids take charge of most meals, and the kitchen is always a hive of activity.
This is the way we roll the dough...
Kate wanted in on anything remotely exciting. At that moment, the fun thing going on was meddling with the pizza dough after it had risen.
"Eh, why jie jie's pizza base so nice?"
She was hard at work kneading and rolling, but was puzzled as to why her dough didn't look anything like #2's.

She resorted to coaxing her dough.

And almost gave it a good spanking.
"You do what I say, dough. FLATTEN OUT!"

In the end, her sisters made her a nice little pizza heart to cheer her up.

Homemade pizza for lunch!
As the 1 week holiday was nearing it's end, I decided to take the 2 younger ones out to let off some steam. I've been meaning to check out this new place Kaboodle Kids over at East Coast Park (Big Splash).

They had a good time, and it was a nice change from the usual indoor playgrounds.

#5 was busy building his fort, while Kate was content climbing up and down the random structures, and socialising with the other young kids. #5 turned his fort into a ball slide and got the balls to drop right into the basket. Score! I could see he was pleased as punch.
Kaboodle Kids at East Coast Park
It's back to school for the last term of 2015. Gosh, already?!

Here's wishing all school-going kids a fruitful term and all the best to those preparing for major exams.

Happy Term 4, kids!


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



Wednesday, 9 September 2015

AIR+ Smart Mask for Children and Adults

Unfortunately, the haze is back. Air quality has hit unhealthy levels and looks to persist as there are more hot spots detected in Sumatra. Especially vulnerable are our children and the elderly. Besides staying indoors as much as possible, we can protect ourselves by wearing good quality protective masks.
#3 wearing size 'M'
I can still remember the haze situation 2 years back where the masks available came in one standard size and were not of a good fit for my kids. They did not like to wear it as it was uncomfortable. The peak was during the June school holidays so we tried to minimise going out, but there were still activities we needed to do and life had to go on.

I'm so glad that Innosparks, a ST Engineering subsidiary has invented the World's First Smart Mask, with a micro ventilator for fresher air. Furthermore, being innovated in Singapore, the masks are designed for Asian faces, and in sizes to fit both children and adults. Yes, I can hear you breathe a sigh of relief.

The engineers focused their R&D efforts on a design that will provide better seal protection for all ages, as well as frontline workers, who have to wear masks for prolonged periods in exposed areas. Hence, they applied their engineering and technical skill sets and invented the next generation of respirators.

The AIR+ Smart Mask consists of 2 components. One is the disposable mask and the other is a ventilator, like a mini fan.
Size chart on the box
Benefits of the Smart Mask
  • Protects against airborne pollutants and PM2.5
  • 3 sizes available for children from 7 years onwards. Guideline: Children (S), Women (M), Men (L)
  • Designed for Asian faces
  • Superior comfort - plush cushioning and soft material
  • Adjustable straps that are easy to put on
  • Has a one way exhalation vent to allow for release of air that we breathe out
  • Can be used as a standalone product as a superior N95 disposable mask, or together with the Micro Ventilator for easier breathing and more comfort. Can be reused intermittently, up to a total of 8 hours.
  • Retail price: $7.20 (3 pc pack)
Micro Ventilator
Benefits of the AIR+ Micro Ventilator
  • World's first Micro Ventilator
  • Clips easily onto Smart Mask to extract air, moisture, heat and carbon dioxide trapped within the mask
  • Reusable for up to 2 years, rechargeable via USB plug* (included)
  • Extracts air, moisture, heat and carbon dioxide trapped within the mask by its micro fan to keep you cool and fresh
  • Fits all Smart Masks
  • Retail price: $29.90
*the micro ventilator takes 1 hour to be fully charged and can be used for about 2 hours

Sane tip: This is such a timely innovation, especially for children and the elderly, as the other N95 masks may not be suitable because there is an accumulation of heat, humidity and high CO2 levels, resulting in breathing difficulties or dizziness.

Rest assured, the AIR+ Smart Mask is certified to meet both the EN 149:2001+A1:2009 (European) and the N95 NIOSH-approved (American) standards.
AIR+ Smart Mask
Save tip: {GIVEAWAY} Good news!

I am so pleased to giveaway 5 sets of AIR+ Smart Mask for my readers (worth $37.10 per set), which includes the masks and the ventilator.


All you have to do is:
  • Like Mummy Wee's Facebook page
  • Like this post on Facebook
  •  Leave a comment on Mummy Wee's Facebook post stating your name and email address
Details:
  • 5 lucky winners will be chosen at random
  • Open to Singapore residents only
  • Ends midnight of 11 September 2015
  • Winners will be announced on Mummy Wee's Facebook page on 14 September 2015
  • Winners will be contacted by our sponsors for delivery
  • Size of masks can be requested.

The AIR+ Smart Mask is available at all Watsons Singapore and Watsons online store.

For more information, visit the AIR+ Smart Mask official website.


Disclaimer: This is a sponsored advertorial. The giveaway has been sponsored by AIR+ Smart Mask. All opinions are my own


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


Thursday, 3 September 2015

My first attempt at baking for Teacher's Day

Every year, the older girls will invite their friends over and have a massive teacher's day bake. Somehow, they manage to make delicious cookies and muffins, much to my surprise. I mean, home-baked goodies from students? Um...

This year is the first time Kate is celebrating Teacher's Day and I wanted to show my appreciation to her teachers who have taken such good care of her these past 8 months.

Moist banana cake
They have gone beyond their duty of imparting knowledge to her, and have guided her closely in shaping her character and values as well, while being attuned to her emotional needs.

Day in, day out, they handle the little tikes with infinite patience and professionalism, never once raising their voices, yet managing to keep them within firm boundaries. I really can't ask for more in her dedicated educators.

I decided that the only fitting gift I could give them is something home-made with sincerity. Her teacher buys fruit for the kids to share during snack time and it would be lovely if I could bake them something yummy for this special day at school.

Fresh from the oven
One of our yoga mummies is a consummate baker and brought a fragrant banana cake for my birthday celebration. It was heavenly, and I've been longing for another slice of it since then. So freshly baked banana cake it was going to be.

My girls looked quizzically at me, "Mum, you sure you want to bake for Kate's teachers?" My past few cookie attempts failed pretty miserably because I tried to substitute too many ingredients with what I had on hand.

Amazingly, this turned out well, and ours vanished in the blink of an eye. Here's the recipe if you are keen to try it out!

I would like to wish all teachers, not only school teachers, but teachers in every capacity, a very Happy Teacher's Day!

May you continue to touch lives and inspire others with what you do.


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