Parenting Tips

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Reflections on 2006

January – My 3rd daughter, Yu Mei, turned 17 on 23/01/2006. No fancy celebration. Just a family get-together for a nice meal. Of all my children, she is the “rebellious” one who likes to argue with me. No matter what, she is still my child and I will love her always.

February – Yu Mei got her ‘O’ level results: two A1s, one A2 and the rest B3. Considering her score was 23 during her prelims, she had done well. As a parent, I am proud of her. She is now in Meridian JC and I am sure she will continue to do well in her ‘A’ level next year.

March – I attended the Certified Professional Trainer course conducted by Quest. There were 3 workshops and 3 assignments to be completed. Intend to do part-time training after I retire.

April – My eldest girl, Yulin, turned 22 on 8/4/2006. She is in her final year at NTU doing Mass Comm. On 22/4/2006, we lost our uncle (my father’s eldest brother) aged 90 in Kuala Lumpur. I brought my dad to KL to pay our last respects. Dad was full of emotions. He thought he would break down and cry but he didn’t. Instead, when he was back in Singapore, he cried quite often for no apparent reason.

May – We lost our dad on 12/05/2006 Vesak Day. While penning this, my eyes are wet with tears. Every time I think of him, I just can’t help it. Papa, I still miss you . . .

June – There was no Father’s Day celebration. Rather, all of us spent more time to visit my mum who still grieved for the loss of my dad.

July – At work, I was transferred to the User Administration Section. Quite a bit of adjustment to make and got to know my team members better. Had to stay late quite a bit too, most times up to 9 pm.

August – I joined the SEO Web Design workshop and started a blog – Up till today, have 50 posts. Will continue to blog and share parenting tips with interested parties.

September – There were 3 birthdays and our wedding anniversary to celebrate. As we were still in mourning mood, I just brought my mum out for dinner. No cakes for my 2 kids (Shuen Min and Yu Sin).

October – After more than 30 years with the same company, I decided I needed a break and submitted my retirement notice. Instead, after talking to HR, I opted for no-pay leave for 6 months. Like I said earlier, I intend to do part-time training. If all work well, I will formally retire in May 2007.

November – My last day of work was on 29/11/2006. Colleagues have given me farewell treats and wishing me all the best. I need that as I know venturing on my own is tough. Come what may, I will take the challenges!

December – This one month, I thought I could relax. Instead, I was rather busy clearing up things at home, going to my mum’s place and attending classes. Managed to take a short break with my husband to KL during Christmas week.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Mending the Lives of Teens

I read with interest today's Straits Times "Upfront" article on 'Young-old interaction mends lives of teenagers'.

It related how juvenile offenders (aged 14 and above) were sent by judges to work unpaid at welfare homes. This Community Service Order (CSO) was first introduced in 1996 as punishment for crimes such as drug-taking, shoplifting and rioting.

Initially, offenders were assigned menial chores and they did them with resentment. Probation officers and staff at these homes eventually realized that it is more beneficial for these youths to interact with the residents there. Last year, Project Sunshine was launched. It taps on offenders' talents, interest and resourcefulness to let them serve the less privileged.

This move is showing results. By developing a sense of empathy, the youngsters bring laughter and joy to the residents of the welfare homes. The Ministry of Community Development Youth and Sports has found that about 6 in 10 came back after their probation ends. The CSO programme makes them realize that there are people more disadvantaged than themselves. This has inspired them to change for the better. Like one of them said: "The residents may be old and sick but they have pride, so I had to be very careful in the way I behaved. I couldn't be my former arrogant and rude self."

I am really glad there is such a programme in Singapore. Parents of these youths would be pleased to know that their children have turned a 'new' life by being more responsible and caring. Hopefully, these are long term changes which will benefit them for life. BRAVO to CSO!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Spending Christmas in Kuala Lumpur

This Christmas, my husband and I made a trip to KL on 23/12 and were back on 26/12. Unlike Singapore, the weather was fine during the few days we were there - no rain and sunny.

On 23/12, we took a coach from Golden Mile (Grassland) at 9.45 am. As there was delay at Tangkak and slight detour at Seremban, we only reach KL around 5.45 pm. After checking in, we met up with my cousin's family and had dinner at Mum's Place - an Indonesian restaurant. The ambience was nice and so were the food. In fact, we were told that the furniture on display at the restaurant were also for sale. How interesting, right?

On 24/12, we were awaken by my elder cousin, Siang, who came 'knocking' at our hotel room at 8 am. After washing up, my husband and I had buffet breakfast at the hotel. As the shops open only after 10 am, we just stayed in the hotel room and watched TV. Lunch was at Jalan Alor - a local restaurant that offers a variety of fish soups. It certainly was cheap and good.

Thereafter, we proceeded to Petronas Twin Towers or KLCC (KL City Centre). Below are some shots that we have taken.

After visiting KLCC, we were back at Ritz Carlton. My husband and I then went for massage at The SPA Village on the 4th level of the hotel. Thereafter, dinner was at the poolside which is also on the 4th level. It turned out we were the only diners there - special arrangement by the hotel. Cool and romantic, right? It sure has been a long time since 2 of us had candle-light dinner, without the kids.

Christmas Day, we simply went shopping, from Times Square to Sungei Wang Plaza, all along Jalan Bukit Bintang. Dinner was with my cousin's family again. Nothing fancy but local delicacies that taste just as good. My nephew and niece threw in a SURPRISE when I went to their home - a belated birthday cake for me. My birthday was on Christmas' eve.

On 26/12 morning at 10 am, we made our journey back to Singapore. It was a smooth ride and we reached home slightly after 5 pm.

It was a free and easy trip and we did relax and have a good time.
Would like to thank my cousin Emily, Tim (her husband), her 2 kids (Benjamin and Wei Yinn) and of course Siang who have made the trip more memorable.

Parents, if you want a short break, do consider KL. There is good food and bargains if you take the time to look around.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Dong Zhi (Winter Solstice Festival)

Today is Dong Zhi. Most Singapore Chinese will associate this day to ‘tang yuan’ – glutinous rice flour balls. Well, want to know the history of Dong Zhi . . .

Dong Zhi is a thanksgiving festival in the Chinese calendar. It marks the end of the year with a new one approaching. Literally, it means ‘the arrival of winter’. The Winter Solstice Festival is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chinese and other East Asians during this festival.

Dong Zhi is the day when sunshine is weakest and daylight shortest. This celebration can be traced to the Taoist belief of yin and yang, which represents balance and harmony in life. It is believed that the yin qualities of darkness and cold are at their most powerful at this time. However, it is also the turning point, giving way to the light and warmth of yang. For this reason, the Dong Zhi Festival is a time for optimism.

This day is also the birthday of the Primival Lord Of Heaven (Yuan Shi Tian Zun), one of the Three Pure Ones in Taoism. Taoists will perform rituals on this day. But it is a pity, that younger generation today is not very appreciative to this festival.

It is an occasion for the family to get together to celebrate the good year they have had. To symbolize the unity and harmony in the family, tang yuan is cooked and eaten during this festival.

‘Tang Yuan’ also means "tuan yuan" (family reunion). The round shape of the rice balls symbolises reunion for the family, the sweet soup and pink colour is for harmony and good fortune. The flour balls may be plain or stuffed.

How to make tang yuan?

  • Add cool or tap water bit by bit to one cup of glutinous flour until you can mix it to the same texture as playdough.
  • Divide the dough into small portions. For pink ones, add colouring and knead on the dough to ensure even distribution of colour.
  • For stuffings, the fillings can be gula melaka (coconut sugar) or crushed peanuts.

Alternatively, you can get ready doughs in wet markets or better still, supermarkets offer ready-packed ones with fillings of red beans, black sesame and peanut paste.

How to cook tang yuan?
  • If plain soup is preferred, just cook the tang yuan in a pot of boiling water and add sugar to suit taste.
  • For my family, I like to use dried longans for the stock. The brown-coloured soup makes it more appealing.

Either way, when the dumpling floats, they are done. Let them sink in for a short while more but do not overcook lest they become mushy.

So parents, hope you can make use of above tips to prepare tang yuan for your family. While you are enjoying the rice balls, do share the story of Dong Zhi with your children. This is one tradition and culture that we should pass on.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Keep Healthy With Clean Air

Every living thing needs the warmth of the shining sun, clean air and pure water. However, the earth where we live is ruthlessly destroyed by ourselves – pollution. This has threatened our survival. Let us look at what are some of the indoor air pollutants and dangers:

  • Human factors – cigarette smoke, rubbish smell, perspiration smell body odour, etc
  • House factors – toxic gases from decoration materials, furniture, home electric appliances, etc
  • Biological factors – microorganism, virus, mould, pests, hairs of pet animals, etc
  • External factors – industrial waste gases, soot, sand, toxic chemical gases, etc

Singapore may not be the top 10 polluted cities but prevention is always better than cure. To keep the home environment clean, especially where there are children, it is good to install air purifiers. Below is a product that I will recommend:

TRL Air Purifiers

These purifiers adopt anion technology that purifies the air and removes toxic substances including dust, odours, moulds, etc. The following are some functions of anions:

  • Generate active oxygen in the air for ease of breathing absorption
  • Sterilize germ structures and subdue them
  • Act as an air freshener that combine dusts that float in the air with ionization and this will cause the dust in the air to subside.

With cleaner air, the benefits expected are:

  • Sleep improvement
  • Promotion of metabolism
  • Promotion of immunity
For more information, please log on to:

Besides the home, you may also put one of these purifiers in the car or near the computer. I have used this product myself and have found them to be truly beneficial.

Parents, for the sake of your family (children and old folks), do consider getting one or more of these purifiers.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Community Involvement Programme

CIP - Singapore parents with children in schools should be familiar with this term. It stands for Community Involvement Programme. Whether at primary, secondary or JC levels, school children are given tasks or projects under CIP.

In primary level, students may be assigned tasks such as washing toilets, flag days or visiting charitable homes. At secondary level, examples would be helping out in libraries, fund raising or helping out in other community work. At JC level, students are expected to show more involvement and this can be attachment to any of the charitable organizations.

One such example is SANA which stands for Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association. My daughter who is in JC1 was attached to SANA for 7 days (4/12 - 12/12) with 2 of her school mates. After their attachment, this is what they have to share.

The 3 Little 'Pigs'

(from Lee Yu Mei, Nasirah Mansor and Ttay Pui Boon)

Have you heard of the story of
The 3 Little 'Pigs'? Well, this is not about the Three Little Pigs but Three Little Girls, that is US! And here is our story . . .

Once upon a time, there was not a school called Meridian Junior College (MJC). In 2002, MJC was born. Joining MJC in 2006, the three girls did not know each other despite being in the same school for almost a year. We finally crossed paths when we joined the volunteer attachment programme at SANA.

When we first stepped into SANA, we absolutely did not know what to expect. But we were pleasantly surprised when were were warmly welcomed by all the staff at SANA. However, the first few days started slow as we were trying to fit into the surroundings. But special thanks to our mentor, Jean, who made this process much, much easier for us.

So what makes our stay at SANA interesting. Our first duty was to come up with a proposal for fund-raising, which was not exactly exciting and certainly nowhere near fun. Thankfully, Jean decided to mobilize us in designing a mega snake-and-ladder game which we enjoyed through and through. We were given a chance to unleash our childlike creativity which seemed to be missing in our hectic JC lives.

Along the way, we learnt loads about SANA and we also had a taste of what working life is like. Volunteering at SANA is an experience like no other because we were exposed to several teen issues such as smoking, teen pregnancy, hanging out late and most importantly, drug abuse. We realize that nowadays, these issues are very real and that everyone is equally susceptible to such temptations, including us.

We will always miss the times we shared during these 7 days' attachment, the laughter, the joy and most importantly, each other. As they say, friendship is born at the moment when one says to another, "What! You too? I thought I was the only one." Friendship and teamwork were the two things that made our stay at SANA fruitful. Like the three little pigs, we too, found out that hardwork was the single most important thing during this attachment. If only it had been longer . . .

To all young and robust teenagers out there, trust us, volunteering at SANA is one decision you will never regret. Pick up an application form and be a SANA volunteer, satisfaction guaranteed!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Quotable Quotes

Hi parents

This weekend, I have neither tips or advice to offer. Instead, have gathered some quotable quotes from famous people and would like to share them with you.

"A good example is the best lesson." - Benjamin Franklin

"A man without a goal is like a ship without a rudder." - Thomas Carlyle

"Be the change you want to see in the world." - Mohandas Gandhi

"Children have never been good at listening to their elders, but they never failed to imitate them." - James Baldwin

"Genius is 1% and 99% perspiration." - Thomas A Edison

"Get a good idea and stay with it. Dog it, work at it until it's done, and done right." - Walt Disney

"Give the world the best you have, and the best will come to you." - Madeline Bridge

"He who has the will acts with resolution; he who is contented is rich." - Confucius

"Imagination is more important than knowledge.
Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." - Albert Einstein

"Keep in mind that neither success nor failure is ever final." - Roger W Babson

"Learn from the mistakes of others - you can never live long enough to make them all yourself." - John Luther

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." - George Bernard Shaw

"Make sure you visualize what you really want, not what someone else wants for you." - Jerry Gillies

"Most of the successful people I've known are the ones who do more listening than talking." - Bernard Baruch

"Nothing happens unless first a dream." - Carl Sandburg

"Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstances." - Bruce Barton

"One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar." - Helen Keller

"One who knows others is wise;
One who knows oneself is enlightened.
One who overcomes others is strong;
One who overcomes oneself is mighty." - Lao Zi

"People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success." - Norman Vincent Peale

"The best way to success comes through constant practice." - Andy Warhol

"The past does not equal the future. Because you failed yesterday....doesn't mean anything....all that matters is: What are you going to do, right now? - Anthony Robbins

"Today is the first day of the rest of your life." - Abbie Hoffman

"We cannot discover new oceans until we have the courage to lose sight of the shore." - Muriel Chen

"Well done is better than well said." - Benjamin Franklin

"You don't get in life what you want; you get in life what you are." - Les Brown

In Singapore, life can be hectic and stressful for both parents and children. Whenever you feel down or need some words of encouragement, do refer to the above list and get some motivation.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Charity Project (3)

Just to update what is happening to the Charity Project.

Look at the variety of stuff toys available. If any of them appeal to you or your children, you can place your order, from $5 upwards to $10.

The hand-made items are still going at 2 for $1. So far, online orders for the pebbles are popular.

And look at the joy from these 3 girls. When you do charity, you do it willingly and with a loving heart!

If you want to do your bit for charity, please log on to or email to:

Sun Meng:
Yu Sin:
Wan Ping:

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Having POSITIVE Attitutes

In Singapore, to remain employable is tough. For a parent to juggle between work and family, is even tougher. Well, I am proud to say that I managed to stay in the workforce for more than 31 years. The first 3 jobs were around 3 months each. The 4th one lasted more than 30 years from secretary to executive level.

Many people asked how I managed to stay in the same company for so long? My motto is “Every Day is a New Day”. In addition, you need to have POSITIVE attitudes.

P repare to learn

This is important because to remain employable, one has to learn new skills to keep abreast with the ever changing times. Make it a point to look for courses relevant to your work and get the company to sponsor them. These include computer courses, communication skills, negotiation techniques, to name a few.

O bserve others

By observing others, especially your supervisors and bosses, you would be able to pick up leadership traits from them. The other aspect is to get along with your colleagues better, especially those from other units. Good liaising with different levels has its advantage - things can get done faster.

S elect your friends

More often than not, we spend a lot of time in the office than at home. So, it is good a have a few good and ‘positive’ friends who will support and give you encouragement in times of crisis. Usually, these will be your lunch ‘kakis’ where you can share your joys and woes. This is also a good time to de-stress and enjoy yummy meals together.

I nfluence others

This refers to getting others to be on your side, especially if you are on a project. By able to influence others in the team, common goals can be achieved and time-line can be observed. By having this strong trait also brings out the leadership quality in you. Your supervisor and boss will appreciate that.

T rust your instinct

Just when do you do that – when you have a new idea, when things go wrong or when you are in a dilemma to make a decision. Do consult your supervisor or boss in such a situation. Explain why you are taking the approach and get affirmation from them before proceeding.

I nvest your time

By this, I mean prioritizing the tasks allocated to you. If need be, delegate to others who are the ‘experts’. It also refers to striking a balance between work and family. By having quality time at home and at work, you will be in a better form to perform your tasks.

V alue yourself

By this, I mean one need to feel good about oneself. Unless you value yourself, then you can tap on your strengths and develop them further. If one has low esteem, it will show in his/her slacking performance. When you value yourself, you also look radiant and ready to take on new challenges.

E njoy what you do

Last but not least, enjoy what you are doing. When you have lost the joy in your work, it is time to move on to other areas. So, while you are on the job, take pride in it and give your best shot. Enjoy also your relationship with your colleagues. It will go a long way, especially if you intend to stay in the same company as long as I do.

Well, hope parents still in the workforce will find the above tips useful, not only in the office but also at home.