Why I Didn’t Want To Tell People My Kids Are In School

I contemplated for some time before typing this post. It has been quite a struggle within me to open up. We had placed Elijah into a kindergarten in April. As of now, both my children are officially in mainstream schools.

Grandparents, neighbours and our medical professionals (OT, Educational Psychologist etc) might have performed a little celebration dance upon hearing the news. “It’s about time you did that!” or “It’s better for him” were what they would say.

If I could see their thought bubbles, it might have been…

This crazy woman has finally found her senses!!

On the other hand, the homeschool community would pose questions like “was homeschooling Elijah so tough?”or “have you prayed this decision through?”

Their thought bubbles could look like this:

Ah…she’s not cut out to handle homeschooling. She’s given up.

The truth is, caring and teaching my son is tough. Some questions I ask myself everyday: “How do I keep him engaged throughout our lessons?”, “How do I get him to write without the tantrums?”, “How can I help him stay focus long enough to finish one task?” and “How do we go through a day without tears and battles?”

It is challenging, tiring and discouraging (often faced with rejections from society). I ask myself why walk this tiresome path when so many others seem to have an easier route?

A homeschool mom remarked that God must have favoured me. While, it was her way of encouragement, deep down, it sounded like a mockery than compliment. I don’t want such “favours” – a simpler journey is very much welcomed.

I was holding on to the fears, guilt and expectations of everyone around me. It felt as if I had failed my son by choosing to send him to school. I wanted the best for him but clearly, I could not deliver.

On the flip side, the medical professionals and people (who wanted my son to be in school) made me feel as if I was not doing enough for him through homeschooling. His poor handwriting was because I didn’t expose him enough writing. His inability to read social cues were due to lack of experience in social settings. His activeness was attributed to the lack of structure.

Either way, I was bombarded with one message: I was not doing enough.

Finally, it came to a point that I collapsed in every way imaginable. I knew I was spiralling downwards. I was “forced” to let go of homeschooling, therapy activities, church activities, play dates etc. It wasn’t easy to put the brakes on when the world keeps spinning.

For those who asked if I had prayed… that felt like a slap in the face. OF COURSE, we would have prayed. But, guess what, God isn’t a genie or Santa that answers your prayer list. That doesn’t mean He isn’t listening or doesn’t care. That doesn’t mean we mean anything less. That doesn’t mean we aren’t “goody” enough. Or we’re not hearing Him right.

During this season, I’ve learned that God works in tandem with us. There is no fixed answer. Whatever “answer” given in that season, may not be the “answer” in this season.

This time, it was I (not my husband) who decided to let my son enter kindergarten. We were rejected by a nearby church kindergarten because of his differences. It was painful to deal with rejection every time. We tried again with another church kindergarten and they agreed to let Elijah try for a term.

5 months into kindergarten, he’s still in the same kindergarten. I thank God for that. It’s truly by His grace and providence.

We continue with homeschooling at a different time of day. Because of his learning gaps and varied interests, he needed space and time to learn at his pace.

I’ve learned that the answers we seek may not necessarily be how we interpret it to be. The homeschooling community defines that to be “homeschooled”, the child does not attend any school (kindergarten, childcare etc). We would fail in that criteria. The mainstream system expects students to meet certain benchmark per term. We don’t meet that too.

Our regular homeschool friends have become much of a “hi-bye” relationship. We rarely mingle with his kindergarten friends. But God has been gracious to me, He has connected me (knowing my high inclusion need) with other mothers in remarkable ways that I wouldn’t expect. For that, I am grateful.

God has also worked in my husband’s career path in a timely way – a decision to leave his stable career to venture into business. While that major decision came with some material sacrifices, we’ve gained much in our family time and bond.

My husband thinks he’s lucky to have a supportive wife. On the contrary, I think I am the blessed one. Ever thankful for his support to lighten my load in this season.

And so we continue to run counter to the norm. We are still in a mishmash situation of life but we are at peace with whatever answers we have for now. Until the next shakeup, we continue to prepare ourselves in faith and keep the hope that He holds our future. There is no fear.

Happy 36: Another Year Added to My Life

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Photo credit: Flickr

To my friends and family,

Thank you for your birthday wishes. I turn 36 on Tuesday and many have asked how I had spent my day. Truth be told, nothing spectacular happened. The usual routine like picking the kids up after school and doing the laundry remained. It was nice having the hubs around this year to enjoy lunch with.

I pondered over the seasons of change. My birthdays seem to be quieter with each passing year. No more hurrahs. I especially enjoyed the hour or two where I sat by the bus stop, watching the wind blow the ‘flame of the forest’ trees, with my music on. It was calming. Something I had come to savour and value with age.

I questioned my nearly 7 years as a stay-at-home mother. The many days I follow the same routine day in and day out…it can feel like groundhog day repeating itself.

An ex-boss once advised me to hire a domestic helper so I could leave “the mundane” to her and do whatever I want in life. That was when Elijah was around 4 months old? Then it sounded appealing…especially when I see my ex-colleagues and friends able to do just that.

Fast forward the years…now at 36, I have learned that it is important for my children to see me go through the mundane. Just yesterday, while playing “Taboo” with my children, my nearly 5-year-old rattled off my schedule: “Mama will do the morning laundry then cook lunch.”

While a stay-home mother’s life may be too boring and insignificant for many women (even men) of today. I have come to appreciate the value of these daily responsibilities. A stay-home mother’s schedule is no different from an office worker who heads to work every day. Some may argue that you have more friends at work, and accomplish interesting projects or meaningful contributions to society.

I think if we assume our days must always come with a big-bang, then we may be sadly disappointed. Because the truth is, most of our days don’t end with fireworks.

But we can choose how we approach our days – the attitude we bring to each day, and the impact we create as we faithfully serve and do the ordinary tasks over and over again.

I’ve read that “Greatness is often the product of repetitive goodness…”

My daily seemingly insignificant tasks provide my family with the stability they require. Routines form consistency and give a sense of security to the children.  These regular family activities strengthen shared values and beliefs in the family. I, the mother, (not the helper) becomes an important pillar of security and love to the family.

And through our trivial tasks like bathing the children, making meals, laundry etc…we make memories with our children. My daughter remembers more of the little (seemingly invisible) things we do at home than the big-ticket holidays.

How best to teach our children to live out these verses, if we aren’t modelling it ourselves:

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” Luke 16:10; and

“His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Matthew 25:21.

You might say, “So it’s just for your family?” No, it isn’t.

Stay-home mothers have an impact on our community as well. A different group of audience in need. I’ve shared in my previous post: Dear SAHM, you impact the world.

An encouragement to my future self (when things grow weary) and to others:  Even if we do ordinary things, it is achievable to live out an extraordinary life through our service to God in the ordinary.

Happy 36th birthday to me.

10 Best Kitchen Buys from Ikea

Another 10 more days to Ikea Singapore’s 40th anniversary! This isn’t a paid advertisement for the Swedish megastore, but because this Ikea fangirl absolutely found these products worked great for me. Plus, it doesn’t cost a bomb!

1. KONCIS Garlic Press

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I use to think garlic press is an accessory for the kitchen snobs. I mean, you could easily smash garlic with a chef’s knife?

When a fellow homeschooling mom shared how this nifty gadget speeds up her time in the kitchen, I was sceptical.  Yet after hearing several weeks of how good the garlic press is, I’ve decided to give this SGD$8.90 gadget a shot.

Boy, was I impressed! Firstly, I DID NOT have to peel the garlic. With just a press, I was able to get crushed garlic out of its skin. Washing the garlic press was simple since the insert is removable.

Continue reading 10 Best Kitchen Buys from Ikea

New Routines, New Homeschool Curriculum

We are almost reaching the end of April. I’ve missed writing to you. I hope you’ve missed hearing from me.

Sometimes I wonder what I should write with our new schedule. Would it be like what most Singaporean moms talk about…the exams, core-curricular activities, or school woes? Or would I still discuss on homeschooling? I’m straddling both schools, and deal with an identity crisis from time to time.

So what have we been really doing?

Continue reading New Routines, New Homeschool Curriculum

2017 Reflections and DRASTIC Family Decision

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Blessed Christmas everyone!

I’m on my daughter’s desk, pounding my keyboards drafting this post, with the washing machine whirling in the background. I have SO much to say but SO little time to compose.

“What lessons have you learned from God this year?”

A question in our advent devotion got me pondering. There are several moments and seasons that stood out for me. Continue reading 2017 Reflections and DRASTIC Family Decision

More DIY Activities in Minutes!

Hey all! I’m so glad to be blogging again! These several weeks have been particularly difficult to find any time to blog. I tend to blog when kids are out with Daddy, or at night after everyone is asleep.  These days, I K.O. the same time as them! And with new activities (and events) fitted into our family schedule, I’ve haven’t had me-time or even couple time. I should have this issue resolved…but in the meantime…*deep breaths*

Previously, I shared 7 easy peasy DIY activities for your children. Here are another 2 more boredom busters for the family.

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Skittles Candy Science Experiment

This Skittles candy experiment is really easy! Only 3 items needed.

Materials:

  • Skittles
  • Hot water
  • White shallow dish or bowl

Steps:

  1. Arrange skittles around the edge of the shallow dish. A white dish is the best as it allows you to see the colours beautifully.
  2. Pour hot water onto the centre of the dish.
  3. Watch the colours as the Skittles dissolve in water!

Hannah didn’t want to eat Skittles anymore after the experiment. She didn’t like the fact that all those colours go into her tummy.

Note: Don’t move the dish otherwise it won’t look as pretty. Elijah was shaking the dish so  our colours were mixed up.

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Paper Elephant Blower

I saw this cute paper Elephant blower craft on 5-Minute Crafts. Couldn’t resist trying!

Materials:

  • Paper – 2 triangles, long rectangle
  • Straw
  • Markers

Steps:

  1. Fold in the top part of the triangle slightly. Do it for both triangle pieces.
  2. Take one triangle; spread glue on entire paper.
  3. Place straw on the folded area extending to the base of the triangle piece.
  4. Stick part of the rectangular paper on the folded area (covering straw).  The rest of the rectangle should be sticking out (as the elephant’s trunk).
  5. Cover with another triangle; with folded areas matched together.
  6. Fold down the corners of the triangles to make the elephant’s ears.
  7. Draw the elephant’s eyes and trunk. You can cut smaller triangles for its tusks.
  8. Curl the elephant’s trunk by rolling the rectangular paper tightly around a marker.
  9. Pull out the marker.
  10. Blow!

Coming up…MORE DIY activities in minutes!

Review: Chinatown Trail, Singapore

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This is a backdated post of our Chinatown Trail in August – how we spent National Day 2017 before returning home to watch the evening’s National Day Parade.

Before embarking the heritage trail, you might find it useful to download the Chinatown Trail Booklet or Map from National Heritage Board. There’s a mobile application to download as well.

The Chinatown Trail Booklet includes the map and nuggets of information about each historical site. The estimated trail distance is 2.5km. Doable when bringing young children. Letting the kids scoot certainly help!

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We took a train to Outram Park. Starting from Bukit Pasoh Road, we walked through Kreta Ayer, settled lunch at Maxwell Food Centre before finishing our trail at Tanjong Pagar.

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The children got to see the different architectural style of Chinatown’s shophouses; how these styles vary because of changing economy and socio-political circumstances.  A wonderful chance to sing 童谣 (“Tong Yao”) while walking along the five-foot way!

The history of these pre-war buildings come alive as we learn how they were used during World War II. For instance, the Chin Kang Huay Kuan was used by the Overseas Chinese General Mobilisation Council to help the British in supplying labourers and volunteers for the defence of Singapore during the war.

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We discovered how early immigrants contributed to early Singapore. Like Tong Ah Eating House (above) which occupied this triangular plot for over 70 years. Started in 1939, the great-grandfather of Mr Tang Chew Fue who originated from Fuzhou, China started his coffee shop here.

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The Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple was built in 1925 by Nattukkottai Chettiars, a noted money lending community from Tamil Nadu. The temple was given the name Layan Sithi as it was originally located at the old Sepoy Lines where Indian soldiers , known as Sepoys, used to be housed.

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Keen to start walking? We found these things came in handy:

  • Umbrellas/raincoats (not much shelter to hide from occasional showers)
  • Sunblock and hats
  • Water
  • Snacks (all the walking can get the kids really hungry!)
  • Heritage Trail Booklet

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Lastly, we ended the Chinatown Heritage Trail at URA Centre. It was a treat for the children as they found pianos to play! As part of the Play It Forward movement,  pianos are placed in open spaces in various parts of Singapore for anyone to tickle the ivories. Sweet!

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Review: Yukon Sled Dog and Elizabeth’s Constellation Quilt

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Though we’ve been home for over 2 months, a piece of our heart is in New Zealand. And so, this week’s book review are of the things that remind us of the beautiful country. Continue reading Review: Yukon Sled Dog and Elizabeth’s Constellation Quilt

Guest Post: Homemade Beads in 3 Ways

This week, we learn how to make beads. Hannah loves dressing up. The girly girl in her enjoys wearing necklaces and bracelets. So when Jessica from Education.com shared this idea with me, I just had to try them with my girl! 

Education.com provides parents,homeschoolers and teachers with fun learning resources e.g. worksheets, lesson plans, digital games, an online guided learning platform, and more. Over to Jessica:

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Stringing beads is a fun way to give boredom the boot. And most preschoolers, both girls and boys, enjoy taking a crack at it.

Beyond fueling creativity, beading also has another trick up its sleeve: it helps young kids practice patterning, or sequencing, which lays the groundwork for math, reading, and science. You can buy a sack of beads at any craft store. But here are 3 inexpensive ways for kids to make their own beads, from scratch.

Continue reading Guest Post: Homemade Beads in 3 Ways

Re-adjusting…we’re back!

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Hello!! Did you miss us?

It’s good to reclaim some normalcy in my life. We’ve had an adventure in the land of the long white cloud…6 weeks in New Zealand…in a camper van! Continue reading Re-adjusting…we’re back!