P1 Prep: Overview

No no, Kor Kor is not starting primary school next year.. only in 2016! But I started to think more about this topic when I saw many mummies post about their child’s first foray into primary school at the beginning of the year. Though it might seem too early (and kiasu?!?) to start preparing Kor Kor now, the more I ponder, the more I think it is necessary to start early. Here are the main things I will be working on, and I shall update as we go along.

1. Sleep (i.e. the challenge of waking up at 6am or earlier every schoolday)

2. Breakfast

3. Independent work

4. Study area

5. Life skills (e.g. money, telling time, personal hygiene, buying food)

6. Academic skills (e.g. pencil grip, handwriting).

Ahh.. as I was writing this, I thought, hmm my first post on school! Soon I would be a homeschooling mum no more… Then I remembered, hey even when Kor Kor starts primary school, I will still be homeschooling the younger two! Yay!

Countdown to P1: 671 days


Cooking With The Kids: Steamed Garlic Pork Ribs and Baked Mustard Salmon

Very lucky to have found two suitable recipes easily this week!

Steamed Garlic Pork Ribs

This is from one of my favourite cookbooks.

Ingredients: 400g riblets, 2 tbsp minced garlic, 1/2 tbsp potato starch

Marinade: 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp chicken seasoning powder, 1/4 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp sesame oil, 1/2 tsp baking soda


1. Chop riblets into small chunks. Rinse away the blood and drain well.

2. Add garlic and marinade to the riblets. Mix evenly and marinate for about 30 minutes. Add potato starch and mix evenly. Place in steaming plate.

3. Boil water in a steamer. Place riblets inside. Steam over high heat for about 20 minutes until cooked. Serve.

Washing the riblets

Washing the riblets

We looked at the cookbook together as we added the marinade ingredients

We looked at the cookbook together as we added the marinade ingredients. I have minced garlic on hand in the fridge, so gave them a garlic to look at & touch.

Baked Mustard Salmon

I got this recipe from another blog! Made a couple of modifications, the main one being I used honey mustard instead of djorn mustard.

Ingredients: Salmon filet, 1/4 cup butter, a lot of honey mustard (didn’t measure, just asked my boy to keep squeezing the bottle!), 1 tbsp honey, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, chopped parsley, pinch of salt


1. Mix melted butter, honey mustard and honey. Pour onto the salmon filet.

2. Mix breadcrumbs and parsley. Sprinkle on top of the filet.

3. Bake in oven for 12-15 minutes (depending on how thick your filet is), at 200 deg C.

Mixing the ingredients

Mixing the ingredients

The butter wasn't melted enough, so I got him to press the poor butter with the spoon

The butter wasn’t melted enough, so I got him to press the poor butter with the spoon

Cooking rice. I think he was dying to PLAY with the whole tub of rice!

Cooking rice. I think he was dying to PLAY with the whole tub of rice!

Since I started this regular cooking with the boys, Kor Kor has been asking me almost everyday – ‘Mummy, do you need me to help you prepare lunch/dinner?’ I guess he is enjoying it very much : )


Lessons On A Bicycle

Lesson One Spatial Awareness and Psychomotor Skills

Not surprisingly, Kor Kor learns quickly to gauge distances and angles in order to avoid knocking down pedestrians and other cyclists. And to navigate and steer, all done within an instant, ESPECIALLY since he wouldn’t wanna let all these nitty-gritties slow him down, would he?!?

I love that while he is experiencing the thrill of speed and going downslope, he also has to assess the potential risks – am I going too fast? Do I need to brake or slow down? – and make decisions quickly all by himself. Works the muscles and the brains at the same time!

Lesson Two Others Before Self

An older boy (about 13?) on a bicycle collided with Kor Kor’ while he was cycling. Luckily Kor Kor wasn’t going very fast and the older boy saw the collision coming and swerved to avoid him. But he bumped Kor Kor’s front wheel a bit and Kor Kor fell down but wasn’t injured.

I recognised that this was a Teaching Moment, and knew what I wanted to teach Kor Kor about this incident. But I hesitated. In the end, I went ahead with what I wanted to say.

‘Kor Kor, see the big kor kor swerved to avoid you and ended up injuring himself, while you were unhurt? (The other boy scraped his knee and was bleeding.) See, you should do the same when you see younger kids in your path, understand? Because you are older and should protect the younger kids, OK? (Point 1)

And he came over to check whether you were ok, and apologised to us even though he was in pain. Because he was going too fast and couldn’t avoid you in time. But he apologised. So you mustn’t go too fast or else it might be dangerous to yourself and other people. If you do knock into someone, have to apologise, understand?’ (Point 2)

I felt that I was trembling as I talked to Kor Kor. Because effectively I was telling him to choose to injure himself rather than injure others if need be. But which mother wants her child to get hurt??? If one day he really gets seriously injured as a result of what I teach him today, will I ever forgive myself? But if he sacrifices others in order to protect himself, can I live with it???

Lesson 3 Picking HImself Up

Cycling is synonymous with falling down, especially for a newly-minted four-year-old thrillseeking speedster. Fall down, get up, fall down, get up, repeat. This morning he fell down thrice within an hour. Practice makes perfect. Not just the cycling. The picking himself up too.

Lesson 4 Letting Go

As Kor Kor gets faster and more savvy on his bike, it becomes more common for him to be out of my sight. (I set the boundaries for him and so far he has been very good at complying.) As I have to wait for Didi who is much slower on his balance bike, Kor Kor usually goes way ahead first and either wait for us in front (we have fixed waiting points) or turns back to where we are.

Now that he is competent on his bicycle, I know he yearns to go faster and farther. It is more fun to keep on cycling rather than keep having to stop and wait. So I allow him to go to the end of the path by himself, or cycle around the vicinity of the playground where the younger siblings and I are.

I realise he has really grown up and I will have to get used to letting go of him… This is really not easy especially since I am with the kids so much…Now, he might be just somewhere ahead on the same path. Perhaps next year, he might go downstairs to the playground himself. Two years later, that boundary will extend to his school (about 10-15 minutes walk away).

Linking up with Mamawearpapashirt


River Safari

Brought the kids to  the River Safari recently. Hmm, I don’t doubt that it is a world-class wildlife park, and I am sure aquatic animals enthusiasts will glean a wealth of info from a visit to the River Safari. But for my trio of young kids, it was a tad boring for them… Disclamer: we didn’t go on the boat ride, so we might have missed the more interesting exhibits. (But we did manage to see all the Main Galleries and Special Exhibits as listed on their website!) Anyway, as I mentioned, 3 young kids…guess the vast majority of four-year-olds won’t be able to meet the 1.06m height requirement for the boat ride.

Must-take photo at the entrance

Must-take photo at the entrance

One of the many many fish tanks...

One of the many many fish tanks…

One of my favorites! Mekong giant catfish and giant freshwater stingrays. We sat here for quite some time admiring the big fish and waving to the stingrays

One of my favorites! Mekong giant catfish and giant freshwater stingrays. We sat here for quite some time admiring the big fish and waving to the stingrays

Actually... is panda river or is it safari???

Actually… is panda river or is it safari???

Very simple animal show

Very simple animal show

I wasn’t expecting the animal show, we happened to be at Amazon Square at the right time (11am!). I can’t find any info on their website though. I am not sure whether it was because we were there on a weekday, the ‘animal show’ was just a zookeeper with three animals (one at a time – monkey, hedgehog, vulture) and another zookeeper as the emcee. The emcee gave a brief introduction for each animal and that was about it, no ‘performance’. The good thing was the children were able to get up quite close to the animals.

Oh ya, I didn’t take any photos due to the dim lighting. But the Amazon Flooded Forest is truly a WOW! But I think my kids couldn’t really appreciate it, oops.

Another good thing is that the River Safari is largely shaded &/or sheltered, so it was a breeze despite being alone with three kids. The exhibits are planned neatly around a loop – one round brings us right back to the entrance/exit.

However, when we ended our visit after one hour plus, I decided to bring the kids to the Zoo to make them happy!


Mummy Guilt: It’s All In The Mindset

Every day while I was preparing lunch or dinner, I would try to rush so that I could spend more time with the kids instead of with the stove. But somehow, I usually still ended up with next to no time to play with or just sit with the kids. And that made me feel guilty – I was supposed to be a stay-at-home-MUM! Not a stay-at-home-COOK!

But try as I might, I just couldn’t manage to squeeze out extra time.

Then one day, I had an Eureka moment when things just fell into place for me. There’s nothing wrong with spending time cooking good food for my children! It’s as much a part of my duties as a mother as spending time with the kids.

Fast food, processed food, takeaways would take less time to prepare. But I want to give my children healthy REAL food.

Cooking just the same old same old dishes would take less time to prepare. But I want to expand my children’s repetoire. As it is, Kor Kor is already a very picky eater. I am very encouraged cos I notice him trying more new foods nowadays. Maybe because he’s resigned to mummy’s many new dishes 😛

Very simple dishes would take less time to prepare. But I want my children to appreciate the process (the fine art!) of cooking and to learn to cook well eventually. And of course, I want to whet their appetites so that they will eat more!

Image source

Image source (By Robin Green, LAc. of KidsLoveAcupuncture.com, Reprinted with Permission from Robin Green)


Ultimately, what we mummies do is always for the good of our children!


Mummy Is A Drill Sergeant

When we brought the bikes downstairs, the two boys would fight to go into the lift first, bang into each other (both intentionally & accidentally) in the lift, fight to go out of the lift first. Until I couldn’t take it anymore.

‘OK boys. Get out of the lift. We gonna repeat this until you do it right. Mummy goes into the lift first, always. Then whoever comes in next, go as near the side as you can. The last one will be in the middle.’

So they repeated it until they could do it without any argument. Not too bad, just two or three times. No more problems since then… MAGIC!

– – –

Kor Kor started to make a mess in the room by pulling/sweeping some books onto the floor from the shelves when he got sent in for timeouts. When the timeout was over, I instructed him to put the books back before he could leave the room. So that wasn’t much of a problem, I knew he would stop eventually since he was the one having to tidy up anyway.

But Didi started to do the same thing. When I told him to tidy up, he would cry and say he didn’t know how to put the books back. Which was quite likely. But sorry son, no way was I going to do it for you.

So I spent some time ‘teaching’ him, by pointing to one book at at time and pointing to where he should put it. So he bent down and stood up 20-30 times during the ‘lesson’.

Since Kor Kor was the bad influence, I warned them sternly that should I see Meimei doing the same thing, all of them would be punished.

I love you very much, sons, so I shall give you a piece of advice.


How I Sleep Trained My Kids

Baby #1

When Kor Kor was about seven months old, he did not sleep well at all. He cried when I put him in the cot after nursing, he woke up numerous times during the night, he refused to go back to sleep at 3am+.

I can’t say I was very tired or very stressed, since I had only one child then and wasn’t working and could rest when he did sleep or when he was playing on his own… but I was very unhappy and angry. I didn’t know what to do, or what I did wrong. So I started to read about babies’ sleep issues, and came to the conclusion that my only choices for sleep training was graduated extinction (ignore some crying), or extinction (ignore all crying), also known as the cry-it-out (CIO) method. Because I really did not want to co-sleep.

[ I do not think co-sleeping or sleep training is better than the other. I do not believe that co-sleeping babies grow up to be less independent, or that sleep-trained babies feel abandoned. I feel that it’s a matter of personal preference and lifestyle. I knew I was bad-tempered because of the numerous night wakings, and I chose to remove the cause of the bad-temperedness. To mummies who have the heart and will to co-sleep with your baby, I applaud you. I am sharing my experience for mummies who want to sleep-train their child but might need more info.]

I also learnt that overtired babies would find it more difficult to fall asleep, until they got so tired that they KO, but then that would mean they would not be well rested the next morning.

Thus, for Kor Kor, I decided to ‘repay’ his sleep debt first. I knew by then that I had not implemented proper routines or sleep habits for him. So I was determined to somehow make him sleep enough first, before I started CIO. Twice a day, I rocked him to sleep in the Baby Bjorn and then either sat or stood throughout his nap. If he stirred before I felt he had slept enough, I would rock him back to sleep. Didn’t want to risk putting him in the cot and waking him up.

(Ahh.. the luxury of being a mother of one… seems like ages ago…)

Did that for about one week. Then started off with graduated extinction for bedtime in the evening. But Daddy and I realised very quickly that it would not work – Kor Kor just cried more loudly after each time I went to check on him. So we switched to extinction – just let the baby cry till he fell asleep.

The first night he cried for about an hour. On each subsequent night the duration of crying got shorter and shorter, and after one week or so, he was only whimpering at bedtime. Good enough! Then we moved on to sleep training for naptimes. But I can’t remember how we did it. Oops. The things three pregnancies do to a brain. But it was definitely easier cos we (parents and baby) had already got the hang of it.

Baby #2

I had sleep trained Kor Kor when he was about eight months old, and I had intended to wait till Didi was around the same age before sleep training him. But I found it very difficult, near impossible, to manage on my own when Didi was no longer able to sleep by himself around five months old. I wasn’t sure whether it was ok to sleep train him at five months old, and I desperately sought advice from parenting books, parenting websites, mummies’ forums, and my friends on social media. This time round, I learnt about Pick Up Put Down (Baby Whisperer) and shush-pat.

Tried these methods as they seemed much gentler than CIO, and I was hesitant to do CIO with such a young baby. They sorta worked for a while… but the effects were not sustainable. Thus I turned to CIO again.

This time, I had read Dr Marc Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, as recommended by another mummy. In its 500 pages, it clearly explains the importance of good quality sleep for the child, and provides clear guidelines for training your child according to age. Armed with this book and our earlier sleep training success with Kor Kor, I felt assured and confident.

Didi’s training was faster and easier. There was no serious ‘sleep debt’, as I was more aware of sleep habits and routines now.

I really love this book

I really love this book

Baby #3

Meimei was such an angel that I told myself I would rock her to sleep till she was much older. Furthermore she would be my last baby… *emo*

But it was not just about whether I was willing. Now I had two noisemakers instead of one. Didi walked like an ELEPHANT…!!! And would create more noise by crying, wailing and throwing tantrum when I told him to GO AWAY.  Kor Kor was older and could obey instructions to stay away from Meimei’s room… most of the time… But he was also tempted to follow Mummy when he saw Didi doing so.

That sealed her fate. Sayang-ing her would not gain her quality rest (since the noisemakers would definitely be around to make noise). Sleep training it was then.

Happy Ending : )