Developing children’s potential and giving them an edge

This blog has gone through several changes. When I had my first child, I started the blog as “Sophia Story”. Somehow it never occurred to me that I would have a second child at that time, or indeed that this baby will ever grow up to be a talking, thinking, actual person. But of course both these things happened and when my second child came along the blog became “Mothering the S Sisters”. Quite apt given that I was recently told by a colleague that I am “bossy”. Over time, my posts dwindled not because I have less time. Well, yes, partly because of that but mostly because as the girls grew up, I increasingly felt the obligation to protect their privacy. I dabbled a bit in various topics about children without talking about my children but that felt too much like tiptoeing around the elephant in the room. There are topics I could talk about without bringing them embarrassment as an adult if their friends or colleagues happen to dig out this blog 20 or 30 or 80 years later, like how Sophia just showed me a one handed cartwheel from gym class, but who wants to read a blog that talks only about the children? That’s too much like showing off for my liking. So this blog has fallen into disuse over time. If it were a building, spiderwebs are probably all over.

Fortunately it’s not a building and I can dust it off again. I’m thinking of rebranding it as an education site, where I share my thoughts and experience on educating children. After all, I do have a Masters in Education and in a sense we are all scientists experimenting with education of our young so let’s see how that goes.

The thought of the day is interest being the best teacher. Obvious, of course, but worthy of repeated reminder. Often us parents from lower / middle class families are tempted to satisfy our regrets through our children. Or we may force our children down a certain path because we feel it gives them an edge. For example, we may feel that a certain sport is less popular and hence easier for the child to be comparative better than other children if they start young. At the end of the day, though, it will be a painful struggle if the child has no interest. The better option is to provide the child with a broad based exposure, and as and when the child expresses interest/talent in something then allow him/her to continue. But of course it is hard and there is some element of risk involved. For example, Sophia tried ballet when she was 3 and did not like it because her gross motor skills developed later than other kids. Good thing when she went to primary school, the school conducted a dance session during curriculum time and selected her to join the dance CCA.

The other thing I do is to send her for holiday camps in different areas. I have done multi-sports, chess, art, coding, theatre etc. The thing is during each holiday there is only time to try at best a couple of activities, cramming in too much is also counterproductive. So the trial and error process has a huge luck element and you may not strike gold until many holidays and many years later. And one can is simply not enough to really understand the activity so there are activities Sophia initially liked but then decided is not for her (like Weiqi) and there are other activities that she continued liking (like gym). What I found is if the child likes something, even if he/she starts a bit later, he/she will be able to catch up. But if he/she doesn’t like it, if you adopt a tiger mum attitude, sure, he/she may still get to a certain standard but is very unlikely to really excel.

Ok, I am being as preachy as my daughter’s school Teachers here when telling us to relax and trust in the school’s broad based education but there is some wisdom in that approach and really, a lifetime is long enough for specialisation. Your child will thank you for a happy childhood.


Stress relieve

See, this is why someone like me will never be laugh out loud happy. I’m always running around doing things. In Singlish that’s called “cannot sit still”. So I finally finished my essay for a course. It’s been stressful because I’ve forgotten how different academics was from actual practice of the law. And to celebrate finishing the essay what do I do? I made a dress for Little S, in an evening after a full day of work. What was I thinking?

Haven’t felt this cool in a while

One day before my birthday I heard about this amazing event being held at the Nee Majestic Hotel, which is quite an oxymoron for a hotel that no longer is in operation. The hotel was ceasing operations to be converted into a private club and between ceasing operations and commencing renovations there was a 2 days window to make use of the space and 30 of the rooms were converted into playgrounds for local designers of anything from jewellery to clothes, scarfs, shoes to food to furniture. 

So on my birthday, that was where we went. It was a wonderfully amazing experience especially now that Sophia is on the cusp of being able to appreciate more grown up art and Sandra is cute and friendly enough to attract everyone’s affection. We played chapteh and ogled at a scarf featuring chapteh, ate delicious sea salt caramel ice cream, watched coutour bring hand made, and generally enjoyed ourselves before adjourning to Sophia’s all time favourite fish and chips place – Jerry’s. Ok, not technically a chip shop but a BBQ place, but their fish and chips is delicious.

Subtle publicity for breastfeeding?

I had something on at the People’s Association headquarters today and was surprised at the number of people who remembered me from “the learning journey”.

Now I must explain that learning journeys were things that PA conducted quite regularly so the fact that I shared at one two years ago really shouldn’t be all that memorable. The project that I shared on was one I am extremely proud of for sure – Ageing Gracefully at Home, a program that provided holistic care for the elderly staying alone in the one room rental flats in Chin Swee. I was glad that so many people remembered the sharing about how we assigned neighbours to the weaker elderly as befrienders who would remind the elderly to take their medicine and generally watch out for the elderly, and eventually expanded the program to even providing nursing care in the elderly’s homes. The elderly were also engaged socially and encouraged to come out for exercise if they could. Nutrition down to the point of arranging for dentures so that the elderly can eat well, and mincing their food in the interim was also cared for by a dedicated community nurse and her team of healthcare aides.

In fact, apparently the sharing about the program made so much impact that it appeared on a feature wall with, shock horrors, my face on it! And what was draped over my shoulders but a nursing cover! 

That was when I realised that what people remembered was probably not the program I shared, but the baby I brought along and was breastfeeding at various points. Advocating for breastfreeding while advocating for elder care – killing two birds with one stone! I wonder how many would notice the nursing cover……

Homemade iced gem biscuits

A child at church brought iced gem cookies to crèche and the kids started asking for them so we made some.

We used this recipe save that I replaced a third of the plain flour with finely ground wholemeal flour.

Sophia’s verdict was the cookie is yummy but not the gem part. Sandra spat it out once it touched her tongue. I Guess they are both Nor fans of super sweet things like meringue, which is fine since neither am I.


Or maybe the title should be unusual baby taste buds because my babies definitely have unusual taste buds.

The older one is quite the opposite of usually kids because she really likes green leafy vegetables. I’m not showing off here because it is really quite irritating that she only eats very limited things and the only thing readily available when we eat out is Chinese style green leafy vegetables, and either rice or noodles (lamian style, not Italian or Cantonese style).

The younger one has a broader palette but I still haven’t quite figured it out. She’s not a fan on chocolate wafer biscuits or sweet treats generally. She loves berries only outside the home (at frozen yoghurt places, on cakes etc when we eat out) but whenever we buy a punnet, she hates them.

And more surprisingly, she likes 龟苓膏, a bitter tasting herbal jelly usually rated with a sugar syrup, even when we haven’t added sugar syrup. Hmm..

Chocolate pokeballs (with Pokemon inside)

Gosh, how do the youtubers make it seem so easy?? It’s incredibly difficult. And mine turned out way ugly.

The concept is easy enough. Melt white chocolate, smear a layer on a spherical chocolate mould. Add red food dye to the melted chocolate, smear similarly. Place in fridge. When set, repeat with another layer. Remove from mould, join a red half with a white half, placing a small Pokemon toy inside, seal with more melted chocolate then pipe on the black line with chocolate coloured black.

What could go wrong? Well firstly coating the spheres was not as easy as the video made it seem, especially to get the sides thick enough. Then when I tried to join the 2 halves together, I tried to just remelt the chocolate that I used earlier and it turned lumpy. I had to make up a batch of royal icing to do the decorations instead but still it was not easy to make the icing stick to the ball.

Also, how do you prevent the yet undried black line from smudging and contaminating other Pokeballs, short oh holding each one until it sets (which runs the risk of melting the ball anyway not to mention being completely impractical).

So there’s the first batch of end product, definitely not a masterpiece but I guess you could say they’re not complete flops either. Glad my daughter is not fussy and is already mighty impressed with these.