Simplifying Things

This is the 3rd year that D is being homeschooled. While I would love to say that we are learning so many things together or that he is currently versed in 5 languages while tackling Math Olympiad problems and researching on how to solve the world’s poverty and water issues, that would definitely be stretching the truth. On some days I’m just glad to have survived without tearing all my hair out and losing my voice.

At the beginning of each year, there is always one thing that I do – plan. While I’m not a Type A, I do love to plan because I see the benefits of planning. Out then comes the pretty planners, bright highlighters and different coloured pens. Oh, I have such ambitious plans each year for our homeschooling. We would be travelling the world through the vivid narration of historical stories or learning about science in a most interesting manner. My children would be sitting at my feet quietly while I regale with classical stories. We would giggle and laugh while the children plan menus and cook their heart out while I do the laundry.

You get the idea?

And each year, I get disheartened before the year is up because truth be told, I am awful in implementation. I try so hard to follow the plans that nothing gets done in the end. Even this year, I made the same mistake all over again. I had 5 different curriculum planned for language arts while trying to bring in 5 new activities all at the same time. Even after barely squeezing them all in the daily schedule, I somehow still felt confident that we would be able to soar while having V along for the ride.

This post is written because I’ve just done my quarterly review and I’ve decided to simplify. Plan small so that we’ll at least be able to accomplish that much. Take time to breath and enjoy each other. Concentrate on character building rather than finishing the next worksheet. Strengthening our relationships. Just love each other.

Wish us all the best!

A Good Host

“What makes a good host?”
“What makes a guest comfortable?”

Recent events had me pondering about those questions as I belatedly realised the host plays a crucial part in determining my personal stress level. I’m embarrassed to say it but honestly, that in turns affects my kids as they usually bear the brunt of my vents.

Having house-proud hosts are bad idea for families like mine. My stress level peaks naturally.

“Don’t touch that!”
“Look at that mess you left on the floor after your meal!”
“Keep your shoes!”
“Don’t sit there. You might dirty the sofa!”

You can hear me constantly hissing to the kids as I weld the broom and pan. I would probably feel the need to diligently mop the floor everyday, if I can find out where the cleaning essentials are being kept. I try to trail behind them to make sure water marks are not being left behind. I go on my knees to scrutinize the floor to make sure all crumbs are eradicated. I’m not even half as concerned about our own place.

In case you get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being house-proud. It’s just unfortunate that I don’t raise robots. As much as I warn and hiss (the whole species of snakes should have been so proud of me), sometimes the kids just override my programming. It’s simply a reminder to myself that it’s not a good fit for us, despite all the (possible) best intention when the invitation was issued. It did made me question my parenting skills when I hear accusations (imagined or otherwise) in the questions and statements.

Which naturally leads me to the hosts who either:
1. Have only babies currently
2. Forgotten how children can sometimes behave

Some children are boisterous (I almost said ALL!). I admit mine goes hyper sometimes when they’re excited but I also know when they are just being… childish. You know, jumping, taking in loud voices, playing games. I know babies do not generally do those things but I wish the hosts will try to stop giving them the evil glint and show the kids a little bit more grace and patience. Perhaps you feel that I cannot control my brood but I also hope you’re aware that your babies will grow up and outgrow the stage of adorable drools and coos. By then, I hope you’ll be little bit more understanding why I can’t and won’t control them like robots. But then again, maybe your superior parenting skills will prevail.

Currently, I’d rather spend on a hotel to save my sanity, preserve my children’s esteem and pride while providing a relaxing break.

Anyway, the upside to all these is it made me reflect on my own behaviour as a host.

Precious One

The littlest person turned ONE recently.
I hope you’ll always enjoy the affection and tumbles showered by your siblings, and may you do likewise for them.

I hope you’ll never lose that curiosity.

I hope you’ll never lose that innocence, to always smile at everyone and everything.

I hope you’ll continue to bring joy to the people around you as you have for us.

I hope you’ll always fearlessly take the first step towards the unknown.

I hope you’ll always be a hardy girl, who can take the knocks of life.

And selfishly, I hope you’ll always light up when you see me.

I love you so much, my personal bundle of sunshine.

Thank you, my little help

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭55‬:‭9‬ NIV)

Life’s pretty interesting with hindsight.

During pre-marital counseling classes, the only thing that we couldn’t come to a consensus was the size of the family. He wanted four while my internal conversation was along the lines of “I’m getting married?! Really? Children?!!! Can we just take things one at a time?”. I was not adverse to the idea but planning long term was just really not my forte.

After the first born, I was hoping for a close age gap between the siblings but the second did not come along till four years later. Amidst the joy and gratitude, there was that little disappointment at the age gap because I had naively believed that the gap would directly correlate to the closeness of the relationship.

Fast forward to present day.

I am ever thankful that God’s plan prevailed and He knows my limitations. When people ask me how do I do what I do (quite a mouthful!), besides attributing it to the grace of God, I know it has to do with my little help (and the age gap!).

He makes meals when I can’t.
He entertains his siblings when I can’t.
He calms his sister down when I can’t (or honestly sometimes when I wouldn’t).
He helps me remember things when I can’t with my cheese-holed memory.
He entertains himself when I can’t.
He packs the house when I can’t.
Among others.

And because of all these, I forget he’s merely a seven year old. I take his maturity for granted and berate him for things that I expected him to do. I get frustrated at him when things do not turn out the way I want.

The other day, I hugged his lanky frame and apologized for the ranting tirade I was on. As I talked, his shoulders shook with his cries. My heart broke when he said, “I’m really trying to be good.”

And that’s when I remembered.
That I am the adult and he’s just a child.

So thank YOU, my little help.
I’m sorry for the weight that you carry on your tiny shoulders.
I really wouldn’t know what to do without you.
I can’t promise glorious golden everydays but I know we shall aim for that together.
I love you.


Till we meet again


It’s been more than a month since she left.

Passing by certain places always trigger memories of her.
Shaw Centre.
The Ship.
That R&R stop.
That particular scent.

She was a hair stylist and a very successful one. Her brother was regaling us with tales of how he, as a shampoo boy, was washing hair for hours straight because the customers just did not stop flowing. There were queues outside her salon everyday.

She used to cut my hair until I thought it caused undue stress on her. Then I got stressed getting my hair cut by others because she’ll be viewing it through the eyes of a hairstylist. Because of her, I believe that salon brand shampoos are better. And I never colour my hair (plus I’m too lazy to keep coverng up the greys).

She helped so many people, friends and family, along the way. She always gave generously of her resource and herself. Others before self might have been her guiding philosophy.

I’m thankful that while others have to deal with a mother-in-law issue, mine welcomed me with open arms.

I’m thankful because if it wasn’t for her tenacity and sacrifice, the husband might not have been born. She went through a baby’s death and several miscarriages before the husband was conceived. And even then, she had to be on bed rest for 6 months, just to keep him safe.


I’m thankful that she is with Jesus now because then I know this is not end but we will meet again.

Mid Year Review

We officially embarked on our homeschooling journey this year. (Which reminds me that I SHOULD get started on the “Why Are We Homeschooling” post as promised to someone.)

In these past 6 months, the question I hear most often is “How is it going?”.

And the answer?

The good days are really good, while the bad days make me really wonder how could I even remotely think this was a viable and sane option. As I told a friend, “I must have been INSANE.”

So to keep what remains of my sanity, I think it’s appropriate to do a mid year review because I highly suspect I’m overloading myself with too much information (all the fun things to do from the internet and picture-perfect houses) and therefore jumping all over the place with the curriculum, which makes us half-accomplished in everything.

So here goes:

All About Reading Level 1
Five in a Row
Teachers’ Production
English Extensive Enrichment


We started off the year with All About Reading and will be continuing with it, although we got side-tracked with all the other stuff. It was easy and fast to accomplish daily but that became the issue. Browsing through the assessment and textbooks given by well-meaning friends made me panic slightly (not as much as looking through the Chinese text!). That’s when I got him started on Teachers’ Production which had been passed down. But recently, it hit me that I’m trying to replicate a school setting at home, which defeats the whole purpose of homeschooling so I’m trying to revive our Five in a Row because we had fun while learning. At least I think so. We’re going to also start on English Extensive Enrichment which teaches all the proper noun, adverb etc. I’m terrible at it so we’ll be learning together. I’ll leave the spelling and the likes till I finish the current level of All About Reading.

华文 Take Off to Primary 1


We’ve been terribly inconsistent with this. We can hold VERY basic conversations but we’re totally lagging on the reading and writing. You can tell by the fact that the books we’re using are essentially meant for prepping the kids for primary 1, not when they are in primary 1. We’ve only been using 四五快读 thus far and will be supplementing with the other 2 books for the rest of the year. We’re also joined a co-op helmed by a bilingual 14 year old to hopefully put some fun into the learning. I’m laying 汉语拼音 off for the time being while we actually try to finish 四五快读 before the year is up. I’m seriously contemplating whether to send them for Chinese enrichment classes, especially since the younger one tells me to stop speaking like this when I converse in Mandarin.

My Pals are Here
Targeting Mathematics
Teachers’ Production
ACE Math

We’re actually doing pretty ok on the Math front. Partly because that’s the first thing I chuck in front of the poor boy when I need to nurse the baby so he had plenty of practice. My Pals are Here and Targeting Mathematics are local school texts although others have advised to junk the texts and rely solely on assessment books as they are tougher. We’ll see how that goes. As of now, we’ll stick with these because they make me feel more accomplished.

R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey (Life)


Here comes the fun stuff. We just started a co-op for this (and history). We’ll be using Five in a Row for Science too. I was trying to get him to start a nature journal but it hasn’t been successful at all. Another thing that sounds fun is the Young Scientist Badge Scheme but maybe next year when the baby is more mobile, and going out doesn’t sound (that) tiring.

Story of the World Book: Volume 1 (Ancient Times)

I’m heading the co-op for this. So far we haven’t been very far but we’re taking our time. I just need to remember that I need to incorporate Singapore history somewhere too.

Five in a Row
Artistic Pursuits Book 1

This, unfortunately, gets ignored all the time. Especially when stress levels hit a high. But the kids love this. Just all the mucking around with the paint which also means supplies get used up at an extraordinary fast pace. We’ll be sticking to Artistic Pursuits for the time being although I am exploring alternative curriculum that uses video explanation. Think that might work better for him.

Hands On Bible
Ministry to Children
Character Building from the Life of Jesus
The Right Choices Bible


Ministry to Children stocks an incredible amount of material, and is our trusty to-go-to place. We’re currently also finishing Bible Detectives and will head to Character Building from the Life of Jesus after.


There. Have I missed anything?

I’ve been wanting to use the A.C.E. curriculum as the main foundation for our studies but looking at what we have on our plate right now, I think I might put that on that back burner and just concentrate on these first. Will wait for year end before we decide whether to nix some of these curriculum.

Fake Nutella

I’ve been a devourer of Nutella since my mum introduced it to me when I was young. Butter and nutella spread on a piece of bread, folded in half, to be eaten during recess. Nothing of those fanciful bento stuff that’s the rage these days but it was enough.

Ever since then, Nutella and I started on our love affair. We have moved from glass to plastic. Sometimes the affair had to be conducted in secret (that is secretly eating a spoonful(s) of it). At times it had to withstand the knowing glance of the husband as I popped yet another bottle into the supermarket trolley. These days, there are others (mostly the son) who are also vying for its affection.

But despite our decades-long relationship, when I came across a hazelnut spread recipe, I had to give it a shot, especially since I’m trying to eat a little healthier. I figured at least I’ll be cutting palm oil from the equation.

How did it turn out?


Not too bad. A little runny but then again, I wouldn’t be complaining even if it was made out solely of melted chocolate. It didn’t really take that much of an effort (especially since I totally skipped roasting the hazelnuts and just bought blanched ones).

But I was still in two minds about doing it again until I was searching for the link to the recipe and came across more interesting recipes.

This one because it will change my life.
A recipe from Encyclopédie du Chocolat? This is the kind of encyclopedia that I like.
Better than the real thing?
This sounds even easier than the one I used.
And of course, the healthy version. With coconut oil.

You’ll have to excuse me now while I wipe the drool off the keyboard.