Saturday 30 March 2013


Reflection: Modern Life

So too often, we get so caught up in fulfilling our to-do list... that we don't minister... we don't minister to the needs of others... cause we are not present, we are not listening.

While we are having breakfast, our minds go through the hundreds of things we need to do... get the soil for the gardening, pick up the photos, send shoes for repair, buy a replacement battery for that gadget, get that gift for the party, return the ligts to a store, to get light bulb so that we can change it, go to the car exhibition, help our parents to get a stereo, etc. etc.... and the list go on...


Because we need to maintain the household - these are real needs, but also because of vanity - not all are real needs, but because we want a

All are well and good, but what is the balance?

We need to simplify our lives.

We are having breakfast on a Saturday morning, but our minds are already on the next activity we need to accomplish... on a Saturday morning, while the shops in Denmark are open.

The state of modern life...

I quote - Love Your Life by Victoria Osteen:

"...the pressures of the modern family is complicated by the pressures of the modern world, we often struggle to find a healthy balance between carrer, family and relationships"

I see this in many others, I see this in us... and I see this in J too already at the age of 4.

This morning, J work up and told me that I should hurry up and wake up now, otherwise, we will not have enough time to do all the activities...

I asked him, "What activities?"

He said, "the Montessori activities, the letter box activities, reading, running on scooter, etc. etc."

I should be happy. Here is a very self-motivated boy already at 4 years old.

But here is also the making of a very busy ant...

We had a very nice day yesterday... we baked buns, and did many things amonst others, but at the end of the day, J was upset. I asked him why. He said that the baking took too long, we did not have time for Montessori activities, for the alphabet box, and he said that I should have told him that baking could take such a long time. Since baking takes such a long time, he would not want to do it again.

Hard work and self-motivation, all the qualities of the human race, are but a double-edged sword.

Too much of a good thing, skill or quality may not be a good thing.

It requires the wisdom to handle our qualities well.

Here I am lacking...

Here I pause without saying a word...

I pray for wisdom as a mom, as a wife, as a working woman, and I pray for our family.

For the wisdom to strike a balance...

Our family is still struggling to find that balance.

I wish for all of you too, that you will receive wisdom and love as you pray and navigate through this journey call life.

Have a meaningful and blessed Easter, one which is filled with love and the presence of God.

Dear God,

Please help me to truly listen with my heart to others. It is only with your wisdom, that I could do so. Help me to extend grace to others when they too fail to listen to me. It is only with your peace that we could do so. Help us to simplify our lives, so that we can truly listen to others. Thank you for your redemptive grace on this Easter day, as You continue to mold me to be the person you want me to me. Help me to look to the Cross. Thank you for not giving up on me and help me dear God.

In Jesus most victorious name I pray,

Tuesday 26 March 2013


Hard Work and Academic Success

Last Saturday, we watched a Danish documentary about how hard work brings academic success using the so-called "Chinese" method. Here is the video broadcasted on 23 March 2013:!/00:11

That sets me thinking...

In general, the Chinese are known to be extremely hardworking (but there will always be exception. I have known many many extremely lazy Chinese too).

The Chinese value hard work more than intelligence.

The Chinese's greatest strength of hard work is also the Chinese's greatest weakness.

There is no quality of life. What a life! No one would wish for.

But the Chinese had no choice - no choice in the past, nor any choice in the future, except to be hard-working.

There is NO WAY OUT.

Since ancient times, the Chinese competed with the Chinese to be the number one scholar serving the emperor.

The ancient Chinese stories are full of stories of the Chinese burning mid-night oil, studying under candle light to prepare themselves for the scholar exam.

It was so 5000 years ago. It is so now.

With overpopulation, the Chinese society is highly competitive where only the fittest survive.

In this grim perspective, it is comforting to know that if you are hardworking, you will survive no matter what. If you are hardworking, willing and able to take hardship, there will be jobs for you.

This is what every Chinese child is taught from young. This was also what I was taught by my dad as a child. This was also what I was taught by my teachers in school in Singapore.

Contrary to what the rest of the world think, the Chinese are not competing with others.

No, the Chinese are actually competing with themselves.

The Chinese environment is very harsh. Any other environment in the world is most likely softer.

It is hard to compete with the Chinese and their ability to work hard, make sacrifice and take hardship, as they are born and breed in such a harsh environment, and thus are used to such environment.

The Chinese children spend a long period in school - up to 9 hours daily, excluding extra classes after school - within the school compound. This means that the Chinese children spend time longer in school than the Danes spend daily working, since Danish working hours are 37 hours a week.

For high school students in China, it is the norm for teachers and students to go home at 11pm after tuition.

Thereafter, the Chinese teenager self-study until 2am. The day normally starts at 6am. You need to get to school by 7am.

My Chinese friend used to tell me how she would watch her neighbour who attended the same school as she was. If the neighbour switched off the lights at 3am, she would try to match that.

Here is an article on schooling in China:

According to the Danish TV station, the video "followed the family Bentzen, with the help of a Chinese coach to do the family's two children  to do better in school. The method is two hours of extra school work every day and personal trainer to coach their leisure activities. The children are sent to exam before and after the course. The question is: Can the Danish family survive living with a simulated, albeit somewhat water-down "Chinese-type" pressure? The goal of the video is to examine how the upbringing and parents influence their children's success. Have they been beaten to do homework or have they been allowed to take care of themselves and have only been surrounded by love without demands?"

The Danish kids in the video was behind in their school by at least 1.5 years compared to the students in their class.

After being coached by a Chinese and having 2 hours of homework and revision for a month, their grades have improved equivalent to half a year - in just a month. That's a remarkable achievement.

According to the Chinese coach Xinxin, if the children do not do well in school, it is the parents who are to be blamed.

The Danish parents, especially the mom, sacrificed to make it work, coaching her children for 2 hours after work everyday. The whole family has enjoyed the fruit of the labour. But can the Danish family continue at this tempo, especially the Danish parents? This will remain a question mark.

What implications have this on J?

After watching the Danish video, I am convinced of working hard is the way to go.

We should not stop working hard for academic success. It is good to work hard. With hard work comes the reward of being good at something.

It is no good to work hard at the expense of everything else. It is important to strike a balance.

We will not set the goal of competing with the Chinese with working hard. There is no way we can beat them.

We will set the goal of being at least on par with the Singaporeans, although it is getting increasingly more difficult, growing up in a softer environment.

However, life in Denmark is not secure 30 years for now. J must be able to be agile enough to move out even to the Chinese world.

That would mean that J has to embrace the value of hard work, pursue academic success and be able to understand Mandarin, if not being fluent in it.

This should be done in a good balance.

However, the challenge is finding a balance - both for me as a mom and for J.

But we will have to try.

Saturday 23 March 2013


Board Game: Pop to the Shops

Age: From 5-9 years old

Duration: 30 - 45 minutes

1. Teach the child to learn to take turns
2. Teach the child counting (he has to throw the dice and count the steps to take - the more concrete and easy part and counting money - the abstract and difficult part)
3. Teach the child the concept of money, how to handle money and the concept of buying and selling.
4. Teach the child how to ask politely when visiting a shop.
5. Teach the child the names of the different items we buy in English
6. Create an excellent opportunity for bonding with your child.

1. Each player starts by picking a card from those spead out on the table. This shows the first item they have to purchase.

2. The youngest player starts by throwing the dice and moving their character the corresponding number of spaces towards the shop that sells the item.

3. Play passes to the next player.

4. When a player reaches the correct shop, they must ask the shopkeeper politely for the item they wish to buy and pay the shopkeeper the appropriate amount of money.

5. The card with the coloured background is given to the player and the other card is discarded by placing it in the box.

6. The player places their item onto their shopping bag board, returns their character to their own shop doorway and a new card is taken ready for their next purchase.

7. Players must always check that they have enough money to buy the next item shown on their card. If not, then that card should be returned to the table and a new card taken.

8. The first person to fill their shopping bag bard with all 6 items is the winner.

Additional Information:
I didn't come from a family which play board game, either does Daddy. Nevertheless, I think board game is a good way for family bonding, and I wanted to start J young on it.

J loves this board game, although he still could not quite tell the difference between 40p to £1.20 (I bought this from Amazon UK). He requested to play this game evening after evening, and repeating after a finished round. But our rule is only one round a session. Thus, we had not have the time to do any Montessori the past week.

Being adults, Daddy and I weren't not too thrilled to play this board game, as it was too easy for us. But for the sake of J, I continued and of course, I dragged Daddy into the "pain" :-)

It however provided us much joy to see how thrilled, excited, interested, fun and happy J was playing this board game and for the education value it provides.

So based on the fun the children get and the education value, I highly recommend this board game.

Although the recommended age is for 5-9, 4 years old can start to play to grasp the concept of money and buying and selling things.

I love Orchard Toy's board games for children. They are very well-illustrated and well-made. It is also available in Amazon:


J Summary (4Y0M18D) - Where Does Tea Come From?

It seems silly that I am logging such trivial things, but I want to keep it for memory. This afternoon, J asked where does tea come from. I briefly explained that it comes from leaves, but I did not give a very scientific and detailed answer, except that I explained that tea comes from leaves.

It bugged me the whole day.

So this evening during bedtime routine, we sat in the bed conveniently with our iPad and I showed him:

- where tea comes from - tea leaves
- how tea is harvested
- the process
- the tea plantation
- the tea making factory

We watched a video of how tea is made from plucking tea leaves at the tea plantation to being processed in the tea factory.

I also of course informed J that tea originated from China, for his heritage education's sake.

He then asked why the tea plantation we saw is not in China.

I am filled with thanks to the internet, Google and iPad, which helped me out. (It also makes me reflect and I think the world is very unfair to the poor, without internet access, who are left further behind in the knowledge gap. There is so much resources that they are not able to tap into, also in the education of their children. It is a privilege that I should not take for granted, nor do I feel that I deserve. Incidentally, Denmark is the 5th best place to be born in the world, and Singapore is the no. 1 best place to be born in Asia this year. So we do live in very fortunate countries, not that we earn it or deserve it. We should always remember the less fortunate among us, and make the world a fairer place for everyone, even if it means that we need to take cuts.)

Here is a good video showing the tea production:

Here are some good links:

Btw, I haven't allow J to use iPad yet, even for the educational application. So far, I am using iPad only to do research together to answer his questions.

I can't wait to the day, when he can find answers to his own questions.

Saturday 16 March 2013


How to Address Chinese Family Relations Correctly?

This is what I struggle with when visiting Singapore, how to properly address everyone and how to teach J. I always get it wrong, especially when meeting all the relatives. I wanted to make a post on the different titles for Chinese relations, but this video gives a comprehensive list and save me from making such a post :-)!/photo.php?v=619626884719224


J Summary (4Y0M11D) - Tracing Chinese Characters for the First Time

J had completed tracing the English alphabet, so today 16 March 2013 (4Y0M11D) was the first time we started tracing Chinese characters.

The first Chinese character he traced was "人" - meaning human being. There is an old Chinese saying that my parents told me when I was young: "写人这个字容易,做人难。" meaning writing the word human "人" is very simple and easy, but knowing how to be a human or living out the human life is not as simple and easy. It requires wisdom to be lead a life as a human being, to know the right things, to know the principles of being a human, to live in harmony with people, to live a life of integrity, to face the hardships and difficulties in life, to lead a fulfilled, productive and full life - all of these require wisdom. The Chinese (I believe it goes for all human beings) struggle with life and being a human since ancient times, resulting in such an old Chinese saying.

The good thing which I find comforting is for Christians, we don't have to struggle through the human life alone. God is there for us.

J also traced "大" meaning big in Chinese.

Tuesday 12 March 2013


Montessori Activity: Exploring Gas with Balloon, Baking Soda & Vinegar

Age: From 4 years old

Duration: 5-10 minutes

1. 1 plastic bottle
2. Vinegar
3. Baking soda
4. 1 funnel
5. 1 balloon

1. Fill plastic bottle approx. 1/3 full with vinegar.

2. Fill balloon approx. 1/2 full with baking soda using a funnel.

3. Cover the top of the bottle with balloon, making sure that you don't let the baking soda spill into the bottle until you are ready to blow up the balloon.

4. When you are ready, lift your balloon and let the baking soda drop into the vinegar.

5. Watch the mixture fizzes, bubbles and your balloon expand in size :-)

6. Talk about how baking soda and vinegar produce a gas call carbon dioxide that fills the balloon.

Additional Information:
J is now 4 years old and I think he is ready for some Science experiments. I got to know this wonderful activity from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas blog. For a change from our usual Maths time or doing nothing, I tried this with J (4Y0M7D) tried this today. After fumbing a little (I added water into the bottle instead of vinegar absent-mindedly, and nothing happened. We used the opportunity to talk about the difference between water and vinegar that produces the effect.) And J's reaction? He loved it enough to want to repeat the activity with another balloon, but we ran out of vinegar :-(

After a week of sickness, I am exhausted. I am glad I have pulled myself together today and continued some educational activities. I have been feeling rather lousy about myself... for not doing so well as a mom, and for feeling torn between my full-time work and motherhood - so many things that need my attention - Montessori, Maths, English, Chinese, piano class, life skills, Christian education, etc. etc. I find myself constantly busy, even as J is getting older - well, acutally even busier than before. I wish wish wish I could be a full-time professional mom - which is what I really want.

I do wish I am the type of mom who can just let my child "play with dirt and grow" as a friend described herself, without worrying that I am doing too little. I do wish I do not have the "Tiger Mom" tendency, but I couldn't. I tried to do nothing, but it didn't feel good, and thus it doesn't work for me. Perhaps I am too harsh on myself, but I am struggling hard with some tough balancing act, and wondering how to find the right balance. It is important not just to do things right, but to do the right things, and for now, I am a little confused. I am still praying about the right things I should do.

Anyway, this post is supposed to be about this activity.


Saturday 9 March 2013


A Prayer for the Day

Do you sometimes wake up feeling grumpy? That's how I felt on some days... And today, because I woke up too late on a precious Saturday morning.

It helps to start the day with a prayer:

"Dear God

Help me to be warm and cheerful today.

Give me the energy to face an active child...

The wisdom to prioritize smelling the roses... and not to feel lousy about all the items in my to-do list waiting to be crossed out...

The ability to be present for the moment...

And the grace to overlook all imperfections and lower my expectations...

The discipline and self-control to switch off my iPhone, iPad, laptop, work mail, Facebook and blog...

And deliver me from the temptation to switch them back on!

I entrust our day to you.

Teach me to learn to do the right things rather than doing things right.

Thank you, Dear God, for giving me the chance to learn to be less efficient and ambitious.

In Jesus time, I pray, Amen."

For a person with a weakness for being highly efficient, such a prayer is what I need. You may not have the same struggles as me, so your prayer will be different, but trust me, God will help you too.

Today is a fantastic sunny day, so I will learn to take it easy and enjoy.

I will log off now.

Have a great weekend!

Friday 8 March 2013


J's 4th Year Old Birthday Present

I wouldn't know what to choose for a boy, and Daddy chose a car racing track for J's 4th year old birthday.
It is something that Daddy liked and played as a child. Daddy was back from his overseas trip and father and son had a great time together playing with the birthday present. So this is a classic toy that most, if not all boys, would love. There isn't much educational value to it, but it does train your agility.
You will need good control in terms of the speed so that the cars do not run off track and can go around the loop. So that would be good training :-) So at least this satisfy mommy's criteria that every toy has got to have some kind of "educational" value :-)
We bought it from Toy R Us, but it is also available from Amazon:


Quiet Time with God: I AM Standing up for you!

Today’s post is a guest post by my friend Angela.

God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream of the night and said to him, "Be careful that you do not speak to Jacob either good or bad." Genesis 31:24

At work, we are always looking around for some backup towards the ‘mountain’ [靠山] behind us. At home, our parents are our ‘mountain’ who protects us from any harm.

Some of us, our ‘mountain’ is self-help. As Christians, we’ve got to know our ‘mountain’ is GOD - The Creator of the Universe who is willing to stand up for us. I picked out what God did for Jacob and Job.

·         God, personally appeared to Laban telling him “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad”. I see it as God’s warning to Laban. (Gen 31:24)

·          In Job’s case, the devil went for 2nd appeal, sought permission from God. God limits Satan, in this case HE did not allow Satan to destroy Job. (Job 2:6)

As always, God is in absolute control. HE is not limited by time. With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. (2 Peter 3:8)

He watches everything closely, examining everyone on earth (Psalm 11:4b). The Lord examines ­Everyone – The righteous and the wicked, Believers and Pre-believers.

I like today’s words in Living Life which says “What if God dealt with us the way we deal with those who hurt us? We would be in a pretty bad shape.”

Hmmm…I dare not think further.

Last week’s sermon entitled "Walking in Humility", Pastor Daniel Khong, Faith Community Baptist Church Singapore (FCBC) said, “If we walk in humility, anything we (God’s people) touch will become gold. If not, anything we touch will become charcoal.”

So if we are walking in ‘pain’, God has a purpose for it. An online article ‘Either He Planned It or He Permitted It’ states:

“Most of us would agree that life's trials can feel like a punishment. Major disruptions seem like they're meant to make us miserable. The truth is, God transforms us with each trial we experience. He is removing the "dross" or imperfections from us. Each time we survive a major ordeal, we grow stronger, wiser, more prepared for the next challenge. We are conquerors and overcomers with God's help.” – Van Walton

“Ordeals, hardships, distresses are permitted by God for our perfection. Either He permits them or He plans them. If God has intentionally laid out a troublesome path for us, He has a purpose.” – Van Walton

I pray that we will have a taste of God’s grace in your lives, so you can respond to others with a generous spirit. Walk humbly with God, for HE is with those who obey Him.

God bless you a great weekend ahead!

In His Love

About Angela

Angela is a good friend of mine who lives in Singapore. Determined to walk closely with God, her life is an encouragement and inspiration to me and many others in our Christian life. She shares regularly her refreshing insights into God's Word and the lessons she learns, which I would like to share with you. In our Christian walk, we do not walk alone. God walks with us and He sends many encouragers into our lives. May your hearts be touched by Angela's sharing and be encouraged too.

Tuesday 5 March 2013


J Summary (4Y) - Piano Class


J Summary (4Y) - Still Sick... A Very Special Day... In Its Own Way...

J has looked sooooo much forward to today. He is looking forward to see all his small guests. He has packed individually all the goody bags.

The day has arrived.

Today is J's 4th year old birthday.

The table is set... the food is prepared... the cake is bought... but there are no guests...

1. Daddy is on overseas course

2. Many of the children in his kindergarten have fallen ill

3. Many of the teachers in his kindergarten have fallen ill - Both teachers in his class, and thus, they could not bring the children here

4. J himself is still not fully well

5. His neighbour A (also from his kindergarten) is sick too

6. My mother-in-law is also down with flu

7. Three of his cousins are also sick

J was a little sad that it was only Mommy and him... and I wanted to cry... J cried, but in the midst of his tears, he was very brave.

But in the midst of all these, there are still so many things we can thank God for, for His blessings...

1. God gave us a super sunshine day...

2. Thank God that we can wake up, can go out, can see, can walk, can breathe the fresh air...

3. Thank God for good health, although J is sick and I am struggling with tiredness and I think I am also falling sick (help!), we are still overall healthy...

4. Thank God for special time between J and Mommy, it is so precious, as I didn't go to work...

5. Thank God for the peaceful environment in this part of the world...

6. Thank God that we can learn to handle disappointments and that J can learn to handle disappointments too...

7. We have food on our table - in fact, lots of food...

8. We read many books, one of which is a book about the importance of brushing teeth using adult toothpaste. And J is now happily and willingly brushing his teeth :-)

9. And there is one last silver lining - I don't have to host a party :-)

What a day! Thanks to the special present called The Flu Bug from his kindergarten!!! I am sure God has His purpose...

"In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." - 1 Thessalonians 5:18

How to Keep Selective Posts Private?

A reader has asked how I keep selective posts private and public posts public. I learned it from from Vincent Cheung's blog called Simple Blogger Tips.

Here is my own step-by-step summary notes based on his blog:

1. For each post you want to make private, go to the below link:

2. And type the private message with the following steps:

a. Type your chosen password and click "Select"
b. Type the message and to leave a line at the end of each line or paragraph, type <br /><br /> and click "Encrypt"
c. Copy the HTML Code and paste it in the HTML of your blog post editor.

When reading your post, simply enter your password, and your post will appear.

If you get lost, follow the full instructions from Vincent Cheung here:

Happy Blogging :-)

Sunday 3 March 2013


Hurray! I Have Found A Way to Keep Private Posts Private!

Hurray!!! I have found a way to keep private posts private and public posts public.

I chose to name the blog my name, because there is no other way to write than to be real and authentic. My blog is meant for two extreme ends of audience - the whole wide world and those who are my closest, but not people in-between.

In the begining it was totally unknown and didn't come up in Google search, which was great. But as it grows, it no longer goes just to the whole wide world, but more and more to my immediate community.

My thoughts flow much better, faster, sharper, systematic and organized when I blog... And as I blog, it is a way for me to clarify my own thoughts.

Apart from the Montessori activities and recipes, many of the posts I write I bear my heart and soul, and these posts are more meant for myself, my family and close friends... not that I have much to hide though.

Some of these posts are my life's reflection and my open letters to God.

Many of these posts are for my own personal electronic archiving.

Some of these posts are about the milestones in J's developments which I blog for myself to hold onto the memories rather than to boast as these posts may come across that way. I would have preferred to keep these posts private, but I was not able to separate such private posts from the public posts that I write.

Now I have found a way to keep all these private posts private, and I am elated :-)

If you see that it requires a password to read a post, it is because it is meant to be a private post.

Some Excellent Leap Frog Videos

Soon J is turning 4, and I am slowing allowing him to see more videos, but mainly those with excellent educational content, rather than pure entertainments.

Some of the Leap Frog videos are very well-made, fun to watch and educational. They are also of the right duration of about 30 minutes each for a full movie.

For convenience, you can buy them in DVDs from Amazon. For those who has a tight budget, you can also watch some of them for free from Youtube:

Leap Frog Letter Factory

Leap Frog Talking Words

Leapfrog Storybook Factory

Leap Frog Word Caper

Leap Frog Maths Circus

Leapfrog A Tad Of Christmas Cheer

This video provides a good story.


J Summary (3Y11M25D) - Sick Again...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

My Favourite Books

Montessori Materials