Friday 28 February 2014


Prepare 3 Meals All in One Go in the Morning

Ever wonder how some moms just seem to be able to pull the day all together without much frenzy?

I learned this from my Japanese friend, Himiko, who has since returned to Japan, but I always remember:

Have the discipline to get up early in the morning and prepare 3 meals ALL in one go - breakfast, lunch and dinner together.

Chop and cut all ingredients beforehand. Then place them in the fridge ready to be cooked. If it is soup or stew you are making, you can make them in the morning already. You can just warm a portion at dinner time. This way of working helps you to reap the economies of scale from one time work.

Once when I visited her, I saw that she had all the preparation done ready to whip up dinner in the evening in no time. That would means waking up probably at 5.30am, early in the morning ready to to face the day, before the frantic pace sets in. It is a good advice.

The only challenge for me is alas I love my sleep too much, so until today I have yet to achieve it, but I am getting better :-)

My friend does so without complaining or calculating. She reminds me of the woman of noble character described in Proverbs 31:10-31. Whenever, I starts to complain about work, I think of my friend and Proverbs 31:10-31.

Thursday 27 February 2014


Our Preschooler Reward System

Daddy has bought the board, and I have been wanting to implement this with J, but I have been very busy. Yesterday, we went to an open house of one of the top Christian primary schools in Denmark (in terms of grades), and the principal explained the bonus system that they use in their school. That got me very inspired, and I am now starting a simple system with J.


1. 1 Magnetic board or chalk board or paper board shown above
2. 90 Smiley magnets or stickers
3. 1 white board marker


A: 5 Steps:

1. Identify Age Appropriate Chores

Identify age appropriate tasks you want your child to work on. Here is a good website I have found showing the different appropriate tasks for different age:

2. Start Slow and Keep It Simple

I am starting with 1-2 tasks that I pick myself. I am starting with two, but may go down to one after discussing with J.

The tasks I have chosen for J are:
- Setting the table
- Getting dressed in the morning

3. Encourage Buy-in from Your Child

I involve J by allowing him to choose the 2nd or 3rd task that he would like to include, e.g. brushing his teeth himself, folding the clothes, etc.

Ask him what a reward is to him. For example, going swimming with Mommy and Daddy may not be a reward to a child who doesn't like to swim. Let him choose a list of 3-5 rewards.

4. Include Both Chores and Qualities

Besides tasks, there are a few character qualities that I would like to see him develop. I am starting with 1-3 qualities.

For example, J is a little challenged when it comes to greeting people, saying thank you, good morning or goodbye, no matter how much I remind him. If I bring him to my office, he would ignore everyone, to my embarrassment. Of course, shyness does not give us the license not to be courteous. I am thus including courtesy as a character quality that he should work on.

5. Define Completion of Chores

Think through on your own what a completed task looks like. Then sit down with your child and explain to him clearly what a completed task is, which forms part of the rule of the game.

For example, setting the table means all items - placemat, plate, knife, fork and glass correctly and neatly placed. Demonstrate for your child your standard.

For example, getting dressed means putting on shirt, undies, socks or stockings and pants before getting down for breakfast.

For example, exhibiting courtesy means looking into the person's eyes, greeting him with a smile and addressing the person's name (in Denmark) or addressing the person as auntie/uncle (in Singapore).

For example, exhibiting patience means waiting for mommy/daddy to finish conversation with others, and not pulling at mommy/daddy's sleeves to get going. Patience means waiting until everyone finishes main course before eating dessert.

B: How Does It Work? 

Each week...

1. For every task he does or quality he exhibits, he gets 1 smiley.

2. For every task or quality he does without Mommy's prompting, he gets 2 smileys.

3. For every task he does within time allocation, he gets 2 smileys.

4. At the end of the week, tally up the smileys (an opportunity to teach or practice addition) and give the rewards.

5. Re-set the board again at the beginning of the following week and evaluate over the tasks to include - whether you should focus on the same tasks or different tasks.

C: The Rewards:

Here is how we have designed the rewards. We will fine-tune along the way:

1. Every 1 smiley = 5 minutes on the iPad (capped at 1 hour each per week)

2. Every 10 smileys = 1 bowl of yogurt

3. Every 20 smileys = 1 ice-cream (capped at 1 per week)

4. Every 30 smileys = 1 coin ride (the kind at shopping centre where you drop a coin and the car moves)

5. Every 40 smileys = Choose something costing 10 DKK at Tiger

6. Every 50 smileys = Disney Show

On Becoming Childwise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam

Constructive Words to Use With Your Kids

We all know, yelling does not help. We gain more cooperation by talking respectfully and calmly to our kids, thereby maintaining their dignity.

But I find myself often at a loss for words, and kept repeating the same things that sounded like a broken record at best, or yelling at worst.

Here are some practical language I have gathered from various sources to help myself. I hope it will help you too. I will return to this post to update it.

Accept & Affirm...

- Say, “You did it! And you were careful!”

- Say, “I’m so happy to see you. I missed you!” Big hug, big smile.

- Say, “Welcome home. It’s nice to have the family all together.”

- Say, “J, because you were so good in the store today, Mom will buy you a special treat.”

- Say, “Great job catching the ball, J. I can see how much your practice has helped you.”

- Say, “J, I’m listening to you play the piano. I can hear how much you have improved over last week by just adding 5 minutes more to your practice time.”

- Say, “What a good job of staying in the lines, J.”

- Say, "Great! Now that you've set the table, we can all eat right away. And I know everybody's hungry!"

- Say, "Tell me about your drawing. I see that you like purple"

- Say, “I see red, blue and yellow! Can you tell me about your picture?” instead of saying "What a beautiful picture!"

- Say, "You're right, Maria does read well. And you're a great singer."

- Say, "I believe in you. I see your effort. Keep going!"

- Say, "I love you, no matter who you are or what you do."

- Say, "You made your bed without being asked — that's terrific!"

- Say, "I was watching you play with your sister and you were very patient."

- Say, "You really tried hard on that!" instead of saying, "Good job!" focus on the effort rather than the result.

- Say, “I really like it when you cooperate!” instead of "good boy."

- Say, “I saw you share your toy with your friend.”

- Say, “Wow you really tried hard on that!” instead of "You're so clever!"

Say in Positives...

- Say, "Kris, when I throw the ball, I want you to take your front foot, your right foot and step forward – move it towards me when you swing." instead of "Don’t bail out."

- Say, "See how carefully you can carry your cereal to the table" instead of saying "Don’t spill your cereal on your way to the table."

- Say, "You're trying very hard and you almost have it!" instead of "Not like that. Let me show you."

- Say, "You've done a really good job cleaning up. I try to fold my shirts instead of crumpling them up on the shelf, though. That keeps them from getting wrinkled."

- Say, "The math facts need to be memorized, how shall we work together to make this happen over the next two weeks?"

- Say, "Obey Mommy and stay in bed." instead of "Don't get out of bed."

- Say, "You need to show kindness to your sister." instead of "Don't hit your sister."

- Say, "You need to learn to become a good listener." instead of "Don't talk so much."

- Say, "Chew quietly with your mouth closed." instead of "Don't chew with your mouth open."

- Say, "Be responsible and clean up after yourself." instead of "Don't leave a mess for everyone else to clean up."

Guide Child Towards Helpfulness...

- Say, “It would if helpful if you…
  • brought your dishes to the dishwasher.”
  • took out the trash now.”
  • kept your hands in your pockets."
  • put your feet underneath your desk.”
- Add, “Will you do that now?”

- Say, “Remember a few months ago when you helped me take out the trash? That was such a big help. Thanks!” instead of "If you do 'x', then I'll give you 'y'", then allow your child to come to the conclusion that helping out is fun and intrinsically rewarding.

Give a Challenge...

- Say, "I bet you can't put the silverware away before I put the glasses away."

Play Let's Pretend...

- Say, "Okay, let's pretend this is an empty bowl from breakfast. What can we do with it? We can...put it on our heads! Is that a good idea? No. Okay, we can...throw it in the bathtub! No? Okay, we can...put it in the sink!"

Use Descriptive Language...

- Say, “Shoes belong in the closet. You need to put your shoes in the closet.”

- Say, “Your dishes go in the dishwater when you leave the table. You need to put your dishes in the dishwasher when you leave the table.”

- Say, “Your coat and lunch box belong to your cubby. You need to put your coat and lunch box in your cubby now.”

- Say, “You need a pencil to do your work.”

- Say, “Go back outside. Good, now come back in, and hang the coat up when you come in.” Cheer when he does it.

Highlight the Carrot...

- Say, "Sure I want to take you to the park. But remember, first we need to clean up after lunch."

- Say, "Remember, you always feed the dog right before we set the table."

- Say, "Grandma's rule says when you've put your clothes away, then you can go outside."

- Say, "We'll start as soon as you're done with homework/done with chores/done picking up your toys."

Ask Questions...

- Ask, "What will you need in your backpack tomorrow at school?"

- Ask, "What equipment will you need to have at your swim class this afternoon?"

- Say, "Tell me all about what you did at school, and then when you're finished I'll need to make our dinner."

Use I-messages...

- Say, “I am annoyed when I have to wait for your in the morning and leave after 7:45 because I need to get to work on time.”

- Say, “I am afraid when you climb so high.”

- Say, “We are going to the museum tomorrow. I’d like us to decide what special rules we’ll need to prevent any problems.”

- Say, “When I find paints spilled on the table, I am irritated, because I have to spend my time to clean it up.”

- Say, “I am uncomfortable with the noise level in this room.” Instead of, “Be quiet!” (command)

- Say, “I worry when you don’t come home on time. I’d like you to call me when you’re going to be late so I don’t worry about you.”

Providing Alternatives...

- Say, “Walls are not for drawing. Would you rather draw on the plain paper or on the colored paper?”

- Say, “I am uncomfortable with rudeness. Rephrase and speak respectfully or take a moment and calm down and then talk to me.”

- Say, “What you said was disrespectful. Disrespectful will not work. Do you want to start again respectfully or would you rather take some time to calm down before you talk to me.”

- Say, “What you said was disrespectful. Disrespectful is absolutely unacceptable. Do you want to start again respectfully or would you rather take some time to calm down before you talk to me.”

- Say, “You may not ride your bike on the busy street, because it is dangerous. Would you rather ride it on the driveway or on the back porch?”

- Say, “Streets are for cars. Would you rather ride it on the driveway or on the back porch?”

- Say, “Streets are dangerous for children and bikes. Would you rather ride it on the driveway or on the back porch?”

- Say, “Lunches don’t belong on the floor. You may put it in your cubby or in your backpack.”

- Say, “It’s important to turn in all of your homework. You can turn in your Social Studies page 12 assignment by 3:00 tomorrow or go to ZAP (Zeros Aren’t Permitted program) on Wednesday.”

- Say, “It’s NOT OK to hit your brother. He could get hurt or he could get angry and hurt you. If you’d like something to hit, you may hit a pillow, the couch or the mattress.” instead of threatening "Stop it right now, or else..."

Establish "Grandma's" Rules, Policies & Responsibilities...

- Ask, “Who can tell me the rules for the store?”

- Say, "Grandma's rule says when you've done what you have to do, then you get to do what you want to do."

- Say “The policy is…
  • everyone makes his bed in the morning.”
  • everyone who brought a jacket wears it outside to play.”
  • no food in the classroom except during celebrations and special projects.”
- Say, “The rule is…
  • he who makes the mess, cleans it up.”
  • if you play, you help pick up.”
  • raise your hand and be called on before speaking.”
- Say “It is your responsibility to…
  • feed the dog.”
  • pick up the dress-up clothes when you are finished playing.”
  • put your cup in the trash when you’re done with lunch.”
  • turn your work in on time.”
  • make sure your homework gets finished and is returned to me on time.”
  • ask for make-up work after you have been absent.”
  • leave petrol in the car after you’ve used it.”
- Say “You don’t have the right to…
  • speak disrespectfully to me or anyone.”
  • hit your brother.”
  • hurt anyone in this class with your hands or your words.”
When handling Anger...

- Say, “When you throw the scissors, I am scared and furious, because someone could get seriously hurt. I expect you to ask for permission before you use the scissors.”

- Say, “When you continue to shout your question, I am irritated, because others need a turn too. It is important that you let others speak.”

-Say, “When you continue to shout your question, I am frustrated, because everyone’s learning is disrupted. I expect you to raise your hand and wait to be called.

- Say, “When you continue to shout your question, I am frustrated, because everyone’s learning is disrupted. You do not have the right to disrupt others’ learning.

- Say, “Kris is talking a lot in class. I am concerned that he is disturbing the other children and that he is not learning all he can.”

- Say, "Pushing Nina isn't nice. It can hurt. Please don't push."

- Say, “Were you feeling frustrated because your friends weren’t listening to your idea?” instead of "Why did you do that?"

Before Punishment...

- Say: “J, in your hurry, you are forgetting that your bike could be stolen or ruined if left outside. To help to remind you, I will hang on to it for 2 days.”

After Punishment/Consequence...

- Say, “It was a long day and a tough lesson, but you learned it. It takes a lot of courage to learn from a mistake.”

- Say, "I'm sorry you're cold — how can you remember to bring your towel next time?"

When Kids Refuse to share...

- Say: “If Amy doesn’t want to share with you, that’s fine. God wants sharing to come from our hearts or it is not real sharing.”

Give Reminders...

- Say, “J, Auntie A is coming over for lunch today. Be sure to say hello to her when she comes in. That would be very respectful.

- Say, “J, remember there is to be no running in the church. That is where we worship God.”

- Say, “J, Mom is going to give you a warning: do not play with grandpa’s office doors.”

- Say, “If you are not ready by 8.30am, you will not go to XXX today.”

Tackling Whinning...

- Say, “J, I want you to listen carefully to Mom’s instruction and think before you respond. There is to be no whining.”

- Say, “J, repeat after me; ‘Yes Mommy, no whining.’”

Handling Bad Talk...

- Say, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Verbalize Your Child's Feelings

- Try holding space for your child as he cries and say, “It’s OK to cry. Everyone needs to cry sometimes. I’ll be right here to listen to you.” instead of "Don't cry"

- Say, “You’re really disappointed that we can’t go to the park right now, huh?”

- Say, “I know you really want to have a play date with Sarah this weekend and we’ll do our best to make that happen. Please remember that sometimes unexpected things come up, so I can’t guarantee that it will happen this weekend.” instead of "I promise..."

- Say, "I can tell that you are upset with me. Let's talk about how I have hurted and angered you. I need to seek your forgiveness."

Saying No to Your Child

- Say, “I know you really wanted to do that, but it’s not going to work out for today,”

- Say, “I’m sorry you’re disappointed and the answer is no”.

Show Appreciation...

- Say, "Thanks for hanging up your coat!"

- Say, "It's so helpful when you share with your baby sister!"

- Discipline for Life
- Growing Kids God's Way
- How to Say it to Your Kids?
- Love & Respect in the Family by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Laugh Daily

Life is hard enough. Therefore, make it a point to laugh weekly, if not daily. The Bible says "A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Proverbs 17:22.

According to doctors and experts, laughing increases blood circulation, delivers oxygen and nutrients efficiently, help the immune system and is an excellent antidote for stress.

Here are some ways I have thought of to make our family laugh. On a weekly basis, do one of the following:

1. Make funny faces at one another
2. Do somersaults with your kids
3. Massage each other's cheeks and manipulate the muscle to smile (Even if you don't smile naturally, looking at your family member doing this to you will most likely make you smile, if not laugh out loud)
4. Tickle one another
5. Put a magnifying glass in front of your mouth
6. Read a comic page together
7. Share a wholesome joke (

I guarantee the above will trigger some laughter and helps your family to forget your daily burdens for a moment. It did to ours :-)

Inscribe this weekly exercise into your family tradition to laugh daily. I know it sounds a little cheesy to make this as a family tradition, but what we don't commit to put into plan, we do not do. I, for one, am not one who smiles or laughs a lot. I am not born with a natural sense of humor - to see the lighter side of life. But I am improving. So join me to make a conscious effort to laugh together as a family on a weekly basis.

Please do share if you have more ideas, but the criteria is that it has to be wholesome :-)

Here's apparently a good book on jokes:

J Summary (4Y11M22D) - Good Words from His Kindergarten

This morning I fetched J to the kindergarten today, and one of the staff, T, saw me and told me how clever J is. I was very surprised and glad to hear and asked what he was doing so well. She said that he was very good at swimming yesterday (Once every two weeks, the teachers will bring the kids to swimming and yesterday J went swimming with them).

Have been struggling with some tough trials and tribulations in other areas of my life that are not going so well. Tears can't help dropping down my cheeks and I ask God for his deliverance. Although God has not delivered me from those trials, but God just sent His love and encouragement and in the area of motherhood that is going very well at the moment to encourage me. Oh thank you God.

Thank God also for showing me that my perseverance and hardwork of taking J to the swimming class every Friday seems to have reaping the benefits.

Tuesday 25 February 2014


J's Lunch Box

Crab salad on rye bread, fish-shaped banana bread, apple, red pepper bell, corn, green peas, blue-berries and carrot

All the food stacked into the lunch box and ready to go :-)

Monday 24 February 2014


Fish-Shape Banana Bread

Recipe adapted from JS

1. 5 large bananas mashed
2. 1/2 cup oatmeal
3. 1/2 - 3/4 cup graham flour (more nutritious, if not using plain flour is fine)
4. 1 tsp baking powder
5. 1 tsp wheat germ (optional, added for more nutritious value)
6. 1 tsp brewer's yeast (optional, added for more nutritious value)

1. Pre-heat oven to 200 °C (390°F).
2. Mash the bananas, add all other ingredients and mix well.
3. On a baking tray lay with baking paper, form into desired shapes, e.g. fish with a spoon.
4. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes.

1. You can add any toppings such as nuts mixed in as desired.

2. This is very suitable for telling Bible stories. As you eat them, you can tell the story of Jesus feeding five thousands with five loaves and two fish (from John 6:1-14 and Matthew 14:13-21) or Noah's Ark, depending on what animals you shaped.

Additional Information:
J requested for this when we came home after piano class today. I made this today, after being inspired by my friend, JS, at the preschool at FIBC. I made a teddybear shape at the request of J. It tasted wonderfully sweet. Both J and Daddy like it.

This is a very healthy and tasty snack. There is no added sugar and no added butter/margarine, just purely natural goodness and sweetness from the oatmeal and bananas. I hope you will try it and like it too. I will be making it for our weekly family meeting.

Mash 4-5 bananas with a fork

J's finished work of mashing bananas
J completed mashing the bananas with fork

Add 1/2 cup oatmeal
Add 1/2 cup grahams flour

Add 1/4 cup white flour

Add 1 tsp baking powder

Mix well

J mixing the ingredients

End result of the mixed ingredients

Form into shapes with a spoon
J adding eyes to the fish with raisins
Bake in oven at 200 degree celsius for 12 minutes and ready to eat :-)

More pictures here:

Sunday 23 February 2014


J Summary (4Y11M18D) - Our First Weekly Family Meeting Night (WFMN)

Our first family meeting went well, despite a little rough start.

The meeting finally got started at 6.30pm, half an hour later than planned. Thus, I didn't have time to prepare a nice snack - just plain drinking water, but that was also fine.

J was very excited, but fell off his chair quite badly just at the start of the meeting and hurt himself. The next 5 mins was hijacked by crying that felt like it lasted an eternity... followed by sitting on Daddy's or my lap for the rest of the evening.

The review of our calendar took longer than planned - 30 mins compared to 10 mins. We did read together the my father-in-law's book "Mit livs mosaics," although I completely forgot to read the ABC Bible Verses book!

J's frequent disruption in the meeting was fortunately saved by this bell, which I rang to get order and regard for the meeting.

Despite that, it was a success as it was better than what I had imagined it would turn out - we did hold the meeting, we did keep it light rather than burdensome and there was lots of cooperativeness from everyone. God has answered my prayer.

I am thankful that:

1. Despite all the fumbling, we managed to hold the meeting.
2. J's excitement for the meeting - he was the first to sit down by the sofa table.
3. We managed to review our calendar.
4. We managed to read a book together and it was fun.
5. J was willing to perform a piece for us on the piano (although the piece was only good enough for our ears.)
6. We managed to open and end the meeting with a prayer.
7. Everyone was very cooperative to share one thing each was grateful for that day, including J.
8. We managed to sing a song, "Jesus Loves Me," and J was enthusiastic and Daddy went along without feeling (too) bored.
9. We managed to inject some fun, instead of just discussing the mandane. We didn't have the time to play a real board game, but we played 4-in-a-line and had fun together.
10. I got to know Daddy's and J's goal and I was very touched. It was a wise goal J had set for himself, and give me a chance to follow-up and encourage him for the next week.

For our meeting next week, hopefully I will manage to make a healthy snack or drink - avocado milkshade - that was what I promised to J.

Our actual agenda turned out like this:

Weekly Family Meeting Night Agenda (1.5 hours)

Date: Sunday 23 February 2014
Time: 6.30-8pm (1.5 hours)

6.30-7pm: Review Family Calendar (30 mins)

We opened with a word of prayer.

Discussed Chinese cultural trip to China end July early August or receiving Chinese students's visit to Denmark. Review practicalities for next week.

7-7.25pm: Short Lesson (30 mins)

Daddy read aloud chapter 1 of the book "Mit livs mosaics" published by my sister-in-law to J and we learned about our family history together:

You can see more pictures here:

7.25-7.30pm: Talent Show (10 mins)

J played "Lille Peder Eddekop" (although the piece was only good enough for our ears):

7.30-7.40pm: Set Goals for Next Week, Thanksgiving & Affirmation (10 mins)

Mom: "Next week, I aim to finish my CIPS 4 assignment."
Dad: "To prepare for his PDD and to go to bed early."
J: "Not to get into argument with other kids in kindergarten."

J was grateful for his cousin Nikoline's help with making his birthday cake today.
I am grateful to Daddy for helping me with a difficult task today and he did it without me asking. Daddy was grateful that I organized the family meeting and my enthuaism to bring the family closer together.

We introduced the family cheers and ended the meeting with it:

7.40-7.45pm: Sing & Pray (10 mins)

We closed with a word of prayer, thankful that our family meeting got on well, despite a little challenging start. We sang one song, "Jesus loves me."

7.45-8pm: Fun Time (15 mins)

We played 4-in-a-line game.

We didn't manage to do School Time this evening, as all the time before bedtime was used on family meeting. But it was all worth it.

If you wish to know more about how to implement WFM, ideas for WFM and a sample WFM schedule, the following are the links to my posts:

If you weary and giving up, here are some encouragements to cheer you to press on:

Here are some healthy homemade snacks and drinks to entice your family to come for the meeting :-)

Friday 21 February 2014


J Summary (4Y11M16D) - Can Zip His Own Jacket

Today I noticed for the first time that J could zip up his blue winter jacket all on his own very easily. I have been helping him all along, up to today. So I don't need to help him any longer from now on.

Piano playing has also been going very smoothly the last few days and this morning. I think it is the result of me being better able to see all the correct notes that J played, rather than all the mistakes that he made.

It took lesser time for him to perfect a piece, more enthuasism with playing the piano and I didn't have to drag and persuade him to play.

I am very glad that I was able to restraint myself and see all the progress he has made, rather than the imperfection. Thank you God for being me adjust and correct myself daily.

Thursday 20 February 2014


J Summary (4Y11M15D) - Took Inniative

This morning, J brought the dishes to the kitchen counter after breakfast, all on his own without my prompting. Later, J took own initiative to put on his jacket and his shoes and waited for me at the door, all without me reminding him at all.

This evening, J again took the dishes to the kitchen counter after dinner on his own initiative.

It coincided with our introduction of each family member taking turn to mention one thing that he/she was grateful for that day. It gave me the perfect opportunity to cide J's initiative in the morning and at dinner time as the thing that I was grateful for that day :-)

Wednesday 19 February 2014


J's Lunch Box - A Little Surprise Note

Consists of blue-berries, mackrel on rye bread, lobster salad on rye bread, corn, green peas, banana, carrot and apple.

Tuesday 18 February 2014


Thanksgiving: For Good Idea for Our Family's WFMN

This week, I have been praying very consciously for a desire that I had for a long long time, that is to start Weekly Family Meeting Night (WFMN) in our family.

I had not been confident that it would be well-received and thus I have not implemented it. Last year had been a very hectic year with no extra time. Now that I am working part-time, it has given us more breathing space and a chance to re-look into this wish.

WFM will be my goal this year. I need to be more intentional about it. I am just thinking how to ensure buy-in from my Significant Other, that he would see the benefits and be enthusiasstic and willing to come alongside as a team.

My greatest desire for WFMN is to have weekly learning time, so that we teach life values to J. The highest standard of all is the biblical standards - love, kindness, compassion, selflessness, empathy, considerateness, considering the preciousness of others... And how to best teach it to J and ourselves?

My Significant Other is not one who is the most enthusiastic about reading the Bible or any devotion book for the Bible.

Yesterday, an idea came to my head. I can still teach values to J through other means that my Significant Other will find easy, acceptable and attractive to participate.

My sister-in-law just published a book last December on our family history. We can read through a chapter of the book written about my father-in-law - "Mit livs mosaik" meaning "My Life's Mosaics" in English. It is his biography. We will be able to learn alot. We will also be able to teach and share with J his family heritage, teach him respect for elders, teach him about family values and teach him about life.

I am so thankful for my sister-in-law for writing this book after a year of interviewing my father-in-law, writing and editing. It is her fruit of the labour that will benefit the future generations.

I thank God for this idea, and for helping me to slowly let our WFM take shape.

I am very excited!!! I will continue to pray and ask for God's guidance.

Our First Weekly Family Meeting Night (WFMN) Agenda

Here is our planned agenda for our first Weekly Family Meeting:

Weekly Family Meeting Night Agenda (2 hours)

Date: Sunday 23 February 2014
Time: 6-8pm (2 hours)

6-6.10pm: Review Family Calendar (10 mins)

Chinese cultural trip to China end July early August or receiving Chinese students's visit to Denmark

6.10-6.20pm: Practicalities (10 mins)

Plan J's birthday next week. Plan meals for the week. Discuss transportation needs. Plan the fun things to do on the next Weekly Family Fun Night (WFFN).

6.20-6.40pm: Short Lesson (10 mins)

Read aloud chapter 1 of "Mit livs mosaics" to J and learn about our family history together.
Introduce family's crest and family's roar.

Read aloud the "My ABC Bible Verses" book and discuss the story.

6.40-6.50pm: Talent Show (10 mins)

Encourage J to play a piece of Music he has learned from his piano class.

6.50-7pm: Set Goals for Next Week (10 mins)

Mom: "Next week, I aim to finish my CIPS 4 assignment."

7-7.10pm: Thanksgiving & Affirmation (10 mins)

Share one thing each family member is grateful for, one thing a family member has done well, or one thing we are especially looking forward to.

7.10-7.20pm: Sing & Pray (10 mins)

Closing prayer and sing one song.

7.20-8pm: Fun Time (40 mins)

Play a board game, make a Science experiment together on solar system or build a fort with sheets for a cozy encave, etc.

Monday 17 February 2014


Sample Weekly Family Meeting Night (WFMN) Agenda

Here is a sample of a Weekly Family Meeting Night. It doesn't have to be so involved in the beginning. You can cherry-pick some of them and give it a soft start.

For example start on a Sunday or Monday evening after dinner to plan the week ahead.

This is an ambitious agenda of a perfect family. But no family is perfect. Don't feel the needs to cover all points and don't feel the need to stick strictly to the time. Go with the needs and the situation of the moment and the leading of the Holy Spirit. If you are a Christian, pray for your WFM. Pray before you meet together.

Weekly Family Meeting Night Agenda (2 hours)

7-7.10pm: Review Family Calendar (10 mins)

Start by reviewing the family calendar on upcoming events so everyone would know what are going on. Confirm social and family commitments for the coming week. Sync and resolve any scheduling conflicts. Plan the activities for the coming spring, summer, autumn or winter and agree on when to take the annual leaves.

7.10-7.20pm: Practicalities (10 mins)

Plan meals for the week. Discuss transportation needs. Get an overview of the upcoming school projects and schedule separate time to attend to it. Sign any birthday cards that need to be posted.

7.20-7.30pm: Short Lesson (10 mins)

For example, read a chapter of a book out loud together or to each other e.g. The 7 Habits of highly families and share a principle of life. Discuss the stories together.

7.30-7.40pm: Talent Show (10 mins)

Sometimes encourage the kids to put up a talent show as an opportunity to share how they are coming along with their music or dance lessons.

7.40-7:50pm: Family Council (10 mins)

Face and work through problems together. Give a hug and a shoulder to cry on, or cry together. Listen attentively without interrupting. Do not judge. Make decisions together as a family. A family that stands and cries together, stays together.

7.50-8pm: Review Goals & Family Mission Statement (10 mins)

Talk about what kind of family you want to be. Review your family mission statement periodically to see if it is integrated into your lives and if your family is living it.

Review the goals to see how everyone has progressed. It can be as simple as, "This week I want to learn how to use the chopsticks." or "I want to learn how to tie the shoelaces." or "I want to master the piece Itsy Bitsy Spider on the piano." Then write down new goals for the next week.

8-8.10pm: Dream Together (10 mins)

Listen to other family's members' dream. For example, dream about what you wish you could change about your home. Get excited about Daddy's new car :-)

8.10-8.20pm: Thanksgiving & Affirmation (10 mins)

Share one thing each family member is grateful for, one thing another family member has done well, or one thing they are especially looking forward to.

8.20-8.30pm: Sing & Pray (10 mins)

End by praying together and singing one of the family’s favorite songs, e.g. for the Covey's family, it is “Love at Home” by John Hugh McNaughton.

8.30-9pm: Fun Time (30 mins)

Have fun e.g. play board game, conduct a Science experiment together, make an album of family pictures, view past old photo albums together, read and discover the family history together e.g. book about Johannes Friis written by Mikala Burman, wrestling with the children, build a fort with sheets for a cozy encave, etc.

Ideas for Weekly Family Fun Night (WFFN)?

Family Fun Night (FFN) provides a way to show unconditional love and acceptance for children, thereby building self-esteem of children based on Existence. It doesn't have to be expensive. It should ideally not be used as withdrawal of privileges during discipline of children. It can be weekly, fortnightly or monthly.

Here are some fantastic ideas of my own and those I have gathered from the different books I read:
  1. Sleep in the bathroom
  2. Sleep in tent together
  3. Sleep in walk-in wardrobe together
  4. Build a fort with sheets, tables and chairs and sleep in it together overnight
  5. Have a meal under a table
  6. Bake, make pancakes, dried apple chips, etc. together
  7. Drink hot chocolate under cozy candle lights
  8. Make ice-cream together
  9. Make Chinese dumplings together
  10. Make popcorn together
  11. Rent videos and pop popcorn
  12. Visit to the pizza or sushi bar
  13. Visit your favorite restaurant
  14. Go out for ice-cream
  15. Play cards or board game
  16. Jump on the backyard trampoline
  17. Play a game of volley ball in the backyard
  18. Play tennis, pingpong, basketball, etc.
  19. Hike up a nearby mountain, build a fire, roast marshmallows
  20. Make bon-fire and roast snorbrød
  21. Go canoeing
  22. Visit museum – art museum, science museum, dinosaur museum
  23. Visit a National Park or nature playground
  24. Swimming
  25. Horse-ridding
  26. Go to a movie
  27. Go to the water park
  28. Go to the driving range and let everyone hit a bucket of golf balls, finish with a root beer float at home.Go bowling
  29. Play mini-golf at a recreation center
  30. In summer, go swimming in the lake and kayaking, pluck strawberries.
  31. In winter, go sledding, have snow fight, build snowman together, go ice-skating on the lake, drink hot chocolate.
  32. Write and illustrate a book
  33. Have a do absolutely do nothing day and let the children set the agenda and pick whatever they want to do.
  34. Or surprise the children that they do not know what to expect
  35. Visit where Mom and Dad used to lived together
  36. Visit where Mom and Dad used to date together
  37. Watch inspiring basketball movie with your son, if he is into basketball


Sunday 16 February 2014


Encouragements to Press On with Weekly Family Meeting Night (WFMN)

    Weekly Family Meeting Night as we all know, don't always go as planned or go as well. But don't give up. Press on. Here are some encouragements from Stephen R. Covey: 
  • Don’t Give Up (You’re Going to Be “Off Track” 90% of the Time. So What?)

  • Be patient. Go slowly. Respect the level of understanding of each person. Don’t bulldoze through the material. Keep in mind that when you’re working with your family, “slow” is “fast” and “fast” is “slow.”

  • When people go through this book together – when they read it together, discuss it together, talk back and forth and get the new insights and learnings and understandings together – it starts a bonding process that becomes truly exciting. The spirit is one of being equally yoked together: “I’m not perfect. You’re not perfect. We’re learning and growing together.”

  • When you share in humility what you are learning, with no intent to “shape up” someone else, it unfreezes the labels or judgments others have of you and makes it “safe”, permissible and legitimate for you to continue to grow and change.

  • Do not get discouraged if your initial efforts meet with resistance. Keep in mind that any time you try something new, you’re going to get some flack. Just smile and keep moving forward. I promise you: It will be worth the effort!

  • In everything you do in your family, you keep in mind the miracle of the Chinese bamboo tree. After the seed for this amazing tree is planted, you see nothing, absolutely nothing, for 4 years except for a tiny shoot coming out of a bulb. During those 4 years, all the growth is underground in a massive, fibrous root structure that spreads deep and wide in the earth. But then in the fifth year, the Chinese bamboo tree grows up to 80 feet! Many things in family life are like the Chinese bamboo tree. You work and invest your time and effort, and you do everything you can possibly do to nurture growth, and sometimes you don’t see anything for weeks, months, or even years. But if you’re patient and keep working and nurturing, that “fifth year” will come, and you will be astonished at the growth and change you see taking place.

  • Patience is faith in action. Patience is emotional diligence. It’s the willingness to suffer inside so that others can grow. It reveals love. It gives birth to understanding. Even as we become aware of our suffering in love, we learn about ourselves and our own weaknesses and motives. We must “never, never, NEVER give up!”

  • No matter how far away a son or daughter seems to be, hang in there. Never give up. Eventually, like the Prodigal son, they will return. You will reclaim them.

  • Even if nothing else happens during family time, just the joy of being together and doing things together will have tremendous positive effect on the Emotional Bank Accounts in the family.

  • When you are attempting to make a change, you need to make the resolve deep and allow no exceptions.

  • The most important thing is to make the commitment to do it once a week no matter what.

  • And no matter what happens in your family night meeting, don’t get discouraged.

  • We have even had meetings where people were being so noisy, so disrespectful that we have said, “Ok, we have had it! You come and get us when you are ready to meet!” and walked out. When we leave, we always came back later and apologized.

  • We have had meetings where the children were sprawled out on the couch asleep.

  • We have had meetings that basically started out a big fight and ended up in prayer.

  • We have had meetings where the children were being difficult and uncooperative.

  • It is not always easy, but it is worth it.

  • Sometimes you even wonder if your children are getting anything out of it.

  • In fact, you may not be able to see the real results for years.

  • Foundations are being laid that will make a huge difference down the road.

  • Just the fact that we are doing it, that we are trying, is tremendously important.

  • But even a tiny change in your direction today will make a significant difference hundreds of miles down the road.

  • Remember the Apollo example – where do you think the most power and energy was expended on that heavenly journey? More energy was spent in the first few minutes of liftoff from earth than was used in half a million miles for several days. But once they did break out, it took almost no power to do all those other things.

  • Be patient with yourself. Even be patient with your own impatience.

What to Include in Weekly Family Meeting Night (WFMN)?

Here are some practical ideas gleaned from the book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families" by Stephen R. Covey for WFMN. WFMN provides a time to:

1. Create & review family mission statement
2. Plan by going through each person’s plan, goals and activities for the week
3. Review family calendar, syc and resolve scheduling conflicts
4. Plan meals for the week
5. Discuss transportation needs
6. Talk about up-coming school projects
7. Teach a value, read a book a loud and discuss story together
8. Problem-solving, voice concerns, express needs and discuss ideas
9. Have a “Talent Show” for the kids to share their progress with their music or dance lessons
10. Have fun
11. Sing a favorite family song and pray together
12. Share one thing to be grateful for, one thing another family member has done well or one thing especially looking forward to
13. Include a special theme for the week
14. Invite outsiders to enrich the family’s experience
15. Dream together
16. Teach responsibility
17. See a family photo album together.

Elaboration as follows:

How to Implement Weekly Family Meeting (WFM)?

According to Stephen R. Covey and many other authors, there is no way we can be successful in our families if we don’t prioritize family in our lives. According to Stephen R. Covey, "Without a structure for anchoring, families will be blown off course, with the speed of change in the world right now."

How can we ensure that we put first things first to build an effective and loving family with a strong team-spirit that functions and thrives?

The answer lies in creating structure in the family - namely:
1. Weekly Family Meeting Night (WFMN)
2. Weekly Family Fun Night (WFFN)
3. Date One-on-One (DOO)

Such a routine will help us prioritize our family. It will have a tremendous impact on your children’s lives and you will have such fond memories of these times. In this post, I will be focusing on WFM.

Objectives of WFM:

1. Review family mission statement - Integrate it into your lives
2. Plan & Syc Calendars
3. Maintain Communication
4. Teach values
5. Problem-solving
6. Have fun

How to Implement WFM?

Here are 7 steps:

1. Prepare a healthy snack
2. Start slow
3. Keep it short, upbeat & fun
4. Set a specific night
5. Set ground rules
6. Have a Sequence of Agenda (1-1.5 hour)
7. Bring your family calendar
8. Have a bell ready
9. Be present and listen attentively
10. Assign roles, share responsibilities and encourage ownership.

Elaboration as follows:

J Summary (4Y11M12D) - Reviewing The Goal for Weekly Family Meeting Night (WFMN)

For those who have read my blog, you will know that my greatest wish for my family is to have Family Time. I believe that having a strong family tradition helps build a strong and secured family team-spirit with deep bonding that makes us truly one.

But what should go into our family traditions?

Of all the family traditions, I believe that regular Family Time is perhaps the most important. I believe it will help creates a healthy and strong family culture that enables us with more resilence to withstand the external influences of the popular culture, when our children reach the turbulent teenage years.

Of all the family traditions, this is also the hardest to implement - at least for us. It requires an anchor person in the family to facilitate this role. But time, the lack of it, barred me from truly pursuing this goal. We could have more money or more time, but we couldn't have both. We have chosen time.

In 2013, I have decided, with the blessings given by my Significant Other, to step down on my career responsibilities by going part-time, releasing me time to truely work on the foundational work of our family. J is soon 5 years old, and it could not have been more timely.

It has been 3.5 years since I started the blog, and we have not achieved it yet, let alone even started Weekly Family Time. But all these time, I have not given up. I have been praying, reading and preparing myself emotionally.

One of the most useful things I have gleaned from the book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families" by Stephen R. Covey is Family Time. Among many other books that I read, Covey gave the most insightful, interesting ideas and practical ways of how to introduce a Weekly Family Meeting (WFM).

I will be summarizing down my learnings as a way for me to digest my them as I prayerfully work towards introducing it to my family hopefully this year. I am sharing with you with the hope that it may inspire you consider having regular Family Time with you family.

Please join me here to learn more.

Record Down Your Family's History

Record down your family history by interviewing the elders in the family. Make it into a family writing project. It will be even more fun if you publish it into a book  It will help your children know their roots and ensure that the family stories are passed down from generation to generation.

No one has a perfect and a glorious unbroken family history. So be it successes or challenges that our great grandparents have overcome or weaknesses that we should avoid, we can still learn a lot from them.

My sister-in-law, MB, is amazing with her drive and perseverance in writing and publishing this book called "Mit livs mosaik" through a series of interviews with my father-in-law that took a year and recording down the memories he shared. She then gave this book to him and all of us for Christmas. What a brilliant idea and the best present for my father-in-law and all of us!

It inspires me to sit down with my father to learn more about their childhood, their parents, their grandparents and their great grand parents. It will help me find a conversation topic with my dad.

It also inspires me to sit down with my grandma next time I am in Singapore and record down all her stories. She loves to tell stories, but alas, no one listens.

We are now reading this book with J during our Weekly Family Meeting Night (WFMN) on Sunday where we have a lot of fun learning about our family together:

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