Princess and The Rock

Parenting | Homeschooling | Food | Fashion

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

余任生 Eu Yan Sang Power Up! Concentration Essence of Chicken

My grandmother used to make my brothers and me drink a bottle of "goi sok" (Teochew for essence of chicken) before every examination. I did not mind it, in fact, I liked the taste of it, especially if it's slightly warmed up. After my school years, essence of chicken and I parted ways until my first confinement; we reunited like long lost friends and I was indeed quite glad to be enjoying this tonic-like drink as it's supposed to strengthen my body. After confinement I continued to consume a bottle once in a while and surprisingly, the Rock loved it too! He asked to try it once and ever since that tiny sip, he always asked for some whenever he saw me open a bottle. However my mum told me it might not be suitable for a young child his age.

So I was really happy to know that Eu Yang Sang now has a version that's suitable for a child aged 2 to 12. Plus Eu Yang Sang products are synonymous with quality, so when I was asked if I wanted to try out this product, I was more than willing to do so.

chicken essence

Both Princess and The Rock tried Eu Yang Sang's Power Up! 100% Pure Essence of Chicken but only The Rock appreciates the taste. This is no surprise to me since Princess didn't like the adult version as well. 

What's special about this Essence of Chicken? Every bottle of Power Up! is 100% free from caramel colouring, added flavouring or salt, preservatives, sugar, fat and cholesterol. It is safe for children and is free of any stimulants or caffeine. In other words, macam ownself cook at home. OK, maybe not really the same because I don't know how to achieve this flavour and "oil-free-ness".


The Rock likes it so much that he packs a bottle of it when I asked him to pack his barang barang for an outing!


And here's The Rock enjoying a bottle with his lunch:


I was given Eu Yang Sang Power Up! Concentration Essence of Chicken for the purpose of this review but you bet I will continue to purchase it for The Rock because he loves it so much and it's specially formulated to boost their mental power, improve concentrated and promote physical growth.

If you keen to have your children try some, Power Up! is available at the Eu Yan Sang e-store and any Eu Yan Sang stores island wide.

*Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post but all opinions are my own.


Friday, 11 July 2014

Lessons We Learnt from an Urban Picnic

Princess and The Rock love a good picnic any time, so at the beginning of the week I told them we would go for an evening picnic if the weather was good. Unfortunately it rained and that meant the ground at the park would be muddy and I wasn't exactly looking forward to more washing, especially with the pile-up of laundry after my trip. They were of course very disappointed, so I decided to go ahead with our picnic plan but an urban picnic! This idea was inspired by another homeschool mum, who regularly has picnics with her children and neighbours's children at the corridor of her flat. :)

We had our dinner, packed some snacks and water and headed to a small neighbourhood shopping mall, found a spot that was sheltered on the outside of the building, laid out our mat and had a picnic there. The evening was further enhanced by ice-cream treats from Udders, plump cherries, sweet grapes and refreshing tangerines I bought from the supermarket at the mall.

At one point, Princess muttered, "I think it's inconvenient to have our picnic here, right?" I kind of knew why she said that but I decided to save the discussion for later and enjoy the moment. We ate, we laughed, we played and we learnt.

So on the way back in the car, we resumed the discussion about whether it was appropriate to have the picnic at the location. To cut the long story short, here are our learning points:


1. Someone's reaction alone does not determine whether an action/behaviour is acceptable or not. Some people stared and others smiled but we need not be concerned as we weren't doing anything wrong per se, unusual maybe, but definitely not inappropriate. (The security guard walked past us and asked us to move my bag from the seats to my mat so I think laying the mat on the ground was OK, although ironically I've been told at Flower Dome that it's disallowed.) My point was to encourage her to act according to her clear conscience and not be swayed by opinions of others easily.

2. Do not assume. When someone stares, there could be more than one reason. Princess, being the more sensitive one, immediately felt those who took a longer glance were dissatisfied with what we did, possibly because we were blocking the way or causing some inconvenience. However, she also noticed that some looked AND smiled. So we talked about how there could be different thoughts behind the "stares". Some were possibly curious, some felt what we did was inappropriate and one or two may even be thinking "We should do this one of these days, it looks fun!" Sometimes we get affected by what we think someone is thinking about us but our guess might be furthest from the truth and we get depressed or upset over nothing.

3. We shouldn't be afraid to do something that's not been attempted or unusual (unless, of course it's illegal, morally wrong or would pose a great deal of discomfort to others). It's usual to have picnics at the parks but not so common in urban settings. However, sometimes when "the mood strikes", it can be tiring just to think about carrying all the barang barang and spend 45 minutes to get to the park for an hour's picnic. So despite an urban picnic being unusual, we managed to have a great evening because we went ahead with it. We also talked about how in the future it can be difficult for Princess and The Rock to make some decisions that are unorthodox and how they can decide what to do.


A simply planned picnic resulted in important life lessons. So go out and lay your mat and enjoy life for what it is, on a carpet of grass or cement floor speckled with dust!


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Friday, 4 July 2014

The Battle Starts Now.

I don't even know how to start this post and I contemplated not writing this at all until I've achieved victory but I thought it may be useful to document the process so that people who will be or want to take this route can get a glimpse of the whats, hows and whys.

What battle am I referring to?

The HOMESCHOOL battle.

Now is the period for Primary 1 registration, which is also the time I need to apply for exemption from Compulsory Education (CE) exemption. CE Act was passed in 2000 and was implemented in Singapore in 2003. It states that a child, who is a citizen and resident of Singapore, of compulsory school age born after 1st January 1996 has to attend regularly as a pupil at a national primary school.

Homeschooling a pre-schooler is one thing, taking the step to be the main educator for my child for her primary school years is another. In fact, as I am writing this, I have not officially made an application for CE exemption, although I will do so. I'm not sure if the application would be approved but as I think through this decision (with my family, of course) I am looking forward more and more to learning together as a family. Having said that I still have a great amount of self-doubt, unsurety and feelings of inadequacy and that's when I draw on the joy, memories and experiences of the home learning we've done. In fact, the main reason we want to homeschool is to encourage joyful and self-directed learning for as long as possible. "Horror" stories of the stress of mainstream education is not new but the decision to homeschool is not only to avoid educational stress (because a healthy dosage of challenge is healthy) but really, to enjoy the journey of learning.

Why battle?

My husband and I foresee strong opposition from our loved ones and if I may add, the authority on education in Singapore. We have received questions of doubt and outright disagreement when we so much as drop hints on our inclination towards the homeschooling route. Let's just say that I've never felt more unskilled, unequipped, unable... you get the idea. I've even heard comments like, "You're so good meh? You think you are Evelyn Tan ah?" For those of you who are uninitiated, you can read about her here.

Yes, I may not have been an educator before nor do I hold any qualification specific to teaching but I find it hard to believe that a degree holder (that's one of the prerequisites of a homeschool educator in Singapore) would be incapable of delivering a primary school syllabus, if, he/she wants to and the child wants to be homeschooled too. To put it more candidly, many students in tertiary education have tutored students for pocket money, right? So what's the biggie about tutoring my seven year old?
Update: I think I risk sounding arrogant here and I'm sorry if you are offended. What I'm trying to say is that delivery of content is usually the least of worries, it's the other issues (one of them mentioned below) that are more challenging. The greatest for me is probably to answer the question of "Would she have done better if she's in school? Is she shortchanged in any way?"

The bigger challenge to me is the fact that I would be with my children almost 24/7! That's like shooting myself in the foot, isn't it?


There are so many seeming contradictions. Finally Princess is of "official" school-going age and I can have my freedom back and yet I battle to keep her home. Our family chooses to homeschool so that she has the freedom to learn about the world. Socialisation with her peers would be comparatively less than school-going children but people from all ages and walks of lives would cross her path every so often.

I can go on and on and it would seem like I'm trying to justify our decision but the truth is I'm scared shit! (This is not my usual language but I can't find a better way of putting it across.) But, and that's a big BUT, my desire to be part of her discovery and learning (pretty much like watching her take the first step, utter her first word etc.) is greater than my fear. And I'm not afraid to admit that I'll like to be one of the the first few to celebrate her achievements and see the glimmer in her eyes when she gets those "Aha!" moments.

So pray for us or give us support as we go through this battle. I guess for the next instalment I can share more on how I battle. Hopefully it won't be much of one!

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Friday, 6 June 2014

An Evening of Scribbling, Teochew and Mandarin

Every day is a scribbling, sketching or drawing day in our family. Any empty moments in Princess and The Rock's life are beautifully filled with sketches and words of our family, monsters or any hot subject of the moment.

One evening after dinner, The Rock was doing his usual sketches and he wanted help with drawing a nose. So he asked, "Mum, is this how you draw a nose, like a 'J'?" And I told him he could draw it that way and many other ways. We had some fun exploring noses and later I decided to get him to add other facial features AND say them in Teochew (a Chinese dialect) and Mandarin (which he was already familiar with). That was the most fun part of all; The Rock was laughing non-stop when I first spoke to him in Teochew as he felt it sounded like singing!

The Rock's self-portrait

Slowly he learnt that eyes is pronounced as "mug" in Teochew and "yan jing" in Mandarin, you say "pngee" in Teochew and and "bi zi" in Mandarin for nose and so on. I would go, "ler gai pngee dor di gor?" ("Where is your nose?") And he would point to the facial feature he thought I was referring to.

I would like Princess and The Rock to pick up some conversational dialect because the use of dialect is slowly eroding; it's not easy to find a child who can converse in a dialect these days. It's probably due to the change in family structures; it was more common to have three generations staying under one roof in the past so learning dialects from grandparents was easier. We are one of those English-speaking family, so now I hope to introduce some dialect in fun ways. I hope it won't be too late!

Do you speak dialects to your children? How do you teach them dialects?



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Friday, 30 May 2014

HeART Studio June Holiday Programme Giveaway: Safari Camp

Some of you may already know HeART Studio since there are many good reviews of it. I've also jumped on the HeART Studio bandwagon and signed Princess up for the art classes there after a trial lesson as she thoroughly enjoyed it and I felt her instructor did a great job of teaching her painting techniques using very simple and child-friendly terms. For example, she explained that the way to pick up paint from the palette was to let the paintbrush "bunny hop" on the paint instead of scooping it up with the paintbrush.

Here's a glimpse of what she recently learnt in her Little Picasso lessons (for age 5-6 years).

Study of the subject and pencil sketch:


 First artwork with pencil and colour pencils:


Second artwork with paint and oil pastels:


Third artwork (with added details) with paint and oil pastels:

Although this artwork is uncompleted, you can see that
it has progressed to one with more realistic details.

Close-up of fur details

As you can see, each lesson is progressive and the child gets to complete the artwork by herself (proudly, if I may add) with just enough guidance from the instructor. Rest assured this is not the copy-the-drawing-on-the-board type of art lessons.

For the upcoming June holidays, HeART Studio is organising a Safari Camp! During the programme, children will learn how to draw forms using shapes and lines, at the same time they are taught using the techniques of painting, mixing of colours and colour harmony and contrast. This painting programme will open a window of experience for the student to try out canvas painting to the many different interesting subject matters that have been chosen for the class.

Details of the camp:

Animals Safari
1.30pm-4.30pm
9th June 2014 (Monday) – 12th June 2014 ( Thursday)

Here's the fun part; two readers will get to win this art programme worth $290! Simply enter through Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions:

  • Entries that do not fulfill the requirements stated will be disqualified without notice.
  • The child has to be 5 years and above, based on the month and year of birth.
  • No repeat winners are allowed.
  • Winners will be notified by email, through the email address provided.
  • Winners must confirm by reply email or phone call, within three days. Otherwise, a new winner will be picked.
  • No changing of date or time is allowed.
  • No Existing Customer allowed.
  • This giveaway is open to Singapore residents only

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Thursday, 8 May 2014

Zucchini Fritters with Avocado Aioli (Paleo and Gluten-Free)

I had some delicious raw zucchini noodles the other day made my a friend (who's a vegan). Inspired by her recipe, I bought some zucchini at the supermarket and made some myself. Needless to say, I enjoyed it very much but my family wasn't as enthusiastic about it as I was, so I was left with quite an amount of zucchini noodles. I decided to make these easy zucchini fritters with it and they were delicious little morsels of vegetables (or fruit since they have seeds)!

The avocado aioli is really a misnomer since aioli is mayonnaise made with oil, eggs and lemon juice or vinegar, but the creaminess from this avocado aioli comes from buttery avocado instead.

I had these zucchini fritters with avocado aioli for a light guilt-free lunch but I think they would make a great side to a fish entree too.

Zucchini Fritters with Avocado Aioli (Paleo and Gluten-Free)

by Felicia Tan
Keywords: blender fry appetizer side snack gluten-free zucchini avocado

Ingredients

    For the Zucchini Fritters
    • 2 zucchinis
    • 1 egg
    • a pinch of black pepper
    • a pinch of salt
    • a clove of garlic, minced
    • a dash of cayanne pepper (optional)
    • 3 tablespoons almond meal (or any gluten-free flour)
    • olive oil (for greasing the frying pan)

    For the Avocado Aioli
    • 1 ripe avocado
    • juice from half a lemon (more or less to taste)
    • a pinch of black pepper
    • a pinch of salt
    • a tablespoon of water

    Instructions

    For the Zucchini Fritters
    1. Grate zucchini into a colander and toss with a pinch of salt. Let sit for 10 minutes.
    2. Squeeze out the liquid from the zucchini.
    3. Mix the rest of the ingredients with the squeezed-dry zucchini.
    4. Drop one tablespoonful of zucchini mixture onto a heated and greased frying pan and test-fry to see if the mixture holds together to form a patty. Add more almond if the patty comes apart easily.
    5. Repeat until mixture is finished.

    For the Avocado Aioli
    Blend all the ingredients till smooth. Add more water if you like the aioli to have a thinner consistency.
    Powered by Recipage

    Wednesday, 7 May 2014

    SAHM Survival Tips: How to Maintain Sanity

    I've been a stay-at-home mum (SAHM) since Princess was born so that means I've been mothering my children from home (for the most part at least) for more than five years. Ever since I conceived Princess, I knew that I wanted to be home for her, so making the decision to stay home wasn't difficult at all. In fact it felt like I was meant to do this (being a SAHM) for the first two years. I had Princess stuck to me the whole time as she was fully-breastfed and she only preferred the real deal, i.e. real nipples only, no rubber teats allowed. This was OK to me because it was easy and convenient to bring her around in the baby sling or carrier; there wasn't excess baggage (milk bottles, milk powder, hot water flask etc.) to carry as I only needed my breasts. My mantra was "Got breasts, can travel!" So travel I did, I went everywhere with her and both of us were happy having each other as companions. The ball game changed when The Rock came along; man was it whole new world to me!

    Suddenly there was no more spare time for anything, in fact, having a sit-down lunch was a luxury to me. I hadn't expect the change from having one child to two to be so great. Housework was never done on time, husband took a back seat (like, WAY back) and me time was non-existent. Life went on that way until I felt I really needed to change some things because I was snapping at my family too much (so much so that I had to take the Orange Rhino Challenge). Upon reflection and discussion with my husband, I realised I was sorely lacking on quality time spent with him and myself, and that was a big no-no because my love language is spending quality time. (Read about how I use love language to manage temper tantrums here.)

    So the SAHM Survival Tip I'm sharing is twofold:
    1. Create me-time

    2. Me-time is important in helping me stay grounded. I believe many SAHMs, like me, have never-ending to-do lists and the things really rarely get done on time (at least for me). Something seems to always crop us while I'm trying to get something done; a fight to resolve while I'm folding three days worth of laundry, a thirty-minute bedtime routine ending up as an hour and a half one or a toddler who suddenly became extra clingy on my gym day. My husband made me realise that I need to just do it! Set a date and time to do things by myself or go out with some friends or do anything at all but stay at home with the children. It doesn't matter if the floor hasn't been mopped because that can always be completed the next day. It was tough for me to leave the children behind at first because they were so reluctant to be home without me and there was a lot of tears and clinginess but they got used to it eventually and I'm getting my (almost) weekly scheduled me-time, kudos to my husband who courageously offers to take on Princess and The Rock alone one evening a week.

      Having this little pocket of time to myself allowed me to pursue my interest, read a book that I like or drink a cup of coffee unhurriedly. Most importantly I get to be in touch with the other non-mummy parts of me that I've been neglecting.

    3. Continue to have couple time.

    4. It is easy to neglect the marriage once children come into the picture. A baby or young child can't meet many of his own needs but a grown-up husband can easily do so himself, right? Yes and no. My husband can do most things by himself; he doesn't need me to wash his clothes and fix his meals. But I still do them out of love and appreciation for him. More than these things, I realised my husband and I need time and space to connect more deeply and it is just difficult to do so with our children demanding our attention every five minutes. So we roped in my mum to help look after Princess and The Rock on our date nights (once a week). They stay over at my mum's house and we get to go for an uninterrupted dinner or coffee and talk about things that concern us and not just children matters. This plan turned out pretty well because the children get to do some "special things" (like watching TV for a longer period and eat snacks that they don't get to eat at home) at Po Po's (Chinese for "grandma") house and my husband and I get to spend some quality time together and fill up each other's love tank.

    I don't think the above-mentioned tips are new or unique but they can be quite a challenge to implement sometimes so I hope you'll get to try them if you aren't already doing these things, because they helped maintained my sanity! :P

    This post is part of a blog train hosted by Gingerbreadmum where 31 stay-at-home mums share their survival tips.


    Next on the blog train is Cen-Lin Ting, who is a SAHM to two boys, aged five and one years old. On her blog, Miracule, she shares about motherhood & homemaking, activities with her children and growing her own vegetables! Being the weekdays driver, maid, cook, mom, educator and farmer, she will be sharing some tips on how she cope.