Wednesday, August 20, 2008


These few days I have been taking leave to prepare P for his continual assessment.

I have just walked him to school. As we strolled along leisurely with my hand clinging on his little hand tightly lest he might just prance and try to dash across the road. Flashes of the past came back to me. When I was at his age, my mother was a stay-at-home mum - not by choice but due to economic reality.

My parents have a brood of children at 4 - pretty large by today's standard, and a handful to take care of. My dad was an odd-job labourer and toiled hard each day to bring home the bacon. As my mum has no formal education, she could only earn a meagre sum which would be largely wiped out by the childcare costs. Hence, she stayed at home to look after us.

While we led a frugal lifestyle, we have a rich relationship. Everyday, she would prepare a lunchbox for me to bring to school. Rain or shine, we would be walking that same old-familiar route to my primary school. (Both the route and my primary school have however, given way to the rapid modernisation of Singapore). My mother would always be there when I felt down. She would be there to comfort me when I was miserable. She is my pillar of support and strength.

As the leaves from the tree in our path glistened in the golden sun ray, I looked at my boy taking small, little strides in a bid to spend just a little more time with mummy. The same scene was replayed in my mind. The nostagic feeling warmed my heart. I smiled and was glad to be here for him.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Stress Management, Beijing Olympics and More

With examination just round the corner and the Beijing Olympics in full swing, I shall blog about stress management in this post.

I have read somewhere and in fact it is common knowledge that stress is a normal part of life and a certain amount of stress can be positive. Of course, different people react to stress differently. There are some who just enjoy the thrill of meeting a new challenge and seeking out situation to stretch themselves. A challenge can be both beneficial and stimulating, while having too little work or responsibility can be just as stressful as having too much.

Different people also react differently to the pressures of life. How one perceives and responds to events and changes affects the level of stress that one will encounter. In this respect, I have taught my boy today the equation that has served me well up to now. That is, "Event + Response = Outcome". While we cannot control the event, we can control our response. Together, they will determine the outcome.

No other place is this played out more prominently than in the arena of sports. Like many Singaporeans, my eyes were transfixed on our table tennis team players as they played hard to win for Singapore a place in the Beijing Olympics. Their competition with the Korean team made my heartbeat race and my blood pressure shoot a few notches up. The stupendous performance by Michael Phelps - breaking the shackles of human limitations, has also left me awestruck.

All these made me realise that it is not just about physical prowess but more importantly, mental power - how one manages stress especially when the entire country's hopes are pinned so heavily on his or her shoulders.

Jiayu, Singapore table tennis team - I believe in you to scale greater heights. We are proud of you!!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Power of Dream

No, I am not talking about the song by Celine Dione though that's one of the reasons why I set it on repeat mode when things get tough-going. But this post is about setting goals and making them a reality.

In the same spirit, I have also asked my elder boy to set clear and measurable goals on how many marks he aim to achieve for his coming CA (continual assessment). I told him about the title of the book "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill. All things are formed twice - first in your head and second in reality. It's only when you decide on what you want and you can set your mind to pursue your dream.

It's not easy as it takes a hell lot of perservance and setbacks are aplenty. For those of you who have seen my 12-month goal statements right smacked on the right-hand top corner of my laptop screen- yes, I am still working towards them. I guess that is why I can still find the energy to coach my boys after a day's hard work, find time to polish up my speaking skills and also learn about value investing.

You know what - I have survived so many years of Singapore's education and made it through the then-believed-to-lead-one-to-riches science stream. Today, my goal is not about being the top in the rat race. What for? Ultimately, being the top is a rat. It's about living my life.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

My first toastmaster project - Ice Breaker

The last few hectic weeks have drained me literally dry. But now that it is over, it's time for me to focus on my own personal development.

I have joined a local toastmaster club about a month ago :) Yes and I really love my club which is really nurturing and I look forward to develop my speaking skills with the club. I have drafted my first toastmaster project, Ice Breaker. The project is supposed to be a 4 to 6 minutes speech to get myself to begin speaking before an audience and understand the areas that require particular emphasis in speaking as well as to introduce myself to my fellow club members. Here it is for sharing:

The Ice Breaker
Thank you Toastmaster of the Day.

Good afternoon Toastmaster of the Day, fellow toastmasters and friends, today I am very happy to be here to introduce myself to the club.

Does anyone here know what does this stand for? [Use both hands to form two circles and pause for response.] A pair of goggles? A pair of spectacles?

I used to be shortsighted and needed my glasses to see clearly. I had severe myopia – close to 1,000 degree. I was half-blinded without my glasses or contact lens. Not anymore. I went for lasik surgery about 4 years ago and now enjoy perfect vision without glasses. That was one of the best things that ever happened to me. The lasik surgery was a breeze. The only downside was the fear before the surgery something akin to public speaking. I was scared and had hundreds of butterflies fluttering in my stomach. What if the machine breakdown halfway in the operation, what if there was a power failure, what if there was complication and I could not see. In the end, I left my fate to the eye surgeon who did a fantastic job and things turned out really well. I went for the surgery in the morning. The operation lasted less than 15 minutes. Then I went back home for a good afternoon nap. When I woke up in the evening, I could SEE CLEARLY. There was no pain, no blood and little downtime. In fact, after the surgery, I was raving so much about the operation that my husband went for it soon after and we have never looked back.

Back to this symbol again. Besides glasses, this symbol also represents my education. This is the symbol for infinity – the lazy number 8 which is lying down. It is closely associated with Mathematics. And yes, that is my first degree. I graduated with 2nd class upper in Science majoring in Mathematics. So does my husband. We love Mathematics and so does my elder boy. I have two sons – aged 7 and 5. My elder boy has just started formal education – Primary One. And yes, like his parents, he always says Mathematics is a piece of cake.

I guess in a way, I have ignited his love for numbers with a story which I will also like to share with you. The story is about infinity.

When I first introduced the concept of infinity.

My son asked me, “Mummy, is infinity real?”

“Of course, it is my dear.” I replied. “I can even show it to you.”

And this was when my son told me that it resembled the number 8 lying down.

The title of the story was “Hotel Infinity in Planet Infinity.”

In Planet Infinity, there resided a Hotel called Hotel Infinity. The interesting thing about this hotel was that it had an infinitely many, many number of rooms which were all occupied. Room 1 was taken by the Guest Number 1, Room 2 was occupied by the Guest Number 2, Room 3 by the Number 3 and so on and so forth.

On one cold winter night, there was a knock on the door of Hotel Infinity.

Knock, knock, knock…. The owner, Mr Hilbert opened the door and he saw the number Zero standing outside – shivering…

“Oh please come in Mr Zero.” Kind old Mr Hilbert ushered the number Zero into his hotel.

“Thank you, Mr Hilbert.” Said Zero, “It was freezing cold outside, do, do, … you think you will be able to spare a room for me tonight.”

Mr Hilbert stopped and thought for a moment. All his hotel rooms were taken up but maybe, he could. Maybe because Hotel Infinity was a very special hotel with infinitely many rooms.

So how could he create just another room for Mr Zero? This was how. He first moved Guest Number 1 to Room 2. This freed up Room 1, Room 1 was now empty. But hey, what about the Guest Number 2. Well, he moved to him to Room 3. And Guest Number 3 moved to Room 4. And so on and so forth. Lo and behold, we now had an empty room – Room 1. And yes, Mr Zero did get to spend a warm and cosy night at Hotel Infinity.

And this is the magic of Infinity.

I have just shared with you three things about myself. 1. I have went for lasik surgery and that was one of the best things that ever happened to me; 2. my education – I have my first degree in Mathematics; and 3. my family – I am happily married to my husband who is also a Mathematics graduate and we have two boys – aged 7 and 5. Right now, we are all intrigued by Infinity.

Toastmaster of the Day.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

"5 worms in a hole" Technique

I just learnt the "5 worms in a hole" technique that can be used to help a young kid write his or her first essay. Actually, more correctly, I should say learn the fanciful name for the 5 Ws and 1H method, which I was taught in school umpteenth years ago.

Anyway, this is the aged-old that withstood the test of time technique, which has been given a new lease of life with a fun name "5 worms in a hole" that appeals to a child.

- The 5 worms - Who, Where, When, Why, What and a hole - How.

My boy has used this technique to write his essays now. Read to believe that it works.

A Day at the Beach
Last Sunday, the Tan family went to the beach for a picnic. It was very crowded. They went at seven o'clock.

They went to the sea to learn how to swim. Emma needed a doughnut float to float in the water. Emma went to the sea first. Then George followed behind her.

After a very good swim, the Tan family were very hungry so they ate some biscuits and soft drinks.

After a hearty meal, Mr Tan lazed under the tree, and Mrs Tan read a magazine. On the other hand, Emma and George were still full of energy, building sand castle.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Working mothers versus Stay-at-home mothers

This morning I read with interest a spate of letters in The Straits Times, written by stay-at-home mums rebutting a letter by a working mum. The working mum's previous letter was to the effect that stay-at-home mothers have it better. The common gripe of the stay-at-home mothers was this was far from the truth. In fact, stay-at-home mothers work 24/7 with no perks like annual leave/ sick leave or pay.

I have been both a working mother and stay-at-home mother. My point of view is a lot depends on your choice and also family support. For those with good family support, it will help them to manage work and family. I have friends who are doing great - doing well in their career and also having fabulous family bonding. At the same time, I also have friends who quited their job to focus on being a mother. For the latter, it is really due to the hectic work life that culminated into a feeling of guilt of not being able to spend enough time with their children. For me, the reason I am still hanging on here is my belief that I can balance work and life. As I have earlier blogged - work is like a creche, providing me with stimulation, structure and sustenance. I am also very lucky to have an understanding boss and colleagues. A family-friendly workplace is also crucial. The telecommuting scheme which I am currently on, is a boon as it allows me to work from home and take care of my children at the same time.

Having said that, personal belief is also very important. Even with all the support, there are times when I felt like giving up. It is no joke when I have to be the main caregiver - send my children to childcare, school and enrichment classes - all on my own and without a car (as my hubby drives the family car). This is most trying when work piles up. But the greatest gift I have is the appreciation and the strong bonding that I have with my boys which my hubby could only envy.

For mothers - whether working or stay-at-home, we all love our children with all our heart. Quoting Mark Twain "The secret of success is making your vocation your vacation." Yes, love what we do and make every day a joy. When things are tough-going, remember the following:

"Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees."
- J. Willard Marriot

I will want my children to be strong and this is the strength and keep me going.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Thank you my friends

Last few weeks have been a very hectic period as work piled up and responsibilities at home doubled.

Last week when my hubby was out of town, my hubby's aunt came over and stayed for a few nights to help out. At the work front, I am very fortunate when several colleagues quickly swooped in to help out. With each focusing on a core area, we quickly rose up to the challenge and together, as a team, delivered. I believed that they still working hard like what I will be doing after putting this post. Yes, on Tuesday, we will put a good show and go for a good celebration!

Life is wonderful because of you. Thank you so much my friends.