Saturday, May 31, 2008

Kiasu June holidays

It's June holidays now. This year, I'm not going to hunt up and down for enrichment courses for Xuan. Last year I brought her to a trial ballet class, and she complained of aches here and there after 1.5 hours (old lady syndrome)! This year I've decided to give her some revision work, and hopefully can minimise her havoc at home.

Here are some free worksheets I've found from the web (for kindergarten):




Sorry, it's kiasuism at fault!
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Friday, May 30, 2008


新加坡大热买真的热吗?一年一度的大热卖又来了,将从5月23日延卖到7月20日。最近,读到以下这篇短文,有趣谈到大热卖的 "etiquette":

While the Great Singapore Sale is a great opportunity to grab the most value buys, you should be gracious in your pursuit. Here are some shopping ethics, which you can observe, so as not to exhibit the auntie in you:

  • Refrain from digging too deep into the clothes bins in search for the ultimate impeccable outfit (it’s already so cheap, what more do you expect?)
  • Always queue for your turn in fitting rooms, don’t ever try the outfit in front of any available mirror you can ever find (I know it’s hard, try not to bring out this auntie in you)
  • Have the courtesy to put back the clothes into their respective bins and rack (Don’t ever throw them conveniently over other pile of clothes or hang them on another rack)
  • Don’t ever test the shopkeeper’s patience by asking for further discounts (Don’t you know it’s already on SALE?!)
  • Do not smuggle outfits that exceed the maximum number allowed for fitting rooms (Spare a thought for those fuming in the queues)
  • Do not take your own sweet time admiring yourself in the fitting rooms (Mind you, there’s a long queue outside!)

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Primary one registration woes

Xuan will be entering the mainstream education and be moulded like every other typical Singaporean in 2010. Yes, she's going to Primary 1, one and a half years from now! I need to register her for a primary school next year. And if I want to enrol her in a good school, I need to start doing volunteer work in her school of choice this year. In fact, I should have applied for parent volunteer last year and see if I am one of the lucky parents to be selected for the interview before being accepted by the school to be traffic warden (wake up in the wee hours every morning just to direct traffic at school entrances).

Too bad, Xuan's parents are from the neighbourhood schools. So she has to vy for a place in Phase 2B of the registration exercise, which has very few vacancies, as all will have already been snapped up by children in Phase 1 who were automatically allotted a place as their parents have studied in that school. Well, this means to say that once you are into the school, your children, grand children, great grand children will all have a place in it. Isn't this as good as owning an empire?

Oh, by the way, on top of being a parent volunteer, you need to live within 1 km of the school in order to increase your chances of getting into it. As we know, all the very good schools are located in the rich area zones like Bukit Timah, how can a middle income family possibly afford an address there. So, we can't really blame those people who try to fake up addresses just to get their kids into good schools. Singapore is simply too competitive.

Everybody is fighting for survival. Sometimes it leaves me wondering... why do we call ourselves democratic when the most basic provision in the country is so autocratic.
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Goodbye ritual

Other than the bedtime ritual, there is also a goodbye ritual every morning before i leave for work. It goes, "Bye mummy, i promise I will do my work. U remember to tell me all the things you learn at work ok?"
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Goodnight, mummy!

Every night, Xuan'd give me a hug and a goodnight kiss, and then...
in this sequence and order, she said:

1. Goodnight, mummy.
2. I love you.
3. Sweet dreams.
4. Promise to tell me your dreams ok?

At the end of each sentence, I have to reciprocate by repeating what she has said, otherwise, she'd pause and stare at me "why you never say (goodnight/ I love you/ sweet dreams)?"

Lastly, she'd wave at me and say a final 'goodnight' before she closes my bedroom door and goes to bed without any fuss. This bedtime ritual has been going on for sometime already!

Recently, she introduced a bedtime story at the start of the ritual. She cooks up fanciful story with proper theme, and setting, and best of all, she plots her story straight from her little head without much thinking. But too bad, I always miss the climax of her story as I doze off and only struggle to open my eyes when she said "The End"...

Yesterday, she told me she has no more ideas for her stories and asked me to borrow some story books for her from the library.
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Monday, May 26, 2008

Television and the kids

I've read how television are bad for kids, yet I defied all sayings and all findings. I put Kai in front of the TV out of convenience, and soon he's glued to it, whole day long. There's no way I can reverse the damage now. Both kids now fight over the TV and I'm going mad! Serves me right, yah?! That's why I've been searching the Web for some cure. If you are another typical parent like me, read this or regret like me:

Many parents are tempted to resort to using television or a video as a babysitter. But the sad truth is that watching too much TV would stiffle your child's thinking and development. Too much TV is never good for your child. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children should watch TV no more than an hour or two a day, and that children under 2 should watch no television at all.

Here are tips on how to use television as a learning tool.

Limit the amount of TV your toddler watches
Since your child is under age 2, it's best to keep TV-watching to a bare minimum. If you choose to allow some television, break it up into 15-minute increments. Much more than that, and your toddler's brain can shift to autopilot.

Once your child hits 2, limit his total viewing time to an hour a day — even that amount is a lot for an active toddler. You should also keep the television out of your child's bedroom and turned off during meal times.

Watch programs, not television
Rather than sitting down to watch whatever happens to be on, carefully select the program your toddler's going to watch, and turn off the set when that program is over.

Choose calm, quiet programs
Slower-paced viewing gives your toddler time to think about what he's watching and absorb the information. Lots of action and quickly changing images will only confuse him or make his eyes glaze over.

Research has suggested that children who watch violence on TV are more likely to display aggressive behavior. Avoid scary shows, too. Instead, choose simple programs that emphasize interactivity. The best shows are those that inspire your child to makes sounds, say words, sing, and dance.

Watch with your toddlers and help him watch with a critical eye
Watch with your toddler to show that you care. Explain what's going on in the show, and encourage your child to ask questions and relate what's happening in the show to his own life.

Extend the show's content with activities or books
If you and your toddler have just finished watching a Sesame Street segment that introduces a number, talk about it later and find other examples to show him.
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Measuring kids' temperature

Sad to say, this is something which I relied on from time to time, when the kids are down with fever.

The normal body temperature is between 36.5°C and 37.5°C.

If your child has temperature above 37 °C, he or she may be having a fever. But then, that depends on where you took the temperature. Temperature taken from different parts of the body with different thermometers give different readings. Temperature above 39°C is considered high fever and should consult the doctor.

Use a reliable thermometer to tell if your child has a fever when his or her temperature is at or above one of these levels (according to Singapore Health Promotion Board):

37.9°C measured tympanically (in the ear)
37.5°C measured orally (in the mouth)
37.2°C measured in an axillary position (under the arm)

However, it is also important to read the manufacturer's instructions for each thermometer reading range for evaluating fever.
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Use of hand sanitisers in small children

I wasn't a fan of hand sanitisers until recently, thanks to the HFMD outbreak. I have put it in the diaper bag and used it religiously on the kids when we were outdoors, especially after some strangers shook hands with them or some relatives who coughed onto their hands touched the kids!

I wasn't aware of the risks associated with it until my sister-in-law cautioned me. So I looked up the Web and found:

Despite their obvious benefits, hand sanitizers can pose a very serious health risk. In recent months, several stories have circulated concerning individuals, most of them children, who were harmed by being left unsupervised with access to a hand sanitizer. Other children became very ill after just licking the sanitizer from their hands.

Apparently a little girl named Halle Butler ingested enough of the hand saitizer given to her at school to be come seriously ill. She was taken to the emergency room, and, thank goodness, recovered.

Hand sanitizer is mostly alcohol, so she and another little girl mentioned in another story who ate it after being given a dollop of it by a teacher got alcohol poisoning from ingesting the hand sanitizer.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

The goodness and benefits of probiotics

Something I learnt recently, which is widely known to be beneficial to kids. Have heard a number of mothers recommending probiotics for children to improve their immunity, although their main function is to promote healthy digestive system. Anyway, here are some readings.

  • Probiotics are health-promoting, friendly bacteria with many potential benefits. Strains of the genera Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, are the most widely used probiotic bacteria.

  • Probiotics help maintain and restore the delicate balance of both “good” and “bad” bacteria necessary for a healthy digestive system. Without that balance, harmful bacteria can multiply and take over, causing gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea or abdominal pain. Probiotics help normalise the whole digestive system.

  • The strains of good bacteria in the gut help with digestion of food. It’s especially good for children who consume milk but who lack the enzyme to break down the lactose in the milk. This gives them gas, abdominal pain and loose stools. Probiotics helps them to digest the lactose better, these symptoms are reduced and they recover faster.

  • The probiotic bacteria may help relieve constipation by improving intestinal mobility.
    Preliminary testings show that probiotics can help boost the immune system. One specific finding shows that lactobacillus GG may reduce respiratory infections and their severity among children in daycare.

  • There is also evidence that probiotics may help to prevent certain kinds of allergies because they have a beneficial effect on mucous membranes.

  • Probiotic consumption may reduce the risk for colon, liver and breast cancers.

  • Probiotic is recommended after a course of antibiotics so that the child can restore good bacteria back to the gut.

Important: As probiotics contain live bacteria, they have to be kept at a cool temperature, as in a refrigerator. Parents are told not to put probiotics in warm milk as it will destroy the live bacteria. It must be taken in cool water.

Some milk powder like Pediasure Complete have probiotics added and it instructs parents to mix the milk powder with cold water when preparing milk. Follows as instructed!
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Kid-friendly eateries

Saw this article in the Straits Times some time ago on kid-friendly eateries. At last, some hints on where to bring our kids to, to be able to eat more peacefully, hopefully.

Where: 101 Thomson Road, 02-02 United Square, tel: 6356-5285

Open: 8am to 10pm (weekdays), 9am to 10pm (weekends and public holidays)

What: Kid and baby menus available, glassed-in play area with play structure and toys, colouring sheets and puzzles for older children, activities like pizza decoration at the kids’ bar and cooking workshops

Disney Naturally
Where: 370 Alexandra Road 01-05/06 Anchorpoint, tel: 6479-2823

Open: 10.30am to 10pm (weekdays), 10am to 10pm (weekends)

What: Play area with computer terminals dedicated to Disney games. Screening of Disney movies and cartoons on giant screen. Games and play sheets with quizzes at every table which cater to kids of different ages

One-Ninety (Sunday Brunch)
Where: Four Seasons Hotel, 190 Orchard Boulevard, tel: 6831-7250

Open: 11.15am to 3.30pm (Sundays only)

What: Play area with a bouncy castle, video screenings, face-painting and other activities. Mini-buffet with kids’ favourites such as mini burgers and French fries. Child minders are around to take care of the children

Food Junction @ Great World City
Where: B1-15 Great World City, 1 Kim Seng Promenade, tel: 6736-2030

Open: 10.30am to 10pm daily

What: Five of the 20 stalls have kids’ menus and the food court uses a world map as a design theme. There is also a fun corner for youngsters equipped with rocking horses and other toys which is used as a venue for ad hoc story-telling sessions

Ikea restaurant @ Ikea Tampines
Where: 60 Tampines North Drive 2, tel: 6786-6868

Open: 9.30am to 10pm daily

What: Play Tent featuring children’s and various smaller play stations throughout the restaurant. Kids’ menu available. Baby food is sold at the restaurant and two microwave ovens are available for warming milk bottles

The Ranch Home @ Dempsey Hill
Where: Block 8, Dempsey Road, 01-14, tel: 6473-3231

Open: Various times, check by calling

What: The Ranch houses two restaurants - CA * California serves healthy fare like sandwiches while Ben & Jerry’s sells premium ice cream. The homey, rustic touches include couches, outdoor swings and little cosy corners for play

Pasta de Waraku
Where: 10 Sinaran Drive, 01-07 Square 2, tel: 6397-6266

Open: 11.30am to 11pm daily

What: Kids’ food served on plates with dinosaur designs and cutlery with either Pokemon or Hello Kitty designs. All youngsters receive a gift, ranging from toys to stationery. Kids’ menu available with complimentary drink and dessert for each set meal

Shokudo Japanese Food Bazaar
Where: 52 North Bridge Road B1-44E Raffles City Shopping Centre, tel: 6837-3793

Open: 11.30am to 10pm daily

What: Play area featuring three sets of toys placed on low tables

Source: Sunday Times, 24 Feb 2008, Life!, P. L34
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Coughs in kids

I remember writing a post on "expensive coughs". Coughs are really irritating, and they really take such a long time to recover. Each time the kids cough, I'd search the web over again to look for resources. So I've decided to paste it here for easy reference.

Coughs are one of the most frequent symptoms of childhood illness. Cough is generally a response to some irritating condition such as inflammation or the presence of mucus in the respiratory tract. In fact, coughing is a healthy and important reflex that helps clear the airways in the throat and chest.

Here’s some guidance on different types of coughs and the kinds of conditions they’re typically associated with.

“Barky” Cough
Barky coughs are usually caused by an inflammation or swelling in the upper part of the airway. Most often barky coughs are caused by croup, an inflammation of the larynx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe).

Croup can be brought on by allergies, change in temperature at night or, most commonly, a viral upper respiratory infection. When a young child’s airway becomes inflamed, it may swell near, or just below, the vocal cords, making it harder to breathe. Children younger than 3 years of age tend to get croup because their windpipes are narrow.

Croup can come on suddenly, and in the middle of the night, when your child is at rest. Often it’s accompanied by stridor, a noisy, harsh breathing (some doctors describe it as a coarse, musical sound) that occurs when a child inhales (breathes in).

“Whooping” Cough
Whooping cough is another name used to refer to the illness pertussis, an infection of the respiratory tract that’s caused by a type of bacteria called bordetella pertussis. The illness is marked by severe coughing spells that end in a “whooping” sound when a child breathes in. Other symptoms of pertussis include a runny nose, sneezing, mild cough, and a low-grade fever.

Cough With Wheezing
When coughing is accompanied by a wheezing sound as your child exhales, it may be a sign that your child’s lower airway is inflamed. There is also the possibility, particularly in a younger child, that the lower airway is being blocked by a foreign object or mucus from a respiratory infection.

Nighttime Cough
Lots of coughs get worse at night because the congestion in a child’s nose and sinuses drains down the throat and causes irritation while the child lies in bed. Asthma can also trigger nighttime coughs because the airways tend to be more sensitive and become more irritable at night.

Daytime Cough
Allergies, asthma, colds, and other respiratory infections are the usual culprits of daytime coughs. Cold air or activity can make these coughs worse, and they often subside at night or when the child is resting. It’s a good idea to make sure that nothing in your house - like air freshener, pets, or smoke (especially tobacco smoke) - is making your child cough.

Cough With a Fever
If your child has a cough, mild fever, and runny nose, chances are that he or she has a common cold. But coughs with a fever of 39 degrees Celsius or higher can mean pneumonia, particularly if your child is listless and breathing fast. In this case, call your child’s doctor immediately.

Cough With Vomiting
Children often cough so much that it triggers their gag reflex, making them throw up. Usually, this is not cause for alarm unless the vomiting persists. Also, if your child has a cough with a cold or an asthma flare-up, he or she may throw up if lots of mucus drains into the stomach and causes nausea.

Persistent Cough
Coughs caused by colds can last weeks, especially if your child has one cold right after another. Asthma, allergies, or a chronic infection in the sinuses or breathing passages might also be responsible for these persistent coughs. If the cough lasts for 3 weeks, notify your child’s doctor.

Home remedies
Try running a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier, and encourage your child to drink more fluids, especially water. Both methods help keep the mucus in the nose and chest looser and make it easier for her to move mucus up and out of the lungs. Hard candy or lozenges are good for coughs in children older than 4 (younger children may choke on them). You can also try warm liquids or tea with honey and lemon to a child above age of 1. There’s no evidence to support the belief that milk products increase mucus production, so if your sick child wants a glass of milk, you needn’t say no.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Home-made cough remedies for kids

The two kids have been coughing. That's why I have to dig out from the Web something on coughs to save them. If medicine don't work, how about some home-made remedies. Here's some:

If your child is down with cough and it has last so long, exhausting all medicines, don’t give up! Try other natural home made remedies. They might work.

Cough remedy 1
The simplest and the easiest: drink a lot of fluid.

Cough remedy 2
Freshly squeezed lemon juice ( 1/2 a lemon )
Mix with a little bit of drinking water and drink immediately.
You can take this as many times as you want.

Cough remedy 3
1 teaspoon of honey
1 tablespoon of lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
Stir mixture in a little bit of drinking water and drink.
Active Manuka honey and propolis have been commonly used as ingredients in the home remedy for cough because of their strong antibacterial properties.

Cough remedy 4
Mix a syrup consisting of 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons water, mix and drink.

Cough remedy 5
Boil some water with 2 garlic cloves, 1 table spoon of oregano. Pour into a cup add 1 tablespoon of honey and drink.

Some researchers believe that honey, a traditional, natural home remedy for cough offer a safe alternative to dextromethorphan (DM), which can occasionally cause severe side-effects in children, including muscle contractions and spasms. So, try honey!

And not forgetting lots and lots of water.

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Allergic reactions to mosquito bites in children

Xuan has been bitten by mosquitoes a few times. They left evil huge swollen marks all over her body and face. Poor child! I brought her to the GP only to realise that there is such thing as “allergic to mosquitoe bites”. Here is what I gathered from the web on allergic reactions to mosquito bites. They are particularly common in children, especially those with sensitive skin, and Xuan has it!

Mosquitoes are flying, biting insects that are closely related to flies and gnats. Only the female mosquito feeds on humans, and she needs a blood meal in order to produce eggs. During a feeding, the female mosquito bites the human skin, and injects saliva. The saliva contains various proteins that prevent the blood from clotting, as well as proteins that keep the blood flowing into the mosquito’s mouth.

Many of the mosquito saliva proteins can cause immune reactions, including allergic reactions. If you are like most people with sensitive skin, you may find that you have a mosquito bite allergy. A mosquito bite allergy will appear as a very red swollen and itchy bump or bumps where mosquitoes have bitten. The allergic reaction is a reaction to the digestive enzymes and anti-coagulants that the female mosquito injects before sucking blood from your body.For the most part, children and adolescents are more likely to have a mosquito bite allergy than adults who have become immune to the mosquito’s saliva.

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我是道道地地的新加坡人,既懂英语又懂华语,因此许多人都说我精通双语!被俜时,老板夸我精通双语 (effectively billingual),是难得人才!我心里暗笑,如果我算是精通双语的人才,那么新加坡到处都是人才了!其实,我跟大部分新加坡人一样,虽懂说华语又懂 说英语,但对这两种语言根本不精,只可说是“半桶水”!要不然,新加坡人的英语哪会被评为”Singlish”?我深信一个人根本不可能精通双语。如果他 的英语文一级棒,那华语肯定没有英语那么好,总要有一个强项,不可能两种语言都达到一样高的水平。所以,与其说我既懂华语又懂英语,不如说我既不懂华语又 不懂英语!

身为人母,我总希望我两个孩子长大后能成为双语人才。可是,不晓得为什么我打从一开始就只用英语跟他们沟通,只有在觉 悟片刻才参半一 两句华语的翻 译,搞到他们俩现在只懂英语,对华语一概不通。即使是英语,也是讲得不文不类!唉!要培养双语人才可真不容易,我实在不懂该从哪里着手。我真不想他们长大 后象我一样成为一个不英不华的新加坡人!

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Kids' politics

Xuan is having politics in school. Yes, at the age of five! The kids are so 'advanced' nowadays, I can't remember myself involved in any political struggle with my peers when I was five?! The politics between herself and Felicia was one of the reasons she gave for not wanting to go to school. She always has all sorts of excuses (I think we kept her at home for so long due to the HFMD outbreak that she don't like to go to school again!)

Xuan said Felicia asked her not to hand in her work to the teachers, and also refused to play with her. Sometimes, a few of her friends would boycott another girl, Wan Ting. They told Xuan not to play with Wan Ting or give her any biscuits just because she doesn't know English! So Xuan had to give Wan Ting biscuits discreetly, without the knowledge of her gang... Sigh, what political kids!

There will be a 'Teacher-meet-parents' session next week. I will soon find out more about the politics in school.
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