Sunday, December 8, 2019

Her netball journey - a year of tears, pain, sweat and joy

On the 31st Jan this year, I received a call from a teary Dumpling crying into the phone that she was not selected for the school team. It was the first time she’s ever called me to seek comfort over the phone, through tears.

With a sinking heart, I tried my best to keep her calm and give her assuring words, but this decision did not come as a surprise. It was because a few weeks just before the announcement I had a conversation with a teacher from the school who told me that while Dumpling did very well as a defender, they were not looking for one. I was stumped and asked why. The reply that I was given was that “defenders do not need thinking skills”. I then asked what support has then been given to Dumpling to hone her attacking skills, but my question was brushed aside. And at that moment, I knew that Dumpling had next to zilch chance in getting into the team. More than that, I did wonder about the leadership of the team if person has such skewed thoughts about the role of defenders.

This was where things got frustrating for me because Dumpling would return home, telling me about the drill work that she did and who she was paired with, and there were many instances where she was not given the chance to work with weight belts, etc as compared to some of the other girls. Hence, it seems that the choices were already made way prior and that the school was spending the time and the effort on those who will be selected.

Dumpling told me that on the announcement day, they were informed that the choices were made based on “attendance”, “grades” and "ball skills". Of which, in terms of the 1st 2 criteria, factually (by this I mean statistically) Dumpling would have been in the top percentile. As for ball skills, this would be very subjective since there’s no official sets / criteria. Dumpling was sharp enough to know that and asked me then on what basis was she not chosen since she made the mark based on the first 2 criteria and this was something that I could not answer to. Additionally, there was a player in that list (who was chosen) whose attendance and the attitude have been known to be bad.

I did ask one teacher, but she could not answer me. Shockingly, this same player (with the bad attitude) stole from Dumpling some months later where Dumpling found her item in this girl’s bag and the girl admitted to it. The matter was brought up to the school and yet, this girl remains as part of the team, donning on the netball dress representing the institute which I sent my child to, in hopes of my child being educated not just in terms of book knowledge but also in values. What an irony. There were also many dramatic incidents amongst the players which I feel did not show that the team was building up to be one which has strong camaraderie and with the right focus.

When Dumpling did not make the final cut, one of the things we spoke about was if she intended to stay on in this CCA and be part of the recreational team and she told me “no”. I asked her for her reason, and to be honest, if she were to tell me because it was “too hard” I would not have agreed to it, Surprisingly, she shared that the recreational team does not have exposure to friendly games as opposed to the competitive team and if that were the case, she will never learn more and improve. I was very surprised by her thought process and maturity and hence, we transferred her out of that CCA which she was part of since P2.

On 2 Feb, I put up this photo of her trying out new shoes on her new journey in my personal FB page. And I recall encouraging her to continue on with her passion and that maybe one of these days, we can share her journey with some of you readers where it would encourage you and your children but I did not think that I would actually be able to share about her journey within the same year. 


After she left the team, she then began to train with a club outside where she forged new friendships and I dare say, more respectful ones too. The players all played for one thing – “team success”, not for individual glory. They built on each other’s skills and encouraged each other during games with assuring words like “you can do it!”, “good job”, “really well done”, etc., and even when mistakes were made (very unlike her school experience), encouragement such as "it's ok, good try!" were dished out.

She’s trained through rain (yup, they continue even in the rain if there’s no lightning alert), played through injuries and worked through personal obstacles. There were no tinted glasses when she joined the team (i.e. "defenders do not need thinking skills" type of opinions) and instead, she was given a fair chance to be exposed to, and nurtured in various positions where she started learning more about being an attacker too.

Playing and training through rain is quite a norm for us. In fact, I now have sets of towels, slippers, 2 hoodies and a change of clothes all the time in my car

Training through a hyper-extended knee and after being knocked down during a morning league game

And for this season, she's played through a few different leagues and committed to some sessions on Sunday too

Over the past few terms, she has rarely missed out on any training unless she was sick (I think twice) and has not missed out on any league matches which she has committed. She played through exam weeks, learnt to juggle that with her violin practice and after her weekly higher Chinese class, she would travel to a gym for her youth academy classes where she worked on being stronger to counter balance her hyper-mobility so she reduces the risk of injuries. And for all of that, she’s made me a proud mum – because she has shown resilience, maturity and commitment to improving herself.


And after (almost) a year of playing with the club, at an award presentation last evening, to our surprise, she was given an award - "Most Improved Player" (U11, Year 2019).



An award which recognises her leapfrog in court and ball skills, good performance, great attitude and commitment to the sport and also to her team mates, and of course, her hard work.

She was a bit shell-shocked and was in disbelief.
Past year winners congratulating her and handing over the shield award & personal plaque to her

Where her name now is immortalised on the plaque for the "Most Improved Player" for U11 group in 2019. We get to keep this award at home for the whole year where she will hand it over to the next Most Improved Player for U11 in 2020! (How cool!)

And the personal one which we get to keep

Looking back, I would have to say that it was a very frustrating experience dealing with the school and with a teacher who did not seem to understand (let alone appreciate) the value of each position and how to groom / support each players' growth.

It was also heartbreaking as a parent to receive a call with your child crying over the phone, for the first time ever, and not having the power to make things better for her. It has also been arduous as we had to carve out (almost non-existent) pockets of time to do this outside of school hours so that she can train (on court and in gym) to become faster, stronger and better. There were many times on this journey that she was very discouraged by the plateau in her performance (and possibly me yelling on the side line, haha) and also by the "injustice" of the selection but the important thing is that we stayed on


From a parenting perspective, I did not try to soften the blow for her because hey, this is life and it is what it is. There will be moments in life where there are favourtism and when things do not go her way, where she will be struck down, so the only thing that I can do as a parent was to guide her to problem solve - discuss with her our next course of action, what we can do better and how she can bounce back; to encourage and support her in whatever areas that we can and to always assure her that we believe in her. 

And in the end, it was a sweet moment of small success, where she is recognised by her coaches for her effort and performance. Where she has grown to be more confident, make better decisions on court and importantly, I am most happy to see that she is smiling once again, during her training. 



Success begets success and she is so encouraged and so stoked that her coaches recognise her effort that she told me on the way home that she will train harder. So, well done Dumpling, I am so proud of you, that you rose above the challenges and the negativity and improved as a player, a team mate and a person. And as parents, if your child(ren) is/are facing challenges, stick by them, believe in them and continue to whisper words of affirmation. What Dumpling said to me last evening sums up her relationship with her team, "Mum, the girls were all very happy for me and they cheered me on as I collected my plaque. There were no snide remarks and bad attitude and many patted me on my back as I sat. They were so encouraging!" 

That my readers and friends, is what sportsmanship is about and what being a team means. And for that, I cannot be more pleased that she is with a club that lives and breathes that motto (first to arrive at leagues for warm ups, warm up as a group - no sprinters and personal glory, no snide / rude remarks to each other and to other teams), and that she is taught not just to be a better sportsperson BUT also a better being. Thank you Centaurs and my deepest gratitude to all the coaches who believe in her and are supporting her so that she can be the best version of herself.  

Monday, November 11, 2019

Review: Shepherd's Pie

Food is a common language for my family; I am very blessed that the kiddo is not only not picky about food but also very adventurous. This means that she's ok with most cuisine types: Korean, Japanese, Indian, Western etc.

We recently received a delivery from Shepherd's Pie; to try out the beef rendang version. It is not our first time ordering from The Shepherd's Pie as I have previously ordered pies from them to bring for Potluck at for parties. However, it was our first time trying out this flavor.

As the kiddo and I were out the whole day, so we placed them in the freezer and then reheat it the following day.



As you guys would know, I bento daily for the kiddo. Mainly because the school canteen has very few stalls (4 at last count). If you have been following my IG account, you would know that I am quite particular about food and nutrition for the family where weekly herbal soups are a regular thing for us and I also make it a point to ensure that there's always fruits at home and that the kiddo eats her greens daily.

With Shepherd's Pie, I did not get the heavy sauces where I usually get if there's too much seasoning (and MSG). The meat was still moist and tender with the taste of homecooked mash potato (nothing like those instant mash potato). A quick chat with the founder and I found out that the pies are freshly baked daily!

Additionally, the pie was very well balanced in terms of the proportion of "filling" and the potato. It is not a case where there's more potato than meat. Here's a side view of one slice:


Besides the "family sizes", the company also sells "mini ones" which are exceptionally useful for me when the kiddo has to stay in school till 3+/4pm. So besides packing for her recess and lunch, these minis came in handy as a "noon time" snack and the portion size was just right.


With the upcoming year end festivities, this is definitely a great option to have for parties and for potluck and I dare say, popular with all ages. :)

:: About Shepherd's Pie
Shepherd's Pie's journey started in 2011 when the founders were looking to find some good old Shepherd’s Pies for a Christmas party. Shepherd’s Pies weren’t so popular then, and it was rather difficult to find someone to bake them. Their party was coming up they really wanted to get Shepherd’s Pies as they were some of the founders' favourite foods.
This led to some research, and the founders made their own Shepherd’s Pies! Over the years, the recipes have since been refined and perfected to what they believe to be the tastiest, freshest Shepherd’s Pies in Singapore.
Contact Number: 9762 6523
E-Mail: admin@shepherdspie.sg

::DISCOUNT CODE! 
Keen to try some wholesome pies? I am pleased to share a 10% discount code with you! Just click on this link https://shepherdspie.sg/shop/, add the items to your cart and then input alicia10 in the discount field! (10% per single use) 

Disclaimer: We were sent the pies above by Shepherd's Pie to try so that we can give our opinions about it. We are not compensated for the post. All opinions expressed are entirely ours. 

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts (both on the kiddo and my furkid), food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), outdoor fun, useful reviews, early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Our Ortho-K journey: 9 months later...

The kiddo has been on the Ortho-K journey for about 9 months now and I thought that it would be great to update since the usage of these lens is now very much a part of her “lifestyle”.

If you need to have some background of what Ortho-K is about, I have previously done a post here.
But as a recap, Ortho-K is the usage of hard lens to reshape the cornea as the child wears it to sleep. This then reduces the need for glasses or contact lens during the day. 

But of course, to start off, the kiddo needed to go for a consultation to determine her suitability on the use of the lenses. 


Consultation to determine suitability

One of the most common questions that Dumpling gets from her classmates and me, from other mums are, what's needed / the steps involved. 

So here's what she goes through on a daily basis:



And off she goes to bed! 

When she wakes up, basically there are 3 steps

:: Step 1: Removal of lenses 
This is done with a small removal (suction) tool. Of course, when the kiddo first got her lenses, she "trialed" the removal and putting on under the watchful eyes of our consultants at eyesight.sg. I have to say that the staff there were super patient and very experienced in explaining, teaching and managing the kiddo's experience. 

They talked the kiddo through the steps slowly and very encouraging despite the fact that she was flustered in her first few attempts as it must have seem quite daunting to her to place the lenses into her eyes the first few times.



:: Cleaning of lenses
The steps involved in the cleansing were explained simply and the staff got the kiddo to demo to them too to ensure that there's no miscommunication. As hygiene is key to the success of this programme, I was really impressed with the detailed explanation and how the staff made it a point to highlight to the kiddo that it is her responsibility to maintain that hygiene. 



:: Soaking of lenses
And after the rinsing, it is off to soaking the lenses in another cleansing solution where it stays in the holder during the day. 


:: Overall experience
The kiddo's "degree" was about 150 to start off so I wanted to quickly manage / control the increase of the degree to a minimum when it was still on the "low" side. And because it was "low" to start off, her eyesight was tested to be perfect only after a few days of use.


(This was a momentous moment as we went on a family vacation in Dec, just 2 days after she started on Ortho-K. On the 4th morning, I still recall that she said to me "Mummy, I can see the ripples in the water! It's magical!") 

While there's "work" to be done in cleansing and soaking of the lenses plus regular eye checks, the pros far outweighs the "work". The kiddo has better "quality of life" because of better "quality of sight". It's now much safer for her to partake recreational netball


She's now able to enjoy her holidays where she can see well and do not have to cope with the hassle of wearing glasses... 

During March holidays in Penang

During June holidays in Ho Chi Minh City where she could take in the sights while on the back of a motorcycle during a local night tour!


Eyesight.sg
Addresses:
148 Potong Pasir Ave 1, #01-51 Singapore 350148
827 Tampines Street 81 #01-146 Singapore, 520827
Call or WhatsApp at (+65) 9824 1607
Operating hours: Monday to Sunday 11am-9pm

CALL FOR A NON-OBLIGATORY FREE CONSULTATION AND QUOTE "BEANIE "N" US" FOR $100 OFF YOUR ORTHO-K PACKAGE! 

Disclaimer: this is a series of collaboration as invited by Eyesight.sg so that Dumpling and I can share our reviews and experience on this new Ortho-K journey.

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Monday, August 12, 2019

All to get good grades – but is it worth it?

The family had a “big weekend” with the National Day celebration and Hari Raya Haji that just passed. I was actually looking forward to enjoying the rest of the last day of PH where I attended a play with Dumpling in the morning. After the play, I went for lunch with a buddy and her family. The kiddo then was with my buddy’s children and spouse when she suddenly got very upset and showed me her classmate's status update which basically read as such:

“I’m dying”
“I feel depressed”
“I’m not joking. I’m serious”

The girl then proceeded to share that it is because she has to "do 3 exam papers every day” and she has not even a day to rest. (Just to add, the exam papers are not given by the school.) Then it was followed by:

“I do wanna get good grades but I’m dying”
“I wanna cry but I can’t”

And then to our horror, she added on to say 

“She says that XX does more work than me. She’s probably right but still … too much”
“And XX doesn’t have a choice either”
“All to get good grades… it’s not worth it… I just wanna have a day when I can rest… but I can’t”
“I wanna die”

There were more in between and she ended with:
“I’m stuck here… crying”

*XX being Dumpling's name

Firstly, I do not know how it is humanly possible to expect our kids to do 3 sets of practice papers daily. Clearly, the author’s mum’s motto is “more is more”.

Secondly, my kid does not do more work than her kid. My kid does not even smell, let alone touch practice papers monthly. Heck, I will be laughing my way sending her to school if she even remembers to complete her school homework on time.

Thirdly, why is there a need to use my child or any child for that matter a yardstick for comparison? More than that, why is my child being used as an "excuse" to normalize the "3 exam papers daily"? And to dispel any myth, my kiddo is not a top student in her class. That child, however, possibly is one of the top and at the rate she is going, is well on-route to be a scholar.

I am sharing this openly not as an attempt to shame anyone but because as a parent, I am concerned.

Is this the method which we use to get our children to excel – the non-stop practice papers and the pressure by saying that another child is doing more work than yours? Why is there such a need for these comparisons and the need to be so overly focused on just grades? When your child is pushed to a corner where she used her whats app status to share these, does it not say something? When she talks about dying not once, not twice but thrice, does it once again not say something? 

I am sharing this openly also because my child, after seeing the status update was very upset and broke down outside, witnessed by my buddy. In short my child feels that she does not want to do well in school if it means that her friend bears that brunt of it. She also could not understand why she was dragged into it, where "she" (in the status updates) had the impression that my kiddo does exam papers like a machine and my kiddo also did not understand why there is a need for such comparison. Mostly, Dumpling was upset that she will end up not having a friend due to all these competition.

I am sharing this openly because I truly wonder, when have grades become more important than mental health and other things such as values – honesty, perseverance, integrity and responsibility? Why are grades, the only definition of “success”?

I am sharing this because I am worried about the kind of world our children are raised in. Though there are changes to the education landscape where exams are removed, it is very clear here that it would take loads more before such competitions and the the over emphasis of “grades” are lessened in our society. It is sad because in a warp way, what we have done is like what we see in a B-grade movie: we created this grade culture and monster and think that we have it under our control, instead laughably, it has infiltrated our system, "become" the system, gotten into our DNA and it now owns us. Our children end up being drilled endlessly, disliking school and unfortunately, experience first hand how "Kiasuism" and the pursuit of grades drive a wedge in their love for learning and in forging genuine and healthy friendships. 

So, the question aptly asked above resonates deep and true: “all to get good grades – but is it worth it?”

Is your child’s sanity worth it?  


Source

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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

A lesson from "The Great Automatic Grammatizator": what should I be when I grow up?

Lately the kiddo has been pondering over what she wants to be when she grows up. I suppose this is triggered by class discussions as well as the big topic - DSA. Years ago, when I was interviewed for a magazine, I was asked the same question where I quipped "I just want her to be happy." Years on, my answer remains the same.

With Primary 5, I can feel the mounting pressure on academics. There's home work daily for the kiddo (usually an average of 2 subjects) and the time taken is usually around 1.5 to 2 hours. Frankly, on days where she stays back in school for CCA, Higher Chinese and then there's enrichment classes, she has very little wind down time. Hence my reply to her over these years still remains.

However, her reply has been "but most of my friends know what they want to be - lawyers, doctors, etc!"

I, too, have friends who are working with their kids on a said profession - training from young, DSA, etc., where activities have all been carefully planned for from young.

But my reply to her was "don't sweat over it."

Grades are no doubt, very important in our society. Though there's changes to the banding system where there's supposedly less emphasis on results, in my humble opinion, it will take a while before our society sees beyond grades. That's because many of us parents now were brought up where academics reigned and things for e.g. such "arts" was hardly heard of as a career choice then. Many may not catch on that the world has changed and is still evolving.

When I was recently asked by a friend what I am grooming the kiddo for, she was surprised that I do not have an answer or goal for the kiddo, while I was equally stumped by her question.

I suppose 2 reasons why I was stumped are:

(1) I have faith that God has a plan for all of us so most certainly, He has a plan for the kiddo.

(2) I see that there's a need to move beyond academics because the world our children will be working in is not like the one which we are in now or the one which we were brought up in. Some of these future jobs have not even been created. Take gaming for e.g., I cannot imagine how our parents can see that as careers 15 years back but just look at how "prized" programmers, animation artists, etc. are now. And with AI and machines taking on more jobs, what will there be left for our children?


Coincidentally, the kiddo devoured this book by Roald Dahl some weeks back when she was nursing a fever at home and was bored up to her ears. If you are not aware, Roald Dahl wrote stories not just for young children but he also wrote a series of stories for teenagers too. And interestingly, it was over this story that allowed me to explain the changing world to the kiddo. 

If you have not had a chance to read this story, here's a short synopsis. This dark story centres around a genius who created a story writing machine (Great Automatic Grammatizator) which quite literally "took over the world" as the machine was able to replace the human author by creating better stories (and stories which people want to read) and in turn creating a monopoly in the market place. Human authors were no longer needed but they were "bought" into this system where they "wrote" stories through the machines, deceiving the unsuspecting world. 

This prompted us to have a really interesting discussion if technology is a useful tool, the power of AI (is it too smart for us?) and the disruptions technology and machines can cause in the business world. So, with that, what skill sets are important for one to thrive in a different world 10 years down the road? What disciplines are less replaceable or still require that human touch? What are the jobs that can be replaced and so, what then are left for this generation? 

So, if you are still gunning purely for academics, this story may let you think otherwise. 

The key question should instead be "what skill sets should your child have as she powers through the future world?" 

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram 

Monday, June 17, 2019

Motherhood - a lonesome journey


As I journey into my 11th year of motherhood, I have to say that it can be quite a lonesome journey. I am not sure if it is an Asian “tiger mum” thing but seemingly, there’s tons to compare once you become a mother.

I recall during the earlier days, it was the early milestones that had parents in a fluster – which child stood earlier, walked earlier, spoke earlier, read earlier, etc. The popularity of the flashcards then and how it "coaches" toddlers to read did not help to ease first time parents’ anxiety too.

Comes preschool, it was a mad rush to getting places at the “best” (or at least most well-known) preschools with a huge emphasis on literacy. Trust me when I say that this is a HUGE concern; I was in the early childhood industry for years and my role then was in Marketing and Enrolment. I have met thousands of parents with preschoolers over the 5 - 6 years and few of the most common questions that I get are "Will my child be ready for primary school? Will she learn how to read and write and count?" 

Because such is the nature of our culture and society, the underlying current and quiet competition/comparisons start young. I have had a few run-ins with parents during workshops where there were some comments on why certain roles in drama classes were dished out to certain children, how a 5 day camp should be a 3 day camp because their kids cannot attend (though majority could attend), etc. Naively as a first time parent, and when the kiddo was much younger, I used to share more about the activities which we do and even celebrate small successes on my social media posts. However, there seems to be a backlash - I quickly realize that some were quietly comparing and there seems to be some preconceptions of Dumpling too. 

Wins, Win, and Winning: TRIU IPH SOCIETY
 I WILL WIN
 NOT IMMEDIATELY
 BUT DEFINITELY
Classic "scary" mums that I meet 
Credit

Things did not lighten up in Primary school. As she is in a girls' school I dare say that it is more competitive than a co-ed school. In the lower years, it is much easier to attain full marks and I found myself falling into the parenting trap where I sometimes hear myself asking Dumpling who else scored full marks or what's the highest score in her class for a said subject. Dumpling was also made Monitor during Primary 1 and I recall that choice / decision was questioned by another mum - why Dumpling and not her child. So these were unhealthy as well. Fast forward to a few years on. The girls were to work on group projects and I have previously shared that they had to construct a boat individually but work as a group to present and share their thoughts, findings and rationale for the choice of materials for their boat. Dumpling was in charge of collating the slides and was repeatedly "chasing" for the slides from a classmate. After 2 - 3 weeks (nearing the deadline), the girl shared that her parent does not allow for her to email or share her slides with anyone prior the presentation for fear that others would copy her slides / ideas. 

It is no surprise that as such I do not mingle much with the other parents from Dumpling's school - as a FTWM my time is stretched and honestly, I lack the time and stamina to manage such "comparisons" and it also helps me manage my own expectations better. And maybe because of the fact that I have seen so much of these "dramas" I am often uncomfortable to comment or share much about Dumpling and how her classmates are faring when I am asked by other parents in casual conversations. I find myself guarded, worried that things that I share may be misunderstood and misconstrued. When we had small successes, I was hesitant to comment much, only occasionally sharing about fun stuff, vacations, etc. for "fear" of more backlash or further pressure from these unhealthy competitions. 

Having said that, I am very thankful that I have other girlfriends in my life who keep me sane - only a few from "outside" circle and even fewer from her school. With these mums, I do not have to worry much about sharing the bad news (where I could potentially be judged as being too pushy or am a tiger mum reincarnate) or the good stuff (where once again I could be judged as being boastful or arrogant). Frankly in the current days of social media consumption and a change in communication form (whats app), things could often be misunderstood where gossips can spiral out of control. 

So yes, motherhood can be a lonesome journey where it is a case of "darn if you do" and "darn if you don't". So, if you are wondering why I have not been blogging much, this is the reason. I do not want Dumpling to be "judged" or to have my blog infringe into her privacy especially now that she is older. People sometimes think that just because I have photos on my FB or IG sharing glimpses of our lives, they assume that they know us well and well enough to judge and comment. 

I will still be blogging randomly and will share more on my perspectives and unless the kiddo is comfortable with me sharing hers, she will not be making much of an "appearance". If she does, then it would be more of a "cameo".  :p 
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