Teaching Baby1 programming

Several months ago, I had a few hours with just Baby1 at a Subway restaurant while waiting for Dear2 and Baby2 (they were at a gathering with Dear2’s friends). So, Baby1 and I sat down and began our first programming session.

I had always viewed programming languages, math and music as another form of communication, just like English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc. Therefore, I want Baby1 and Baby2 to have an appreciation of programming languages.

Programming is something I do on a daily basis, so there’s no need to send the children to programming classes. I will teach them myself. :D

Rather than using popular child friendly starter languages such as Scratch, I thought I would jump right in with an easy to understand language. And we would build a simple game of math so that it would help Baby1 in her Primary 1 & 2 as well. To this end, I chose the LÖVE framework which is based on Lua.

I started by teaching Baby1 basic concepts of strings, numbers and variables, and simple if-then-else control flows. Then, we got down to designing the look and feel of the game. While doing that, I taught her general concepts as such the coordinate systems, what are pixels, RGB values, how a circle is defined by its radius, etc.

Meanwhile, Baby1 had to type quite a bit on the keyboard, so she is picking up keyboard skills and spelling and reading skills as the same time.

We’ve had 3 sessions so far, here are the results at the end of each session.

End of session 1


End of session 2


End of session 3

Looking forward to continuing building this game with Baby1. Jiayou!



Swimming for Kids

Dear1 and I believed that swimming is an essential skill that all Singapore kids need to have, for obvious reasons that Singapore is but a small island surrounded by waters.  But we waited till Baby2 was old enough so that we can have both Baby1 and Baby2 in the same swimming class, and save us having to make 2 trips for 2 swimming lessons.  :p

After much procrastination, I finally got around to look for a class for Baby1 and Baby2 at the beginning of the year.  Found a class with Baby1’s friend, at Bukit Batok Swimming Complex which is a two bus-stop walk away for us, and on a weekday evening so that it’s not hot nor crowded and with cheaper entrance fees too.  Fantastic!

We had our first lesson on the first week of April, and before the end of September, Baby1 had already went to take the Stage 2 Exam, skipping Stage 1.  Whoosh!

Baby1 had progressed so much in this 6 months.  Initially, she was the one whom I worried more, as she seemed to have more fear than Baby2.  With their back floats on, Baby2 is the one who felt more at ease splashing around and dipping her head into the waters, but Baby1 was so scared of her head in water that she cried.  And you shake your head knowing that a crying child definitely will find swimming even more laborious.

I tried to be assuring, so I’d waved and smile and nod to them every time they finished their laps.  I tried to help, by making them practice their swimming and breathing techniques at home on dry land.  I tried to be encouraging, and gave them prep-talk all the way while walking from home to pool.  When nothing seemed to work, I pretended to be nonchalant and put a book in front of me and my earphones on and told them that I’ll not be looking at them, so just “follow the teacher’s instructions” and swim.

Somehow, something must have clicked within Baby1; either she finally grasped the realization that “teacher is really always right, so just follow teacher’s instructions closely”, or her water confidence has risen when Teacher “threw” them all into the deep deep pool and made them swim back to the pool edge, or she does not dare to defy the sometimes-stern-sometimes-kind teacher.

I must say, Teacher is a very experienced teacher too.  Most other swimming teachers with smaller kids usually start the lesson at the shallower pool, but our Teacher teaches directly at the big pool.  For Baby1’s Swimming Test, Teacher told us not to let Baby1 know that she’s going for a test, cos he knows that she gets scared when she anticipates for it.  On the actual test day with 10 students lined up in queue, she was half oblivious that it was a test and just did her normal routine following the teacher’s instructions.  And cleared Stage 2, phew!

Baby1 is now officially the best swimmer in our family.  She knows freestyle, breast stroke, thread water, diving, and is learning backstroke now.  Conversely, it’s the turn to be worried about Baby2 now.  She’s still reliant on the back float, and cries almost every lesson.  Time to give her lots of hugs, and lots of practice on dry land.

– Dear2

Our Girls~~

On the last day of Term 2, it seemed that all the parents are somewhere attending their children’s Parents-Teachers Meetings.  Dear1 and I attended Baby1 and Baby2’s PTMs too, and I can only say, both our girls are so good~~

Dear1 and I know that Baby1 and Baby2 are both good girls.  They listen to what we tell them, they obey our instructions, albeit frequently making our blood boil.  I sometimes have to remind myself and Dear1 that they are both still kids.  Just 7 years old and 5 years old, how did Dear1 and I behaved when we were that age!?  So when it comes to Parents-Teachers meetings, after the first meeting in their new childcare centre, Dear1 and I decided that it was okay to skip the subsequent ones, cos we know that Baby1 and Baby2 were doing very okay in school.

For Baby2’s Parent-Teacher meeting this year, both her Chinese and English teachers were full of praises for her.  Observant, serious in learning, nice handwriting, independent, quietly does her work, can do most of the work on her own.  She is surely the best student in her Kindergarten One class of 14 kids.  Dear1 and I came out of the room beaming as very proud parents.

For Baby1, on the last school day of Term 2, she:

  1.  was announced to be the Class Monitress
  2. topped the class with the highest score (again) in Term 2, and
  3. came home with a Report Book of all Grade 1s and As (except for PE, B) for her SA1

OMG.  This is the child who makes my blood boil at least 3 times a day (during breakfast, lunch and dinner for eating so slow!), and this is the child who I frequently scold for always being so playful and easily distracted.

On the last day of Term 2, we also counted the money that Baby1 has saved in this half year.  $40.10!  Considering that Baby1’s pocket money is $1.30 per recess, and she spends $1 on a meal, Baby1 has not been spending her money on any unnecessary things at all. Wow.

Actually, Baby1 is really a good girl too.  From the Parents-Teachers meeting, both her Form Teacher and Chinese Teacher were full of praises for her too.  She does her work independently and seriously, and she’s careful in her work.  Basically, both teachers have nothing much to worry about her.

Why do children always seem to behave so differently in school and at home!?  At home, I seem to be constantly nagging at her, “be quick”, “do your work seriously”, “keep the toys”, “why is this thing here?”, or at Baby2 “drink water”, “one quarter”.  I constantly feel like I am on REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT mode.  But in school, both Baby1 and Baby2 are such darlings!

Love Them. Understand Them.  Forgive Them.  Grow with Them.

After reading “Search Inside Yourself”, I have the above new mantra.

I do not want myself to be a kiasu parent, and I do not want myself to be a Tiger Mum.  We want Baby1 and Baby2 to grow up in a loving and happy family.  And we need to remind ourselves that both our girls are so lovely and lovable, so “Love them, understand them, forgive them, and grow with them.”

I love you, Baby1 and Baby2.

And I love you, Dear1.  Muck!

– Dear2

I want to be a Mummy when I grow up

“I want to be a Mummy when I grow up.”  This is Baby1 and Baby2’s recent ambition.  Don’t know if I should laugh or cry when I first heard this coming from their mouths!

My first impression when Baby1 first proclaimed that she “wants to be a mummy when she grows up” was, what????  Over these few years, she has alternated between wanting to be a chef (she loves to play cooking!) to a scientist (possibly under the influence of Papa whose job title is a Scientist) to an artist (somehow, she loves drawing too.  Dear1 and I are perplexed on where she got all the artistic genes from), so we know that having multiple changing ambitions is pretty much the norm for kids.  Recently, she added Mummy to her ambition too.  Don’t know if Baby2 was merely copy-cat Jie Jie, Baby2 also proclaimed that she “wants to be a mummy when she grows up” too.  -_-‘”

What do Baby1 and Baby2 mean by that?  I dare not ask.  To their simple-minded hearts, does being a Mummy equates a SAHM who looks after kids?  Is a money-generating FTWM not a Mummy?  I dare not ask, because if this is the answer, how sad will that be!

Last week during the kids’ evening swimming class and Dear1 got to come home early at 6pm because he’s on course, he commented that he’s glad that we have this arrangement.  And when Ah Gong Ah Ma popped by our house on a Tuesday 7.30pm while I was revising Spelling with Baby1, it suddenly dawned upon me that we will not be able to go for weekday swimming lessons nor have the energy or time to revise Spelling at 7.30pm if we are a dual-income family.   I can imagine Dear1 and I would probably be goofing down our dinner, 90% brain-dead at 7.30pm on a weekday.  Spellings and swimming will have to wait till the weekends.  And what about checking the daily homework? Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

I have a new-found admiration for FTWMs, especially those who are coping well with older children.  As Baby1 and Baby2 grow up day by day, I find that they need more intellectual, emotional, and of course technical interactions in their waking hours. I don’t think Student Cares or either side Gramps will be able to give as much as what I can provide.   I am very thankful to Dear1 for understanding and agreeing with me on this approach, and shouldering the task to be the income-generator while I care for our family. Of course in a job, I hope that Dear1 continues to find passion and fun in what he do.

As for being a Mummy, I want to think that Baby1 and Baby2 are acknowledging that their Mummy is awesome.


  • Had been a well behaved, hardworking student in my schooling years
  • Enjoyed reading since Primary School
  • Am brave, yet not arrogant
  • Challenge my fears by bracing myself to face them
  • Can be trusted
  • Had good grades in school because I did my homework well
  • Am athletic
  • Always do things carefully
  • Have my limitations, but I try my best
  • (and I hope to be able to list many more qualities here!)

No Mummy is perfect, but we always want our kids to grow up well, because we made them, so we should love them and guide them to the best of our abilities.

– Dear2

@#$%^& In, @#$%^& Out

I don’t know about you, but my 4yo and 6yo seem to pick up what mummy and papa say quite well. And sometimes they remember words from last time too.  Omg.

They say don’t talk down to kids, and don’t lie to kids.  Dear1 and I have been consciously trying to do that since Baby1 was born, and we’ve maintained the same stance to Baby2 too.  We always try our best to talk the same level with them, and we rack our heads to warp the unmentionables into factual statements so as to avoid telling any white lies. But at the end of a tired day, or when you are in a rush, tempers flare, your own emotions run high and @#$%^& comes out from your mouth unknowingly. Don’t think kids don’t pick these up, because they do.  Before you know it, they internalise this, and @#$%^& comes out from their mouths too some time later.  OMG!

The ‘experts’ say children are like sponges, so read to them, play with them, bring them outdoors and explore, teach them new languages, sign them up for abacus and creative thinking and programming and music and singing and arts and science and math.  But few experts emphasize the importance of how adults should watch ourselves when we interact with children.  I say adults because I mean ALL adults, not just the parents.  You, mummy and daddy are definitely at the front of the line, but same goes for the grandparents and teachers and aunties in school and stall owners and bus driver and the auntie who chat up with us on the bus.  Basically, anybody who comes into interaction with children.

Children are like sponges – they take in what they see and hear, and translate these into their own protocol.

As a FTWM, I frequently excused myself when Baby1 and Baby2 misbehaved. Half of myself and my time was fully committed to work, 9 hours for sleeping and recharging my drained-out cells, and the remaining 3 hours to Dear1 and the 2 kids.  Do housework, coach spelling and homework and piano practice, cuddle everyone, cook.  I didn’t want to waste any precious time to be the black face and correct the kids’ misbehavior.

The moment of truth came during our 2 weeks holiday in Japan earlier this May.  Before the end of the first week, I was super maddening angry with both kids.  For the first time in 4 years since Baby2 was born, we spent the whole 24 hours together everyday with both kids, and I realised to my utter astonishment that they have soooooooo many bad habits.  Where did they learn these from!?  I knew there were bad habits, but why are there so many!?  How will they grow up from here?  I was crushed.

After a painful cut, I am now a SAHM.   There are various competency levels for SAHMs, and I am still pondering on the kind that I want myself to be.  But I know for sure that apart from imparting knowledge to my 2 girls (I mean, I have to make good use of my 15 years of education right?  What better way than to be an educator to my own 2 girls), I want to teach them manners and respect and gratitude as well as other life skills.

And while doing all that, I need to constantly keep myself in check, in my words, in my actions and how I carry myself in front of them.  Gambatte, mummy!

– Dear2

School Dental Centre

When Baby1 was in N1, we were very concerned that the childcare centre that she attended did not seem too keen to teach the 3 year olds on oral care. “If childcare will start to teach the children self independence, like eating on their own, keeping their own bags etc, shouldn’t teeth brushing be taught early?  Plus the kids have their meals and milk in the centre.  Plus shouldn’t good oral practice starts from small!?”  We tried to persuade the centre to start inculcating teeth brushing after meals, but the centre only acceded to train the kids to rinse their mouths, and only after lunch before bath. Duh.

Dear1 and I truly believed that good oral care should start young, so we made sure that Baby1 brushes her teeth every morning since then.  Night brushing was challenging, as we counted on her dozing off and having a good night/ uninterrupted sleep while drinking her bedtime feed.  At both the grandparents’ places, we prepared her tooth brush and mug, and constantly reminded the grandparents to brush their teeth, but gramps being gramps, they seemed to encounter different types of difficulties in enforcing the brushing of teeth, haiz.

The last part of oral care have to be regular visits to the dentist.  I am one who is okay with dentist visits.  Of course it’s usually uncomfortable, and always bloody and painful, but I like it when the dentist always removes all the hard plague, something that I could never prevent from ‘growing’ despite my rigorous daily brushes.  Dear1 is more squeamish about dental visits.  Something about the “eeeeeeeh……… zzzzzzzhh…..” of the machinery sounds that Dear1 couldn’t stand, (or simply a childhood fear which is surprisingly very common among many adults?  keke).

Dear1 suggested that we bring the kids along when we go for our (supposedly) yearly dental check-up.  I said “Are you sure?” and “Am I really up to it?”  One: What if Dear1 freak out during his visit?  Two: What if I freaked out during MY visit.  Luckily at this point, I chanced upon a mummy’s blog about the School Dental Centre.  This mummy’s eldest child is about the same age as Baby1, so I was very curious to see how other mummies tackle this issue (which we have to start SOON!).

The School Dental Centre is located in HPB Building in SGH.  It seems to be providing dental services to school-going children, but pre-schoolers can visit them too.  We made an appointment for Baby1, which the earliest Saturday slot was a couple of months later.  Since this is just our first introduction to dentists for her, we were in no hurry.  In fact, a few weeks leading up to the BIG DAY, we borrowed a couple of books relating to dental visits from the library.  Through the picture books, we preempted Baby1 of what’s to happen during the visit.

On the actual day, true enough, Baby1 was scared to the max.  The Dentist was all nice and friendly.  There were many other kids around but that didn’t make Baby1 any braver.  Nor the many colorful cartoon stickers on the walls or equipment liven the atmosphere any more.  Baby1 wouldn’t sit on the chair no matter how we coaxed (or threatened, when all patience and encouragement failed).  She finally relented when the Dentist allowed her to sit on Papa while Papa sits on the chair, phew.

The Dentist did a very swift check (lest Baby1 decides to back down).  Luckily her teeth was in very good condition, which we all kept praising her (and fueling her pride) afterwards and continually even till now, keke. The Dentist also showed her the proper techniques for brushing teeth (seems like the protocol).  Before we left, the Dentist whipped out a box of stickers for Baby1 to choose.  That was the WOW.  For braving the ordeal, all the kids get to bring home a sticker!  How encouraging!  With the permission of the Dentist, Baby1 took 2 stickers, one for herself and one for Baby2 who had been silently watching the whole process with us.  Dentist said Baby2 should come too (though she was only 2 yo then).  We made two appointments for both girls approximately one year later.

Since then, we have been to the School Dental Centre for three times for the kids’ yearly checks.  Next year, Baby1 can no longer come here, as she’ll be in Primary School which the school will take over the yearly dental check ups. For Baby2, she’s still very much looking forward to the next year’s visit, because she’ll get a sticker after the visit!  Keke!

We highly recommend the School Dental Centre for kids.  Baby1’s going to be 7 yo next year, and she’s still having her entire set of her baby teeth, plus 3 molars sprouting at the back.  All kudos to the nice dental experiences (frankly, I think the reason why many adults still have phobia of dentist, must surely be due to bad childhood experiences, hush hush), she’s proud of her pearlies and always takes care to brush them well.  And it’s only $9 per visit (for Singaporeans), so do book an appointment for your kid soon!

– Dear2

Our hectic weekends

Lately, our weekends have been characterized by busy schedules. And it doesn’t look like it will change any time soon. In fact, it might become even more hectic.

On Saturdays, we would wake up at around 8am. Usually, it would be breakfast followed by piano practice for Baby1. Why? Because Baby1 attends piano lessons from 11-11.30am on Saturdays. Once we return home, it would be lunch time. Lunch is usually a 1-hour affair for us. After a short rest, the children would be off to their afternoon nap at around 1pm. We still enforce nap times for both children because we believe that sleep is very important for the children’s development. During this time, it would be our turn to catch a nap ourselves, or catch up on some K-dramas. Dear2 usually starts preparing for dinner too. The children usually wake up around 3.30-4pm. Dinner is served around 5-5.30pm. After dinner would be rest, then followed by bath time. By 7.30pm, everyone should be all clean and comfy. Lately, the children have been interested in my board games, especially Flash Point. So we would spend around 1-1.5 hours playing board games in the living room. By 9pm, the children would get ready for their bedtime stories and go to bed. The adults spend a bit of time with each other before going to bed.

On Sundays, we also wake up at 8am. This morning is usually a little unplanned so we have some flexibility to do learning, go grocery shopping, etc. But, Baby2 usually need a quick morning power nap because she has ballet lessons at 1pm. Anyway, 11.30am is lunch time, and we set off for Baby2’s ballet. By the time we get home, everyone is tired and off they go for their afternoon nap. Dear2 prepares dinner. By 4pm, the children are awake and we get ready for Baby1’s ballet class at 5.30pm! We will get home around 6.3opm for a late dinner. It is probably 8pm after bath and we have a little time for board games or some other simple leisure before it’s bed time stories and bed time again.

Every so often, when piano or ballet class was cancelled, it would be a godsend for us. For that weekend, we would be able to go for picnics, attend Uncle L’s second daughter’s birthday party, go on our own holiday, etc.

This is our typical weekend schedule. And, this is not taking into account special ballet exam preparatory weekly classes that occurs for about 6 months every year. And we also intend to sign the children up for more “essential” classes such as swimming. And Baby2 is likely to want to take up piano classes as well, to be the same as her elder sister.

With just 2 children and a total of 3 classes on weekends, I’m already feeling the crunch. I can’t start to imagine how parents with more kids and more classes on weekends would feel like.

But this is life, now. Our routine will surely change with each passing phase. Just have to see the positive side of things and make the most out of what we have. For now, we usually do our weekend groceries on Friday evenings. While one child is at ballet class, we would pop over to Jurong Point for a quick Llaollao fix. Yumz!