Wednesday, September 12, 2018

14 Days To PSLE–Are You Stressed? =P

So, it’s finally my turn to experience the PSLE fever this year, and funny why I would refer it as “my turn” when I am not even the one taking the exams. =P

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The most common question I’ve been asked this year has been, “Are you stressed?” and frankly speaking, I have not really been feeling the heat so far. We are rather chill parents and it probably helps that Joey has always been a conscientious and self-motivated kid when it comes to studying, so I can trust her to revise on her own. I still fulfil the usual mom duty by printing practice papers for her to do, encouraging her and praying for her, but let’s face it – Ultimately, she’s the one who will be walking into the exam hall and taking those papers. Her results will determine which Secondary School she will get into and that would probably play a big part in her future career choices as well. But the truth remains - It’s her life. It may sound a little too heck-care and nonchalant, but we cannot deny it, can we?

OK I got to admit – There were moments in the past year when I had sudden panic attacks – “Are we too relaxed?? Did I let Joey practise enough?? Every kid is in some form of tuition, enrichment or PSLE-prep class but not Joey – HOW??! Is it too late to send her for some classes now??”

I guess we would never know whether our decision of not sending her to any tuition classes is right, but it was something we believed in and chose to stick by it, even when her grades dipped a little when she was in Primary 5. Still, there were many other great achievements we could celebrate her for, and that was good enough for us.

Recently, Joey received her results for Prelims exams. Of course, the results wouldn’t affect the PSLE scores at all, but there was an unspoken message that it would be a rough gauge of where the kid stands. Typically, the schools would set really tough papers so as to challenge the high achievers and also to wake up those who are falling below the bar to study harder for the upcoming PSLE. I had expected Joey to do average because we didn’t exactly revise before the papers, but to my pleasant surprise, she came back with really good results. While I was really happy when I saw her marks and I told her so, deep in my heart there was a nagging thought – “What if she becomes complacent and stops studying for PSLE? Would that be worse-off? It might have been better if she did badly and start studying really hard!”  Very typical mom, right?

But immediately, I felt the Holy Spirit remind me – “Why would you think that fear is a better motivator than faith? Why wouldn’t you think that it’s better for Joey to step into the exam hall with confidence that she can do well than to go trembling and worrying that she would do badly?” Suddenly, it all made sense to me – My thinking had been so warped and twisted!

Doing well in an examination right before the PSLE would have given her the confidence and assurance that she knows her stuff and she can walk into that exam hall with faith in her heart and a smile on her face, knowing that she is well-prepared! Why would I think otherwise??!

So I am changing the things I say to Joey now – Instead of reminding her not to let her guard down and revise again and again, I have been telling her that she is good enough and well prepared, and she just needs to keep that momentum and she will be fine. Whether or not the results turn out the way we hope it will be, we leave everything in the hands of God. The last thing I want is for my child to feel that I equate her worth to a mere PSLE score. That may be what the school or society is telling her, but at least in my house, she must be assured of her worth and value, which goes way beyond all these.

It’s 14 days to the first PSLE paper, and I wish every mom in the same situation as me this year, a calm heart and peace of mind. Let’s be moms who believe in our kids and who they can become in life! :)

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Saturday, August 11, 2018

5 Must-Try Dishes At Oscar’s Peranakan Buffet (Giveaway!)

Food Tasting

I super duper love Peranakan food because I grew up as a kid in my Nonya nanny’s house, where she fed me fabulous Peranakan food everyday. So when I heard that Conrad Hotel’s introducing their special Peranakan buffet line for the month of August, I knew I had to go for it! It certainly didn’t disappoint – In fact, it’s my most favourite buffet spread to-date!

Apart from the unique Peranakan dishes you can expect to find on the buffet, the usual sashimi, fresh seafood, cheese and salad sections remain so you can be assured to have a really great feast. Since the Peranakan dishes are the main star of this buffet line, I would like to recommend 5 must-try dishes when you go for this buffet!

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1. Stewed Ginger Garlic Pork Belly with Steamed Buns

Commonly and affectionately known as Kong Bak Bao in our local context, and one of the signature dishes in Peranakan cuisine – This is definitely a must-try and reason enough to be Number 1 on my list. I have to quantify that I don’t even take pork belly, but this was so well-marinated and stewed with balanced flavours and matched perfectly with the steamed buns that I could not stop at one. If you are a fan of pork belly, this is not to be missed!

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2. The Black Gold – Buah Keluak Beef Burger

This was a big pleasant surprise when I bit into it, seriously. The beef patty was so delicious and savoury that I was in disbelief. I love it that the chef did a fusion twist to such a traditional Peranakan dish. The caramelised onions and the sesame charcoal  buns definitely added to the taste and texture – What an ingenious creation!

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3. Nonya Chicken Curry Pie Tie

How epic does that sound? I love Kueh Pie Tie, but to have curry chicken as the filling was a first for me, and it was so good! I was tempted to take the empty shells and fill them up with the rest of the dishes on the buffet line! The curry was not over-powering and gave a nice balanced taste to the dish. I like this twist too!

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4. Nonya Kuehs

Even if you are stuffed from the buffet, you must still find a way to sample the delectable array of Nonya Kuehs on the buffet line. They are good appearance and taste-wise, and promise a sweet ending to a wonderful meal, for sure!

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5. Durian Penyet With Gula Melaka

If you are a durian fan, you must not miss this – I don’t think I need to expound on how yummy this is, from its name??

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Apart from these 5 must-try dishes, I have to say the buffet line has many other wonderful options you must not miss as well. For one, the soup section offers two choices of soup (as usual) and in line with this buffet theme, they have a winter melon soup which was super duper yummy and totally reminded me of my nanny – She used to cook this for me frequently! Other than that, the Kung Bao Beef Cubes and Zhap Cai are two of my favorite dishes that day as well. :) Here’s a visual of the other dishes I had that day!

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When: 3 – 31 Aug 2018
Where: Oscar’s Conrad Centennial Singapore, Lobby Level (Two Temasek Boulevard Singapore 038982)
How: For reservations, please call +65 6432 7481/63, email
sinci.oscars@conradhotels.com or visit www.connoisseur.sg/singaporean-peranakan-buffet.

GIVEAWAY!

Conrad Hotel has kindly sponsored ONE READER OF THE J BABIES to enjoy the Peranakan Buffet Dinner with another friend (2 in total) on any weekday while the promotion is on (Worth more than S$180! in value!) . Do participate via Rafflecopter to qualify - All the best!

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Friday, August 03, 2018

Learning English Creatively At My English School

Media Review

I grew up in a Mandarin-speaking family. My parents spoke and understood only Mandarin and a few other dialects, but English was never spoken at home. Because of that, I struggled with the English language during my Primary school days. I know it sounds incredible that I have a rather good grasp of the language and enjoy writing in it now, but it took me a long while (and a great deal of effort and hard work) to become who I am today. That is probably also the reason why I empathize with my kids now when it comes to mastering a language – it is not easy and may not come naturally to all.

Joey has always loved reading and writing as a kid, so I never had to worry about her English standard. But this was not so for Jayne – she doesn’t particularly enjoy reading. In fact, I spent a lot of time coaxing her to pick up storybooks to read, only to have her putting them down almost immediately because the interest was just not there.

As a typical Singaporean mom, of course, I was worried. I know how crucial it is to have a good grasp of the English language because that is the foundation and basis of the education system we have here. And I know I am not alone – I have other parent friends who tell me that their kids don’t enjoy reading, and so they struggle with doing well in school.

As a matter of fact, it is easy to get intimidated by the English language especially when it comes to the correct usage of grammar and creative vocabulary in writing. True enough, when Jayne started Primary Three this year and was tasked to write her first essay on the first day of school, she struggled. I could see that her interest in the English language was waning and I was desperate to find a way to help her.

I was so glad that I was introduced to My English School (MES) at a time like this. It worked out perfectly for us because there was a MES centre just five minutes away from our house.

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Jayne was reluctant to go for the class when I first told her about it, but after the first lesson, she was hooked! She skipped out of the centre and told me excitedly that two of her school classmates were in the same class as hers! One of them has been with My English School since she was a pre-schooler, and because it has helped her in the subject all these years, she stayed on.

The thing is, some parents think that they only need to send their kids for enrichment classes during the initial years and pull them out after the right foundations are built. But, the truth is, the kids need guidance and help throughout their schooling years because at every stage and progression, there are different needs and struggles.

Seeing that Jayne’s classmate stayed on for so many years, I believe that there must be a lot of in My English School’s curriculum and programmes. After attending MES for three months, I am convinced of the quality of MES’ offerings by now – here’s why:

1. Vibrant School Culture and Learning Atmosphere

It was a pleasant surprise when we stepped into My English School Woodlands Civic Centre for the first time. The kids who were waiting in line for their classes to start were chit-chatting with each other. It was rowdy but anyone could tell that the kids were happy. As a mom, I felt assured when I saw this because it showed that the kids were looking forward to something fun. I wouldn’t want to send my kids to an enrichment centre that is dull, stern and rigid – not after a whole day of studying in school! When the various teachers arrived to bring the students into different classes, everyone got even more excited. The kids greeted their teachers by name and the teachers looked genuinely happy to see them as well. I loved how vibrant and happy the whole atmosphere was.

2. Powerful and Relevant Curriculum

Jayne learnt Haiku during her first lesson at MES and came home to try to craft her own haiku. It was my first time hearing about Haiku and I was amazed at how much fun she had doing just that, while strengthening her use of the English language. Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry, now written in many languages including English.

As I flipped through her workbooks, I liked what I saw as well. There were exercises on grammar and vocabulary that she completed in class, which deepened her understanding of the concepts and would help her in her essay writing. By completing the multiple-choice questions and cloze passages, Jayne was able to practice her grammar and learn from her mistakes. When all these basic foundations are in place, I expect that she will have a much easier time when it comes to essay-writing later on.

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There was a mock letter too that she had written to a pen-pal in class, which she proudly showed me. I was intrigued because I don’t think I’ve ever seen her write something of this length before. I am convinced that the right methods can draw out the potential in our kids and help them to achieve more academically.

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3. My English School Prepares Your Kids For Exams

I like the fact that while MES’ curriculum is fun and interesting, they do not neglect the fact that our kids need to be taught how to cope with stressful examinations eventually. Also, Jayne belongs to the batch of students who will encounter a change in the PSLE syllabus and format, and so I feel the urgency to prepare her for this.

MES creates a good balance by incorporating spelling and homework into their curriculum, so that the kids are encouraged to revise on a regular basis outside of class. Consistent and regular revision is always the key to retaining knowledge and I strongly believe in that.

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I will not want to send my kids to enrichment classes that are only fun, but do not prepare my kids for the harsh realities of the Singapore education system. Having a curriculum that is too focused on academics is not good as well, as the kids’ interest cannot be sustained in the long run. I am glad My English School handles this balance pretty well.

Their curriculum is based on the MOE syllabus (developed by past MOE teachers) and geared towards helping the kids prepare for exams as well. There are review papers given to the students to assess their progress in all levels, as well as practice papers (from Primary 2 onwards) to prepare students for mid-year and final year examinations by focusing on the skills tested during the examinations. For students who are taking their PSLE, the revisions will be geared towards PSLE preparation as well. I love how focused they are in this area – I think I can speak for every parent when I say we appreciate that very much!

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Jayne also did oral assessments in one of the classes and got feedback about speaking clearer and with more expressions. I think that is extremely useful for her oral exams in school!

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I think the right methodology helps our kids to learn the English language more effectively, and even helps evoke interest in it. Jayne enjoyed her lessons at My English School and I am glad to see that she has gained more confidence over time.

Now, I catch her writing small notes and letters on her own accord – something I had not seen previously – and that says a lot about her increased receptivity to learning and using the English language. I am happy, of course! If your kids are struggling with English as well, or you are just hoping to help them excel in the language, consider checking out MES at their website: http://www.myenglish.com.sg/

You can sign up your kids for an assessment or pop by any of their centres to have a feel for yourself.

Disclosure: This is a paid advertorial in collaboration with My English School.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Mom’s Cooking Delivered To Your Doorstep Everyday!

Product Review

As a full-time working mom, I am immensely grateful that my mother-in-law helps me with the kids – get them ready for school in the morning, wait for them to get home after school and settle their lunches and dinners. It has taken such a huge load off me so that I can attend to my work and ministry commitments. But I can imagine if I have no one to help me at all, my life will be a vicious cycle of rushing from home to work and then back home to cook for the kids everyday. I totally experienced that when my mother-in-law went for a week-long vacation to Thailand recently. Thankfully, Mom’s Cooking came to my rescue at the right time!

Mom’s Cooking is a food home delivery service (or what we commonly call tingkat) where meals are delivered to your doorstep every weekday. Essentially, you get homecooked goodness without having to do the marketing, cook and clean up after that. Seriously, what’s not to love about this? Having experienced it for a week, let me count 3 reasons why you should consider Mom’s Cooking if it is challenging for you to churn out good meals for your family on a daily basis.

1. MSG-Free Meals

A full-time working mom essentially has two full-time jobs and if I tell you that’s easy, I’ll be lying. It is true that it has gotten easier for me now that the kids are more grown up, but their health condition is still top priority on my list of concerns. Everyday, I am wondering if they are eating well and enough, and whether I have given them sufficient supplement in the area of their nutrition. So, if I buy their meals from outside sources everyday, it would not be good for their health in the long run due to the high amounts of processed food and MSG used.

Mom’s Cooking strictly uses no MSG in their cooking and they ensure that every meal delivered to you is a balanced diet. They also use Canola oil in all their cooking as it is a heart-healthy and cholesterol-friendly option. I am assured that the food that I am feeding my kids are healthy, provides them with the necessary nutrition and is not loaded with unnecessary additives – Something that I can achieve only if I choose to cook all the meals at home. That is a tall order for full-time working moms sometimes. I am glad that Mom’s Cooking is able to provide for what I need without me actually getting into the kitchen myself.

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This was Day 1’s dinner and the kids enjoyed it so much. There was stir-fried vegetables, pork slices with corn & celery, steamed eggs with crabstick and herbal chicken soup. It was a hearty meal indeed and I didn’t feel thirsty after the meal – which means really no MSG added!

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2. Convenient, Hassle-Free & Hygienic

Mom’s Cooking delivers your dinner between 3.30pm to 7pm every weekday, and every dish is neatly packed in this manner using environmentally-friendly and quality paper containers:

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The lids are extremely tight and opening them requires effort, but it ensures that the food are kept hygienic and fresh. By the time I get home at 6pm in the evening, the food is usually not warm anymore and I’ll heat them up so that the kids can eat. This is a meal for two pax, but portions are huge and could feed my family of 2 adults and 2 kids.

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With meals planned out for you everyday, this is really a convenient and hassle-free way of living without the need to do marketing, cook and clean up after that. Of course, this also means that your family cannot be a super fussy one because you need to eat whatever is delivered to you that day. However, Mom’s Cooking allows you to indicate the type of dishes to avoid and also whether you prefer to have your food spicy or non-spicy. The survey is done before your service starts so that they can try their best to deliver to you food of your liking. Speaking of which, this particular dish of herbal steamed prawns was super good and one of the my favourites in the whole week. There were a total of 8 big prawns given, and tasted so good!

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3. Delicious & Yummy!

I had this perception that tingkat and home delivery are usually not as tasty (Many friends have told me that before too!), but this experience totally changed my view. The meals at Mom’s Cooking are prepared by their Principal Chef who has more than 15 years of experience in providing healthy & sumptuous home-cooked meals. No wonder the dishes all tasted good! My kids especially love the fried chicken dishes – On one of the days, there was fried chicken cutlet and on another, there was Har Cheong chicken winglets. Both dishes were wiped out in record time by the kids. I only managed to taste one small piece and I have to admit that they were very yummy indeed!

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Another dish they do pretty well is their soups! So far, we enjoyed all the soups delivered to us everyday. They were always chockful of ingredients (They are really generous, I have to say!) and that is probably the reason why the soups were always flavourful.

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If you are considering relieving the load of daily cooking for your household, check out Mom’s Cooking and try for yourself the convenience it can bring to you, without compromising on nutrition for your family. Pricing is as follows:

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Eat well, everybody! :)

Disclosure: The J Babies was sponsored 5 days’ trial meals from Mom’s Cooking for review purposes. All photos and opinions in this post are solely ours.