Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Helicopter Parenting

"It's much easier to exhaust ourselves overparenting than it is to stand back and let maturation take its awkward, harrowing course. We hover, in part, to protect ourselves from having to see our children struggle, fail and have their hearts broken. We are worried, a little, that the selves they will become on their own may disappoint, and thus break our hearts. Whoever said a mother (or father) is only as happy as her most miserable child was probably the first helicopter parent." - Karen Karbo
Isn't this true of us Singaporean parents?

My dear friend, A, sent me the link to an article that my heart had been seeking for quite some time now.

The topic that comes up most often between my mummy friends is how our kids would survive the local education system.

In a elitist society like ours, most parents dedicate a lot of their time and money to ensure that our kids are going to the top schools, enrichment classes and tuition. It is highly stressed and most of the time, tiring and and financially exhausting for everyone.

And along the way, we've forgotten that kids need to be kids and have time time to play, be silly and just be.

I am guilty as charged.

I find myself threading a very fine line of raising healthy, balanced kids whilst managing school stress. I find that I am constantly reminding myself that life is more than grades in this competitive society.


As parents, our responsibility is let our children learn to manage their expectations and manage to seek their ways through life's difficulties. If we choose to be overprotective and not allow them to learn to stand up for themselves when they are bullied or when they fall. I personally feel that we have failed in one way or another as parents.

I am slowly weaving my way through the complicated web of parenting. It's been almost seven years but still it's a learning trip. My kids know a life of comfort. They have everything they need. Every year, they get to travel and do a whole sleaw of fun activities that we splurge on. They eat at the nicest places that we go to and mostly they get to do what they want.

But the line stops at the point of raising spoilt kids.

Whilst we ensure that these kids have more than enough, we will never allow them to take it for granted that things will be handed to them on a silver spoon.

The kids have been taught that toys are only bought or given when it's an occasion. You do not cry or throw a tantrum in the toy store when we are about to leave. Neither are you allowed to be rude or disrespectful. Homework and enrichment work must be completed. Or else, you will be disciplined.

The husband is one that doesn't dish out empty threats. He has a much firmer hand in disciplining these kids than me. That said, he would always observe how our kids react when they are in a situation with other kids who provokes them without intervening. Only, if the situation gets out of hand, or if the other parent aggressively yells at our kids, he would step in. Other than that, he lets the kid handles the situation.

My biggest fear is raising 'strawberry' kids. I fear that if I am too overprotective, I would end up shortchanging these kids the opportunity to learn to defend themselves, to think on their feet and to look out for each other.

And when the time comes when they will experience heartbreak, failure, and disappointment, we will be there for them but we will not run out to catch them before they fall. It will be hard to watch them learn from their mistakes and pick themselves up after. But it has to be done.

Life is indeed a roller coaster so these kids had better learn how to ride the ups and downs.

It's not easy but it's something that I remind myself, time and again.

Thankfully, I have my closest friends to keep me in check.

Friday, July 27, 2012

31


And just like that.. I'm cruising into the time called the early thirties.

31 isn't quite as exciting as turning 30.

It was a  quiet affair this time round because we have quite a bit of activities going on and it being a week night. I think the poor husband is trying to catch his breath between work, parenting and reno planning.

My girlfriend mentioned that thirites will be rocking so I said it better be! Since I spent my twenties raising babies! Lol!

But, really, there's much to be thankful for.

It's true that you are more comfortable in your skin in your 30s.

All I wish for this year is a little bit more me time to work out,  travel and a smooth renovation process fo rmy new place! And well behaved kids, thanks! =)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sleep with Me, Daddy


Every night, whenever bedtime rolls around, the boys will always holler 'Daddy can you please sleep with us?"

It has become a ritual of sorts since they've gotten their own room and D would always obliged.

It would be an hour or so before he would come out and sometimes he would even fall asleep on the mattress.

I used to ask him why and how does he have the patience to do it every night?

He would say, "well, one day, they are going to grow up and they won't need us around that much anymore. It's moments like these that I would miss."

Moments. It's what makes a childhood, isn't it?

And that's why parenting is much easier as a tag team.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Homemade Japanese Curry


We love our japanese cusine around here.

Seriously, the kids are taught to eat sashimi the minute they are old enough to chew. ( after the age of 2!) In fact, if you ask the kiddos what they love to eat the immediate reaction would be italian or japanese food.

We used to frequent Tampopo a lot. And every single time, D would order a katsu curry. Without fail.

So one fine day in April, I thought I would attempt the dish and pray that it would come together well. (So that we can have japanese curry whenever and wherever.)

Thankfully it did. And dare I say, it's amazingly good and authentic. It's cheap to create and you can boil a big pot to freeze. Best of all, it only takes an hour to cook!

Now, we have it at least once a week. =)


Ingredients - Serves 8
400g of beef chunks (for stewing) cut into 2cm cubes -
6 onions, cut into halves and then slice into 0.5cm strips
3cm ginger - grated
2 cans of peeled whole tomatoes
2 apples (pureed) - I just do it in a hand blender.
6 tablespoons of tomato sauce
4 cans of water (from the tomato cans) OR equivalent chicken stock
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
2-3 chicken cubes
6 tablespoons of japanese curry powder.
3 carrots - cut into 3cm chunks
2 potatoes - cut into 2cm cubes
Cooking Instructions


  • Heat a thick based frying pan.
  • Add 3 tbspoons of oil
  • Add 3 tbsps flour, salt and pepper to coat the beef.
  • Sear the beef and then put it aside.
  • Heat a thick based big pot on medium heat (I use a le cruset crockpot)
  • Add 2 tbsps of oil.
  • Put the onions in the sweat till it turns brown. Stir occasionally.
  • Add ginger

  • Add the cans of tomatoes. Followed by 4 cans of water.
  • Throw in the cinnamon stick and star anise when it boils.
  • Add in the pureed apples, tomato ketchup and 2-3 chicken cubes. (omit if you use stock)
  • Add the beef cubes, potatoes and carrots.
  • Leave to boil for 30 minutes.

  • Add curry powder. Boil for another 15 minutes.
Viola!
You can serve it with rice. I like to add fried chicken wings or katsu cutlets with a boiled egg (or two!) with it. =)

Try it! You just might never order curry outside again. =)

When we were younger

D is away for the weekend with the boys.

Over the years, I've gotten pretty used to his traveling. So much so, that I just go abouts doing my thing as if he is around. It's not out of the norm for me anymore.

Yesterday we were at the airport where we did the usual rush and he had a quick bite before kissing me a quick goodbye as he left for immigrations. (because K was fussing to go along with him.)

The little one had to go to the toilet so we walked past this gal who stood at the glass panel gazing through it and occasionally peeping at her phone. I noticed her prior cause she was sitting very close to her boyfriend at Macca's and they had a long lingering hug before he left.

When I walked past her, I smiled to myself.

That was me a few years back! Sans kids.

I remembered that I hated it when D had to go on a conference trip or he had a boys weekend. I was mopey and kinda sad.

Funny how things have changed as kids come into the picture and as we move along the passage of time. Perhaps I'm older and more settled. But it does bring back fond memories of our then dating life. I couldn't resist calling my girlfriend to share that with her and had a good laugh.

Time certainly does funny things to people. =)

Anyhow, I can't wait till he gets back tomorrow. That feeling certainly didn't change over the years.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Hole in the Wall Gem

One of the best travel tips I can ever impart, if I may, would be never ever to eat at the Square. You know, something like this?


We like to walk around and find a little hole in the wall place that is packed with locals. More often than not, the host will turn us away. (but we usually try our luck again the following day!)

So a little alley off the Piazza della Signoria, was this blink and you will miss it Osteria. Located just adjacent to the Museo Gucci and next to a kebab store is the 20 seater Vini e Vecchi Sapori.


The first night we were in Florence, we tried our luck, only to get turned away. They are ALWAYS booked out at least a week in advance. The host kindly told us to come again during lunch where we would stand a higher chance of getting a table. Which was what we did.

And boy! was it the best meal in Florence or what?!!!

Once you get seated, a simple handwritten menu is presented.


The host is happy to explain to you in English, if you need some translation.


From LtoR< Burrata with Parma Ham, Tripes stew, ricotta ravioli with pesto, parma>

The food was simple but so sublime. Everything is cooked in a tiny kitchen by the family and it is as close to homecooked italian as we could get. The produce was fresh and it translated through to the end product. We thought we died and went to florentino heaven.

The steak parmagiana was nothing like the cheesy crumbed chicken schnitzel that we are used to. It literally melts in your mouth. I still think of it today. The freshly made ravioli was generously stuffed with ricotta and cooked in fresh pesto. Sigh.

It was so divine that we got a little ambitious and headed back for round two at night. And literally ate till our tummies could suffer no more. The highlight of the evening was chatting with a bunch of locals who were so lovely and gracious. Full of italiano finesse. They were rather shocked to see three iphones between the two of us. O_O



We ended a night with plenty of tuscan wines and recommendations from the region from the three peeps that sat with us. Great stuff.

So yeah. Head over to Vini Vecchi Sapori for a bite when you are in Firenze. The prices are very reasonable. Just make sure you book early!

Vini e Vecchi Sapori

Via dei Magazzini 3r, 50100 Florence, Italy
055-293-045

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pooped.

Tonight was one of those nights.

You know, when your husband is coming home late.

You just rushed back from hurdling everyone home from enrichment class. There's dinner to prep. Kids to feed. Homework to do. Spelling tests to be given. Musical instruments to be practised. Kids to be put to bed. Reading to be done.

Yeah it was one of those.

So excuse me while I polish off a sinful red velvet cupcake from Marmalade Pantry and soak myself in the emotional heartstrings of Gray's Anatomy.

*surrenders white flag*

*flops on couch*

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Firenze, Cont.

Omg is it only Tuesday?

I'm totally dying for a holiday and it doesn't help that my husband is going away for the weekend. Jealous, much? *cringes nose*

So anyway since I'm on a wanderlust mode, I think we shall continue our italian adventures.

Florence, if you can look past the masses of tourists, is really such a beautiful town to walk around. The ancient florentine buildings fill the city and I stand amazed at the clear blue sky that lay as a backdrop.


Our hotel was gobsmacked in the middle of town at Via Calzaiuoli. Just next to this little beauty.

Outside the Duomo

Since Florence is the birth place of all things renaissance, we HAD to battle the crowds to check out the Galleria Uffizi. In it you will find the grand masters like Bortecelli, Da Vinci. Most of art pieces are vibrant and full of zest.


And when it gets too intense, we went back to stroll along the river bank. and got some gelato, of course!

Ponte Vecchio



And we stopped to admire the florentine houses at the other side of the bank.

Florence is <3. We will definitely be back.


Monday, July 16, 2012

My Kinda Sunday

Sundays are growing to be one of my favourite days of the week. There's nothing not to like when you have your favourite people around you. No classes to rush for. Plenty of chatter on just about inane topics. And a little gal looks at her melted popsicle and said to Aunty D, "why did you finish my ice cream?" It was indeed a wonderful day.



Sunday, July 15, 2012

M & A

If you had been following my instagram (@balletpumps), you will know that I was helping a girlfriend with her wedding.

A is one of my oldest friends from school. Me, J and A used to hang out at the canteen to while our time away in between lecture breaks. A has always been the romantic amongst us. Though she's quite a workaholic, she's always looking for true love.

And I'm really happy that she's found M.

I'd liked him from the minute I met him. Unassuming and humourous, he was just the right balance for A. We always laugh when we meet and when I knew he proposed, I was terribly excited for my dear friend. He would be the calming rock to walk with her through the ups and downs of life.

My job at the wedding was to follow them around and help update their wedding facebook page. It was something I enjoy doing cause it's what I usually do anyway with my kids and all.

Congrats, you two! Here's to many happily ever afters to come!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Here we go again!


So the time of the year has arrived and we've gone full circle on the previously stressful and uncertain motion which is called the Primary 1 registration.

This year, however, was quite a breeze because K is a current student in the school and so Jake, automatically, gets a spot. In fact, the school was very organized that we had all our paperwork done even earlier than the stipulated date and there was little fuss, if nothing, at all.

Seven months into the primary school life, I believe we have chosen the right school for the boys. You would note that whilst academic is important to us, we place equal importance to different aspects too such as sports, music, play time and reading. And this school ensures that the kids have ample time to participate in sports and CCAs.

Whilst the academic portion is probably not as intense as the other schools, they believe that in Primary one, it is more about getting the kids settled in school. Also, it's about making sure that even the weaker ones catch up.

K is doing pretty well in school. (Although he does give me grief at home whilst doing his assessment books.) He's been made captains of a few activities and mostly the teachers do have good things to say about him. He's made quite a few friends and looks forward to going to school daily, which I guess is a good sign, ain't it?

As a parent, I feel that it's not about getting the kids to a branded school. (just for the sake of it) Find a school that suits your kid's personality. Like I wouldn't send my child to a chinese focused school because I know they won't be able to cope. These kids are really only young once. They do need to have a happy childhood. School is a big part of their daily lives so we should choose one that can boost their confidence and gives them room to grow.

Also, always have a back up. D and I thought of a back up school we can send the boys to, should we not get in based on the ballot.  Also, we brought K to the school when we registered but subsequently, for the follow up balloting, we left him home.  We told him that this was a possible school for him and if he doesn't get in, he will go to another school which is just as good. This way we don't build up his anticipation, lest he be disappointed should he not get in.

Read the past stats. Call the schools to find out the odds. And do your math. =)

Good luck, peeps! I hope you get into the school of your choice for your kid.

You can read about our experience last year, here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Little Actions Speak a Lot


We were running late for one of J's classes today.

He forgot to put a library book in his bag and took 15 minutes to locate it.

I was waiting in the car and my patience was running a little thin.

Whilst waiting, I was conjuring a good pep talk in my head about how punctuality is important, how he should pack his bag, double check it, and how he needs to be more responsible... blah blah.

Just then, when the door opened, I saw him come through, paused, and held the door open for a lady who was walking out with her twins. He was polite and patient.

In that split of a second,  my anxiousness converted to a proud parental moment.

This little action means more than getting a grade A to me. It shows that the words that we've said and the things that we've done have been recognized and incultivated in him.

I told him how proud I was when he got into the car.

(And kept my mouth zipped about his forgetfulness. We'll leave that for another day.)

 
"We talk about leaving a better world for our kids, what about leaving better kids for our world?"

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Firenze Part i


Much as I adored Venice, I was glad to be moving on to sunny Florence. The rainy two days in St Marco has left me a little blue so I was happy enough to hop onto a train southwards towards the birthplace of all things renaissance.

My girlfriends mentioned prior that Florence is a small town. One where we could literally walk everywhere. I was just stoked to be stomping on those old uneven cobblestoned paths. (even with my big draggy luggage behind!)

Our first stop after dropping our bags was surprisingly not the Uffizi Gallery. Instead, we were out searching for a bite when we chanced upon the Museo Gucci. Like everything the Italian brand represented, the gallery was chic and painfully stylish. Did you know that it all started out with a horse saddle?


The museum, though small, was very well planned. It has these postcards that you can collect as you walk through the galleries which will tell you a little bit of their history. It's also our souvenir from our time there. =)

Also, if you have a bit of cash to splash, they have an inhouse boutique which you can purchase exclusive products made just for them. You can't find them anywhere else. *pinky swear*

I would like a study like that please!

How adorable are those embossed sugar cubes??

My favourite part was having a good cup of latte at the cafe.

We managed to rest our travelled worn feet and flip through the generous variety of design books they have on their shelves, which was much needed after an entire day of travel. =)

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Saturday morn


Spent Saturday morning with the boys at Carpenter and Cook whilst we waited for the little miss to finish her class.

For once,  it was not that busy and we love how quiet and quaint it was for a change. The boys brought along their new Dr Seuss books, (thanks Aunty Bev!) and we had a quiet breakfast, which I really enjoyed.

The bacon and mushroom brioche was so delish that I'm salivating thinking about it. (although I would like three times the bacon on it, please!) I am also quite a fan of their lemon curd and passionfruit meringue tarts. =)

Quite a lovely way to start the weekend off!


Mr Angmoh, pleaed as punched with his passionfruit meringue tart.
Food sharing is an inherited trait in this household.

D and I looking quite comatosed from our 'late' night. - a 10pm movie. *hangs head*

Lido




A twenty minute waterboat ride away had us at the beachside town of Lido, home of the Venice Film Festival. A sleepy town as compared to the touristy en masse Venice, we strolled through the jasmine scented streets as we took in the sights of the beaches and the infamous Lido theatre (which was like a ghost town that day)

I always wondered how it would be like growing up in a small town. Especially when you have an access gate to the canal just behind your house where your boat is parked.

Life must be pretty sweet to live like that. =)
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