Chubby Anecdotes | Singapore Parenting and Kids' Art Blog: May 2014

Sunday, May 18, 2014

My Tree House - World's 1st Green Library for Kids

Have you been to My Tree House? It's the first green library for kids in the world! Yes, you heard it right, not only is it the first in Singapore, the first in South East Asia or Asia, it's the first in the whole wide WORLD!


My life with 3 kids pretty much revolve around school, work, enrichment classes and our home. I try not to wander too far from our neighbourhood on weekdays since I can't drive (yet) and hubby's at work most of the time. So we pretty much frequent the heartland malls and I cannot be more thankful for our neighbourhood library. It's one of my favourite place to go with kids for a good read, play pretend shopping for books (but never need to pay a penny for any) and sometimes to chill off the afternoon heat with some free aircon! (yes, I am cheapo. I won't deny that :p ).

You probably figured out by now that I do not know much about the rest of our island.
So how did I find this little green gem at the heart of Singapore? I didn't :). Shanice came home with a brochure about the green library from her class excursion to the Central Library. She was all excited about this super cool library she visited. she couldn't stop talking about the plastic bottle lights, a tree house and some tree trunk she saw there. I must say she was a good sales person, cos both her sister and I were sold and I agreed to bring them there.

Train ride to the Central Library
Shanice was more than willing to be our tour guide, and then she realized that she had forgotten her way there. Lolx.
Asking for directions at the information counter.
So down to Basement 1 and into the Green Library we went.

Everything about the library is beautiful and the girls were especially drawn to the tree house at the center of the library.
Hum, I reckon 1 me probably equate to 3 small kids. I'd better stay on the ground on busy days. 
Check out the Story time at the Tree House
Up on the Tree House
"I want to borrow these."
"and I want to borrow these."
Down from the tree house and everywhere around, wonders awaits the little explorers in this little whimsical forest.

Look up for fancy decorations! So, these are the plastic bottle lights Shanice was talking about...
and this is the "some tree trunk" that can tell the weather. 
Check out the baby and toddler corner. You can find parenting books here too!
Shelves decorated with lovely crafts. 
Origami flowers pinned on yellow tree branches.
Look at these adorable characters made of newsprint. 
Spotted Super Mario! He's made of cardboard boxes!
Right beside Mario and the magic mushrooms are books on environmental issues. 
Shanice signed up as a Library member with her student pass and got to borrow books with her new card for the first time.

We learned something new at the counter.
Never paid much attention to the icons on the book labels, but now we know what they mean. 
There's a Borrowing Station in the Green Library. Placed at Kids-friendly height, children can borrow books all by themselves.
We left the library with 4 books, 2 hungry kids and 1 new library card that day. Off we went for some tea before heading home on the mrt. What a fun-packed day!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

"Mummy, talk to me!" - Lessons learned while tending the kids' craft booth at National Library


If you're a friend on my facebook, you would have seen some posts on a kids' craft activity I was running at the National Library for the launch of ArtSeen. 

These were the craft items we did at the Fun with Craft play area:
Colourful button decorative book binder cum bookmark
2 types of folklore character bookmarks
It was my first time handling a craft activity for an event of such scale. I was overjoyed when I got the offer- it felt like winning jackpot! I was so excited about it, I was counting down to the event. Thankfully, preparation work started a couple of months before the event itself, and my busy work and home schedule made the waiting much more bearable.  I had most things done myself, right from the design of the craft to the drawing of templates, down to purchasing of materials and pre-cutting some of the templates. 
Felt circles - hand drawn and cut-out manually. I exactly bought a circle-cutter for the job, but it wasn't able to cut through the felts. Now I'll have to think of some ways to utilize my new circle cutter. 
Hand picked, mixed and matched items for every craft kit. 
I got the whole family involved - the girls helped to pack the materials into craft kits while my hubby was roped in to pick up print-outs from vendors and help with the cutting and packing of materials.

Shanice helping me to sort out the colour paper for photocopying.
The girls working together.

All was set and I was even much earlier than the recommended setup time. The day started on a good note, with Chubby behaving well (most of the time) at the kids' craft area while I got down to decorating and setting up the booth. I pulled through the helper briefing session with him asleep on my chest while I demonstrated the crafts to the helpers and distributed the work.
Chubby trying to help with the bunting. 
Chubby 'cleaning' tables with wet wipes. Thanks to his efforts, the area smelled like nursing room for a while. Lolx. 
Bunting up
Overview of the play area
All was good and hubby was there with Renee on time, before the crowd came in. He'd picked Renee up from her ballet class before he came over. He took over Chubby and left Renee with me while he walked over to pick up Shanice from her ballet class which ended later. The plan was for hubby to pick up Renee after that and bring the kids for lunch. In between hubby stepping out of the library to his return, a couple hiccups occurred which made the 20 mins or so seemed like a long long period.

The activity corner was ready at 12.20pm, and the crowd was much more than what I'd expect. People were flowing in and out, kids were filling up the tables and the helpers are all getting on with their work. I was tending to a table of eager kids when I saw from the corner of my eye my little girl looking lost on another table. I quickly excused myself and brought her over.

That was when the nightmare began. Renee was whining and crying for attention while I tried to facilitate the activity. Given the circumstance, I had little choice but to ignored her. Feeling unheard, she started to stamp her feet under the table which rocked it abruptly, then attempted to put her feet on my lap. I. ALMOST .DIED. Meanwhile, the other kids were getting impatient while eager parents snap away with their phone cameras. At that very instance, I must have wished for the ground to open up and swallow me in.

Somehow, I pulled through the session and left the kids to work on their own while I took Renee to a corner and tried my best to not scream at her in public. She kept saying, why won't I help her, why won't I talk to her. She seemed hurt and started wailing. I. ALMOST DIED. AGAIN. So, I told her, I needed to work and will help her later. Thankfully, the hubby was back quick enough to bring the kids for lunch.

I felt like a total failure, for the next 4.5 hours while I was working at the craft corner. How could I ignore my own baby and left her wailing in public? What kinda mother was I? Why was my child behaving like an spoilt brat? Why was she doing this to me? Didn't she know this was important to me?

Then it suddenly stuck me that Renee has never been in any of my classes before this. We'd craft at home pretty often, but every time, she got the attention she needed from me because there were just the 2 (sometimes 3, Chubby included) of them. She must have felt like she was less important than the others. The moment I figured this out, I was less upset with her, but even more upset with myself.

Looking back, I should have prepared her for this. I've taken for granted that she would be okay. I've often assumed that whatever worked with Shanice would work similarly for Renee. Afterall they are sisters, right? Same mum, same dad, growing up in the same house, have the same 'annoying' younger brother, right? WRONG! This little episode at the library is but another reminder to me - THEY ARE NOT THE SAME!

Having some experience rising our eldest girl (just 2 years older), I'd take for granted that it would be easier with my second child. Which school to go to? Whichever jiejie went. Enrichment or no enrichment? Whatever jiejie did. Surely this won't go too wrong right?  Wrong, again. The girls are very similar yet very different at the same time, so naturally what worked for Shanice may not work for Renee. *Palm in face* Why didn't I realise this earlier?

Image credit: www.technologyrocksseriously.com
Perhaps I've been too busy doing what I think was best for Renee. Too busy trying to be fair, to ensure that she has the same privileges and exposure Shanice had. Too busy worrying that she might not be developing up to par with her elder sister. And in the process, forgotten to stop and listen to her, to try to understand her. Looking back, it's a little wonder why Renee seemed much more difficult to manage than Shanice. We've been feeding what worked with jiejie on her, thinking that it would work out similarly. Ptff! Silly me!

Happy Renee with her completed paper-cut bookmark which we made together  later that day at home.
Poor girl, eyes were still swollen from crying earlier that day. 
So, that was my biggest gain from the biggest event of the day. The business woman in my scowled (a little) but the mama gained (a big deal). Getting an offer from a big client for the first time is a very big thing for a small startup like mine. As a newbie, I was looking forward to learning and gaining precious experience from it, but what I'd never expect was a lesson on motherhood - a painful but nonetheless precious one.

Linking up with:
mamawearpapashirt SANses.com's Talkative Thursdays

Monday, May 12, 2014

No-Crap Entertainer App and Absolutely Crabilious Dinner at Ah Hoi's Kitchen


Have you heard of the Entertainer App?
It's THE APP for the wise and discerning consumer. You have to check it out for yourself!
Screenshot from www.theentertainerme.com/singapore/
Some time last week, the hubby and I was invited to dinner at Ah Hoi Restaurant where we first got acquainted with this happy app (look for their happy face icon on app store and google play).
The geeky hubby of mine got it downloaded right away and started playing with it.

The Entertainer App in a nutshell is a Buy-1-Get-1-Free coupon app. To illustrate, let's say you are interested in the Buy-1-Get-1-Free mains offer at Ah Hoi's Kitchen, you may head down to Ah Hoi's, and check out their menu or ask the staff there for recommendations, you will enjoy 1 free main dish of equal or lower value when you purchase 1 main dish with the Entertainer App. Simple as that!

What's better, is this: The Entertainer App comes with 3 vouchers per merchant, so you can visit the Entertainers' partners more than just once or include your family and friends in the 1 for 1 fun! Now, if you ask me, this sounds like a perfect cost-saving solution for family dinners. You will be pleasantly surprised that the offers are available 7 days a week (yes, including the weekends!), only with the exception of public holidays.

Here's how the app works:

After playing around with the app, it's time for FOOD! O crabs! Glourious CRABS! Have I told you my weakness for crabs? O my, we have so much good food and not 1 but 3 types of crabs that night. The hubby and I had a blast with great company, new ambiance, excellent service and GOOOOOOD FOOD!

This is crab - with shrimp paste
Mildly spicy but huge in flavour.
And this is crab - cereal crab
Fragrant and delicious are understatements. Gee, I would have munched down the shells if I had strong enough teeth. 
And more crab - crab noodle
This is my favourite dish that night. The crab was yummy, and the soup and noodles were flavourful,
Do not be fooled by the plain appearance, this dish will make your taste buds dance in excitement.
There are little bits of black peppers in it that would occasionally pops in your mouth and burst into a lovely sensation that compliments the dish. 
Check out the claw! So huge! 
Me and my hubby at Ah Hoi's Kitchen
My verdict: Ah Hoi's Kitchen rocks big time! If you are a crab-lover, this is the place to go:

Ah Hoi's Kitchen - Shangri-La
Address: 1A Cuscaden Rd, Singapore 249716
Telephone: 6831 4373
Find out more on their website: 

The crabs were great but what's greater was the app that brought us there. 
Not a crab-lover? Nevermind, the Entertainer App has many more to offer. With offers ranging from upmarket to casual dinning and spanning across food, beauty and fitness, you'd be spoilt with choices. Check out their list of featured merchants in Singapore here: https://www.theentertainerme.com/singapore/pdf/Singapore.pdf

Not sure if you'd be using the app often? Why not check it out for yourself at just $19.
The Entertainer Singapore One Month Membership is priced at just SGD 19 and gives you access to all 770+ buy one get one free offers for Singapore's hottest restaurants, nightspots, informal dining, spas, activities, attractions and more – for one month from the date of activation. After your one month membership you can simply choose to upgrade to the full product for a further SGD 76, allowing you to keep redeeming your offers until 30th December 2014.

To purchase the Entertainer Singapore One Month Membership for just SGD 19 please visit: https://www.theentertainerme.com/trysgfor19/

Be sure to enter my unique promo code chubbyanecdotes when you purchase. This will qualify you for a random draw among all customers who downloaded the one month app using a blogger's promo code between now till 5 June 2014. The winner will get the full version of the app FREE!

So wait no further, grab your 1 month membership now! 

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Mum's Guide to Staying and Working at Home (aka The Road Home and The Many Moments After)

Have you ever ventured down a road not knowing what is ahead?
I did. The seasons change from time to time, sometimes gradual, sometimes abrupt, some days it's sunshine and butterflies and some days it gets pitch dark. This is my journey towards becoming a stay-at-home mum, and the many moments after.


If you are reading this post, my guess is, you are:
A. a stay-home mom
B. a full-time working mom considering to stay home
C. very curious - What do these mummies do with all the time at home?

Whoever you are, thank you for taking the time to read this post.
I am a stay-home mom. Which means I am home with my kids most of the time. I do not have a full-time job outside home and I work around my kids' schedule to get everything else done.

I used to work from 9 to 6. I would rush home right after office hours to attend to my kids then continue working on my laptop after the kids' bedtime. Life was pretty okay too, I even had a survival guide for FTWM written back then.

One fine day, my little girl said to me, "Mummy, don't go to work. I want you to stay (at home) with me."
So, stay at home was what I did. :)

A note written by Jiejie (going to be 6 then) on our whiteboard.
This was how I read this picture: The line between us depicted that we were apart. She was probably doing her homework while feeling sad that I wasn't around. 

Sounds like an unbelievably easy decision? Trust me, it was a far cry from it. So much so that I surprised myself, the day I walked out of my career. I've been toying with the idea to stay-at-home for the longest time. After sitting on the fence for a good 6 years, it took a few big turns, a couple u-turns, and a final little push before I took the plunge.

I never knew how courageous I could be. No long term financial blanket, no nothing planned for except a sum of money in my active account enough for me to remain jobless for a couple of months. All I knew was, I needed a break anyway, if this didn't work out, I would get my ass back to work. If it did, I would work freelance and do whatever I could to sustain my stay-home mum status.

The one month 'trial' was enlightening, I didn't know how much my children needed my attention until then. I knew right after a week that stay-home was what I would do - at least until the kids were older and more independent.

Right after my 1 month honeymoon at home, I started ChubbyFairy, a little facepainting and kids' craft business. It made me very happy to work only a couple of hours on weekends and  school holidays. However, it soon became apparent that the income wasn't enough. Hence, I started looking out for supplementary income. Shortly after, I was offered a homebase job through a client's recommendation - it must be God-sent.

The flexi part-time and homebase arrangement fits well into my children's schedule, and I cannot be happier to be working in a relevant field. I know fully well, that there will be a day when the kids will need less of my time and more of my cash. Staying relevant to my profession would make it easier for me to return to workplace when the day comes.

So, how does working from home makes me more "at home" than when I had a full-time job outside home? (What a mouthful of "homes" ;p )
Well, this is how I worked it out - A full-fledged stay-home mum do not spend all the time with their children either, there are work around the house to be done. What I'm doing is basically trading-in the time I would have spent working around my house for a home-base job.

This was how working from home looked like on a day when my helper was out in the morning.
If you are a stay-home working mum or considering to work from home, here a some handy tips that may help. But before that, here's the disclaimer: As with any parenting advice you may have received or will receive, please take them with a pinch of salt. Every child and parent is unique, so what worked for me may or may not work for you. I do not attempt to portrait an image of knowing-it-all. I do not. In fact, I have many to learn. These are just some tips that worked for me as I brave through my days at home, one day at a time.

First and foremost, stay sane!
Nobody listens to a mad person. In order to hold the fort at home, you will need your sanity above anything else. Here's a simple rule I learned from work - if you want to be heard (and you will definitely want your kids to listen), you need to at least look like you know your business. Likewise, the kids need to know that their mummy knows what she is doing.

Expect CHAOS
"And they live happily ever after..." in a fairytale. Ask any stay-at-home mums and we will tell you how much strive we go through everyday. Let's face it, kids will be kids - they are not going to behave and listen all the time. They are noisy and rowdy, they will fight, get into trouble and drive you up the wall. These are normal.

The earlier you accept this reality and manage your expectations, the easier it is to live with the beautiful chaos in you life. So, breathe and suck it up! :)

This was what the kids wrote on our blackboard after driving me up the wall! 
Don't stop growing
Staying home doesn't mean you stop developing your other skills and passions. I am a firm believer that one needs to be able to feel successful at something. If are good at something, do more of it and it will build you up.  It is very important to be able to feel good about yourself. Getting out of the corporate ladder means you no longer have a professional identity to secure your self-image, so it is especially helpful to continue developing as a person and establish your self-worth.

Make more friends 
If you feel alienated from the world by staying home, get out for some fresh air and mingle around. There is a saying that we are an average of our 5 friend. For me, it helps to mix around with people of similar profile and have the qualities I desire. It is good to meet up with ex-colleagues, but one may want to refrain from doing so during transition or teething periods. Friends we made should remain, but we will also need the right company at the right time to help us NOT LOOK BACK.

Make space and time for different activities
I work on the dinning table most of the time, except when I can't or when I need to sit beside my kids in front of our tv. I work on the dinning table so that I can have a full view of my living room where my kids play. I also do so so that I will have to shut down my laptop and keep the table clear for lunch, that is when both my girls are home from school.

I tutor my children on the same dinning table, we craft and prepare batter for baking on it too. It is the center-piece for activities at home. It helps me to be in control of the time spent in our house.

Snack time! 
Teach your children to value work
One plus point about working at home is that you can show your kids the value of work.

On good days, let them see you enjoying your work. Work is a big part of a person's life, it is important that they see work as a positive thing (most of the time).

On bad days, and trust me, there will be bad days no matter where you work, let them see how you deal with problems. I often tell my kids that I may not feel like working everyday but I will do so because that is my responsibility. Likewise, they may not feel like doing their homework and going to school everyday, but they should do so because that is their responsibility.

I rope in my kids' help whenever possible. It's fun to work together and it helps them to understand the concept of teamwork at work and at home.
This was just last night. The kids were helping me to pack craft materials for a kids' craft activity happening at Tampines Regional Library this Sat.
It is very important to help children understand the value of work as early as possible, they need to know that work is important, it is mummy's responsibility and they need to let mummy work when she needs to.

Now, I am not saying that you can teach a 2yo to respect your work overnight or that you will get absolute cooperation from a 5yo by doing so. But I can say it confidently that there is no way, you can get any peace working at home without driving this message into their little heads.

In a conference call now. Leave me alone, please. 

Always remember why you work at home
This is a note to self too. The whole purpose of working at home is to have more time with the kids. It won't be helpful for my children if I over-tire myself and end up throwing my temper at them.

Be happy, as much as possible
We all have happy and unhappy moments at home or at work. As much as possible, I endeavour to be a happy mummy. There are many ways to cheer up a day - Celebrate everyone's achievements at home, no matter how little or big they are, turn on the music and start dancing and jumping randomly to it, sing silly songs, buy a little cake and blow candles with the kids as often as you like, hug the kids alot... the list goes on.

Jamming to their own tune, while I sat back and clapped along.
Being happy is one of my personal KPIs, because a happy mum, raises happy kids and makes a happy home.

If you are sitting on the fence (considering to stay-home or continue working full-time), I wish you courage for whichever course you take. If you are like me, a Stay-At-Home mum, I wish you strength for the tasks ahead. If you were curious, I hope this sneak preview didn't scare you off too much :)

Above all, I wish you happiness at home and at work, today and everyday. :)

Linking up with:

This post is part of a blog train hosted by Gingerbreadmum where 31 stay-at-home mums share their survival tips.


The next mum on the blog train is Joan. She is mom to baby J, and leads a blessed, happy-crazy, busy life as a stay-at-home-working-mum. The truth is, she is largely on survival mode, and probably only gets 1 or 2 hours of work in a day. She shares some of her time-maximising survival tips at http://www.prudentmummy.com.