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The Really, Really Hot Day, along with 4 of my other picture books, will be featured in animation in the storytelling segment of 5 episodes of Junction Tree, Singapore’s 1st bilingual 26-espisode preschool TV series. All 4 of the picture books which I wrote for Singapore National Cooperative Federation, and re-published by Seed Institute, and I Can Do It!, which I wrote for the Ministry of Education for the preschools, are featured.

I had the pleasure of attending the launch Mediacorp’s new preschool series which showed a trailer of The Really, Really Hot Day animation along with other segments of this show.

I enjoyed the show, which reminded me a little of Hi-5 with a little of Sesame Street and lots of Singaporeaness. The different hosts switching between English to Chinese to Malay and Tamil went smoothly and gave it a true Singapore flavor. This series is supported by the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism.

Junction Tree debuts today on Mediacorp’s Okto Channel!

 

Related Links:

A Very Big Storm on a Really Hot Day

http://tv.toggle.sg/en/channel8/shows/junction-tree-english-chinese/info

 

 

 

I’m excited to share that The Learning Connection with be staging Prince Bear & Pauper Bear as an interactive storytelling performance for 10 shows this April!

The Learning Connection first staged Prince Bear & Pauper Bear 4 years back, with a weekend launch at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content.

This year is especially special for me since it is Prince Bear & Pauper Bear’s 10th anniversary of publication. I hope this book (my very first book written) will delight readers and audiences for many more decades to come!

Details for the show are here:

Story Box - Prince Bear & Pauper Bear Mailer (2017) final.jpg

Caleb’s just turned 6! And he’s grown by leaps and bounds in the past year, from skills to perspectives, resilience to new focus.

6th-birthday

1.      Ditching the Wheels, Making a Splash

Caleb has been cycling on his 4-wheels bicycle since 3/4 years old. Just past his 5th birthday, he decided, rather nonchalantly, that he wanted to ditch the two training wheels and cycle on two wheels. He wobbled on his first attempt along the road outside our home. On his second try, a few minutes later, he steadied up and took off!

Next, he decided to try swimming without his swim-jacket. After a few kicks and splashes with Ben, he started diving into the pool swim-jacketless. That he had crossed these big milestones without cajoling or expectation made them that much sweeter to see.

A few months later, he started to bathe himself on a few occasions and then consistently clean up after himself after his big business.

It’s been a treat to watch him leap from one milestone to another, and wonder what he will do next.

 2.      Wielding lightsabers & Lego Force through the Dark Side

On 1st June last year, midway through 5 years old, Caleb had to grow up rather quickly when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. As his full-time caregiver, I had to learn to let go of him for stretches of time as I went through surgery and chemotherapy. He also had new routines to get used to without me being his constant, like my dad taking over ferrying him to and from kindergarten.

Thanks to the combination of Star Wars and Lego, Caleb’s love of Star Wars turned him into an adapt master-builder which saw us through my wilderness period (aka the Dark Side) when I stayed home through stretches of time.

He built his way through 2000-piece Lego structures, from the Millenium Falcon to Tie Striker to A-Wing Fighter and various other spaceships whose names I cannot remember.

 

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With God-sister Angel on their Monday playdates which my dearest friend Gail started during my chemotherapy months

 

 3.      Not my Hongpao!

A couple of days back, a good friend sent me a blog link for a friend’s 7-year old daughter Janelle who has a rare heart condition and is in need of a heart transplant. The cost of the surgery and health complications had led to ballooning expenses and they were trying to raise funds to cover cost.

Ben and I thought it would be a good life lesson to use to teach Caleb about helping others in need.

Yesterday morning, when I was still half-sleep, I heard Ben talking to Caleb, “Would you like to give $100 of your hongpao money to help Janelle? Papa and Mummy will give $500.”

“What? Not my hongpao money!” I heard Caleb protest before I fell back into sleep.

An hour later, over breakfast, Ben said, “Did you hear what he said?”

“Yah,” I muttered. “He doesn’t want to give his hongpao money.”

“No, he did,” Ben said. “He decided that we give $100 and he give his $600 hongpao money.”

My eyes opened wide and my heart swelled in a proud parent moment. He had gone from initially objecting to reflecting upon it and then deciding to give up his hongpao money on his own free will.  

Later, that day, when he was building his Star Wars Lego set, a Christmas present from auntie Jing Siew, I gave him a cuddle and said, “Do you know why I am so proud of you?”

“Don’t know,” he said.

“You did something amazing this morning, remember?”

“Forgot already,” he said, focused on his Lego.

“Remember you gave something up?”

“Oh yah, that,” he said, “a lot of money.”

And that was that. A significant milestone crossed in his nonchalant way.

 

Related Link:

Help Fund Janelle’s VAD and heart transplant

Inside Out Kid #3: Mummy, You can take out your Pretend Hair at Home

At the start of this year, I had a sense that it would be a significant year since 2016 marks 10 years since I started writing. I just did not know how significant it would be until it hit me in the chest on 1 June when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Through it all, the Word has been front, back and centre in my life:

1. Bunny Finds the Right Stage

In March, Esplanade Theatre staged my book Bunny Finds the Right Stuff in a 30-show run for their PLAYtime! children’s theatre. It was a huge delight to see my book come alive on stage in an excellent production.

bunny Esplanade flyer (front)

Esplanade also staged what was probably a first with one Bunny Finds The Right Stuff special theatre show tailored to special needs kids.

StraitsTimes 5Mar2016

Bunny theatre show in the news – Straits Times 5 March 2016

 

2. Benji, Yumi, Origami’s Splashy Launch

To mark Singapore-Japan’s 50 years of friendship this year (SJ50), the Book Council invited me to write a picture book in collaboration with Japanese illustrator Kazumi Wilds based on the theme of Friendship. Another team of a Japanese author and Singaporean illustrator collaborated for the other book.

Genting Resorts sponsored the two English-Japanese bilingual picture books and splashy book launch at their Resorts World SEA Aquarium. It was a fairytale evening which gave me much to soak in before the storm that came a week after.

ST_20160528_NAJAPAN_2322659 (Straits Times photo of Benji, Yumi)

Source: Straits Times news article 28 May 2016

3. God Knows Me & my Inside-out Kid Leh     

Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis on 1st June this year sparked off a start of journaling for me, a writing discipline that I failed to do for years.

I was also prompted in my heart to blog about my journey facing off with breast cancer – which led to my God Knows Leh and Inside-Out Kid blog series – where I shared my raw and blemished off-the-chest experiences, from diagnosis to my latest stage of treatment.

My creative children’s book writing took a back seat for the past 6 months. I did however write one new picture book manuscript which delighted me greatly and lifted my spirits during a slightly down-stage when I first started chemotherapy.

chemo chair

4. Tibby in Tamil translation

Tibby the Tiger Bunny was published in Tamil Edition! Always a thrill to see my books in a new language.

Tibby Tamil

5. Prince Bear & Pauper Bear’s journey to Slovakia

In August, I was delighted to ink a licence agreement for two of my Toy Titles (Prince Bear & Pauper Bear and The Tale of Rusty Horse) to be published in Slovakia in the Slovakian language. This marks the 5th country that my Toy Titles will be published in.

 

6. My Toy Titles’ extended stay in China

I was pleasantly surprised when my China publisher renewed their licence for the Chinese edition of my 4 Toy Titles for a second term. So Prince Bear, Pauper Bear & their Toy friends will extend their stay in China for some more years.

chinese-edition

 

7. My Toy Titles make cover page on The New Paper

A reporter contacted me in October to interview me on my experience with self-publishing. I was going to pass up on the interview as I was going through chemotherapy -I was on my hiatus from writing and publishing stuff and also didn’t want to be photographed.

So, it turned out to be a pleasant surprise when my four Toy Titles made cover page of The New Paper’s Sunday edition.

tnp-frontpage-retake

 

And I decided to be brave and say yes to an impromptu photo with my “new hairstyle”.

tnppg2-retake

8. Tibby, Scaredy Snout & 10 years of Write Stuff

In late November, I launched my latest picture book Tibby & Scaredy Snout in a private party which was also to mark the end of my last chemotherapy session. It was a double celebration and thanksgiving party with family and friends.

 

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Book Launch & Thanksgiving Celebration

 

 

 

9. Gardens Residency

I was awarded a writing residency at Gardens by the Bay this year. So, I will start 2017 with a walk in the park and smelling the flowers as I find the write stuff for my residency manuscript.

 

As I sit in the final days of 2016, I look to 2017 and declare it as my year of Purpose – where I pray that the work of my hands will be purposeful and my words will be well-chosen.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”                                 – Proverbs 19:21

Related Posts:

2015 Reflections -Writing, Waiting & Great (leveling of) Expectations

 

 

 

Today is Thank God for Family, Friends and Favour Friday! This Friday, on the eve’s eve of Christmas, I want to take time to thank God for:

1)      The still small voice who prompted me to do a self-examination earlier this year, which led to my early breast cancer diagnosis. I thank God for the Holy Spirit’s prompting.

2)      The doctors who came my way through various relationships – my breast surgeon, plastic surgeon and oncologist – and have been a blessing with their skills and care

3)      The friendship and favour from many whom I got to know over these 6 months

4)      The prayers and support from friends from many circles of friendship, from past work circles to school friends of over 20-30 years to Caleb’s Kindy, amongst others

5)      God’s provisions through big and small needs, from our insurance coverage to seeing me through surgery without pain and chemotherapy with minimal side effects

6)      My parents who have helped ferry Caleb to Kindy and his other activities since my 1st June diagnosis

7)      The bible readings that have revealed to me so many truths these few months, especially on health and healing

8)      The words impressed upon me multiple times on heart issues which I have been unpacking and releasing – a detoxing of the heart

benems-michelin-dinner

9)      Ben, who has stoically supported me through this wilderness period and is a wonderful dad to Caleb

10)   For Christmas – for Jesus Christ, who came to bring forgiveness, peace and love to this broken world

Psalms 119:165   Those who love your teachings will find true peace

Jeremiah 29:13  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart

 

“These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise” – Psalms 42:4

Related posts:

God Knows Leh #17 – Rainbows for chasing Start & End Date Chemo Blues

Inside-Out Kid #6 – I want to be with Mummy till Infinity

This week marked the end of my last chemo cycle. Because the tumour removed in July was rated triple-positive (estrogen +ve, progesterone +ve and HER2 +ve), my oncologist has proceeded with the next phase of treatment. He’s started me on 3-monthly injections to take me to early menopause and daily Tamoxifen pills for the next 5 years – all to tame my hormone levels (so to speak) and reduce chances of recurrence. I’m also on 3-weekly antibody injections for another 7 months. As these aren’t as potent as chemotherapy, it means I can resume normal routine.

Not that I have been in a hurry.

Over the past 6 months, I’ve switched to a slower mode and will not be rushing to get anything done too quickly.   

So, I’ve kept it simple this December. Taking Caleb on a few outings. A few Christmas/year-end get-togethers. Plenty of quiet time to reflect on the year fast passing and the true meaning of Christmas – the birthday of Jesus the Christ.

On a literal level, I am seeing things anew. Like my eyebrows growing back. Now I can raise new  eyebrows in the new year :).        

 

zoorasic

The Lehs see dinosaurs at the Zoo’s Zoorassic Park

 

With gratitude and a full stomach, I had my final chemotherapy session this week. My plan was to finish this last chemo session with Char Kway Teow. But the Zion Road Char Kway Teow hawker closed his stall to attend his daughter’s graduation.

I did have a ducklicious equivalent- Kam’s Roast, the Michelin Starred restaurant from Hong Kong which recently opened in Singapore. Kam’s Roast is founded by a 3rd generation family member of the famed Yung Ke Goose in Hong Kong.

Thanks to Ben who has been catering to my food cravings during every chemo session – starting from chicken rice, moving onto Teochew mee kiah and then Zion Road Char Kwayteow by chemo session 5.

I should qualify that my diet has improved in healthiness by leaps and bounds since the breast cancer diagnosis on 1st June. I’ve endeavored to eat one course of fish and two courses of vegetables every day as well as cutting off sugar. But you can’t take Singaporean food from a Singaporean. So I have my occasional indulgences. And what better time than during chemo when all those drugs are being pumped in to whack out the bad stuff in the body?

My oncologist is continuing me on 3-weekly antibodies injections for another 7 months. I’ve completed 5 months of these injections to date, which were done together with chemotherapy. I’ll also be on 3-monthly injections to take me to early menopause. The analysis of the tumour had shown it to be triple positive (progesterone+, estrogen+ and HER2+). In my layman’s speak, my body is too hormonally active and my oncologist is taming the hormones down several notches.

Since these aren’t as potent as the chemo drugs, I look forward to returning to normal routine. I should say ‘new normal’ because these few months have been life-changing and has altered some of my perspectives on life.

It’s been a long 6 months since I was first diagnosed with breast cancer on 1st June this year. As I count my blessings, I am especially grateful for family and friends who have supported and encouraged me through this journey:

  • Many friends who have been receiving my whatsapp prayer updates and prayed for me as well as other friends who checked in on me over the months
  • My parents who have helped with ferrying Caleb to Kindy and his other activities.
  • Ben who has accompanied me for all my doctor visits and sat through every 5-hour chemo/antibodies treatment with me

I know it is only by God’s grace that I have sustained through this wilderness period. The joy of the Lord has been my strength.

I had originally planned my Tibby & Scaredy Snout and Benji, Yumi, Origami! double book launch cum celebration party on the weekend after my final chemo cycle. But the chemo cycle was delayed 3 weeks till after the party. My friend Bernice said that was better because I would then be celebrating my healing in faith. And so I did. I thank God that I am well and healed in Jesus’ name.

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“These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival”           – Psalms 42: 4

Related posts:

God Knows Leh #5- I ate chicken rice for my first chemotherapy session

Inside-out Kid #2 –It’s not fair, I didn’t want you to be in hospital!