Archive for the ‘Inside-Out Kid’ Category

New life begets new life. In 2010, after I wrote and published my 4-book Toy Series and was mid-way through writing my memoir Finding My Voice, I discovered I was pregnant.

In the second trimester of my pregnancy, I saw a scan of my unborn child at my gynaecologist’s office. He was lying flat in my womb, face up, with one leg raised straight up. Then, he stretched out his tiny fingers and grabbed his toes. That image stayed so vividly with me that I commissioned an illustration of that moment to commemorate his birth. My four Toy titles testify of God’s hand in my life; they bear the mark of my Creator. It follows that all the four books’ characters would come together, around the crib, to welcome the best character that I ever conceived.

EL Illo 5

On 31 January 2011, Caleb made a dramatic entrance into my world. I had reached full term of pregnancy but he showed no signs of wanting to come out. He did not budge an inch despite the two rounds of induction medicine pumped into me and my entire day of hard labour. Finally, my gynaecologist forcibly calipered Caleb out of my womb and he came out with a near ceiling-shattering wail. My highly experienced and usually unflappable gynecologist (who never punctuated his sentences with any exclamations or inflexions in my nine months of clinic visits) exclaimed, “Wah, he’s SO loud!”

God, the Author of Life, had bestowed me a child in the 13th year of my marriage and he came with a big voice. Caleb’s birth began a brand new story in my life. Like the character in the renowned children’s book The Little Prince, my little prince bear would surprise me with words of wisdom beyond his years.

At around four years old, Caleb asked me, out of the blue, “Mummy, how come your voice is so nice?”

“Really?” I replied in disbelief. In more than ten years since my voice affliction, no one had ever told me that I had a nice voice. Instead, the comments ranged from “How come you sound like that?” to “You sound terrible! Keep quiet, don’t talk.”

“Yes, your voice is so nice,” Caleb said. And he repeated this several times over the next few months.

If I had shrugged this off as childish talk, it was promptly laid to rest when he rummaged through my cupboard and found an old cassette tape.

“Mummy, what’s this?” Caleb asked. He examined the cassette and pulled out a bit of the reel.

“No!” I yelled. I had made only one recording of my voice sounding at its worse 15 years back. Then I thought. Why would I want this as a keepsake?

“Go ahead,” I told Caleb. “You can pull it all out.”

As Caleb gleefully unraveled the reel of my entire cassette, the remains of what I had held onto of my broken voice were reduced to child’s play. My God-sent child’s words also erased the years of hurtful comments about me having an awful-sounding voice.

From thereon, my little cub would grow into an even stronger supporting character in a dark chapter of my life.

– Extract from ‘An Author’s Muse’, Irrevocable Gifts


Irrevocable Gifts is now retailing at Gracework’s online store! Get your copy now!

Related Links:

Clean Breast, Child’s Heart & Wise Quips of The Little Prince (Bear)

About a Songwriter, a Publisher, a Poet, an Artist, a Musician & Me

Blog collage (trimmed)




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8 years ago, during an ultra-scan of my tummy in the 2nd trimester of my pregnancy, I saw Caleb lift one foot straight up whilst inside my womb. Then, he reached towards his extended foot and grabbed his toes with his tiny fingers. That image stuck so vividly in my mind that I commissioned an artwork of it.

In the picture, characters from my 4 Toy Series books welcomed Caleb, my best conceived character, into the world. And this picture became my blog banner.

With the launch of Little Godwit Finds His Wings, I was inspired to update this illustration once more as this book marks a new season for me. As I was working on the illustration draft on my laptop, Caleb walked into my study.

“Mum, this is so cute!” Caleb exclaimed when he saw Little Godwit added into the picture. Then, he frowned as he examined the illustration. “Mum, where am I? How come I’m not in the picture?”

“That’s because I’m using this as my new author profile picture,” I said.

“But, MUM! You always say I am your best character,” he protested. “I have to be in it!”

“           ,” I said.


And that’s how my new profile picture comprehensively features the best characters that I have ever conceived. Especially the key character who is true to life and adds new dimensions to my storyline.


Illustration updated with the help of Little Godwit’s wonderful illustrator John Lim

Related Link:

When God, in His Wit, made each of us with our individual strengths

Reader’s Favourite! Little Godwit finds his way to 5 shiny stars!

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Caleb has gone from learning on electric drums to the non-electric drums (apparently called acoustic drums). As he progresses through his one-to-one lessons with his hip, young, teacher Sano over the past months, I’ve been trying to keep up with groovy terms like Hi Hat, Kick Drum, Snare Drums and Fill-in.

I confess I had google these terms as I couldn’t keep up with the drums terminology:

Hi hat – A set of cymbals that are placed on top of each other to get a variety of sounds.

Snare Drum – The snare drum is a drum similar to other drums; however on the bottom of the resonant head, there are snare wires that are stretched across. These wires give the sound of the drum a crack to it. This crack creates the pulse of most beats and patterns.

Drum Fill: Something played that’s not part of the main drum beat for that particular section of the song.  

DRUM-KEY (DrumMagazine.com)

Since we were on technique, I also decided to ask Teacher Sano a few questions:

1. Mummum: What’s your first piece of advice (if you can pick one) that you would give to a new drummer?

Teacher Sano: Identify what kind of music you like. Then, learn that music.

(Mummum: Hey, I just gave the same advice to parents about how to get kids reading a few weeks back!)


2. Mummum: What about a technical piece of drumming advice to a beginner?

Teacher Sano:

a) Be aware of your posture. If you sit and hold the sticks correctly, it’s 50% of the battle won. Just like learning to ride a bike.

(Mummum: Hey, I also used that analogy at my same parenting talk a few weeks back with independent reading! Maybe I’m not so different from young, hip Sano.)

b) Learn to play soft and control your volume. It’s easier to play loud. But it takes control to play soft.


3. Mummum: What does it take to be a drummer?

Teacher Sano: The ability to listen and hear what you play. You need the ear to hear and judge what you play.


4.    Mummum: This is a subjective question. In your opinion, what is the best type of song to drum to?

Teacher Sano: It would be the R&B and hip-hop genre that holds greatest importance to the beats. The drumbeat is the most important thing in the song.


5.     Mummum: Can you name me one song that would be representative of that?

Teacher Sano: Sunflower (the new Spiderman song).

(Mummum: Okay, I didn’t know that song… now I do… Well, it’s never too late to learn something new!)


Thank you, Aureus, for providing Caleb complimentary one-to-one drums classes!

About Aureus:

Aureus Academy is Singapore’s leading music school with over 5,000 students enrolled between 10 locations. Aureus Academy specializes in providing individually tailored piano lessons, violin lessons, guitar lessons, and vocal lessons to students of all ages and abilities. Read more at the Aureus Academy here.


Related Link:

My Kid drums Perfect with Ed Sheeran to Shakira’s Try Everything

Terminology references:

Free Drum Lessons/Drum Terms

Online Drummer/Drum Lessons




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In the final week, when my mum deteriorated extremely fast from aggressive cancer relapse, Ben and I decided to prepare Caleb that Grandma would not be around much longer. My parents lived with us from the time Caleb was born so he would feel Grandma’s absence in a big way since she had helped care for him since young.

Ben and I sat Caleb down and I started by saying that it looked like Grandma would soon d—.

“Don’t say that word,” Caleb interrupted. “Say that she’s going to sleep and she will be with Jesus.”

“Yes, you are right,” I said. “It looks like she will be with Jesus soon.”

Soon after, Mum passed away in hospital, after spending her final three weeks there. We were unable to bring her home as she was tubed up with painkillers, glucose drips and antibiotics from various infections as she had weakened considerably by then.

We decided to give Mum a homecoming. Ben made all the arrangements for Mum’s wake services at our home and we brought her body home on the same day that she passed on. As Ben said, knowing Dad’s devotion to Mum, Dad would have camped out three days and three nights at whichever funeral parlor or chapel that her casket rested if we had held the wake services anywhere else.

Mum Homecoming

Set up by evening for Mum’s homecoming

Caleb had been in the hospital room on the afternoon that Grandma passed on. And now, that same evening, we brought her casket home. It was a lot for an 8-year-old to take in. He stood at a distance all night, uncertain if he wanted to go near her casket.

By morning though, he had come to terms with his Grandma’s casket sitting in our dining room and was able to look at her without apprehension.

As Caleb sat at the dining table during breakfast, he watched curiously as I walked to his Grandma’s casket and spoke to her.

“Mum, what are you doing?” Caleb asked.

“I’m talking to Grandma,” I replied.

“But Grandma is not there,” Caleb said, looking towards the casket. “Grandma is up there.” He pointed upwards.

“Yah, okay. But I want to look at her face when I speak to her,” I said.

“Mum…,” Caleb said in a tone of voice like a parent explaining a simple truth to a child. “That’s an empty body. Grandma has already gone to Heaven.”

Empty body? I didn’t teach him that. I hid my surprise as I looked at my son. “You are so right. She’s already in Heaven.”

Then he added, “I must get used to talking to Grandma like that.” He craned his head  upwards to practise speaking to her.

I could not help but break into a smile.

As a parent, I often teach my child the truth that the Bible imparts. Yet at times like this, I needed my child to remind me what faith looks like. It is the confidence that Christ has conquered death on the cross for us, so we can lift our heads up high in hope instead of looking down in sorrow. And we can look forward to the blessed assurance that we will one day reunite with our loved ones in Heaven.

John 11:25, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live…”

John 14:1-3, Jesus said “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Related links:

God Knows Leh #28: Parting with an Old Spice Alabaster Jar Miracle

God Knows Leh #27- A Pain in the Abdomen & 7 times of Psalms 23:6


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Last year: 1st week January 2018

Caleb   : Laoshi speaks to us in English.

Me       : Huh? Your Chinese teacher speaks to you in English during Chinese class?

Caleb   : Only when she scolds us. When she teaches us, she speaks in Chinese.

The next day….

Me       : Did your Laoshi speak English or Chinese today?

Caleb   : English and Chinese.

Me       : So, she scolded you all and also taught you all.

Caleb   : Yah.


This year: mid-January 2019

Me       : Has anyone in your class been scolded since school started?

Caleb   : Of course not.

Me       : Wow, really? You mean the whole class of boys has been behaving?

Caleb   : Of course. School only just started…But I think we will get scolding soon.

Me       : Oh…How do you know?

Caleb   : I can just feel it.


IOK #photo


February 2019

Me       : Did anyone get scolding in class today?

Caleb   : Of course not. It’s only Tuesday.

Me       : Er…so why don’t you get scolding on Tuesday?

Caleb   : Duh…We are good on Mondays & Tuesdays. We only get scolding on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays.

Me       : Oh, how come?

Caleb   : Because it’s just the start of the week!

Me       : Oh…is it because you all had Saturday & Sunday to relax? So you all behave better on Monday & Tuesday?

Caleb : Maybe.

Me       : And by Wednesday, you all cannot take it anymore and have to be naughty.

Caleb  : Yah.



Me         : Is there any boy in your class who has never been scolded?

Caleb     : Matthew.

Me         : Really? Not even once?

Caleb     : Not even once. He was given an award at the end of P1.

Me         : Wow!

Caleb     : He’s very smart. Listens to the teacher. Good at his work. And good at laser tag. And he’s fun outside class.

Me         : Er…Is there anything he isn’t good at?

Caleb thinks for a while.

Caleb     : He’s not as good at football as me.

Me         : Anything else?

Caleb     : No.

Me         : Well, at least he isn’t good at one thing.

Caleb     : Yah.

Me         : I have one more question about Matthew. Are you sure he is a real person and not an imaginary one?

Caleb     : MUM!!!


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Last year saw a huge change in routine when Caleb, at 7 years old, started Primary 1.

For me, it was the “waking up for school before the sun even rose” and “navigating school traffic” parts that took lots of getting used to. Our lazy mornings of me reading to Caleb over long breakfasts before cruising to Kindy at 11.30am were over.

For Caleb, it went from 3-hour kindergarten days, where he was constantly applauded for speaking up, to a 6-hour school regime where he was constantly told to keep quiet.

I deliberately started a Friday afternoon play-date routine for him in the first few months of Primary 1. After all that sitting still in school for 6 hours daily, I felt he needed an outlet to get rid of that repressed energy from the school week. Weekends have also been all play and family time so he can go back to school refreshed and happy.

8th family photo (edited)

For me, his biggest milestones in the past year are these:

1. Navigating Big School – He got through his first year of big school and his schoolwork pretty much on his own. He settled in well with classmates, made loads of friends and learnt to give and take during group work. And he stayed a happy, funny, well-adjusted kid.

2. Football Fever – Over the past year, Caleb turned into a huge soccer kid. He played and watched football games with Ben and that became their father-son thing. Yes, he even woke up at ungodly hours to watch the World Cup matches with Ben.

Watching a football match with Daddy & dropped off for a football game during the school holidays.


3. Reading Rampage – Caleb went from not being able to read independently at 6 years old to taking off on a reading rampage once he hit 7 years old. I have enjoyed watching him gobble down books as fast as he runs and slide-tackles on the football pitch. He tells me the funny parts of books that he reads and we laugh over book characters. This has been a totally mummy-son thing and the Kindle has been our magic portal to another world.


With Mummy and the cast of my Bunny Finds the Right Stuff theatre show


There have been many other little milestones over the past year. He drank Milo for the first time. Dropped his first tooth. The list goes on.

And lots of laugh-out loud moments when he relates stories from school or relates school to headaches.

“Mummy, can you read to me?” Caleb asked when Ben was driving us.

“I can’t read in the car. It gives me a headache,” I said.

“What’s a headache?” he asked.

“It’s like a head pain…you don’t feel well,” I explained.

“Is it a headache when you have English Spelling test and Ting Xie (Chinese Spelling test) on the same day, and you write English for Ting Xie and Chinese for your English Spelling test?

“It is…but not for you,” I said. “It’s a headache for your English and Chinese teachers!”

What can I say? He scores high on wit and humour. 🙂

Related posts:

Caleb is 7 and I am the right mummy for him!

Caleb’s Book Plate #1: Scouring the world for deliciously good books

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My baby-no-more just turned 7 and is now adjusting to Primary 1. I too am adjusting to his big transition, mainly because primary school starts at 7.30am whereas his kindergarten started at 11.30am 😅!

Caleb’s interests has been very distinct from year to year.
At 3 years old, it revolved around jigsaw puzzles.
At 4 years old, it was around board games.
At 5 years old, it was Lego, swimming (without a swim jacket) and cycling (on 2 wheels).

Caleb’s 6th year has been equally distinctive:

1. Pretend Play
From the first day of Kindergarten 2, the entire year has been defined by pretend play, somewhat like Calvin in Calvin & Hobbes.

The only difference is that Calvin’s parents were never part of Calvin’s pretend play world with Hobbes.

I’m in Caleb’s pretend play world and exist alongside his “Hobbes”. I guess being a children’s book author gives me extra liberty to wear kids’ gloves.



2. Reading Ready
For the past couple of years, Caleb had been lamenting that he could not read.

I’ve wondered often how exactly a child goes from not knowing how to read to knowing how to read. It’s a wondrous transition.

From Caleb’s first day of kindergarten 2, I resolved to read to Caleb daily during breakfast time. And I did. I read over 20 books of the Magic Treehouse series, the entire Kingdom of Wrenly series, the Dragon Masters series, Kungpow Chicken series and numerous picture books. And I brought my Kindle along when we had meals out so I could read to him during that time as well.

And suddenly, a few months on, he started reading on his own. I knew he was really reading, and not merely recognizing words picked up from repeated exposure to them or from memory, because he was able to read big words that were new to him.

Next to learning to speak and walk, I believe being able to read has to be a child’s biggest leap in development.


3. Never-ending Stories
When Caleb turned six, one of his favorite lines was, “Mummy, tell me a story.”

And that would be when I was driving him to and from kindergarten.

“I don’t want the book’s story. Make it up!”

I write books. I do book readings. But I have never been an oral storyteller. Neither have I been particularly adapt at making a story up on the spot. I need days and weeks to mull over story ideas and a few more months to actually write one.

Thankfully, he’s forgotten this line and now I can drive easy again!

(Postscript: I spoke too soon. After several months off the hook and immediately after I wrote this blogpost, Caleb said, “Mum tell me a story.”
“I’m driving,” I replied.
“You’re an author,” Caleb said. “You can make it up easily.”
“Err…I need my mind to concentrate on driving,” I said.
“Drive with your hands and eyes and make up the story with your mind,” my backseat driver told me.


4. Scoring at ball games
Somewhere at 6 years old, Caleb’s inherited ball sense (from Ben) went from good to amazingly good.

He was able to dribble the football and volley the badminton shuttlecock back and forth with Ben numerous times.

And then he aced a birdie and a par on the same Par 3 on our 3rd and 4th time on the golf course when we took him for 9-holes.


For all the amazing growth and development in his 6th year, one moment stood out the most for me. And it had everything to do with words and nothing to do with developmental milestones.

A few months back, I had just showered Caleb and was toweling him. As he was rolling around in his towel in the bedroom, he suddenly turned to me and said, “You are the right mummy for me.”

“Huh? Why do you say that?” I asked, rather surprised by this out-of-the-blue pronouncement in the middle of a mundane activity.

To that, he replied, “You are everything I need.”

I was dumbstruck by that answer.

When I found my tongue the next day, I said, “You are the right child for me.”


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