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Posts Tagged ‘Children’s content’

SEED Institute recently organized an outdoor event: “Walking Story” on 27 August 2016 at Pasir Ris Park, using materials from the 4-picture book commemorative collection that I had written for the Year of the Co-operatives in 2012.

Various routes were planned for the 4 books and about 50 Chinese preschool teachers participated in an enriching story walk around the park to learn more about using the outdoor environment to enhance their story telling techniques with preschool children.

I was invited to do an autograph session with the participants at the end of the event as each of them would be given one of the books as a gift. I was unable to attend as I’m undergoing chemotherapy. But I did love the idea of the teachers being gifted a copy each so I pre-signed the books at SEED Institute’s office a few days before.

On the Monday after “Walking Story”, I received a phone call from my 5-year old’s Chinese teacher. As it turned out, she was one of the participants. She was especially pleased to receive the autographed copy of my book.

I was also delighted to receive a lovely photo collage from SEED Institute last week.

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The Singapore National Cooperative Federation first published this series, followed by SEED Institute who re-published it as a bilingual series, with support from the Lee Kuan Yew Bilingualism Fund.

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SEED has also been using these books in their teacher training workshop “Creative Teaching Ideas for Character Development in Early Years” to promote the teaching of character building in preschoolers.

I’m happy to see how far these 4 books have walked over these few years. 🙂

 

Related Posts:

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A Very Big Storm in 17 locations in Rochdale Manchester

Bilingual Children’s Picture Books for all Singapore Pre-schools

 

 

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Caleb would usually have “sleepovers” in my bedroom a few nights a week. It was a treat for him because we would play board games before bed, I would read him books and he got to sleep later, like a real sleepover party.

During my 9-day stay in hospital following the mastectomy and reconstruction surgery, Caleb spent most of his time with my parents ie. his grandparents, and missed his sleepovers with me terribly.

Even after I got home, we did not resume his sleepovers in my room for a while. He is a roller when he sleeps. I could not risk him accidentally kicking me or rolling onto me.

About two weeks after I had been home from hospital, I heard a wailing downstairs in Caleb’s bedroom when my mum was trying to put him to bed. After it had gone on for some time, I went down to see what was happening.

Caleb was standing a foot away from his bed, refusing to get on. His eyes were red from crying and he was at the end of making a long teary protest speech when I walked in. “…I’ve spent enough time with Grandma. I’m not getting into bed anymore until I sleep with Mummy again. I want to be with Mummy till infinity!” And then he broke down inconsolably.

My heart broke.

But it wasn’t the right time to give in because it might send the wrong message that a protest speech would get him what he wanted. I spent some time placating him and eventually got him into his bed.

That night, Ben and I discussed about re-starting Caleb’s sleepovers in our bedroom. But it would need to come with some temporary rules.

Usually, he would climb onto me and hug me to sleep. Then, I would transfer him onto the giant cushion on the floor next to me. In the wee hours of the morning, half awake, he would automatically climb onto me, hug me like a koala bear and fall back to sleep again.

That had to change temporarily till I recovered from my surgery wounds.

So, we worked out a couple of new rules:

#1 – Caleb could only sleep on Papa’s side of the bed.  

That meant that Ben and I had to switch the sides of the bed that we normally slept so that Caleb would be next to him, not me. I moved to the right side of the bed and Ben to the left.

#2 – We built a wall of pillows which divided our bed into two. Caleb had to stay on the other side. And he could not sleep on me like a baby koala for the next few weeks.

We pilot-tested the next night. In the wee hours of the night, Caleb automatically climbed up to my side of the bed and slept on Ben. The pillow wall stayed intact and we were all systems go for his regular sleepovers again.

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Goofing it up in my room during a quiet day at home

 

With my chemo-cycles now, we’ve still kept some of these temporary rules. For every 1st week of a new chemo cycle, Caleb has to forgo any sleepovers in my room. Given the amount of medicine pumped into me at each chemo/post-op session, I abstain from kissing him for a week till I flush out all the chemicals from my body. My oncologist said it usually takes two days to flush it out of the system but I prefer to buffer it up to a week where Caleb is concerned. Once that week passes, my routine with Caleb goes back to normal and I give him infinity kisses till he begs me to stop.

That said, I have explained to him that I cannot be with him till infinity because one day I will grow old and no longer be around. But I tell him that we have the assurance of God’s Word in the Bible that we will eventually be together in eternity in Heaven.

And Eternity is better than Infinity and beyond.

Related Links:

Inside-Out Kid #5 – “My Mummy is a Botak Head! But she covered it up.”

God Knows Leh #10 – Three Wise Women with Gifts of Frankessence, Mastec & Go

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Benji, Yumi, Origami! is in the house! Literally. I’ve finally stocked some copies at home.

This picture book saw a splashy launch at Resorts World Singapore’s SEA Aquarium in end May. Then, I encountered a storm one week later with a breast cancer diagnosis and never got round to doing anything for this book.

Benji, Yumi, Origami! is a story about new perspectives and seeing beyond the imperfect.

Benji is a kid who wants to get everything perfect. When he receives an origami present, he sets out, very much by the book, following each step methodically from Page 1.

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But origami is a craft that needs skill and patience, and Benji fails to fold his paper animals perfect.

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Just as he reaches the point of giving up, he meets his new neighbour Yumi, who gifted him the origami set.

With Yumi’s encouragement, Benji starts to see his imperfect creations with fresh eyes.

His crumpled frog isn’t really crumpled. That’s his reflection in the water ripples.

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From there, a beautiful friendship unfolds as Benji works on his new creations with new perspectives.

Benji, Yumi, Origami! is now retailing at Kinokuniya Singapore.

I’m also offering autographed copies with free delivery (within Singapore) for a limited period only! Send your orders to me through a private message.

Related Links:

Reader’s Favourite awards 5-star rating to Benji, Yumi, Origami!

Benji, Yumi, Origami makes a Splash at RWS’s Sea Aquarium Fairytale Launch

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Over the past 2 months or so, I’ve been finding and stumbling upon ways to help my 5-year old cope with my breast cancer diagnosis, surgery and recuperation period and now chemo and post-op treatment.

I found the 6 best things that have worked well with him to date:

1. Preparing your Kid in Advance

From the moment I received my diagnosis, I spoke to Caleb about it and prepared him for my upcoming surgery. All in age-appropriate terms.

“Mummy will need to go for surgery and stay in hospital for a week or so. The doctor will cut out the bad cells which are making me sick. I will be well after that.”

I also prepared him for my hair loss from chemotherapy so he wasn’t afraid or confused when I went bald.

I spoke to him several times and answered all his questions about it so he had an understanding of what was to come.

 

2. Keeping to routine

As it was during the month-long June holidays when I was in hospital and then recuperating at home, I kept Caleb to a fixed routine for the entire month. He went to Chinese enrichment class for 3 hours daily in the mornings (similar length of time as his Kindy) and visited me in hospital in the afternoons.

He also continued his gym, taekwondo classes and Sunday School.

 

3. Finding something he could latch onto

Ben bought a few big Star Wars Lego sets, which Caleb built in my hospital room every day. It was the thing he looked forward to doing when he visited me daily, along with us watching a Pixar or Disney movie together.

My mum bought him a junior monopoly set which he loved. That became his game with grandpa every day for my 9 days stay in hospital.

Interestingly enough, the moment I returned home from hospital, he stopped playing monopoly and switched to building Lego in my bedroom while I rested.

With Christopher

Godbrother Christopher, who was supposed to be studying for PSLE, came over to give Caleb a Superman Lift-off

 

4. Letting him have a voice

Caleb was very chatty with friends who visited me in hospital if he wasn’t in the middle of a movie.

When my friend Hwee visited me the day after my surgery, he introduced her to my hospital room because he was so familiar with every nook and corner.

He greeted Hwee with, “Come, I show you my mummy’s urine packet!”

Fortunately, Hwee is very well acquainted with Caleb’s personality from all the anecdotes I’ve shared with her.

She very sportingly followed him as he led her to the left side of my bed and obliged when he asked to her squat down to get acquainted with my urine packet.

“I feel like our friendship has just moved to a more intimate level,” I told Hwee.

with Angel & Christopher

Having a playdate with God sister Angelina and God brother Christopher

 

Two days into visiting me, Caleb met the lift attendant when he and his grandparents were on the way up to my ward. Someone before then had pressed all the lift buttons so the lift attendant came in and dis-enabled the buttons. My dad told me that Caleb watched intently as the lighted buttons all went off.

“How did you do that?” He asked the lift attendant.

Amazingly, the lift attendant taught him.

The next day, armed with his newfound knowledge, he put it to use.

They pressed the 10th floor to where my ward was. My mum then pressed level 2 because she wanted to go buy lunch at the food court.

Caleb did not want the lift to stop because he had to run to my toilet. He dis-engaged the 2nd floor stop so the lift went straight up to my floor!

Unfortunately he applied his newfound knowledge the next day too, which stopped a nurse going to another floor.

After I explained to him that he shouldn’t be stopping other people from going to their floors, he settled into a more lift passenger friendly routine.

My parents told me that he took on the role of a lift attendant. He asked every person who came into the lift where they were going. He pressed the lift buttons for them, and pressed door open and door close for them.  He also engaged some of them in conversation. “I’m visiting my Mummy. Who are you visiting?”

 

5. Informing his Kindergarten

Once Caleb returned to Kindergarten, I notified Caleb’s teachers about my situation and sought their help to keep a close eye on him through this period, especially if he had any emotional issues in class.

His teachers got his class to pray for me and also read him stories which helped him relate to my situation. His teacher also called me a few times to update me on how he was doing in class. I was relieved to hear that he was very settled in and happy in class and had in fact matured even more in his social interactions with his classmates during this time.

 

6. Encouraging Expression of Emotion & Openness 

I reminded Caleb several times that it was fine for him to tell me how he felt. Caleb’s Inside-Out board helped him express his feelings well in the first week I returned home.

For the next couple of weeks, he also had at least one emotional outburst a day on something seemingly unrelated where he became angry or sad. I just let him get it out of his system and he was fine after.

I knew he was expressing and saying what was on his mind (in a healthy way) when I sent him to Kindy for the first time in 7 weeks since my surgery.

When I reached the drop-off point for him to enter the Kindy gate, the staff opened the door for him to get out. The first thing he said to her was, “My Mummy is a Botak Head. But you cannot see because she covered it up!”

Later, when he returned home, I spoke to him about it. “Caleb, so have you told everyone that Mummy is a Botak Head?”

“Only that teacher (at the drop off point), my class teacher and ….my whole class.

“Oh, that’s all?” I said.

“Yah, that’s all,” he said.

Well, that was definitely all.

 

Related Links:

Inside-Out Kid #4 – I’m Happy & Loving You! The Inside-Out Board

Inside-Out Kid #3 – Mummy, you can take out your Pretend Hair at Home

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Tibby the Tiger Bunny, the 1st in my Tibby picture book series, has now been published in Tamil translation by Crimson Earth! Yay!

Tibby Tamil

I also had a glimpse of another rainbow which made my day. I saw illustrator Jade Fang’s amazing storyboards for our 3rd Tibby title- Tibby & Scaredy Snout.

The idea of using a boar for the 3rd book came about when Jade asked if I was going to base the next book on a boar. We had a wild boar in the 1st Tibby book which Jade had drawn the boar so endearingly that it deserved a book of its own.

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A sneak-peek at Tibby & Scaredy Snout’s black & white storyboard

 

Tibby & Scaredy Snout has been my most challenging picture book manuscript to date. It took me 1 year to write this 500-word story as I grappled with how to depict the theme of fear in a way that a young child can understand and relate to.

With Jade’s amazing artwork for this book and the pain it took me to write it, this is shaping up to be my favourite of the Tibby books.

Tibby & Scaredy Snout will be out in October! Just in time for my birthday!

 

 

 

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I had two big concerns with losing my hair – one was my own reaction, the other was my 5-year-old’s.

Two weeks before I started chemotherapy, I started preparing Caleb for a different-looking mummy.

I explained that the type of injection that the doctor was going to give me would make me well. But it would also make my hair drop. Caleb appeared to take it in good stride. But I didn’t know how he would really respond on the day it happened. Which was one key reason that I went ahead to shave my head 3 weeks back. So that he would not have to see me drop chunks of longer hair in the weeks to come. And to also take out that sting of uncertainty and trauma for myself.

On the day of the shave, I didn’t want Caleb around because I did not want him to be afraid. So, it was reassuring when he sat nonchalantly next to me when my stylist shaved me down to a crew cut.

He looked up only twice while drawing his airplane.

The first time, he said, “You look so funny.”

The second time, when the stylist was done, he looked up and said, “Hey, how come you’re not botak? You still have hair.” Referring to my crew cut.

The stylist fitted me with my K-pop star new hair and I went home with it.

K-pop star look

The moment I walked through the door, Caleb said, “Mummy, you can take out your pretend hair. You don’t need to wear it at home.”

With his vote of confidence, I’ve simply gone commando with my buzzed cut at home.

 

Then last Friday, exactly two weeks after my first chemo, as my oncologist said it would, my hair started dropping. Because I already had a crew cut, the short hair bits on my neck simply looked like I had walked out of a hair salon and had not showered the stray bits off.

But yesterday, most of my hair came off in the shower. I combed the rest off and ended up with about 10% of hair left. I was officially truly botak, without even the funky crew cut.

I wondered what Caleb would say. I had hair before he left for Kindy.

When Caleb got home, he took one look at my surgeon’s scrub cap and said, “Why are you wearing that?”

I explained that from the time I saw him off to Kindy and now, I had lost almost all my hair because the medicine had kicked in. He wanted to see so I took off my surgeon’s cap.

“I am not afraid,” he said. “No need to wear. Let it breathe!” He meant my scalp.

I didn’t like the remaining 10% strands of stray hair on my head. It made me look like a sick person. As far as I am concerned, I am well and I intend to look well. I went to a nearby hairdresser and had him shave me clean.

So, I’ve gone from this buzz cut….

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…to a botak head. And minus the sharp nose, arched brows and Hollywood glamour.

Startrek baldie

And if anyone gave me the biggest assurance yesterday, it had to be the littlest one in my home. After I got home from my shave, I spent the afternoon pretend-playing Caleb’s Star Wars figurines with him. I looked the part, since I could have fitted right in with the Star Trek team.

Caleb looked at me and asked, “Is your eyebrow hair going to drop?”

“I asked the doctor and he said probably not,” I said.

He said, “I love you Mummy.”

And that was that. We went back to Finn fighting Darth Vader.

I may look different. But to Caleb, I am one and the same mummy. And he loves me all the same.

 

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One of my most heartbreaking moments, since being diagnosed with breast cancer, was seeing my 5-year old break down in my hospital room.

Following my mastectomy and reconstruction surgery, I stayed in hospital for 9 days and Ben bunked in with me almost the entire time.

My parents ferried Caleb to a school holiday programme in the mornings and at lunchtime, they brought him over to visit me.

Considering how active Caleb is, he stayed contentedly in my hospital room for 3-4 hours daily, and up to 7 hours in a stretch on a weekend, without getting bored. But in true Caleb style, that was after he had inspected every inch of the room, attempted to press the buttons on my bed (which was a no-go for me on the first 3 days – the bed had been set to a specific angle because of my surgery), poked at the saline and antibiotics drips hanging off the stand next to my bed and discovered my unsightly urine packet tucked under the bed as I was initially on a catheter.

“Mummy, what’s this?”

On learning it was my urine packet, he inspected where the tube was connected to and instructed me, “Mummy, quick! Drink water! I want to see it drip into the packet!”

His Science 101 practicuum.

“Okay, good,” he said as he gave a thumbs-up. “It’s dripping in.”

 

Each day, he ate lunch with us, watched a Disney or Pixar movie, and then built his Lego. Ben had bought a 1,600 piece Star Wars Lego which kept him occupied over 4 days on the pulled-out sofa bed.

Caleb Crosses

Midway through building his Star Wars spacecraft on the sofa-bed, Caleb decided to build two crosses (1 big and 1 small) for Mummy. Behind him is the little nook that became his official Cry Corner which he climbed in to hide and cry when he felt sad.

 

Three days into his daily visits, Caleb had a huge emotional meltdown. It started innocently enough with him wanting to watch Madagascar from where he had left off the day before. We could not remember exactly where because we had taken the DVD out so we could watch something else the night before when I could not sleep.

 

He got angry beyond proportion, thinking that we had watched Madagascar without him. It developed into a full-blown tantrum.

And then, I saw the bigger simmering issue behind it.

“Caleb, it’s okay to be sad and angry. But it’s also good that you talk about it.”

He climbed into a little corner behind the pull-out sofa (which became his crying corner in the days that followed).

“It’s not fair! I never wanted you to be in hospital! I’m going to stay here forever!” he cried from behind the curtains where he was hiding.

I tried to coax him out but he only bawled louder and stretched his arms out to me. “I want to hug Mummy!”

“I’ve told you that we cannot hug for a while. Remember that’s why we hugged 585 times?”

“It’s not enough,” he wailed. “I want to hug 600 times. I will only stop crying if I can hug you. I have to hug your whole body.”

“You know you cannot till my wounds heal. But you can hug my arm,” I said.

“No, I must hug your whole body or I cannot stop crying.”

There was no consoling him.

So I did the next best thing. I cried with him. For the next 10 minutes, he sobbed inside the curtains and I sobbed in bed.

Then, finally, I decided to find a distraction. “Hey, tell you what. I’m going to let you climb into bed next to me. But you must promise not to climb onto me or it will be very painful for me.”

Still hidden behind the curtains. “No, I will stop crying only if I can climb on you and hug your whole body. That’s the only way.”

Plan B.

“Okay, I’m going to let you do something for me. I don’t need to have the bed in a fixed angle anymore. How about you come press these bed buttons and help me sit up?”

The forbidden fruit that I had religiously kept him from touching for 3 days.

Sobs stop to a sniffle. Peeks out of curtains. Curiosity and itchy fingers get the better of him. Eagerly climbs out of his cry corner to my bed.

Presses one button to elevate my bed too quickly.

“Caleb, don’t send me flying out of bed, okay?”

“Okay.” Pushes another button. “What is this?” He said as he pressed the call button.

The nurse shows up.

I apologize and turn to him. “Don’t ever touch this button again!”

That evening, Ben and I agreed that he would go home and spend the night with Caleb.

The next day, when Caleb came, he promptly climbed into my bed next to me to cuddle.

The day after, he took over the whole bed so I got bumped to the visitor’s chair. He elevated the bedhead to the highest incline so he could slide down.

Except for a few small crying bouts, we were good for the rest of my time in hospital. Because it was good for him to have let his big emotions from inside come out. And we hit on the right buttons.

Related post:

Inside-out Kid #1 – Our 100 Hugs before Mummy goes to hospital

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