Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Caleb and I recently followed Ben on his 16-day work trip to Switzerland and USA.

It was an important family trip for us after 10 months of being in and out of doctors’ clinics and multiple scans following my surgery last June where I had one breast removed and reconstructive surgery following a breast cancer diagnosis. I thank God that I am well and was ready for my big trip.

As Ben’s work locations were in two rather un-touristy towns, I packed several small travel toys and activities for some afternoons where I might just want to veg out in the hotel room when Ben was at work.

I wrote out a travel checklist to remind myself of various things to pack into our luggage.

Caleb, who loves to be involved in everything, saw my list and decided to start his own travel checklist.

He followed me around the house, asking me how to spell words that he added to his list.

When he reached item #24 on his list, he told me, “Remember to bring Joy.”

“Bring what?” I asked as I busied with packing his clothes and toys.

“Being Joy…you know Joy? Joy in your heart,” he said.

I paused from my busy bee state and looked up. “Wow…,” I said. “Okay, we will bring Joy.”

Caleb travel list

“And don’t forget me,” Caleb said as he added his own name to his packing list. “We’ll also bring God and Jesus,” he said, adding two more names to his list.

And so we did.

We had a free and easy, chilled out vacation.

Caleb St Galen

Caleb and I spent a morning playing in a patch of residual snow outside our hotel.

An afternoon in the bookstore when it was too chilly to be outdoors.

Caleb snow.png

And other simple pleasures.

And we were filled with joy in our hearts.


Read Full Post »

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.


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.


Star Wars with Angel.png

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

Read Full Post »

When I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, my most immediate concern was my 5-year old and how I could prepare him for my upcoming surgery and time away from him.

“Caleb, I will need to go into hospital soon because I am sick. The doctor will cut away the bad cells inside me and I will be okay after that.”

Caleb listened and over the days, asked me about where I would be cut and so forth. He peered over Ben’s shoulder at surgery procedure photos in the Mayo Book on Breast Cancer as Ben read up on how a mastectomy and reconstruction surgery would go. He wasn’t spooked and wielded his newfound knowledge with gusto.

“The doctor will cut mummy like that,” he told his grandparents. “This way and that way,” he said with demonstrations of a quack surgeon.

Well, at least he wasn’t too afraid, I thought. I shared this with my girlfriend Gail. She reminded me to hug Caleb as much as possible before my surgery because it would be difficult to do so for a while post-operation.


That day, I sat Caleb down again.

“It’s 5 days to my operation. Let’s hug each other 100 times before that. So, make it 20 times a day.”

Caleb hugged me tight and counted aloud to 100.

“I hugged you 100 times!” He exclaimed.

Over the next few days, he hugged me repeatedly and counted as he did. “What’s 20 + 100?”

“120,” I replied.

“I hug you 120 times already!”

And so, he aggregated his hug count with every hug.

“What’s 30 + 120?”

“What’s 50 + 150?”

On the final day before surgery, Caleb jubilantly announced, “I hugged you 585 times!”


I asked for 100 hugs. But Caleb’s mathematics of love overwhelmed me sixfold.

For me, that went a much longer way than a certain Big Nutbrown hare who loved his Little Nutbrown hare to the moon and back.


Read Full Post »

Mother’s Day is coming soon so I thought I would have a giveaway of 1 FREE copy of Keep Calm & Mother On!

Keep Calm & Mother On Cover

To enter, just leave a comment on my post with your name & email address. 1 winner will be picked randomly. Closing Date for entry is 10 May and open only to those living in Singapore.

And for those who wish to buy copies of Keep Calm & Mother On for Mother’s Day gifts, you can do so at a promotional price of 15% off retail price at the Armour Publishing e-store using this promotional code: motheringon21

Read more about Keep Calm & Mother On in my earlier posts:

Keep Calm, Stay Sane & Let Go – 21 Singapore Mum Stories

Parenting is Giving me a PhD in Multi-disciplines
Now, let’s calm down and breathe slow :).

The Random Draw Winner is Mei Lim!



Read Full Post »

When I was a student, I took everything written in textbooks as the gospel truth and never thought of questioning it. It was only much later that I discovered there were authors behind the books who can have errors in their writing. Duh.

So, from early on, I have made that fact quite clear to Caleb.

Spotting Differences

It started with an activity at the end of a picture book in which the reader was asked to spot five differences. No matter how hard and how many times we looked, there were only three. But Caleb was resolute on finding the other two non-existent differences, because the instructions stated there were five.

I explained to him that books are written by people and in this case, the publisher had made a mistake.”Maybe we should write and tell them,” I added.

He was satisfied with the explanation and every time we came to that page, he would repeat what I said.


Superhero Squad & My Baby Elephant

Shortly after, I bought Super Hero Squad, a Marvel/Scholastic set of 12 phonics readers. Thrilled to see all his favourite Marvel comics heroes, Caleb made me read all of them in a go.

Then, he suddenly cried, “It’s the same!” as he flipped indignantly through all the books.

“Caleb, it’s all the same superheroes. And the Sentinels appear in a few books.”

Then he found what he was looking for. “See, it’s the same!”

True enough, the publisher had re-used the exact same illustration in two of the books, the only illustration used twice across the 12 readers.

“Wow, you have a baby elephant’s memory,” I exclaimed. “Yes, they re-used the same picture. Outrageous!” I said.

“You must write and tell them,” he told me.

I wonder who he learnt that from.

“But how come this one has Iron Man and this one has no Iron Man?”

Superhero Squad

I explained that the designer had cropped the same illustration differently. We then spent the next few minutes spotting the differences across both pictures.

Then, in case I forgot my duty, he reminded me, “You must write and tell them!”


Eric CarleCarle & Caleb

Not long ago, Caleb went to a stage where he liked spelling his name over and over. I read an Eric Carle book to him around that time. Being an author, I always read the title of the book, followed by the name of the author and illustrator.

“C-A-L-E…,” Caleb spelt the four letters out a few times, then asked indignantly, “Where is B?”

“There’s no B,” I said “It’s Carle without a B.”

“Why?” he demanded.

“Because Carle is the name of the author and illustrator.”

“No,” he insisted. “It’s C-A-L-E-B”.

I guess my son has loftier ambitions that I do as an author :).


CatInTheHatCat in the Hat is wrong!

Caleb’s new favourite book is The Cat in the Hat, which we have read over and over. Recently, when I took the book out, I asked him to read the title to me.

“Cat in the Hat,” he read. Then he paused. “It’s wrong.”

“Yes, it’s correct,” I said.

“No,” he said. “It is Hat on the Cat.” He pointed at the picture of the hat on Cat. “You see! Hat on the Cat. You must write and tell them.”

“You want me to write to Dr Seuss?” I asked incredulously.

“Yes, tell Dr Seuss!”

 Right, someone remind me to tell Dr Seuss he got it wrong :).

Read Full Post »