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Monday, May 15, 2017

The Insecurities of a Homeschooling Dad

Social media can be very deceiving. We scroll through the news feeds of people we know (or of celebrity bloggers and content experts), and assume that they are living perfect lives. With every holiday photo they post, every food picture presented, or every insightful article they write, we slip into social media envy and assume that our friends are enjoying the time of their lives. And many people assume that of me as well. They seem to think that I am living the dream life with a wonderful job and wonderful kids. And when I meet people at my various engagements, I seem to get the nod that I am the model citizen of social media society. 
A recent holiday in Disneyland. After long queues under the hot sun, we were quite the "model" family!
There is some truth to this. At this moment, I can say that there is no other job I would rather do; to be my own boss and to conduct training workshops for others, sometimes with my wife; what more could a man ask for? And my kids? They are the cutest ever; with their witty quips and tender spirits, they are a delight to behold. 

But I am far from perfect; and indeed far from being immune to the disease of insecurity. There was a recent discussion in a homeschooling forum regarding how fathers feel, and this was my response:
For me it's not the decision to homeschool or not to homeschool. It's the fear that somehow I would not be able to provide for my family. Doing your own business is very scary and anything can happen. Will there be enough food on the table if anything happens? Will I be so tired working that I don't have the time to support my wife in the day to day tasks? Will I have the energy to play with my kids and not just brush them off with a tired grunt? Is my parenting style too strict such that they are too scared of me and don't dare to approach me for anything? Am I a good enough husband and father? I struggle with all these and more...
What is the parenting journey all about? As a father am I doing the right thing?
Homeschooling Dads are similar to other fathers. To borrow a quote from Shakespeare, "If you prick us, do we not bleed?"



It has honestly been a difficult few years since I started my own company. The uncertainty which stems from the lack of a fixed income has been a predominant worry: What happens if I don't do well and am not able to provide for my family financially? Would my wife have to return to full-time employment; and would we have to abandon our plans of homeschooling our kids?

Then there is the worry that I am spending so much time working that I neglect my kids. Unlike many dads, I have to use my computer very often; even in the presence of my kids. As such, there have been times when they have playfully come up to me with a story to tell or some exciting news to report. Regretfully, I have brushed them aside on numerous instances, telling them that Daddy needs to work. What if all they remember of their father is one who is typing at the computer, and neglecting their emotional needs? That would make me the very father I am trying not to be!

I have been very busy with my work; and people say that "busy is good". For a businessman that is true in that the busier you are, the more you are supposed to be better off financially. But in reality, I don't always want to be busy. I want to be able to have the time to spend with my wife and kids, and being busy with work robs me of precious time with them; yet I know that if I don't work hard, that I would not be able to keep up financially with the high cost of living here in Singapore. It is a financial tightrope that I have had to walk; and the balance is not always easy to achieve.
One of the workshops that I conduct with my wife. But if we spend so much time on work,
how much do we have with our kids?
Am I "good enough" as a husband and a father? This has been the question that has always been at the back of my mind. Somehow I worry that I do not support my wife enough in the day-to-day running of the house. I fear that my business at work drains me both physically and emotionally, and that I am as such not able to simply "be there" for her. As a father I am worried that my parenting style is too strict; and that all my children see is a father who is stern with them. I am also concerned that I lack the physical energy to be "present" with them at the end of a long day of work. Sometimes all a child needs is for the father to be physically and emotionally present; and I fear that I sometimes forget to "be there" for them.

And then there is the educational front. What if our kids end up doing badly in their academics and that our homeschooling is deemed to be unsatisfactory? What if we make the wrong decisions regarding our children's educational paths? It seems that all eyes are on us following our counter-cultural decision to homeschool our kids. As such, we are often asked why we do so, as well as whether our kids are socialised; and while we have the answers to these very standard questions, there is always something at the back of our minds as to whether we have made the right decision. And this is something we will never be able to answer until after our kids have grown up.
"Educating" the kids on Daddy's favourite movie Star Wars.
How then have I been able to deal with all these uncertainties? Just like any other father, I know that I will never have the answer to these questions. I am just thankful that at the end of it all, I have a Heavenly Father who has taken care of me all my life; and I have the faith that He will also be there for my children. 

For faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. And sometimes, the best we can do is to parent with the knowledge that God our Heavenly Father will be there for our children, even in the midst of all our insecurities.
When all has been said, the heart of the matter is to fear God and keep His commands.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Run with a Purpose: Singapore Kindness Run 2017 and a Giveaway

We are not parents who generally exercise, unfortunately. The only running I seem to do is the kind that involves keeping up with the kids, who are super fast on their scooters these days! Our two boys, however, love to run, in particular our older one. He exclaims very proudly, "I can run as fast as a cheetah!" before doing another dash.

When we told him he'd be participating in the upcoming Kindness Run on May 14, 2017, Z got really excited and starting practising immediately. "Watch me run, Mummy!" The 800 metre Kid's Dash is a perfect start for children who have not raced before, like mine. There will be two categories - Ages 7 to 9, and 10 to 12 years. 


The Kid's Dash is at 9.30 am in the peaceful and picturesque Pasir Ris Park, and follows the 10 kilometre Men's and Women's Competitive Run, which flags off earlier at 7 am. The whole Kindness Run aims to be a family affair, with its emphasis on kind acts and good running etiquette encouraged during the race. There will be experiential learning stations along the way with race etiquette tips.

The mascot for the race is our good ol' Singa the lion, a symbol of kindness (in my generation), but whom the kids have become quite familiar with since they collected the different versions of our friendly national lion during National Day a few years back. The children can even look forward to photo-ops with Singa himself on the race day!




Kids who sign up for the Kid's Dash will be entitled to an exciting race pack, which includes a Kid's Runners Tee, Racing Bib, Finisher Medal, and a Drawstring bag.The top three finishers will win an NDP Singa Box Set. Imagine - a complete collection of every single Singa there is!

Kid's Running Tee


Finisher Medal
The Grand Prize for the Top Three Finishers!

Interested families can sign up now at the Flying Cape link here and get a free Flying Cape class! Flying Cape is an online booking platform for tuition and enrichment classes.  Check out their website for their special All-You-Can-Learn Class Buffet, and find the perfect class for your child.

Parenting on Purpose is thrilled to be partnering them to offer one ticket to the Kid's Dash worth $30 to one of our readers! 


How to qualify for the giveaway:


1) Like the Parenting on Purpose Facebook page.

2) Share this blog post on your Facebook Wall and tag three friends (not including the friend who had tagged you. Remember to ensure that privacy settings are set to "Public".)

For an extra chance to win:

Comment on this post (not on the Facebook page) and share what you and your family love doing together. Please leave your email so that we will be able to contact you should you win the contest!

*The giveaway will end on Friday 5 May, and entries must be submitted by 5pm.

CONGRATULATIONS TO SIEW SIEW WONG, you are the winner! We will be contacting you to pick up your race pack. :)


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Making Magic: A Review of I Theatre's Poultry Tales

Lights! Camera! Action!

Every eye is riveted on the glitzy actors and actresses in their fancy costumes. And every effort is made in order to transform an ordinary theatre stage into a magical wonderland. After all, didn't the great bard once remark that "All the world is a stage and that men and women are merely actors and actresses with their own entrances and exits"?

But William Shakespeare did not tell the full tale. Behind every successful actor is not only his or her performance, but also the numerous hidden men and women who work tirelessly behind the scenes, the "unseen but always present" invisible hands that keep the theatre production going like a clock in perpetual motion. 
Ever wondered who are behind the "invisible hands" that make each musical production work?
I Theatre's Poultry Tales is a show within a show. The production centres on the work of four stage crew as they make preparations for an upcoming performance. The crew tell three stories, Chicken-Licken, The Goose That Laid The Golden Eggs, and The Little Red Hen
Chicken-Licken. A masked play where every face represents a different character.
Travel back to the Wild Wild West in The Goose That Laid The Golden Eggs with its
period costumes and swashbuckling action.
The Little Red Hen is a musical extravaganza with "magic" in the air!
Each of the stories is separate, but I Theatre neatly strings them together through the actions of the stage crew, who take the opportunity to also share about how a theatre production is put together. For instance, the audience learns that a "hand prop" is not a "prop that is carried on the hand", but an item that is the "personal property of an actor". Similarly, the audience is also taught theatrical terms such what is a "flybar" and what are "legs". 

I believe this is the first children's theatre performance that provides kids with an idea of what a production is all about. I Theatre says that in its 16 years on stage, there are many children who are keen to explore and understand what theatre is all about; and Poultry Tales chooses to answer these questions in a fun and entertaining manner.
Halt who goes there! Behind every successful show is an outstanding set of stage crew.
Educational aspects notwithstanding, Poultry Tales is not unlike many of the outstanding I Theatre productions we have seen. Scenery, script, music and dance all come together to create an eclectic and memorable musical sensation. For instance, the background scenery is beautiful, with houses that move and hills that roll. The actors are a familiar group, with Elizabeth Loh, Isabella Chiam, Daphne Ong and Darren Guo all regular names in the I Theatre circuit. As for the songs, the dynamic coupling of Bang Wenfu and Cathy Kee result in musical numbers that bring the production to life. 
Sizzling action from the cast of Poultry Tales!
At the heart of every I Theatre production is the visionary leadership of Artistic Director Brian Seward, who believes in stories with strong moral values. For Poultry Tales, Seward has embarked upon an ambitious project with a different genre for each of the three tales. The production is also put together with sensory-friendly considerations for children who might otherwise find the theatre to be a scary place, details such as lighting that is not too dark or sound volumes that are not too loud. These elements result in the creation of a project that is a great hit with the children, and also rich with many theatrical elements that the kids can appreciate and enjoy.
One for the road!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

No Fowl Play! A Giveaway for I Theatre's Poultry Tales

Cluck Cluck!

Why did the chicken cross the road?

To get to the Golden Eggs of course!

Wait a minute. That doesn't sound right.

Of course. 

She crossed the road because the sky was falling!

Oops. I meant she actually had some delicious bread to bake, but no one was there to help her!

Oh no. I got it all wrong.

But did i?

I Theatre presents a new and interactive musical production that tells the story of not one, not two, but three feathered friends!

There's The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs, The Little Red Hen, and Chicken-Licken!

And the trio band together to hatch a tale which stitches together a whole host of well-known folk stories.

And it's no fowl play. The chickies will be sharing with the audience how a musical is made, and will share about the themes and morals of the stories.

As I Theatre promises, the show is "guaranteed to engage young and old alike", and is "specially designed with excitement, humour and learning points."

Coming to the Drama Centre Theatre from 27 April to 14 May!

Parenting on Purpose is pleased to partner with I Theatre to host an exciting giveaway of 2 sets of 4 tickets each. This will be for the 10.30 am show on Sunday, 30 April 2017.

How to qualify for the giveaway:

1) Like the Parenting on Purpose Facebook page.

2) Share this blog post on your Facebook Wall and tag three friends (not including the friend who had tagged you. Remember to ensure that privacy settings are set to "Public".)

For an extra chance to win:

Comment on this post (not on the Facebook page) and share with us one thing you like about fowl. Please leave your email so that we will be able to contact you should you win the contest!

The giveaway will end on Monday 24 April and entries must be submitted by 5pm.


And the winners of the giveaway goes to....

Sophia Ong and Catherine Soon!

Winners can collect the tickets from the I Theatre office at 27 Kerbau Rd, Singapore 219163 during office hours from 10.30 am to 5.30 pm. Please call 6341 5960 before collection.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Meet My New Korean Diaper Bag! (Or What's In a Homeschool Mom's Bag)

Yes, I know. It's not a new tall, dark and handsome Korean movie star in our home, but the prospect of my new Korean backpack arriving by courier filled me with much anticipation last week. 

I have been searching for quite a while for a new "Mommy" bag for myself, ever since my kids grew out of diapers. Something practical and still convenient to tote around, yet presentable and functional, which I could still wear out on most occasions, like going to church, without me looking like I was out for a trek with my boys (which happens to be my usual sort of OOTD, accompanied by a comfortable pair of shoes.) 

As a homeschool mom, my bag often serves lots of purposes, from carrying picnic food for a park outing to holding homeschool resources for our weekly Classical Conversations class. When TLO, or Thelittleonesinmylife, distributor for some of the household brands of baby products, such as Haenim and Bellamom, offered the chance to review their new range of bags, I jumped at the opportunity. 

Don't you love the sweet animal prints?
The perfect occasion for testing the new bag out came soon after I received it, because we had a family wedding to attend. I already appreciated the muted tones and sweet Korean prints - not too obviously for children, and still suitable for a mum to carry around regardless of the outfit she is wearing.

Don't you think that the whimsical designs are so pretty? And they match my wedding outfit!
I always find it a challenge keeping the kids occupied during wedding ceremonies. We've had several narrow escapes with my toddler attempting to crawl down the aisle towards the bride, and my older one trying to tie the handbag of the lady in front of us in knots. I decided on that day to maximise the space my new backpack afforded, and to pack an arsenal of supplies to keep them peacefully engaged during the wedding.

My arsenal of supplies for the kids to occupy them during the wedding!
The BlessingForYou bag is extremely spacious, as you can tell. I managed to get two Mercy Watson books (my sons' favourite series), one Star Wars pencil case, one coloured pencils set, one notebook, and two zip lock packs of Lego and foam stickers into the main compartment, with room to spare for my wallet. Impressive, no?

I love the spacious fit of the bag. The zip is easy to access.
The inside compartment also includes two separate sections for food/ water, as well as some zippered sections for more storage division. Have I told you how much I love bags with pockets? I managed to get two mineral water bottles and a pack of cheezels in as well, for good measure! The bag is also insulated and perfect for keeping milk bottles or cold drinks.

Our snacks. The bag would be great for packing picnic food or keeping milk warm!
There is also a sizeable outer pocket for small items.
The bag can be opened from both the wide zip in front, as well as a zip along the lining on top. This makes it extremely practical for us moms to reach in for whatever we might need to retrieve without having to rummage around in search of it.

The top zip for easy access.
There are side pockets for stashing stuff last minute!
The inner zip pocket! I love all these pockets.
The bag can be carried three ways - the backpack straps can be slipped out of the zipped compartment, and attached with the clasps. The straps can also be looped onto a stroller. The bag also comes with a longer strap so it can be slung over the shoulders.

The bag straps can be slipped out and attached.
All in all, I love this bag for its functionality and style! It has a perfect balance of both. There are so many uses for it and there are so many pretty designs that I feel like getting a tote bag from them as well. Can't wait to use our backpack again on our next homeschool outing!

TLO's new range of BlessingForYou bags from Korea is to be launched at the upcoming Baby Market fair this weekend from 7-9 April at the Singapore EXPO. They will subsequently be releasing the new designs fortnightly on their store website in limited quantities. Please do visit their booth at the Expo to check more of the designs! 

*Parenting on Purpose received one Roy backpack and one Mummy pouch for the purposes of this review. All opinions are proudly our own! 


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Seasons of Change: A Review of I Theatre's "The Ant and the Grasshopper" 2017

Grow and change 
Grow and change
Look around and you will see
Everyday a little difference
Nothing stays the same you'll see.

I Theatre's musical showcase The Ant and The Grasshopper is all about change. Yet not everyone is keen to embrace the changes that occur each day. There's the Grasshopper, who lives from day to day, composing songs and dancing to the beat of the springtime sunshine. There's the Ant, who attempts to deal with the upcoming winter by neurotically gathering food and neglecting the beauty of the world around her. There's the Caterpillar, a little creature who is afraid of everything and everyone, and who spends her life resisting every iota of change. There's the Ladybird, who deals with change by escaping south to a warmer climate. And there are of course the Bees, who make it their business to question every single change that happens to everyone other than themselves.


I Theatre has taken a classic tale from Aesop, and transformed it into a deeper and richer experience for its audience. From plot and characterisation to music, dance and background scenery, the local theatre company has created a magical world which delights all audiences young and old.

Having watched the original production in 2014 (our review can be found here), I have to proclaim that Artistic Director Brian Seward has again outdone himself. The 2014 production was already one of my all-time favourites, but this time round, the production was even more spectacular.

A significant change was the addition of Safia Hanifah as the neurotic caterpillar Nessa. The 2014 production featured Nessa as a puppet, but this time round the Malaysian actress brought the Caterpillar to flesh, while also doubling up as one of the bees. Hanifah's crisp Caterpillar accent and timid movements undoubtedly added a lovely touch to the show. 


Another major change was the lovely backdrops. For this production, I Theatre created a gigantic tree trunk as the backdrop, which helped to depict the characters as larger than life. As for the spectacular lighting effects, this created the colour changes in the leaves and flowers, and helped to communicate the imminent nature of change.


At the end of the day, seasons come and seasons go; and change is the only constant. But I Theatre has managed to keep up with the times (incorporating cool scooter moves by the fashionista Ladybird), while yet spinning a story that retains good old-fashioned moral values. Perhaps that is the meaning of change; to be relevant to what goes on around us, but yet to remain resilient while dealing with the turbulence that might otherwise spin us out of control.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Giveaway: What is Work? I Theatre's Tale of an Ant & a Grasshopper

Aesop's traditional tale of an ant and a grasshopper is a moralistic story about the importance of work and what happens to those who choose to idle and waste their time away. As I Theatre recounts:

Once there lived an Ant - a hard-working and ever-busy Ant who never seemed to have time for play or relaxation. And then there was Grasshopper, with time on his hands and nothing much to do all day.

And visiting from time to time, there is Caterpillar!
Somehow they were friends. All day long Ant would work hard, without stop or rest, collecting grains of wheat and storing them carefully in her larder. 
And Grasshopper would laugh, and say. 'Why do you work so hard, dear Ant? Come, and rest awhile, listen to my song. Summer is here; the days are long and bright. Why waste the sunshine in labour and toil?' 
Whilst Caterpillar calmly carried on, doing what caterpillars do best… 
But Summer does not last long – and soon Winter and the frozen cold will come… 
What will happen to Grasshopper then?What exactly will Ant do?And where will Caterpillar go?


As a fan of this local children's theatre group, we have witnessed how I Theatre chooses a popular children's tale for production, and then adapts it to become something quite different. As Artistic Director/Producer Brian Seward promises:
This is one of those stories you really think you know – until you examine it a little closer. In the original Fable by Aesop, the ants work all day, never taking time to appreciate the world around them. Whilst the Grasshopper does not see the value in working… 
In Singapore we like to think that the Ants are the perfect example of what we should be like. But is the Grasshopper completely wrong in his point of view? And are the ants really following the best path in life?
 
Parenting on Purpose is pleased to partner with I Theatre to host an exciting giveaway of 2 sets of 4 tickets each. This will be for the 11am show on Sunday, 19 February 2017.


How to qualify for the giveaway:

1) Like the Parenting on Purpose Facebook page.

2) Share this blog post on your Facebook Wall and tag three friends (not including the friend who had tagged you. Remember to ensure that privacy settings are set to "Public".)

For an extra chance to win:

Comment on this post (not on the Facebook page) and share with us one perspective that you have about work. Please leave your email so that we will be able to contact you should you win the contest!

The giveaway will end on Sunday 12 February and entries must be submitted by 5pm.


And the winners of the giveaway goes to....

Liang Jingxian & Agnes Chin!

Winners can collect the tickets from the I Theatre office at 27 Kerbau Rd, Singapore 219163 during office hours from 10.30 am to 5.30 pm. Please call 6341 5960 before collection.


Check out our review of I Theatre's 2014 production of the Ant & the Grasshopper here.