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Friday, March 29, 2013

Echinacea Angustifolia or Purpurea

I think I struck the echinacea jackpot!!

There are various species of echinacea, of which the echinacea angustifolia is reportedly more rare and more powerful medicinally. It tends to grow wild on the American prairies... and grows poorly in gardens. This species has narrow leaves and a long thick taproot from which thinner roots grow out.

In contrast echinacea purpurea is the species that is more domesticated... more frequently found, and somewhat less powerful as a medicine. This species has more rounded leaves and a mass of thin threadlike roots.

A while ago, I put 20 seeds into the soil of what I thought were echinacea purpurea. They all sprouted into seedlings. I noted that these plants had narrow leaves but I STILL thought they were echinacea purpurea. I repotted the seedlings and noted that each had a long and thick taproot. I STILL thought they were echinacea purpurea because it is documented everywhere that the echinacea angustifolia doesn't sprout easily and all 20 of mine had sprouted easily and grown well.

I know they have tap roots. I know they have narrow leaves but... but... but they CAN'T BE echinacea angustifolia!! Echinacea angustifolia  plants don't sprout easy and they don't grow well in gardens!! Mine sprouted like weeds and they seem to be growing fine!! It's funny how one can maintain a psychological bias in the face of overwhelming factual evidence.

Today, I noted a seedling that had been hidden behind a pot. It had grown to a good size too! It looked like an echinacea but with much more rounded leaves. So, I bent over and peered at the 2 types of echinacea on the rack and only then the scales fell from my eyes.

I now have 20 echinacea angustifolia (the rare and powerful type) and a single unexpected echinacea purpurea (the more common type).

I am still perplexed how this came about. I had sown 20 echinacea purpurea (or so I thought) and they all sprouted into echinacea angustifolia! I had sown 15 echinacea angustifolia (or so I thought) and ONE sprouted into echinacea purpurea. So... in Pet's garden, the rare is commonplace and the commonplace is rare? How did this happen? I am still scratching my head! It's like finding that water had turned into wine at a wedding.

If God planted them with me, there must be a reason. I sure hope my family ain't the ones who're gonna be falling sick when these plants bloom!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Progesterone Cream

Since 2009, I've been trying to manage a tendancy towards anaemia (lack of red blood cells) due to heavy bleeding every month. I visited the gynecologist, a Senior Consultant at KK Hospital. He placed me under general anaesthesia and scraped the cells from my womb for a test. Happily, all my tests were normal. The whole thing cost me a four figure sum for day surgery and consultation. Apparently, there was nothing wrong with me.

Meanwhile life went on. As my womanly cycles ebbed and flowed, I got used to maintaining a steely grip on myself. It's part of being female, I told myself. I will lose blood, so I have to eat enough iron rich foods to make new blood. Since the Senior Consultant Specialist in Gynaecology had told me there was nothing wrong with me, I decided it was a case of mind over matter and tried to discipline my errant body back into good health.

I prayed too, and God gave me comfort.

Lately though, I've experienced debilitating fatigue. It's the sort of fatigue you see in babies who can't keep awake no matter how hard they try. From Day 14 to Day 21 of every monthly cycle, I would feel as devoid of energy as a corpse. Sometimes, I was a more lively corpse. At other times, a more dead one. I, who never take naps, began to nap in the afternoons. The rest of the time, it was a matter of forcing myself to get work done.

Next, from Day 22 to Day 28, I would bloat up with 2 to 3 kgs of water. There would be terrible breast aches (sometimes sharp and shooting)... persistent migraine... and a constant feeling of heat in the chest that made my face feel flushed. 2 to 3 times every night I would wake up to change clothes because mine were soaked through with perspiration... despite the ambient 25 Deg C of the bedroom.

At these times too, "emotional stability" began to sound like words from an alien language. I took to removing myself from people I did not wish to hurt. This meant everyone... friends, family, husbands and children. I didn't want to attend dinners and receptions. I didn't want to see nor meet people.

I wanted to be alone.

At times like these, I knew that my heart was so full of angst that I would lash out for no reason at all. Being alone, I would not be able to hurt anyone. I asked The Daughter to help facilitate my classes so that I would not hurt children. I escaped to behind my laptop where I developed the habit of holding back emails a day or 2 so as to make sure hormonally barbed words would not reach their intended target. It had become almost like a monthly werewolf transformation. There was a Were Mama in me clawing its way out, ready to tear hearts and people to pieces.

As things progressed from bad to worse, I started to read and research. And then The Husband found Dr John Lee's book for me - What the Doctor May Not Tell You About PRE-menopause.

The Cause of My Heavy Bleeding
I learnt the cause of my heavy bleeding. From Day 1 to Day 14 of a woman's monthly cycle, the hormone OESTROGEN stimulates the growth of a layer of blood tissue inside the uterus (or womb). Round about Day 14, the woman's ovaries produce an egg. Once this egg is produced, the ovaries produce the hormone PROGESTERONE. If for whatever reason, the woman fails to produce an egg, the ovaries do not produce PROGESTERONE.

My ovaries weren't producing PROGESTERONE.

The role of OESTROGEN is to ensure that cells multiply. The role of PROGESTERONE is to block the cell multiplication function of OESTROGEN and ensure that cells specialize (i.e., they become different types of cells). Every month, PROGESTERONE stops OESTROGEN from thickening the layer of uterine blood tissue. Without PROGESTERONE, the layer of blood tissue continues to grow from Day 15 to Day 28. This results in a double thick layer of blood that needs to be shed at menstruation - i.e., heavy bleeding results. The cell multiplication function of OESTROGEN (if unblocked by PROGESTERONE) also results in uterine fibroids, fibrocystic breasts, breast cancer, ovarian cysts, ovarian cancer and uterine cancer.

In my case, the blood layer formed (by levels of OESTROGEN running amok) was so thick that it grew into the uterine walls. This meant that the uterus had to cramp violently in order to shed the lining of blood tissue. This made for very painful menstrual cramps. When I put these symptoms into words, it does look like I lived through hell... and it has been years of repeated suffering.

I am sure there are women out there with the same repeated suffering.

The Cause of My Debilitating Fatigue
PROGESTERONE is also the precursor of cortisol. This is a steroid hormone that is responsible for releasing energy stored in cells. OESTROGEN is responsible for storing energy in cells as fat. Since I wasn't producing PROGESTERONE, I had little cortisol. Since I had little cortisol, I couldn't burn the calories I was eating. Since I had too much OESTROGEN, my body was storing fat as fast as it could.

No wonder I couldn't keep the weight off!

I was tired and not burning the calories, all whilst my body went big time into energy storage mode. It was like having a lot of money you can't spend!! The bank account gets fatter whilst you're still wearing rags and eating out of the garbage can.

Progesterone Cream
The Husband went online at my behest to procure a bottle of Natural Progesterone Cream. The heavy bleeding has gone away and I have my energy back. I almost can't believe it. I've been suffering for at least 4 years... and it had become progressively worse. I kind of feel like the man by the pool in John 5:10 - "At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked."

Note the words "At once..."

I can't believe that I spent a four figure sum on a Senior Consultant Specialist (in a public hospital) who then told me that there is nothing wrong with me... and the best solution for my condition lies in a bottle of cream that costs little because it is a natural plant derived product that cannot be patented by pharmaceutical companies. Without prejudice to the Senior Consultant Specialist, I feel that yet again, God is telling me that his natural pharmacopeia is enough for my needs. I don't think man, no matter how highly trained can compete with God in healing... because God made us and he knows us so intimately well.

To God be the glory for my healing.

Thank you too... my wonderful wonderful wonderful husband for buying the book, and for swinging into action to get like SEVEN bottles of progesterone cream. Sigh... these husbands! When they get worried, they tend to believe MORE and FASTER is better... but I ain't complaining.

Next, if there are women reading this who have terrible PMS symptoms. Do get Dr John Lee's book and have a read. There are different conditions described inside there. Your condition may be different from mine but you might learn something to help you from his book. Your solution may not be Progesterone Cream but you might find something that works for you.

Lastly, I am pretty sure an overdose of Progesterone has side effects so if you decide to use it, please read Dr John Lee's book first and don't slather yourself with it like you would moisturising cream. It's a medication, even if natural, and needs to be handled with respect. Also, there is a difference between progesterone and progestin. Progestin is the pharmaceutical companies' version of progesterone... but it is NOT progesterone. There are molecular differences between the 2. Progestin is sold because it is a man-made invention and can be patented. It is different from what our bodies produce... and progestin has known side effects even in small doses. So... make sure you get the right cream and that there isn't any progestin mixed in there.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Root Issues of Our Education System

Ian Tan, a multi-talented father of 2, penned the following... which I found interesting...

Recently, a young mother asked me how one should prepare their children for the tough problem sums found in primary school mathematics.

Her father, a successful businessman, chimed in: “Why do parents have to go for classes to learn how to teach their children? That’s the teacher’s job! The job of parents is to go out and earn money to feed the family!” 

The Education Minister recently expounded on the myriad of issues surrounding education during the Committee of Supply debate in Parliament. He mentioned a need to go back to basics, and it couldn’t be truer.

However, going back to basics requires an honest assessment of what’s truly broken, instead of asking parents to manage their expectations and to strive for school-work-life balance. The situation isn’t as complex as the Ministry believes, because the many issues raised all lead back to a few root causes that are not being given enough emphasis by policymakers.

For the rest of the article go HERE.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Seamingly Smitten

1960s Retro Cushions (limited edition)

Soft flannel baby blanket

A fair bit of research shows that women working in corporate are less successful generally than men (comparing pay and position). Women who own businesses however, seem to do better than men who own businesses.

Lately, I have begun to hang around with ladies (moms... naturally) who for the sake of work-life balance (more like in order to teach their kids what schools test and have no bandwidth to teach properly) have left good jobs, and started businesses of their own. And ummm... they make as much (sometimes more) than when they worked full time. AND they have time left over to look after their children.

I'm so proud of my friend D. When I met her a decade ago, I thought she was this hard driving corporate sort. When I met her again in a family environment, I came to know the many other rich layers that made up this very GOOD and GODLY woman. I suppose every corporate sort (man or woman) comes with layers of richness that one will never experience as long as one evolves with them in boardrooms and meetings.

D loves to sew.

Imagine that! I was surprised to say the least. It was hard to imagine The Boardroom D behind a sewing machine. But well... the evidence was strong. Her Facebook pages were replete with photos of her many quilts of fantastical designs and beautiful colors. Unbidden came to mind the image of D running a shop in the picturesque old quarters of Venice, inside the small streets off the Grand Canal... with weavers and potters and painters and makers of Venetian masks and beautiful crystal fountain pens.

Picture taken from HERE.

When D finally set up shop HERE, I was thrilled. I bought a baby blanket all softness and air. On bad days, I just like to cuddle up to softness. Then there were the retro cushions (see picture above)  that I fell in love with. And now, I'm eyeing this Animal Farm Quilt and Pillow Set.

D's online shop is bad for my wallet.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Private booth... uber romantic!

Warm and crispy ciabatta

Parma ham with fresh figs

Beef carpaccio

Grilled squid tentacle

Beef tenderloin

Panna cotta with raspberry sauce


Latte and cappuccino

I felt like I had broken the bank. This meal cost $239 for just 2 people. It was much better value though... than the hairy crab experience HERE. The food here is well made. I tend to think that the quality of an Italian restaurant is seen by its bread. The ciabatta was a delight. Soft and moist on the inside. Warm. Crispy on the outside.

The squid tentacle is flown in from the Mediterranean sea. The last time I had it was in Greece at a coffee shop outside which hung huge squids on clothes lines. Do they cure them that way? I dunno. Anyway, the squid was sweet and salty... soft and juicy on the inside... crisp and crackly from the chargrill.

The parma ham was not over salty and went very well with the fresh figs, instead of the rock melon that it's normally served with. An ohhhh... the tenderloin beef was melt in the mouth tender. Tenderized through aging... NOT sodium bicarbonate. The panna cotta wobbled when served. It was soft and creamy... not too sweet. The tiramisu was light and not at all jelak.

I like the food here because it's not too heavily seasoned. The flavours of the fresh ingredients come through well. Care was taken to prepare these dishes.

Friday, March 22, 2013

To the Thief Who Stole My Milo

There is a reason why our dog is called Milo. The Daughter and Little Boy love this drink made from malted barley and chocolate. On school sports days, the Milo van would appear at the sports stadium and give out free iced Milo to the children. When The Daughter speaks of the Milo van, her face radiates a sort of suppressed joy that brings to mind a crowd of little girls in pigtails waiting in the hot sun for their little cups of icy cold Milo.

So... I wasn't surprised when I discovered that The Daughter maintained a store of ready-to-drink Milo inside the shared fridge in her university lodgings. I WAS surprised at the depth of her misery when someone stole her small carton of Milo. She was so upset that to relieve the intensity of her feelings, she wrote the following poem. The Daughter is a gentle soul. This is about as violent as she is likely to be, even with words.

In all innocence one Friday night
I stored my Milo out of sight
I put it in the fridge to keep
Not knowing what would come of it
Two hours later I returned
Imagine my horror when I learnt
The gluttonous thief had struck again
The swinish nuisance has no shame
I imagine that you're just next door
Feasting on your stolen stores
Devouring my Milo in gulps not sips
And when you're done, licking your lips
But that alone is not nearly enough
You must return for more good stuff
So you twitch your hairy eager nose
For to you that fridge is never closed
 You're a pirate, a pilferer, and a punk
I hope someone cuts off your tongue
I hope someone stuffs you in an oven
An hour there might make you soften
I hope that your loot festers and rots
I hope that you get chicken pox
I know what you did that Friday night
And now I hope you feel contrite

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

For Sonya

This is for a pretty little angel of a girl (with a good brain) who thinks she can't meet Dr Pet's standards of performance. It comes from a very old collection of poems I gathered from here and there, as a child.

If you think you're beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don't
If you would like to win but you think you can't
It is almost certain you won't

If you think you'll lose, you've lost
For out of the world we find
Success begins with a fellow's will
It's all in the state of the mind

If you think you're outclassed, you are
You've got to think high to rise
You've got to be sure of yourself
Before you can ever win a prize

Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man (girl)
But soon or late, the man (errrr.... girl) who wins
Is the man who thinks he can

New Workshops and All That

We're organizing 2 Compo Workshops in June 2013. For details click HERE.

We have ONE place left for HOT Skills Workshop. For details click HERE.

We are opening 2 new classes for English Enrichment in June 2013. For details, click HERE.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Only the Lovely May Pass (Reprint)

This is an old post written in 2009. I thought I would resuscitate this for a new reader.

I am inspired to write this after reading Blur Ting's blog entitled The Letter. Ting and I have a lot in common and the similarities go much deeper into our psyches than simply "Oh, we both like gardening" and "Oh, we both love to cook, clean house and live on a farm." There is a reason that both our blogs resonate with warmth and positivity. Some might even say gullible naiveté... and cynical others might say impractical idealism... and jaded others yet might say bimbotic innocence.

You see, Ting and I both hold, as deeply precious and infinitely valuable the emotional discipline of being happy. Happiness is a choice, we both believe. Of course, most people want to be happy. But with Ting and I, it isn't merely wanting happiness... we are both ferociously determined to be happy.

It isn't that we are childish or stupid or have not met the ugly, the bad and the evil. Oh yes, we have! If you knew the monsters that had peopled both our lives, you would go pale at how our spirits writhed in prolonged agony, imprisoned in a place with no escape. In every garden, there are mealy bugs and spider mites that eat away at life and all that is beautiful. In every life, there is pain and sorrow. But in the richness of what life offers to inconsequential humans like us, why focus on the bugs if you can focus on the plant... why see the shadows of the garden, if there is also light... why suffer the heat of the sun and not see its role in the verdant growth of your little patch of paradise.

And that is why I love my garden through rain or shine, bare twigs or full, soil mealies or not. I love its touch. I love the smells. I love the colours. I love the songs the garden sings on days when the sun beats down on the black tar of Singapore's roads.

Back when I was young and in a lot of pain, a very wise friend gave me this advice. You cannot change the past, you can only grow the future. In the tapestry of your life, there is a hole... so big and so wide that everyone notices it. You cannot change the size of that hole. You cannot patch it up and make it whole. You cannot make it smaller. It will forever stay there and stay that size. But darling, you can choose. You can choose to embroider around that hole, vibrant colours and beautiful forms, and as you grow the tapestry of your life stitch by stitch by stitch, the hole will one day become insignificant compared to the loveliness all around. And the day will come when no one will even notice that there is a hole. The day will also come when you will yourself forget that there is a hole.

And so, I have focused on growing my plants and helping them thrive. I changed a barren space with hot stones and hostile sun into a retreat where the sun kisses my skin and caresses my hair. It is not a triumph over nature, for I have not changed the intensity of the sun. It is the trick of befriending the sun by accepting who it is without complaint. In essence, what I am trying to say is that whilst we can do little about the pain that life throws at us, we can still make it give us joy.

So Ting and I choose happiness at every... every... every... turn. And like Gandalf facing the fiery Balrog in the mines of Moria, we stand at the narrow passage between Unhappiness and the ones whom we love. Faces ablaze with relentless kindness and implacable love, we face monsters great and small, and we softly say "You shall not pass."

Friday, March 8, 2013

Power Distance in Families: Implications for the Development of Higher Order Thinking

Little Boy made this after Analyzing, Evaluating and then Creating.

"Power distance is the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally." This definition is taken from HERE.

Families that endorse low power distance expect and accept power relations that are more consultative or democratic. Families that endorse high power distance expect and accept that power relations are more autocratic or paternalistic. In high power distance families, parents tend to talk AT their children. They talk, and the kids listen. In low power distance families, parents tend to discuss WITH their children, even those as young as 2 years old.

Active discussions about the why, the how and the wherefore of everything under the sun... is an important part of stimulating the development of Higher Order Thinking skills (i.e., the ability to analyze ideas, to evaluate ideas and to create original ideas). It is no wonder then that two of the most creative nations in the world (as measured by number of patents filed) are USA and Israel. Both are low power distance cultures.

One of the most powerful ways of developing the powers of judgment and evaluation is when your child argues with the time-tested notion of "Children must go to bed early." or "Children must finish their vegetables." One can listen, and smile... and praise the child for exercising his brain.

Eventually though, my answer would still be "No."

Once though, Little Boy made such a good case for being able to stay up late that I said "yes". He made his case calmly at an age when he should have been crying and yelling to get his way. I said "yes" to reward him for going about it in a calm and civilized manner. I also had to admit that he did have some good points wherein
(1) he had analyzed and then
(2) had evaluated my stand and
(3) had successfully poked holes in my some of reasoning.

Challenges such as "Give me 10 good reasons why you should be allowed to stay up late" are marvellous opportunities for stimulating higher order thinking in small children, provided you have the patience and the inclination to deal with the barrage that comes after.

And then still say "No". Or maybe say "Yes".

If you're a High Power Distance parent, this will stress you no end.

Normal People are Capable of Higher Order Thinking
I don't think Higher Order Thinking skills are the express domain of gifted children. Any child that has ever learnt to speak would have had to activate every higher order thinking skill. They're only babies but clearly they can analyze what adults are saying and differentiate one word from another in a long string of sounds without full stops, spaces nor commas. They're only toddlers but they can evaluate to a hair's breadth accuracy when you will blow up and they stop misbehaving JUST before that point is reached. They're only toddlers but they create stories in their heads all the time with just one doll and a toy plane.

I do believe that kids do have a natural aptitude for higher order thinking. Unfortunately, traditional methods of mass education (since the beginnings of mass education efforts in Europe... USA and in traditional classroooms in China) impose discipline, structure and simplicity... and thus, we educate these natural abilities out of our children. We teach them to remember... to understand... to apply what we tell them. We forget to hone their natural abilities to challenge the truths we tell them... and thereby to discover truths of their own.

Higher Order Thinking is a Life Skill
We also forget how important higher order thinking skills are in REAL life. Without HOT skills, you would blindly accept and trust that The Authority knows best. He tells. You listen. He says. You do. High power distance you see...

You would buy shares because you received tips from a "guru". So many times I have picked up on a stock tip and on further analysis, I realised that prices had already risen too far for me to make reasonable profit. Then I realised this... some financial gurus GENERALLY publicise their tips AFTER they've bought the shares. In publicising their tips, they're helping raise demand and prices... and by the time they sell, you're holding on. The gurus have just made money off you. If you really want to make money off the share market, nothing beats the following...

(1) analyzing companies (annual reports, news flashes etc...)
(2) evaluating companies (industry trends... business strategy... management competence... market potential... market threats)
(3) creating your own stock tip... buy it... blog about it... and sell when everyone else is buying it because you blogged (errrrr... incidentally, I never blog about stock tips... ever)

If Singaporeans had bothered to analyze government policy in the past decade, in the same way that many are analyzing The Population White Paper's 6.9 million proposal, perhaps we would not be suffering from crowded trains... exorbitant COE... exorbitant house prices. At the very least, we could have helped our government realise earlier that they had forgotten to build the necessary infrastructure.

If you get me once, you're to blame. If you get me a second time, I'm to blame. Going forwards, we HAVE to teach our young ones HOT skills with or without the PSLE requirements. They're necessary for making a living (and sometimes, surviving) whether or not you believe in scoring well at the PSLE.

So... forget about the PSLE. HOT skills are worth cultivating because they are actually life skills (which also happen to be tested in the PSLE). If you're interested in learning how to teach HOT Skills in English do join Dr Pet on 13th April 2013 by making payment to register HERE.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Fulfilled Boy

Little Boy has a lot on his plate. I promised him that he would get his fill of non-academic enrichment in secondary school. He went and signed up for 3 CCAs. He came home yesterday feeling very fulfilled. Apparently, he had gotten all his homework done in the little bits of time in between this and that during his day. He plans his work well. He used to overplan and stress himself out trying to achieve his plan. He now plans more reasonably and seems to be on top of his plan every time I check (which is maybe twice a month).

He shared with me his academic goals for the first term and gave me a report on which goals he had met, and which others he had failed to meet... and what he intended to do about the latter. I was a little taken aback because I hadn't even asked him to set goals. He even proudly declared that he had jogged with his schoolbag all the way home from the MRT station, thrilled that he had achieved yet another chunk of time savings by overlapping jogging practice, with the walk home. He wants to do well at the upcoming cross-country run.

Little Boy hated jogging up until Primary 6 but he was cherry-picked in Week 2 of secondary school for the Track and Field team. He pulls into the Top 3 places when the boys run the 2.4km for PE twice a week. Whilst he sniffed roundly at the prospect of joining Track and Field, he was pleased at his placement for running at PE. So, Little Boy has asked his father to train with him for the upcoming cross-country run.

So... my friends were right when they comforted me so many months ago when I bemoaned Little Boy's aversion to jogging. "When he gets into secondary school, he'll WANT to excel at these physical activities. It's a guy thing." they said.

And so it is.

Some days, he steps through the door... walks 5 steps and crashes out on the sofa till dinner time. I'll push dinner all the way from 6.30pm to 7.30pm so that I don't have to wake him up. On other days, he's up at 5 to get some homework or project work done.

Despite the tiring days and the many plates he has to keep spinning, Little Boy goes about looking pleased and fulfilled... like he's having fun and has a purpose in life. And THAT makes my heart sing.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Power of a Child's Motivation

I just want to show readers the stark difference in quality of work produced by a child who goes from hum-drum motivation to highly motivated.

Little W learnt plenty of writing techniques from me over 9 hours of writing class in December 2012. He understood my requirements very well because he is a reasonably intelligent child.

When I began to teach him again in February 2013, I asked him to produce a piece of writing. He produced a singularly flat piece of work that all but screamed at me "My creator wrote me on auto-pilot. He wrote me with neither passion nor strength of will nor any determination to create beauty. He wrote me because he was trying to get his homework over and done with so that he could go do other things. My creator did not take his time to enjoy writing me. My creator didn't really want to make me."

Here is the singularly uninspired piece the boy did in a hurry - uncorrected.

Little W's Composition Handed in 2nd February 2013
It was a summery and oven like afternoon . John and his classmates, James and Frank hastily stuffed their crumpled worksheets into their school bags . School had just ended .The three chums had decided to go to the nearest food court to have their lunch .

John and his classmates arrived at the food court which was a stone throw away . The food court was crowded with students from their school . John and his friends spent ten minutes searching for a table before at long last , James spotted a seat at the far end right corner of the elephantine food court . James told his friends that he had spotted a table forthwith . John and his pals dashed to the unoccupied table . After placing their belongings on the table . John and Frank went to buy their food while James kept a lookout for their belongings .

John went to the usual fried noodle store he always went to . " One bowl of fried noodles please , " John told the stall owner . " That would be two dollars pleased, " replied the stall owner , John stuck his right hand into his pocket and fished out a two dollar note . The bowl of febrile fried noodles was given to John . John used both his hands to carry the bowl of heated fried noodles . He was about to turn around when a cleaner carrying a tray of grimy bowls fell onto him . Seeing this , the cleaner and John apologised to each other profusely . After that , John bought another bowl of fried noodles and went to the table to eat his lunch . After having his scrumptious bowl of fried noodles , John and his friends headed back home .

John's uniform was stained with soup and noodles . On that very day , John learned to be more careful and learned to always to look around before making a move.

I huddled with Little W's mom. We teamed up and co-ordinated our use of Dr Pet's motivation strategies and on 2nd March 2013, I received a sparkling piece of work in my email from Little W. I have appended it below - uncorrected.

Mom proudly wrote and said "I am proud to say that he did this compo all by himself... I did not expect that he would take so long to do this compo. He was determined to meet the criteria... He wrote a para, and then lazed around. He wrote another para, and then lazed around some more. I even told him he could stop since it was so difficult..."

Little W's Composition Handed in 2nd March 2013
Boisterous students chatted away as their form teachers tried their best in getting their disorganised classes to line up to go to the school hall in anticipation of the Prime Minister of Singapore and his wife. At long last, the form teachers got their classes under control and they started to head towards the school hall. The school hall was dirt- free. The air smelt fresh as if the school had just replaced their grimy school hall with a brand-new one. You could hear the form teachers getting their students to sit down in an organised manner so that the Prime Minister would get a good impression of the students. The students wiped the sweat of their faces and fanned themselves. 

When the Prime Minister and his wife arrived, the students instantly stood up and welcomed them with a thunderous applause. Mr Tan, every students' favourite teacher, addressed the Prime Minister and his wife as they took their seats. At that point, Tom, the class bully started annoying, Jamie, the " Teacher's pet " as he was listening attentively to Mr Tan. The more Mr Tan said, the more Tom got annoying. Finally, Jamie got really annoyed that he stood up, pushed Tom with such unbelievable force that even Tom found it hard to believe .Tom landed so hard that his chair broke." Would you STOP IT ! "Jamie shouted as loud as a nuclear bomb exploding a centimeter away from you. Jamie's shout filled the whole school hall even the Prime Minister and his wife stared disbelievingly at Jamie. Jamie grabbed Tom in the collar and screamed at Tom " The next time you pick on me, I will slam the chair on you! " The Prime Minister and his wife were taken aback by Jamie's rude and disruptive behaviour. 

Immediately, the student's teacher, Mrs Fong came running up to the two boys and told the two boys to stop, but the two boys were having a vicious fight and were exchanging punches. Mrs Fong told the boys to bring the fight to an end, Jamie stopped punching Tom but Tom punched Jamie in the eye and the fight continued. Finally , Mrs Fong was so incensed she actually slapped Tom in the back. The two boys turned around to see an indignant Mrs Fong staring irately at the two of them. Mrs Fong scolded the two boys for their bad behaviour " Do you want the Prime Minister and his wife to have a bad impression of our school? " The Tom and Jamie hung their heads in embarrassment, and replied " No. " " Then behave yourselves! " After being reprimanded, the two boys sat down and Mr Tan continued his speech. 

The assembly ended. The students were lining up and going back to their classes. Jamie asked Tom whether he should go up to the Prime Minister and apologise for his rudeness. At first Tom refused to apologise to the Prime Minister as he thought the Prime Minister might scold him. After thinking for a moment, Tom relented. Tom and Jamie separated from their class and started searching for the Prime Minister and his wife. At last they found the Prime Minister and his wife, Jamie tapped gently on the Prime Minister's back , the Prime Minister turned around and stared down at both the boys. " Mr Prime Minister, we are really very sorry about our bad behaviour during the speech. " The Prime Minister's stern face turned into a smile and said he would forgive the boys. From that day onwards, Tom learned never to underestimate the power of other pupils and never to be annoying. Jamie learned how to control his temper better. The two boys turned over a new leaf and became well - behaved students.

When I started my English Enrichment classes, I was a little hesitant. I gave myself one year to decide whether I liked doing this. I must say that this is great fun. It's immensely thrilling to ignite a child's internal drive for the English Language. Have you ever tried lighting the coals for a barbecue? How do you feel when you do successfully get the fire going?

Well... I feel that... but 10 times more intensely.

Singapore's Child: Operant Conditioning

The March 2013 issue of Singapore's Child carries an article from Dr Pet, on how to use operant conditioning to get your child to like doing things he/she doesn't quite like. The article starts off as follows...

Most people know about the famous experiment done by Pavlov in 1901. Pavlov rang a bell and then fed the dog. Very soon, the dog associated the sound of the bell with food. It would salivate at the mere sound of the bell, even if not given food. 

Following in Pavlov’s footsteps, another less famous and highly unethical experiment was carried out on a baby of eight months. The researcher, John B. Watson placed the baby on a mat atop a table. A white rat was placed on the same table. Naturally, the baby reached out to play with the rat. Whenever the baby touched the rat, the researcher made a deafening sound. This sound frightened the baby so much, that it began to cry. These actions were repeated several times. Eventually, the baby demonstrated a stress response at the mere sight of the white rat, even without the deafening sound.


I am not allowed to reproduce the whole article here right now so if you want to read the whole thing, grab yourself a copy of Singapore's Child.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Gâteau Savoyard

It's so sad... a house without children in it. Gone are the days when I rolled my eyes and wished for the kids to grow up and begone. Now that they are grown up and rather gone, the house is empty most of the time. There isn't anyone to cook for... make iced lollies for... no one to eat cakes, biscuits and such.

On Sundays, everyone is home. Sunday mornings have become such precious times with BOTH children home that I make special effort on Sundays. This morning, I woke up earlier and made a Gâteau Savoyard. This was The Daughter's favourite cake when she was small. She munched happily and said "Mom... I haven't had this in AGES!" Little Boy thinks that the earlier I sit down to write out his favourite Petunia's Recipes, the better. He is anxious to ensure that he'll still get to savour the tastes of his childhood if Petunia suddenly.... errrr... you know...