Happiness is... remembering life is beyond grades

Posted by ~Summer~ on November 20, 2019
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October was the month of year end exams for us. The P4 girl had her SA2 exams which make up 80% of her final score and the P1 girl, though didn't have exams per se, still had quite a number of tests and topical reviews during this period.

I am not the mum who believes that academic achievements are not important. No matter how the educational system keeps on changing, my constant wish is for my kids to try their best in every subject and make sure they are learning adequately along the way. Though the last thing I want is for them to compare themselves against their peers and feel insufficient in any way, I definitely want them to better themselves as we go along, be able to pick themselves up from failure and learn to work hard and put in sweat, time and effort so as to enjoy the fruits of their labour.

That said, I am also the mum who believes that play doesn't ever have to stop, even if it's during exams weeks. Some of our friends saw our activities and were amazed that we still went out every weekend and even on alternate weekdays to playgrounds and events so as to let the kids unwind and have fun. Well, I've said before I don't really believe in or advocate last minute studying but rather, I believe it's their consistency throughout the year that will pay off. The big girl will be in Primary 5 next year but we are still opting for the no-tuition route because I don't want anything to rob us of our free time to have fun and play together. That doesn't mean that I am a good teacher to them - many of you wrongly assumed so - because on most days, I just don't have the luxury of time to sit down one-on-one with them since it's me versus three kids day in day out. Seriously, I feel that teaching your own kid can make both parties flare up easily and it's always easier said than done. Still, we are choosing to stay on this route and try to cope on our own and I believe that this makes the kids stronger, more independent and more responsible for their own work too.

Anyway, we still did a lot and played a lot in the month of October and I hope the kids will understand how their happiness matters more to me than anything else in the world. In this "Happiness is..." post, it's about remembering that life is not just about grades but goes far beyond that.




Last month, we were on a mission to explore our neighbourhood and check out playgrounds that we had never been before. The kids are always happy to go out scooting or cycling and it's such a good walking exercise for me each time we go out. Haha. We found so many gems in our estate - over half a dozen! - and I believe we still have many more to uncover too. Each time we stumbled on a new playground, the kids would be so excited and couldn't wait to start exploring and playing. I'm thinking we are going to have a blast this school holidays just playground hunting and the best thing is this activity is for free! Yippee.



Back at home, our sensory play corner is up again! Yup, the kids were thrilled to set up the tent once more and we bought a whole lot of beans again for them to play with as they pretended to cook, had fun scooping, mixing and pouring and basically just making a mess.



On weekends when Papa is home, we will go out for spontaneous outings and sometimes we only decide where to go when we are in the car. Yup. This was us at Jewel which was totally unplanned and I wouldn't have let the kids or myself wear jumpers if I had known beforehand - our legs were freezing! Nonetheless, we totally enjoyed our Toastbox and A&W breakfast and had a fun time checking out the Halloween section in the supermarket where we once again tried to prank and scare each other.



Family movie nights happen once a week for us and that doesn't change even when it's during the exam period. I mean, revision can only take place for so long before you need to destress, wind down and just relax and have fun, right? The kids and I watch all kinds of shows, including animated films, action thrillers, sci-fi movies and even horror ones - as long as they are PG13 and below. This was us watching Train to Busan on Ch 5 one Saturday night and I know, not many people will agree that it is okay for kids to watch such movies. For us, we always talk about the make up and effects and will search the behind-the-scene clips on YouTube afterwards too. This helps to let them understand how the movie was made and they were even tickled to see the makeup process and watch how the 'zombies' were trained by an instructor to walk like zombies. I guess parents know best on when your kids are ready to accept and watch more genres of shows so just follow your heart, yeah? That said, I have no intention of going beyond zombies and letting them watch those Thai/Korean/Jap ghost movies or ones like Annabelle or It because I don't think we are keen or ready for them (and I am scared too, okay). Yup, drawing the line at zombie shows for now.







Talking about Halloween, we went for a couple of Halloween celebrations this year and the kids were looking forward to them, especially Spooky Town 2 at KidZania since they went for the inaugural one last year. It wasn't spooky like the name suggested but still lots of good fun for the kids anyway. It was the first time we decided to dress up as zombies and even though we looked a funny mix with some as students, one as teacher and the last as a race car driver, it was a night to remember and we had lots of fun together. It was also the first time the kids tried to draw the make up for us using face crayons and I bet they were mighty pleased about this opportunity. Haha.

Thanks to ByKido, we also had a Round 2 of celebration with our friends and it was a day where we were out for 14 hours and still, the kids wanted to stay on to play more and collect more treats! Honestly, where does their energy come from?



For Children's Day this year, I did what I always do - simple, handmade gifts for the little ones. This time, I drew an angel, a mermaid and a Spiderman and turned them into shrinky dink keychains. The kids were really happy to receive them and immediately went to hang them onto their school bags. Awww, thanks for reciprocating the love!



Thanks to ByKido once again, we had our first visit to HeadRock VR which is located in Resort World Sentosa. The kids were eager to try out the rides and we went rafting, sat on a dog sleigh, went on roller coasters, visited a haunted house and more. The games were not only kid-friendly but adult-friendly too and even the hubby and I enjoyed ourselves tremendously. Yup, parents need to find time to play too and let their hair down every once in a while, right?



In view of the eldest's keen interest in entomology, we made a trip to the Ants exhibition before it ended. It was smaller than we expected but the kids still spent a good hour observing, learning and even feeding mealworms to the ants. She had brought along her notebook and went around writing down the scientific names and behavioural traits of the different types of ants. Yup, this girl is definitely more knowledgeable than me when it comes to six-legged creatures and creepy crawlies.


We have always supported our local theatre scene and the kids have grown to love watching plays. The Gingerbread Man by The Little Company is a truly awesome show to watch and we were blown away by their creative props, the powerful vocals, the audience interaction and the impressive performance put up by the cast. We had the rare opportunity to interact with them prior to the show and the kids were even able to try building their own barn using electric toy drills, screws and bolts too. If you haven't seen the show, go get the tickets now before the last show on 7 Dec, it will be a treat for the kids this holidays.



In my October's 快乐妈咪 post, I shared about the importance of getting the kids to start doing chores from young and this is something I strongly believe in. So even if the eldest has her exams going on, it still doesn't give her an excuse to exempt herself from doing anything to help. We still need to wear clothes, need a house to live in and need to eat every day mah, right? I received much positive feedback from many of you after the post was published so thank you very much for giving me the support and encouragement that I need in order to keep going strong in this journey.



On the topic of chores, we like to visit the supermarket as a family, especially on weekends when the Papa is around. He is the expert when it comes to seafood so he will always share his knowledge with the kids - for instance here, he was telling them how to differentiate a male crab from its female counterpart. It's nice seeing how they have the desire to learn and how they love going grocery shopping with us too. I'm not sure how long it will last but I think cultivating it as a habit and a fun thing to do since young will go a long way.







The girls have been great help in the kitchen last month and on good days, I don't even need to holler and nag and they will come running in to help. Well, it might be an excuse to get away from doing homework or revision but it's something I will gladly allow them to do. The eldest is getting better and better at frying while the little sister, who is the most passionate cook of all, is now very good when it comes to chopping garlic, cracking eggs and peeling potatoes and carrots.






They are always happy to see the final dishes on the table and I think it gives them a sense of accomplishment and makes them more willing to finish everything on the plates too. It's okay that we always cook simple dishes and that we tend to stick to our favourites instead of trying out new recipes all the time, I'm just very thankful and happy that we get to eat homecooked meals and that we are able to keep this up even though dinner on weekdays is usually a mum-and-kids affair in recent years.





Chores do not include cooking only, right? There's so much more that I have to do in the house so I've been trying to rope the kids in occasionally too. The girls help me out when we are changing bedsheets, the boy likes to wipe the floor and they all have to learn to tidy their own study tables, bedrooms and living room too. A lot to ask for? Well, I still do a lot of the work and I think they can even do more IF they want to, you know. I think one of the most heartwarming things is knowing that they try to do it out of love for me and not wanting me to be overtired. It's like how they let me nap in the afternoon and not wake me up if unnecessary too because they know how precious my rest time and sleep is. Awww, thanks my dears!





We've been trying to make keeping fit a part of our routine and while it doesn't happen every day or as often as I would like it to, at least we're slowly but surely getting there. The girls and I have started doing yoga together and we still carve out time to do our Figure 8 dance workouts too because they are really fun to follow and a good way to bond while we trim those fats too - not that the girls have much but I do ley.


I always look forward to a good massage but it's usually done when we are overseas so let's see, that means probably just once in a few years? Haha. Yup, partly too expensive and partly impossible to just dump the kids and go off. So when The Outcall Spa knocked on our door and offered to send over a massage therapist and treat me to a 90-minute massage, it was too good to pass on. I tried to make the kids go to bed early but still, our massage started past 11pm lor. Haha. My therapist was Yuki and look at the nice massage bed that she had brought along to set up in my living room! Yup, everything from the towels, massage oils to even soothing music and a cup of hot tea at the end were provided by her. I was totally impressed and you bet I had a rejuvenating and relaxing session.


We also held a picnic in the comfort of our balcony, thanks to Fusspot and Foodie who sent over some healthy snacks which were so easy to prepare and serve. The kids loved the sweet potato pancakes which had chocolate chips while I was surprised by how yummy the spinach pizza was. It was an afternoon where they bonded and laughed over little things and I was happy to see how they would feed each other the treats too. When I walked away for a while to get more food, I went back to see the three of them huddled closely and looking out of the balcony while enjoying their food and making small talk. Seeing sweet moments like this, I definitely feel thankful that they have each other to count on for life.




Art class continues even though it takes place on a weekday night and one of the lessons was right in the midst of Angel's Paper 2 exams. It was a way for her to feel free, be happy and not feel the exam stress so I didn't see why we had to change the date or postpone it to the following week. It's been seven years since she started on her art learning journey and even though we can't predict when we will put an end to it yet, I'm thankful to see that she still has a passion in art and love coming up with her own masterpieces too.


Last but not least, I wrote these love notes for the girls and slipped them into their bags to give them a surprise when they reached school. They have been stepping up and not just coming home on their own after school but also going to school on their own too. It's a huge relief for me especially on solo parenting days because I still have the youngest to care for and it's tough to split myself into two. I wanted it to be a way to encourage and motivate them for the exams and also to remind them that as long as they did their best, then their best is more than good enough for us. No matter what happens at the end of the day when the results are out, it would never affect how much we love them and we would always be there to support and cheer them on.

Time flies and we are now into the year end school holidays already! We have so many things lined up ahead of us and I can't wait to share with you more about our holiday plans. I hope all of you will enjoy the holidays and have a great time bonding with your family too, yeah? Till more thoughts on happiness at the end of the November!


Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg

Posted by ~Summer~ on November 13, 2019
in

I've had perfect eyesight all my life.

Right, that means I achieved a consistent score of 6/6 all the way since Primary School and you bet I felt mighty pleased and extremely thankful about it. Okay, maybe I did slip a little at the end because I remember seeing a 6/9 score somewhere but the fact remains that I never did have a need to wear spectacles or contact lens and can proclaim myself to be free from myopia.

After becoming a mum, I naturally hoped to pass my good eyesight genes to my kids and wished they wouldn't take after their Dad in that aspect, but as you know, life don't always turn out the way you want it to. Ever since Angel was young, she had a keen interest in reading and this passion of hers only got stronger as she grew. All she wanted, and still wants, to do in her spare time is read, read and read more. It's a good thing to know that your child is a bookworm yet it gets worrying when she holds the book too closely, forgets to switch on her light, slouches over her table, lies down to read and displays all the bad reading habits despite a million reminders and incessant nagging.

Her first vision test came back with a score of 6/9 when she was in K2 and when we brought her to Health Promotion Board for a more detailed examination, we were told that she had mild astigmatism. This year, she is in Primary 4 and when she did the eye check in April, it came back with an alarming score of 6/12 in her left eye, 6/18 in her right eye and a referral letter to bring her to the optometrist. Yup, the words "Oh no..." came to my mind right away and no matter how hard I wanted to deny it, we had stepped onto the road of no return.

The only few things I could do as a mum were to get her fitted with a good pair of spectacles, try my best to help control her progression and keep reminding her about the importance of having good reading habits. At that point, her degree was still relatively low and she was told that she did not need to put the specs on all the time. She only needed to wear them when having lessons, doing homework, reading, watching TV or movies. Other than that, she didn't need to when she played, ate, danced or ran around.

Within three months, all of that changed.

A revisit to the optometrist made us realise that despite our best efforts, her degree had gone up too quickly. We are talking about 25-50 degree increase in EACH eye. To quote her optometrist at that time, she said it was quite a "drastic" change and we needed to do something about it before it got worse. If we didn't, judging by how the progression was going, we might be dealing with a degree as bad as 500 to 600 when she goes to secondary school.

She then told Angel that she needed to put on her specs at ALL times, which drew a loud gasp and a horrified look from her. That is because not only did she find it cumbersome and uncomfortable to wear specs for long periods of time, she also didn't like to put it on whenever she danced. With dance as her CCA since Primary 2, she has been actively participating in competitions and public performances and will be representing her school in next year's SYF. Most, if not all, of her dance mates have said that they too do not like wearing specs because it gets in the way, risks falling off and of course, doesn't make them look so good on stage too. Well, I guess that forms a big motivation for her to go specs-free.

Thanks to eyesight.sg, the big girl embarked on her Ortho-k journey since September and let's just says she has never looked back ever since. Let me share with you more on what it is all about and how our experience has been so far.


WHAT IS ORTHO-K AND HOW DOES IT WORK

Orthokeratology, or Ortho-K, is the use of specially designed and fitted contact lenses to temporarily reshape the cornea in order to improve vision. It is a surgery-free method to mainly correct myopia, or short-sightedness, which occurs when the eyeball is too long, causing light to fall in front of the retina rather than on it, making distant objects appear blurred. As Ortho-K works like orthodontics, it is also described as "braces for the eyes". Most Ortho-K lenses are worn at night to reshape the front surface of the eye while you sleep.

Image credit: eyesight.sg

WHO ARE SUITABLE CANDIDATES?

Did you know? Singapore has the highest myopia rate in the world and around 80 per cent of 18-year-olds grapple with the condition, says the Singapore National Eye Centre.

Mr Titus Wu, who is in the International Academy of Orthokeratology, says that children from as young as six years old can use Ortho-K. Primary and secondary school students are good candidates as they experience the highest myopia progression, an average increase of about 75 degrees per year. He also mentioned that research has shown that Ortho-K is “one of the most effective methods for myopia control”, doing so by reducing eyeball growth.

Can adults go for Ortho-K treatment too? The answer is YES, it is suitable for all ages. Ortho-K can also be used to correct long-sightedness and astigmatism.

HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM LASIK

Lasik is an invasive surgical method that permanently reshapes the cornea. It is not recommended for children and teens because at their age, myopia usually continues to progress and only stabilises at around the age of 21.

Ortho-K, on the other hand, is non-invasive and reversible. When you wear the lenses to sleep overnight and remove them the next day morning, the cornea stays flattened for a while and vision is corrected without the need for glasses. Clear vision typically lasts about 12-18 hours or even longer. However, if you stop wearing the lenses, your eyes will eventually go back to their original shape and the refractive error will return. That also means you have to keep wearing the lenses regularly to keep the vision correction.

THE 3 Cs

When we visited eyesight.sg's outlet in Potong Pasir, we met up with our optometrist Ken Tong, who is also the vice-president of Singapore Optometric Association. He was friendly, knowledgeable and gave us a detailed introduction to what Ortho-K is about, how it works and what we need to pay attention to. In his words, it all boils down to the 3Cs.

Commitment 
- To stay motivated throughout the journey and be determined to make it work

Consistency
- To be diligent in practising good hygiene habits and be meticulous in your routine

Communication
- To communicate closely with the parents and optometrists and be able to voice out any concern

Once we were sure that she was ready to embark on the journey, we proceeded with the consultation.






FIRST VISIT (25 Aug 2019)

Our first visit lasted around an hour. Besides having a briefing with Ken to find out more about how Ortho-K works, Angel also had her an eye examination so that they could record her details in their database. Using an instrument called a corneal topographer, Ken then mapped and measured the surface of her cornea. As the shapes of our corneas and degree of myopia vary from individual to individual, the lens are therefore one-of-a-kind and customised for your needs. Note that the machine doesn't touch the eyes and there is no pain or discomfort involved. In fact, everything was done swiftly and all we had to do was wait for a couple of weeks while the laboratory worked on getting her lenses ready.







SECOND VISIT (13 SEP 2019)

This was when we collected the Ortho-K lens as well as learn about the routine, including how to put them on and take them off, how to cleanse them, how to store them and so on. When we first saw the lens, we were curious as to why one was blue and one was green. It turned out that this made it easy for Angel to remember which is for which eye - BLUE for Left and GREEN for right.

These lenses are referred to as hard lenses because they are more rigid and sturdy so that they can help to reshape the cornea when you sleep. Yet, they are still gas permeable so as to allow oxygen to flow through and keep the eyes healthy. The lenses are still soft to touch and your child needs to learn to be careful in handling them. We've heard of tears and breakages and that is the last thing you want because each pair can cost over $2,000. Yup, the cost of Ortho-K lenses typically ranges from $1,800 onward but if you are cautious and take good care of them, they can last for a good 1.5 to 2 years and subsequent pairs will come at a more affordable cost too. If they can help to control and slow down myopia progression - which is what we all want for our child - I think that the investment is well worth its while too.


This time, we met with Xue Ting from eyesight.sg who was very patient and kind in teaching Angel the routine. We had estimated that the whole visit would last around two hours but guess what, we ended up spending 3.5 hours here! Haha. Let me tell you why.



Initially, everything was going smoothly as we learnt about the techniques of how to cleanse, store and handle the lenses. Angel tried cleansing and rinsing them and that was not a problem for her. The problem came when she was asked to try putting on the lenses - well, of course she had to learn to do it in the shop! Otherwise, we wouldn't be able to do it at home without professional guidance.

She was quick and efficient when putting in her first lens and that took merely a couple of minutes. Xue Ting and I were impressed and thought things were going well and we could wrap up soon. However, she then realised that it could get uncomfortable and that was when she found it hard to open her eyes. In fact, she kept them closed for a long time before getting used to the feeling of having something foreign in her eyes. Can't blame her for feeling that since it's her first time, right?



So she got a little scared and apprehensive after that and let's just say she tried dozens of time to put in her second lens but failed. This was because she would hesitate after pulling her eyelids wide open and when she finally tried to put it in, she would blink and the lens would fall out. So she had to pick it up, clean it and put eye drops in it before trying again. It took us nearly an hour for her to finally do it and that was with lots of encouragement and patience. For someone like me who doesn't wear contact lenses and doesn't really understand the feeling, I was glad to have Xue Ting who was most patient with Angel and coached her step by step again and again till she was able to do it.




Removing the lenses was comparatively much easier to learn and she could do it in just a few minutes. More importantly, she had to learn how to store the lenses, do a weekly deep cleansing and keep them as clean as possible to minimise the risk of infection. After making sure that we had all our supplies (see below for more), we were ready to do it on our own on the first night.



We bought her a storage box so she could set up an Ortho-K corner on her study table. This girl showed her commitment to her new journey by feeling excited and writing a note that says "Determination is the key to success" which she proudly displayed on her box. I guess we are off to a good start, yeah?




On her first solo attempt, she took 40 minutes to put in both of her lenses and that's already a marked improvement from the couple of hours she used in the shop. We knew it wouldn't be easy at the start but I was also confident that she would get used to it and be able to do it in a shorter time.

After weeks of practising, I am glad and happy to see that she now takes 10-15 minutes at night to wear her lenses before she sleeps and 5-10 minutes in the morning to remove them before she goes to school. That's a great improvement and it also means that the routines are not that time consuming once you get the hang of it. The only thing for her is that one of her lens tend to be more 'stuck' to the eye in the morning so we are trying to improve on that by making sure she gets enough eye drops and that the eyes stay hydrated and healthy.

She has also been advised to let her eyes rest and not put on her lenses if she is having sore eyes, cough, cold, flu or just feeling unwell in general. On rest days like that, she will revert back to wearing glasses though sometimes she says she still sees quite clearly without them and prefers not to wear anything.


Here is a look at all her Ortho-K supplies (other than the lenses):

- Saline solution
- Deep cleansing solution
- Eye Drops
- Cleanser (used once a week)
- Contact lens case
- Suction tool
- Mirror
- Kitchen towel

Yes, this means there will be additional expenses considering that you need to top up on any of these supplies when they run out. An estimated cost will be about $15-$20 a month.



THIRD VISIT (14 Sep 2019)

Our third visit took place just one day after getting the Ortho-K lenses. This was to make sure that everything was working well and that she was putting on the lenses correctly. Xue Ting would always help her to do a detailed eye check and would share with me her results and her progress along the journey. Can you imagine my surprise when I learnt that day that she had lowered her myopia degree by over 100 (75 in her right eye, 25 in her left eye)? That was just after one day of wearing the lenses and everything looked promising to us.


Xue Ting showed us Angel's cornea topography every time we visited and we were glad to learn that the lenses had stayed snugly and well-centered on her cornea so we were getting the correct compression and reshaping. We were also told that it would take weeks, sometimes months, for the maximum vision correction to occur so we had to keep up with the routine diligently.



FOURTH VISIT (21 Sept 2019) AND FIFTH VISIT (19 Oct 2019) 

Our fourth visit took place a week after the previous visit and the fifth visit a month after that. Subsequent visits will take place quarterly. I actually like that they have regular reviews because it helps to keep me assured that things are going well and the girl wasn't getting an infection or any issues that we need to worry about.

Besides doing an eye check to determine her progression, Xue Ting would also help her to check if there was any staining in her eyes. So far, we only know that there are some dots under her eyelids which can be due to dryness and is a common problem for all lens wearers so we are making sure that she puts her eye drops regularly, even in the middle of the day.


Xue Ting would also help to check the lenses to make sure that they were clean and had no deposits. She told Angel that she was doing a good job at cleansing and taking good care of her lenses, which was really a good and comforting thing for me to know too.



On her last check, I was also quite surprised to see that she had no problem reading the letters at the 6/6 line during her eye check and in fact, she said she could even see the smaller ones. It's definitely a great improvement from when we first started and I am excited to see if everything will get even better as we go along. For now, I remind myself to be patient and remind her to be diligent, meticulous and stay committed in this journey.

The best thing is seeing how happy she is to be specs-free so she can play, run and most of all, dance freely - which is definitely her biggest motivation to keep going.


Thanks to eyesight.sg for helping us to get started on this wonderful journey!

eyesight.sg
 148 Potong Pasir Ave 1
#01-51 S350148
827 Tampines Street 81 
#01-146 S520827

For more information, visit https://eyesight.sg or call or WhatsApp at (+65) 9824 1607 between Monday to Sunday 11am-9pm.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration between eyesight.sg and A Happy Mum. All opinions are our own.


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