Happy Teacher’s Day

It’s Teacher’s Day and the boys had their celebration in school yesterday. Every year, we would make it a point to brainstorm on gift ideas for their favourite teachers. I have to admit that most of the time, the boys were clueless and Mom ended up being the one scouring the internet for ideas. So far, the internet has served us well.

We made Granola last year and Rainbow Bath Salt the year before. This year we found these cute printables and decided to make these candy cards for their teachers. They were really easy to make. Just print, cut and stick.

We used Hershey’s Nuggets which were just the right size for the printed candy wrappers. The elder brother helped to hot glue all the candy wrappers to the candies and the little one did the easier job of sticking the candies onto the cards. I contributed by giving them access to my stash of card stock. We had a little problem trying to get the cards to stand due to the weight of the candies and had to improvise by sticking some sturdier cardboards to the back of the cards. Thankfully it worked!

My elder son is actually at the stage where ‘it is not very cool to give a teacher’s day gift’ but these were so cute, he decided to grab a handful of them to place on the teachers’ desks. The little one was delighted when told by his form teacher that his candy card was the BEST present she had received this year. It was delightful to know that the teachers enjoyed this simple gift.

My husband chirped that he had NEVER given any present to his teachers before! Perhaps it’s a guy thing and it made me wonder how many teachers went away feeling unappreciated because they did not receive a card or a gift on Teacher’s Day.

Teaching is a very noble profession that shapes the character, caliber, and future of an individual. If the people remember me as a good teacher, that will be the biggest honor for me. ~ A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

I always believe that teaching is a noble profession and that the really passionate ones are often driven by more than a fat pay check. Unlike a parent who teaches her own offsprings, it takes a big heart for someone to dedicate his/her time to teaching and shaping minds of little ones who are totally unrelated to them. What drives and motivates a good teacher is usually intrinsic and perhaps even beyond the tangible.

If children are the future pillars of our nation then teachers are the ones, along with parents, who help lay the foundation for our pillars. What job can be more important than this?

It is not an exaggeration to say that a great teacher can change a student’s life. I have seen in my boys, how a good teacher can make them enjoy a lesson on a subject that they hate. They are motivated to do well for the subject because they don’t want to disappoint their teachers.

Then there are teachers who may not always hold it together. These are times when we get the opportunity to teach the kids about empathy and respect.

They learn that they should hold their tongues and show respect even if the teachers weren’t always nice. That if their mom can go berserk trying to manage 2 kids, what more for a teacher who needs to teach a class of rowdy kids on a daily basis.

The work a teacher put in might seem invisible but I believe that the effect goes beyond an award, a gold star or what KPIs can measure. We probably can’t tell when their influence will stop but we know it will leave a trail on the hearts of the students that were being taught.

So to the teachers who inspire, motivate, encourage or simply show us that you are just human, thank you and Happy Teacher’s Day.




The Miracle Ball

It’s less than 48 hours away from Army Half Marathon and I can’t keep calm!

I have been taking it easy and haven’t been running much since Singtel Cancer Run in July. I had strained my muscles a few weeks before my Cancer run and suffered an acute pain around my waist and my back area. I couldn’t walk without limping and resting didn’t help. I ended up doing lots of massaging and managed to recover in time for the run.

A search on the internet shows that one needs at least 10 weeks to train for a half marathon. Depending on whether you are a first timer or a beginner, the recommendation is about an average of 14km to 36km of running per week. I think I barely meet the minimum mileage!

My Runkeeper record showed that I only managed to do 3 outdoor runs for the month of July (which added up to about 28km). I don’t really stick to a schedule or train with a plan but I do turn on my Runkeeper whenever I cycle or run outdoors. (Runkeeper doesn’t work on treadmill!)

The last 2 weeks felt like a final dash to the finishing line, a desperate effort to build myself up for the run.

So for the month of August, my Runkeeper showed
Week 1: 9.81km run (Sunday)
Week 2: 8.36km run (Wednesday) 53.89km bike (Friday) 32.22km bike (Sunday)
Week 3: 12.74km run (Tuesday) 16.71km run (Friday) 10.23km run(Sunday)
Week 4: 31.41km bike (Monday) 5km treadmill (Monday) 5km treadmill (Tuesday) 10km treadmill (Thursday)

I was told that I should be resting my muscles this week, but instead, I have been doing more runs. I am left with a couple more days to go and my son said that I should be more disciplined with the resting and massaging!

Research on the internet shows that muscle recovery is just as important as the workout. In fact, muscle recovery should be part of the workout.

There is a whole lot of science on recovery process and it includes hydration, rest and eating the right kind of food. Part of the recovery process is getting a good massage.

Massage can help to speed up recovery by improving circulation and helping to remove waste products from your muscles. You can either go to a certified massage therapist or do it yourself. My friends in the fitness industry swear by these massage balls and they use them for their whole body, from head to toe.

It requires some practice to get good with these but once you get the hang of it, these massage balls can take over the job of your massage therapist. They are very convenient to bring around and definitely cheaper than going to a massage therapist!

My husband and I have been using massage balls for a while now and we pack them in our luggage whenever we go for holidays. They are good for relieving tired muscles after a long flight and are especially useful when we go for our hiking and skiing trips. We use them to relieve aches and sores from a day of outdoor activities.

There are many videos on the internet that show how to effectively use them, from massaging the sole of your feet (from too much walking on high heels) to shoulders blades (from sitting too long in front of computers). I used them mainly for my legs especially my hamstrings, calves, hips and quad areas after running.

Basically, all you need to do is put the ball between your body and the floor (or wall). The massage ball works by releasing tight muscles either by rolling through muscles or working with specific pressure points for a sustained period of time. You will feel pain and sore but trust me, those shall pass and you will be rewarded with a satisfying sensation!

Since the pain on my waist and back, I had stopped going for my pilate classes and relied solely on these balls to help me get back to running. I would highly recommend these not only to people who work out a lot but also to anyone who suffers from muscle aches and pain!

Let’s hope that this Sunday’s run won’t be too painful. Meanwhile Keep Calm and Keep on Running!


This entry was posted in Fitness.

Joseph Schooling

joseph schooling
Our hearts swelled with pride as we watched Joseph Schooling explode in the pool to win Singapore’s first Olympic gold. We could faintly hear cheering in the distance as Schooling punched the water on realising that he has beat his childhood idol and created a new Olympic record. As the Singapore flag was raised in Rio and our familiar Majulah Singapura was played, we could feel the celebratory mood all round Singapore. Yet, soon, we also heard murmurings that Schooling should just stay in the US because Singapore did little to contribute to this historic moment.

Did Schooling win because of the Singapore system or in spite of it? He had to pack his bag and go to boarding school and university in the US in order to get the training he needed. If his family was not well off, could he have gone on this path? In fact, his parents had to go to extraordinary lengths to fight the Singapore system to get a long term deferment for National Service. Some arguments could also be made that the Singapore system supported his quest for Olympic gold. Would Schooling have been successful if he was born somewhere else? Did Singapore not provide the environment for him to at least start his journey towards Olympic gold?

The fact remains that his parents went to extraordinary lengths to support Schooling. From getting him the best coach, deferment of his NS, uprooting him from the local school and sending him overseas. They did not limit themselves to what the country had to offer. They took things in their own hands and made things happen.

But, which olympic champion was not made through extraordinary actions, effort and a path less well trodden, both by the individual and his support structure? If we agree that champions are only made through extraordinary action and effort, then the question thus is how can we repeat this feat as a nation? Should we not facilitate the individuals and parents in making this extraordinary effort? Should we not make our system extraordinary to groom our future olympians. We can reduce the burden on the parents when they decide to take the path less travelled.

We have invested heavily in sports infrastructure and to try to encourage sports. We built a new Sports Hub, opened the Singapore Sports School, blew a fortune to host the Youth Olympics, etc. This was a good start. But it is time to move on and take the next step.

The Schooling family had enough fortitude to decide that swimming was a viable career path for Joseph. They had enough courage to go forth and do something totally different. Singapore has benefitted tremendously from their courage. What can Singapore do to create the conditions for our sporting talents to consider sports as a viable career path? We are indeed small and I am not sure how, but surely we can innovate and find a way?

While I am glad that our government is now showering attention on our newly minted Olympic gold medalist, I wish they could do more for athletes who wanted to try. I wish they not just show love to those who bring home medals. Perhaps it’s idealistic. But I wish our government is like the type of parent I strive to be. To bring out the best in our sons and daughters. To believe even if they can’t see (yet). Nurturing and supportive. Not mercenary and calculative.

There is a difference between our table tennis team bringing home medals and Joseph Schooling winning last week. The former probably stirred up more controversy than support from fellow Singaporeans.

We can identify with Joseph Schooling, a true blue Singaporean who was born and bred here. In fact his Eurasian heritage most aptly represent Singapore’s multiracialism. His success story is an inspiration to fellow Singaporeans. His parents probably went through the same anxiety when it came to choosing Primary school and Schooling taking his PSLE. They believed and were courageous enough to take the path less travelled. Schooling’s story was part of the Singapore story. His experience was part of the Singapore experience.

For a young multi-cultural and multi-racial nation that is becoming increasingly polarized along socio-economic and political lines, nation building is no mean task. For me, sports can be an integral part of nation building and that is why we should invest in sports and stop buying mercenaries to play for Singapore. It’s not just about winning. It’s how we get there, as a country, as a nation.

What do we really have to unite us? Singlish? National Service? The national anthem? A national dress? Food? Every time I meet someone from another country, I would be amazed at how proud they are of their history, traditions, culture, and things that make them unique. I tried many a times to find something uniquely Singaporean.

In recent times, I began to find anchors to the Singaporean experience that transcended all racial, religious, and social boundaries. One such anchor was the passing of our founding prime minister LKY. The memory of that week long mourning still brings back goosebumps. It reminded me of our unique experience and journey to the First World. I began to understand that what really makes us Singaporean is the unique Singaporean experience. Our own little histories, stories, idiosyncrasies, and traditions no matter how small and silly they may look.

In that 50.39 seconds that Joseph Schooling took to win the 100m butterfly, he didn’t just give us our first olympic gold medal, he made Singapore stronger as a nation as we rallied and cheered him on, regardless of race, language or religion.

There is no KPI for nation building. There is no direct economic return for nation building. It is not quantifiable or measurable. But it is the glue that bonds us together as a nation and do amazing things.

To the Schoolings, congratulations to your amazing win and thank you for making us stronger and prouder as a nation, as a Singaporean.

Here’s what Joseph’s 50.39s taught this mother

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