Stand-Up Paddling – Fun for the entire family

We had the opportunity to try a new water sport, Stand-Up Paddle (SUP), at Constant Wind Sea Sports Centre which is located off Changi Coast Road.

The kids said it was one of the best family activities we’ve ever tried.

While I was arranging this sponsored session (thank you Constant Wind!) I showed them pictures and the 4 older girls were excited to give it a go.

#5 is fearful of water sports and asked if he could stay at home. I told him he has to come along, but could sit at the side and watch until he felt comfortable enough to join in.

Kate, being the gung ho little kid who wants to do everything the older jie jies do, quickly changed into her swim gear and waited at the door lest we left her behind.

I was a little apprehensive of how it would pan out with 1 reluctant kid and 1 young kid who can’t swim, but was thrilled that it turned out wonderfully.

The good thing about this sport is that you can take it as easy or as competitive as you desire.

Preparing to race

On the long drive there, the deserted road leading to the seasports centre set the mood that we were about to go someplace out of the ordinary. The kids were feeling high anticipation coupled with slight apprehension.

Upon arrival, we headed to the Pro-shop to register and sign the indemnity forms.

Our instructor for the day was a nice young man, Raymond, and he pointed out the changing rooms and got us togged out in life vests.

We slathered on sunblock before making our way to the edge of the facility where Raymond taught us how to paddle, turn, and most importantly how to fall off properly.

We attached the velcro band to our ankle so that our board will not float away if we fall in.

Our instructor held the board for us while we sat down, and we pushed off quite easily.

It is similar to kayaking but instead of a boat, we sit on a flat board.

Setting off

Kate and #5 refused to go on the board and agreed to follow the boatman gor gor.

His job was to ensure the safety of the group as he could speed to anyone who needed assistance. He was also the designated photographer and all these photos were taken by him. Thank you Bryon!

Kate’s first time in a power boat

As Kate watched us drift further and further away, she started to get worried and told the boatman gor gor that she wanted mummy. He sped to me but she started crying because she was afraid of the loud engine sound.

He was so accommodating that he turned off the engine to pacify her and paddled the 2 kids towards me.

When they reached me, Kate said she was afraid that “Mummy will disappear” and was agreeable to come onto my board.

I’m getting the hang of it

As you can see, she was really stiff and apprehensive of the whole deal. Gradually, she warmed up to what was happening as we reassured her that none of us was going to vanish into the distance and she was happy being paddled around by #3.

Acccording to Raymond, Kate is the youngest child they have ever had on SUP (previously they had a 4-year old), and he just had to add that he has never had so many kids in a family too 🙂

#5 is by nature very cautious with new experiences, but after watching from the boat for about half an hour, he was ready for some action.

Steadying her little brother

He hopped over from the boat and it was easy for him to stand up as #1 was providing the balance. After he got the hang of it, he progressed to doing it on his own, nicked my board and paddled all the way back!

So proud of him for overcoming his fear.

Once we got the hang of balancing and paddling, all of us managed to do it standing up and none fell into the water!

The older girls even raced each other far out and had a good workout.

What I really like is that with this flat board, we could lie flat and relax. (Yes, we all had different agendas). It feels wonderful to gaze up at the sky in the silence and stillness of the waters.

Before we knew it, the 2 hours was up and we paddled back to shore.
Spaghetti Bolognese $16

We were ravenous after the session and had an early dinner at Stella, which serves western and local cuisine. The charming ambience more than made up for the average food, although we really liked their Fried Chicken Wings ($11.50).

With planes flying overhead, the kids commented that it feels like we were on holiday, and it was such a bummer they had tests the next day and we couldn’t hang around longer.

Kate finished her meal before us and went to play at the little house and made new friends.

Simply idyllic

They are having a promotion from now until March 2016. Call 64455108 or email them at to book your slot.

We loved the whole experience so much that we will definitely be back during the school holidays!

Constant Wind Sea Sports and Sailing School
(National Service Resort & Country Club Seasports Centre)
11 Changi Coast Walk
Singapore 499740
Tel: 64455108

Disclaimer: We were sponsored a session of Stand-Up Paddle. All opinions are my own.

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Thankful… for my eldest child

Of all my kids, I found it hardest to write a thankful post about my eldest. Partly because she was rather rebellious during the last 4 years in secondary school, and partly because she speaks what she feels and doesn’t mince her words. Sometimes she comes across as being too brutally honest for me to accept, and sometimes, speaking to her is like speaking to a porcupine.

During those difficult years, I usually left her room bordering between feeling like I have failed as a parent and wondering why I had such an insolent child.

Comfort on big sis’s shoulder

This year, I can see a change in her. She is more caring towards her younger siblings, and family has taken on a greater significance for her.

Throughout the teenage years, friends were very important to her, and she wasn’t very close to the other kids. She was busy with school and her own schedule and when we went out as a family, she found them too noisy and pesky.

She is more sensible now and I can go to her for her opinions which are well deliberated and usually sound. In fact, I love our chats as I gain a different perspective on issues from her youthful viewpoint.

During the holidays, she took #5 for a day out and allowed him to choose wherever he wished to go. He decided on the Lego cafe because he could eat fish and chips and spend the whole afternoon playing Lego. He came home elated.

I can also count on her to help me pick Kate up from preschool if I can’t make it. She has been such a dear to readily accept such responsibilities.

We’ve found that she has a soft spot for the vulnerable, such as the elderly, disabled children, or abandoned animals. Once, she saw a stray dog which looked rather sickly, and she packed some food and went hunting for the dog.

Whenever I share with them my plans for our next volunteer activity, she never fails to respond enthusiastically, which sets the tone for the younger ones, who may not be that keen.

She has also been indispensable in helping me with the technical side of the blog, for setting it up, and advising me on ways to improve my non-existent photo skills.

During our recent family photo shoot, she took charge of the outfits and zipped around the mall to find coordinating colours for all of us. She even drew 8 stick figures on her phone, and colored one by one in when she found a suitable piece so that the colours wouldn’t clash.

I have never felt old but that day, it hit me that I don’t have the energy level like before, and I have to admit there are things my kids can handle much better than me, with their vigour. Time to gradually hand over the reins!

Most of all, I still appreciate her objectivity, for voicing out what she believes in, and thankfully, she has learnt to moderate her comments while keeping her honesty.

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has” – Epictetus

Thankful… for the hub’s cooking

Thankful… for our helper
Thankful… for my family
Thankful… for the beauty of nature
Thankful… for my mum-in-law

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Photos that tell a story – #1’s unusual perception

After I shared some of the photos #1 took at her first photography workshop, many commented that she has an eye for it and we encouraged her to  keep practicing and see where it leads her.

Coincidentally, she did a colour test in school and scored way above her peers in her ability to differentiate colours, even when it is just a minute shade darker than the rest. Things are beginning to click. Thinking back, I realise that #1 would always point out details with regards to colour first, before noticing other aspects.

One of my close friends made an effort to meet with her and these were some of the photos she snapped on their walkabout. I really like how she is starting to show her preference in shooting from angles slightly out of the ordinary, which results in images with more character.

Foreign workers doing an honest day’s work, with multi-national companies in the background. It is on the back of their hard labour which our shiny buildings are built on.

The viewer pauses to take another look at a scene which has been photographed a thousand times. We learn to look at life and problems from a different perspective.

There’s something uncanny about the way MBS is framed from this angle. A structure so stunning emerging from the rawness.

You get sucked into the photo, like how sometimes you get sucked into things without intending to.

The water. Doesn’t it look more like the gravelled road? Things may not be what they seem to be.

I told #1 I was very impressed with her shots this time round too. They are different. They get me thinking.

She replied, “Yeah. I like them. But it might not please everyone. You either like them or not.”

I love how my kids dare to be themselves.

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Dear Mum – You are Pretty Cool

For Mother’s Day, I never know what I’m gonna get. When they were younger, I was disappointed when they did not make any effort at all to show their appreciation and I told them so. I mean, no point feeling upset and unappreciated when the poor kids didn’t even know what happened right?

As a result, they got creative and prepared me an awesome ‘breakfast in bed’ service. They poured milk and cornflakes and placed some cookies on a tray. Of course, the loveliness lasted all of 15 minutes and after that it was back to settling squabbles and mopping up messes.

As they grew up, the girls planned elaborate efforts like hanging streamers from the ceiling which they got the younger ones to help colour in.

Now that they are older, I receive real gifts. Yup, store bought stuff like blouses, t-shirts, and dresses. Maybe my teenagers are trying to tell me something…

I have long stopped reminding them that “It’s Mother’s Day this weekend”, as I’d rather they do something from their heart instead of doing it out of duty. So every year, I get surprised. Some years, they don’t do ANYTHING. Ok, well, some of them. Luckily I have 6, so at least 1 or 2 will ‘remember’ me.

This year, I got one stalk of beautiful red rose, 2 cards and 2 drawings.

#5 drew me a lovely picture and helped Kate draw one too by guiding her hand.

But I was truly, truly surprised to find a proper card from #1.

Let me share with you a bit of what she wrote:


(hey, pause. For a 16-year old to describe her mum as cool is really something. Just a couple of years back when they started entering the teen phase, they thought I was pretty un-cool.)

Thank you for giving me the chance to develop my interests.

Thank you for always having faith in me.

Thanks for letting me be independent.

Thank you for supporting all my concerts.

Thanks for letting us be noisy and sing in the car.

Thanks for letting my friends come over and being nice.

Thanks for cultivating my love for chips together with dad.
Thank you for being so chill.

And hear this:


(Yay! From my very critical teenager, that means a lot).

She ended her card with:

Sorry for my bad grades and thanks for trying to help pull them up. I will work hard from now on.

(I could cry. Isn’t that what every mum wants? For their kids to acknowledge their mistakes and try harder next time?)

So. I was really happy. Not laughing happy, but deep down happy. Because I know she has come to her senses. She was not an easy child to raise during the teenage years. But I know it will get better moving forwards.

You know, it is easy for little kids to tell you nice things. “Mum, you are so pretty, your food is nice, I love you, I love you, I love youuuuu!”

As they grow into pre-teens, they are balancing between telling the truth and learning not to hurt people’s feelings.

Thus it becomes: “Mum, you look nice in that dress, but your arms are fat.”

(Er, ok. I’ve learnt not to get angry and to turn their comments into constructive criticism).

Subsequently, when they grow into teenagers, they don’t say much.

So to receive an utterly sincere and honest letter from my 16-year old is something I will treasure for a long time to come.

This post is part of the Dear Mummy blog train hosted by June, a lovely mum of 3 who blogs at mamawearpapashirt. Click here to read the dedications from the beloved kids of the other wonderful mummies!

Tomorrow we have Karen, a mum to 2 wonderful children, who muses over at Mum’s calling. She believes it is almost every woman’s calling to be a Mum. While fulfilling hers, she finds the journey truly rewarding and enjoyable. She is convinced that Motherhood is life changing and full of surprises.

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

{Interview #1} Associate Professor Karen Crasta – Scientist

Associate Professor Karen Crasta, 38, is a Scientist researching basic mechanisms of cancer. She is officially an Associate Prof at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine and Joint Principal Investigator at A*STAR Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology. She heads a team researching mechanisms of cancer biology and therapy. She also teaches Medical and Biological Sciences undergraduates at NTU.

This initiative is part of our 101 Paths to Success series of interviews to gain insight into how successful people came to do what they are doing, and enlighten parents that there is a vast array of occupations for our children to discover. Hopefully it might spark an interest in our children and youths to start their journey of discerning their life’s path.

Your qualifications

B.Sc (Honours) in Microbiology from NUS
PhD in Cell Cycle Regulation from NUS

Postdoctoral Training in Cancer Biology from Harvard Medical School, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Associate Professor Karen Crasta

Describe your job

I love my job! There is no typical day.  It consists of training, guiding my team of postdoctoral fellows, Phd Students and research assistants. I hold weekly group meetings with the team members so we have discussions as a team on how to best solve problems and learn from one another.  I may also have to review journal manuscripts and grant proposals. I occasionally teach and set student assignments and examination questions, and mark them. And of course, there are plenty of meetings to keep me busy!

As I am a National Research Foundation Fellow, my focus is more on the research aspect although I do find the teaching aspect gratifying. I try to find time to carry out my own research at the bench and make time everyday to read journal articles to keep up with the latest discoveries in the field.

Tell us about your career path

I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a scientist. However over time, it became apparent that my favourite topic was Biology. Additionally, my parents were a big influence. My mum, who stayed at home when me and my twin-sister were younger, taught us about nature and science in a fascinating way. My dad was passionate about his job as an Engineer and influenced our thinking process and the way we see the world.

I did well in CJC in Biology and decided to undertake Microbiology as a major at NUS. I was selected to the Honours Year where we were assessed on independently-carried out research projects and advanced course work. It was at this stage that I first encountered the appeal of research work. The independence of it, thinking about things, planning the steps to your next experiment, reading, discussing, trouble-shooting, making a hypothesis and predictions, testing them, failing or getting it right…. the lure of the experimentation process was exciting.

I worked for two years as a research assistant and ended up as a first-author in a reputable journal called Bacteriology! By then my interest in science was sealed and I decided to do a PhD at the then only premier research institute in Singapore called the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMB). In my final months of PhD, I went to a conference in Melbourne to present my graduate work on Cell Cycle research. At the conference, I met a Professor from Harvard whom I knew had a project in an area I was looking to pursue. He interviewed me in Melbourne and accepted me on the spot!

I packed my bags for Boston in July 2008 to start my post-doctoral training at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School. I was awarded the A*STAR International Fellowship in 2009. In 2012 I returned to Singapore and joined IMCB, now under A*STAR, as a Senior Research Fellow.

In 2013, I was awarded the National Research Foundation Fellowship from the Prime Minister’s Office which came with 3 million dollars in funding over 5 years. This allowed me to start my own lab in Sept 2013 and I’m now leading a team of like-minded people who share the same vision in solving the major problems my lab is addressing, namely toxicity and resistance of chemotherapy drugs.

My mothers’ role:

I love my Mum! My mother, Stella Crasta, nurtured my love for science and the 3 of us siblings would not have come to where we are (us twins as successful scientists and my younger sister as a lawyer) without her example, dedication, sacrifice, encouragement, and unconditional love. She imparted good Christian values to us, and most importantly, kept us constantly in her prayers.

She has a double degree in Botany and Zoology, and also in Education. When my twin sister and I were born, she stayed home until we were 16 years old. Home was a loving environment as my mum was always there to turn to for advice and Dad came home promptly at 6.15pm everyday.

I am glad my mum was a stay-at-home-mum in our growing up years. She was up early to make breakfast and prepare our lunchbox. She went through our homework and taught us different subjects in inspiring ways. She particularly had a twinkle in her eyes when teaching us Science.

Not only did she take a keen interest in our academic work, she also made sure we were self-reliant. We had to do simple household chores to learn independence and help out as a family. My parents ensured we had a well-rounded education and encouraged us to play badminton, swim to relax, and learn to play the piano. Amidst all that, she made sure we had fun as well!

My mum is now the Principal of St. Francis of Assisi Kindergarten, and it was really inspiring to see her working so hard – working during the day, going for classes at night, and staying up to finish assignments. Although she was the oldest in class, she achieved top marks for all her assignments and it was obvious that her professors and classmates loved her! It was my wise dad who encouraged her to take up teaching as he said it is always important to have other interests besides family lest anything happens to him when we’re all grown up. He passed away 3 years ago from cancer and on hindsight, it was good that she has her own interests and work to keep her busy as my Dad is no longer around as her companion.

How did you find your passion / area of interest?

It was more by trial and error. It was obvious that I did better in Biology than all the other subjects so it was natural that I gravitated towards it. Having an interest in cancer cells came from studying the controls of cell division during my phD. Understanding how cells turn cancerous became somewhat of an obsession and that intense curiosity about wanting to know more got me hooked on this path, in the hope of coming up with improved cancer therapies.
Which aspect of your job gives you the most  satisfaction?

When I see the joy of discovery on the face of someone in my team!

What does success mean to you?

Success at work is the ability to do my best every day in mentoring the younger generation so that they can become good scientists and good people. I try to always remember that any talent we have is from God and we must use it to the best of our ability.

Are you involved in any voluntary work?

I am involved in a church group that organizes activities to help the less fortunate, the elderly and the sick.

I am also an UN Women in Science Ambassador and open my lab twice a year to interested secondary school girls in the hope of inspiring and motivating them to see how fun and exciting making scientific discoveries can be!

To know more about the Girls2Pioneers program, you can visit this website –
One advice to parents

Support your children in pursuing dreams that make them happy; do not impinge your aspirations on them.

One advice to teens

Work hard with passion, determination and confidence to achieve your goals. You can do anything you set your mind to!

To be a good scientist, it takes someone… who is truly Passionate about science since it can be fraught with failures. Having said that, you need to be able to learn from the failures and have the ability to troubleshoot and design key experiments. You will also need to be curious about nature and how things work. Finally you need self-motivation, drive and hard work to pursue it.

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

        How we plan our March holidays

        When they were young it was very straightforward. I plan an activity and take them all along. Now that the 6 of them are between the ages of 2 – 16, it’s way more complicated.

        Before the start of the holiday, I will draw up a schedule with a column for each child.

        1. We start filling in the 1-week calendar with the activities that are a must. #3 has CCA practice as SYF (Singapore Youth Festival) is in 2 week’s time. #4 has to complete a project with her classmate. #1 has to work as her manager is away on annual leave. So these few things take priority.
        2. We make a list of some activities which we want to get done. For the June and December holidays we can fit more in, but this week, we’ll be lucky if we can get 1 or 2 things done. I have decided to take their grandaunt out for lunch with us.
        3. We look to see if there’s any slots left where everyone is free and block that out for family time. We’ll decide on the activity later. If there isn’t any, we’ll have to either shift someone’s activity or skip one which is not that important. It looks like we have Friday and Saturday mostly free.
        4. I have to make sure that no 2 activities clash where I am needed.
        5. Along the way, if something else comes up they will check with me before confirming the appointment.
        6. If I am out with one of the older ones, the hubs will be around with the younger kids. His activity of choice? Letting them watch a movie. Keeps them entertained, quiet, and happy. Hmm.
        7. It’s good to jumble the kids up once in a while as we get different dynamics going on and it’s important for the kids to bond. Some days when there’s 1 or 2 of the older kids left at home, they will go out together to catch the latest movie.
        8. The last day of the school holidays is generally kept relaxed so they have time to prepare for school and rest before going full speed into the next term.
        The kids don’t know how much logistics go into planning the school breaks because I make it look effortless, thanks to years of practice. If I don’t do this, they will be pulled in every other direction and it would be impossible to find a common time where the family can spend time together.

        I try not to pack our schedule, as the kids need a break to rest their bodies and minds. The CA1 had just ended and #2 and #3 had a pretty exhausting few weeks. They were home mostly at 7.30pm because of CCAs and other things going on in school, and by the time they finished revising, they barely had 7 hours of sleep most nights.

        Usually after dinner, they are happy to chill in the room playing the guitar and singing. Kate can even sing some of their ‘pop’ songs! I hear lots of laughter in there and I’m sure some of their best memories are made of simple times like these.

        ~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

        Volunteering overseas: #1’s experience

        During the December holidays, #1 flew to Shanghai on her own to visit her aunt. Her aunt had been encouraging them to go over during their school holidays to get immersed in the Chinese culture. Now that she had completed her ‘O’ level exams, the timing was right for her to make the trip.

        Besides the usual sight-seeing, shopping and eating agenda, we decided it would be a great opportunity for her to help out at Will Foundation.

        What is Will Foundation?

        It is a sustainable and self-sufficient eco-learning centre for disadvantaged children. Imagine that! I was intrigued. I learned that the founder, Pilar, took in several orphans as her own because she felt that she would be able to give them a better future under her care. What a big heart. And where would they find such a huge place for all of them to live in? A kind family generously donated their unused land to this project.

        Their garden

        It was wonderful that Pilar agreed to take #1 in at such short notice, and the arrangements were quickly made. She spent a week there volunteering as an intern, which basically meant helping out wherever necessary, which included doing household chores and playing with the 10 children. We called her one evening, and her siblings wanted to know how she spent her time there. She told us that she had just finished mopping the floor with freezing cold water! Definitely a first for her (yes, both the mopping and the freezing water).

        This is #1’s account of her 1-week stint with the Will family:

        The children follow a time-table and every morning, they would do their running rounds in the courtyard before coming in for breakfast. After breakfast, they will make their way to class for lessons. The household is run with strict rules, and lights out is at 8pm. There is no wifi available and the use of handphones is discouraged. (This is probably harder for the volunteers than the children!)

        School room
        After a few sessions, it is time for a break, and the kids will go out to the courtyard to play. Even the ones with aids will help themselves to a round of soccer.
        The two younger children have physiotherapy in a separate room, and this is where they also do little kid’s stuff like playing with blocks and working with picture cards. It was the Christmas season and we had fun fooling around with the hats! Mary is the only girl in the family and she took to me immediately. The kids are very adorable and boisterous, which is to be expected from having 9 young boys in the house! It was a very meaningful and eye-opening experience.
        Lil’ Santarina
        Volunteering opportunities:

        If you are able to spare some time, and can help out in areas like tutoring, crafting, mentoring or cleaning, do drop them an email at

        You could also make a direct donation online, and any amount, both big and small will make a difference to these young lives.

        The Will kids at home

        Even though #1 spent a short one week there, Mary became attached to her and when it was time to say goodbye, she was reluctant to see her go.

        After her week at Will home, I kept my fingers crossed that she would help out more when she returned, and perhaps start mopping the floor. No such luck though. Nonetheless, I can see that #1 has a soft spot for children and she must have enjoyed her time with the kids.

        Hmmm, I should run my household like the Will home. Impressive.

        Goodbyes are hard…

        Getting there:

        Will Foundation is located on Chong Ming island, which is 1 hour from Hong Qiao.
        It will take you about 1.5 to 2 hours by public transport, depending on which part of Shanghai you are coming from.
        ~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

        The Udder Pancake – Upper Bukit Timah

        Cafes seem to be popping up like popcorn, which is great as there are plenty of options to take the kids to. Is it just me (getting older) or are cafes being opened by younger and younger people these days? You’ve undoubtedly heard of Udders the ice cream parlour. Now they have branched into the increasingly popular pancake market with “The Udder pancake”. These people have a great sense of humour. From the moment we walked through the ‘broken’ glass entrance, the kids and I couldn’t stop chuckling at the ‘do not break’ (or in this case ‘do break’) red boxes adorning the walls.

        Before I could get them seated, they had their own mini tour of the cafe, wandering around and calling out to one another, “Look at this one!”


        There was even a thousand dollar bill in one of the boxes. And they kept asking me “Can we break it? Can we? Can we?”


        The food is ordered at the counter and served to your table. We were there last weekend and the place was almost packed full mostly with teenagers and young adults.

        Sadly, we found the standard of the food to be pretty mediocre. The only thing they polished up were the homemade ‘naked’ pancakes.

        The Full Monty $21.90

        The good thing was that we have a choice of ordering either a full or half size for the fancy pancakes. We chose the half sizes for more variety and to try out what’s good. The Salmon, Crab & Caviar Egg Benedict pancakes (the dish in the background) was interesting. We didn’t quite like the Pulled Pork Egg Benedict pancakes because the pancakes ended up being rather soggy. You must be wondering what that deep fried bomb-looking thing is. It’s some kind of giant white button mushroom wrapped with bacon. Sounded very yummy on the menu, but was a pity none of the kids liked it.

        Pulled Pork Egg Benedict, The Udder Shrooms

        Despite the so-so food, the kids enjoyed themselves tremendously at this cool cafe. Do they want to come again? You bet. For the plain pancakes and the truffle fries. Oh, and the ice cream which you can order from the adjoining Udders ice-cream outlet.

        This stretch of shophouses on Lorong Kilat is getting very hip with several new cafes, in addition to Nook the DIY pancake place which is popular with families.

        ~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~