Tuesday, 31 December 2013

So Long, Farewell, 2013!

31st December has always been a special day for my family. That's because it is my Dad's birthday. Yes! My father's birthday is actually on the last day of the year! He turns 64 on 31st December 2013, and we have much to be thankful for. He is healthy and well, and has been traveling for leisure (with my mum!) a lot in recent years, much to his and my mum's delight. He's a great grandfather to the kids, though my sister and I wonder how come the kids barely get a fraction of the scoldings from him that the two of us used to get... :p 

Now, for my sister, 31st December is a doubly special date. That's because, it is not only the date of her father's birthday, it is also the date of her father-in-law's birthday! Yes, how coincidental is that?! It's just the sort of thing you imagine a 17 year old telling a girl he's trying to ask to 'go stead' : "See, our fathers' birthday is on the same date! It's a sign from God! We're destined to be together! You must go stead with me!" hur hur hur... just kidding. I dunno whether my brother-in-law actually said that to my sister... maybe he did? :p
Blessed Grandpas celebrating their birthdays with their grandkids and family around them! :)
This year, my sister's parents-in-law invited my parents and us, to their home for a gathering together with their extended family. Yes, this is quite usual, and it often happens vice versa as well. Partly due to the fact that both the patriarchs' birthdays fall on the same day, and also because both our families enjoy having big extended family gatherings. So we actually know my brother-in-law's cousins, aunts and uncles, and they know us as well.

You know, as mentioned in this post quite a few months back, my sister and I love The Sound of Music. And it's always been a kind of dream or fantasy of ours, to make our kids sing and act out one or more of the songs in the musical, particularly So Long, Farewell! The twins have so far been a tad young, but this year, given the double celebration party, my sister thought of asking the kids to perform this song during the gathering. We managed to convince the kids to do it (they say they shy!?!?) and we even managed to squeeze in rehearsals in our busy busy December amidst the Kohs' traveling, and me fulfilling orders coming in for My First Games

Before we bring you Behind the Scenes, here is the live recording of the performance that took place before an audience of approximately 30 people :)

Thanks to the internet, we easily found the lyrics to the song, and there were even YouTube videos of the actual clip from the movie which we watched with the kids. The singing of the song was not a problem at all, even for the 3 year plus twins Asher & Shawna. But we had to improvise the positioning and dance steps as we were short of one child, and we had to plan for a highly probable contingency - that the twins would refuse to perform. As you can see from the video above, it was wise that we had planned for that. Asher came through beautifully on the actual day, even though he was the one who was acting up and refusing to perform during rehearsals prior to the actual day. Shawna, unfortunately, had a shorter than usual nap that day and hence she was throwing a silent tantrum on stage, resolutely refusing to perform. Rebecca, Isabelle, Natalie and Isaac all performed very well indeed . Here's a video of the kids in a rehearsal the day before the actual day - Shawna's fine in this one! :)

Very proud of the kids we are! So long, farewell, 2013! :)

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas help from my elves

Before I became a Mumpreneur and started My First Games, December used to be a month of frantic blogging for me, as I keep trying to "finish blogging" whatever I wanted to, before the year was over, and so that I can print my blog at Blog2Print. But here at The Tan Family Chronicles, it is quite tough to "finish blogging" - it's never ending! There's always something to chronicle! :p

This year especially, has been a good Christmas season for My First Games, that we must truly give thanks for. But that also meant that I was sooo busy with fulfilling the orders that I didn't have time to do my own shopping! Thus, this past week, I've been trying to squeeze in shopping of my own, as well as the last minute gift wrapping.

Isaac and Shawna saw me wrapping gifts, and of course, wanted to help. They have been quite good at helping me hold down the wrappers while I paste the sticky tape, or vice versa. They even found paper and wrapped a gift on their own (teamwork!) - the small blue one right at the bottom of the picture below. After awhile though, I thought it was easier if I wrapped the gifts on my own while they helped me with the labeling. 
Shawna elf helping with the gift labeling :)
Isaac helped me with writing names and Christmas greetings on a bunch of seven presents last week. Didn't manage to take pictures but he did admirably well, with the exception of some black solid squares which apparently, happened, because he made some mistake and tried to colour out cancel his mistake. There was one particular present which was quite large, so I said to him "Since you have more space to write on, you can say more things, you know?" So he wrote:"Merry Christmas. You should be going crazy right now because we are" I read that and asked "Huh? You are what?" "Mummy, they should be going crazy because we are going crazy lah!" "But WHY are you going crazy?" said puzzled Mummy me. He gave me this incredulous look and said "Because it's CHRISTMAS soon!!!" Ah.... silly me, of course! :)

4 year old gift labeling!
Shawna helped me with labeling too. She couldn't spell like Isaac could, so I had to tell her letters one by one, and she wrote them as I spelt out the names to her, or she copied them from the rough paper I wrote the words on. I love the collage of photos above of her writing with such concentration. I must say she did remarkably well, and she didn't even poke any holes in the wrapper at all. 

 These three gifts were for my three nieces, and because they were board games for them to play together, I deliberately wanted all three names on the gifts so that it was clear that it was meant for sharing. 

Shawna labelled the orange gift first. She wrote, REBECCA. Next, as she wasn't too good at estimating space usage, she wrote ISABELL before getting distressed at running out of space for the last letter E - which I got her to write over the edge, at the side of the gift wrapper. Next she wrote a tiny N, and I asked "How come your N is so small, when your R and I are so big?" "So that I have more space, Mummy!" Ahhh... nice to know she has been listening. It was a mirror image N though, so she tried again, but it turned out the same way. I told her to just continue anyway, so she left it as it is. She realised she didn't have space for all three of their names and so Asher's name went on the left - in mirror image, backwards, no less - yes, I was busy wrapping a gift and didn't notice this until after the fact! Her W came out as M too. I hope all this mirror-imaging isn't a sign that she is dyslexic!

The red present was labelled pretty well. Shawna was apparently so afraid of running out of space again that she started writing the names in small print. I looked over and saw that, so I wrote told her to write Merry Christmas too, since there was space. My little helpful elf was very obliging (good mood, that day) and she did as I instructed, though her W came out as an M again. Next, she wrote NATALIE on the green gift perfectly, then promptly got distracted, proclaimed that her hand was tired, and went missing in action.

So yesterday, Isaac the kor kor, came to the rescue and completed the labeling for me. He missed out the middle E in Isabelle, but managed a save by inserting a tiny 'e' between the 'b' and the 'l'. Suddenly, I realised that Shawna had written everything in upper case, while Isaac wrote in a mix of upper and lower case. I guess Shawna hasn't learnt the lower case yet.

Notice how Isaac drew a heart shape instead of the 'o' in 'love'? :) His idea, not mine!
And only while I was taking the pictures of the gifts, did I realise that Isaac forgot to write Asher's name on the blue gift! So I went to Asher, and asked him to write his own name in. "Mum, I don't want to write 'Asher', I want to write Ash - coz it's so cool!" So he tried to write Ash but ran out of space and didn't know how to write on the sticky tape... Isaac to the rescue, again! "Let me help you, Asher! But you must write Asher, if not, Isabelle will wonder who Ash is." And so he proceeded to write Ashe- and was stopped midway the 'e' because Asher went "Noooooooo!!!! I want ASH, not Asher!!!"

All in a days' work of the Tan Family Christmas elves! Merry Christmas to one and all of you lovely readers of the Tan Family Chronicles! May you and your loved ones be blessed with peace, love, happiness, success, and good health forever and ever, amen!!! :)

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Isaac on radio! We won No Rhyme or Reason!!!

Remember the post we put up just two days ago, on Isaac's rhyme for Gold 90.5 FM's No Phyme or Reason? Guess what?! I managed to call in yesterday morning, Isaac was on air, and he won us 4 tickets to Resorts World Sentosa's Sea Aquarium!!! Woooohooo!!! So that was the executive summary... this is what happened...

So it was Friday the 13th of December 2013, and I was just leaving the house with the twins, to send them to the childcare centre when Isaac piped up "Mummy, can I follow you to send Asher and Shawna to school? I want to listen to No Rhyme or Reason! I want to win today!!!" That got me laughing "Sure, come along! We can TRY...."

We were barely driving for less than 15 minutes when the deejays Vernetta and The Flying Ducthman announced that they were going to start No Rhyme or Reason. I quickly called for Isaac to pay attention, as he was busy eating his breakfast. The given lines were announced "Fee Fi Fo Fum, I saw..." and you were supposed to complete the rhyme. Normally, the deejays would put on a song and answer the calls, but yesterday, they decided to go to the phone lines immediately to after announcing the given lines!

Isaac, upon hearing the given lines, immediately started coming up with a rhyme.
"Are you ready, Isaac? Can you remember your rhyme?"
"Yes, yes, Mummy."
"Okay, I'm calling now, you have to say your rhyme yourself ah..."

I frantically called the station on the phone and put it on speaker. Thankfully, we were stationary at a traffic light! We weren't the first caller! But the first caller bombed out with a poor line. So we had another chance! I quickly called again - the number is in my Favourites list. And we weren't the second, nor the third caller - but both these callers had chickened out and hung up without even speaking to the deejays. And then - we got in! We were on air! I quickly turned down the radio volume and put the phone in front of Isaac

Mummy Me:"Okay, go Isaac!"
DJ Vernetta Lopez:"Helloo Gold 90FM! Fee fi fo fum, I saw..."
Isaac:"Fee fi fo fum, I saw a girl having fun in the sun!"
DJs Vernetta, The FD, and Brian Richmond all laughed and agreed to let Isaac win! 
Vernetta:"How old are you Isaac?"
The deejays laughed again and one of them said "So you'd be listening to Gold 90FM for the next 50 years?"
Isaac:"Yes" (after I prompted him, haha, think he was a bit stunned.)

Then the FD got my details and said someone would contact me about the prize. By now, I had turned into one of the small roads just after the traffic light and we were safely stopped by the road.

I was ecstatic! I know I know, it's super cheap thrill, but hey! How many people can say they've been on radio and won a good prize, eh? :p Well, technically it wasn't me, it was Isaac! I was very proud of him coz he made up the rhyme on his own, and presented it himself too! Excellent! Also, it was on such notice, he literally thought it up on the spot!

Actually, I remembered his rhyme as "Fee fi fo fum, I saw a girl run and have fun in the sun!" from when he was rehearsing the line to himself before we got through the phone lines. But Isaac claims that when he was on air, he didn't say the "run" part. That's why he didn't write it down for me either (in the picture above). After he wrote it, he wrote his name. And he said "Hey, Mummy look, "Fee fi fo fum, I saw a girl having fun in the sun!" by Isaac Tan - the Tan rhymes with fun and sun!" Hahaha... yes indeed!

It was a great start to Friday the 13th for us :) Thanks Gold90FM! :)

Thursday, 12 December 2013

No Rhyme Or Reason

Remember the list of games we would play in the car? Well, I need to update that post coz we recently have a hot favourite game with the kids - The Rhyming Game! Isaac has always been quite good with words, and he has somehow gotten into the rhyming as he finds it funny (haha).  So it's a simple game, the kids just come up with lines that rhyme. Even Asher can do it, he says:" Hey Mummy, this is my rhyme - Sting ray, See Ray! Rhyme?!" :)

It also happens that there is a current game on the radio station Gold 90.5 FM in the morning before 10am, and we heard it yesterday. It goes like this: The radio deejays Vernetta Lopez and The Flying Dutchman would give two lines, and you are supposed to call in to complete the rhyme. If the judge, Uncle Brian Richmond liked the rhyme, you would win whatever prize they had up for grabs that day.

The two lines they gave yesterday were:
"My ang pow is red, my cheong sam is blue..." and this is how Isaac completed the rhyme

My ang pow is red, my cheong sam is blue
Christmas is coming in a week or two
So first poo then coo then moo 
Then go to the loo with you!

I tried calling into the radio station but I couldn't get through. Isaac was a little disappointed, so I told him I'd blog it and let the Vernetta cheh cheh and Uncle Flying Dutchman know about this :) Grandpa Brian would surely love this rhyme! :p I certainly do! It rhymes, and had no reason!

Isaac contribution to Gold 90.5 FM No Rhyme Or Reason's rhyme of the day
Isaac used to come up with just a 2 liner rhyme, but after I challenged him to make up longer rhymes, he started doing so. In addition to the above, Isaac thought up the one below. I liked it and had him write it down because... it was a rhyme that had one of his best friends mentioned in it. I think he misses his friends! Isaac has been home this week as we thought to give him a break from "school" before he starts primary one next year, and so we had already withdrawn him from childcare since he has already "graduated" from K2 (we had the graduation concert last Sunday!). Frankly speaking, I miss Isaac's friends too! Thus, I am thinking of organising some playdates for Isaac and some of his best friends in the next few weeks! Hopefully we can all stay in touch and they will become lifelong friends :)
Isaac Tan's rhyme about Isaac Tay, one of his best friends!
It's quite amusing how easily Isaac's taken to rhyming. Perhaps he'd be a poet or a song writer one day! :) Perhaps...

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

A sanitised discussion about the Little India riots with the kids

So, we Singapore, are a shocked nation over the recent Little India riots... I had to buy the newspapers this morning to read about it. Yes, we don't buy newspapers everyday as we usually have no time to read. But today we bought because we wanted to read more about the Little India riots... 

As I was reading the news papers and talking to hubbs about the riots, the kids caught snippets of what we were talking about and started asking questions...
Isaac reading about the Little India riots after we had the discussion about it
Mummy me:"Ah yoh..."
Shawna:"Why you say "ah yoh", Mummy?"
Mummy:"Er... See, this man, he wasn't careful when... crossing the road, so the bus, er, bang into him, and he died."
Asher:"Where? Which man? Can I see? Can you turn the newspaper around, please Mummy, I want to see his picture... Oh, so poor thing."
Mummy:"Yes, so poor thing. That's why, when you cross the road, you must always be careful okay? If not, can die one. Must be careful okay?"
Asher:"Yes, Mummy."
Shawna pointed to the pictures of the overturned police cars and said: "Mummy, see, these drivers were not careful when driving, they never pay attention, so they got accident, see."
Mummy: " Oh! These are not the usual cars that we see in the morning when we go to school who were not careful while driving and got into an accident. These are police cars. See those people there, they pushed the cars over and set it on fire."
Asher:"Why they do that, Mummy?"
Shawna:"Why they burn the police car?"
Mummy:"I think it's because they were drunk."
Asher:"What is drunk?"
Mummy:"Drunk is when you drink too much alcohol, then you cannot think properly, then they start learning bad things from each other, and they do silly things like that."
Mummy:"That's why you should never drink too much alcohol, okay? It's not good for you, not good for your body. And that's also why Mummy always say don't learn bad things from people, right? Only learn the good things."
Shawna:"Okay, Mummy."
Asher:"No alcohol."
Mummy:"Did you hear all that, Isaac?" 
Isaac:"Yes, I heard you, Mummy."
Mummy:"Yes, so, just like smoking is not good for you, drinking too much alcohol is not good for you too. Understand? So don't smoke, and don't drink alcohol, and don't learn bad things. Be kind. Understand?"
Asher & Shawna:"Yes, understand, Mummy."
Isaac:"Yes yes..."

I looked up and saw hubbs grinning at me :)

Monday, 2 December 2013

How I became a full time Mumpreneur

I have been wanting to write about this, but haven't actually gotten down to it. I've hinted or explicitly mentioned my business My First Games before in some blog posts, but I have yet to actually write a post about it as well... Frankly, part of the reason why I haven't been blogging about this, is because I felt a little weird "tooting my own horn" - which is why you don't see me writing about the multitude of boardgames we play at home as well...

However, my friends and relatives have assured me that they don't think it's weird, that I'm silly to think this way, and even sillier for not taking advantage of this platform to talk about one of the things that I am passionate about - board games and my business. Thus, starting today, I will start to talk about my experiences as a mumpreneur (a mummy and an entrepreneur!), and about board games! :)

I originally thought of starting My First Games when Isaac was about 2 years old, way back in mid 2009. We had been playing board games with him since he was 17 months old, and everyone was very amazed with how a child not yet 2 years old, could play board games. Isaac could understand instructions, execute the instructions, take turns and concentrate on playing the games... something which people associate with older children and not a child less than 2 years old. Bright as he is, I don't think he's a genius, I know that he can do it because of conditioning, I have been conditioning him to playing board games by introducing it to him regularly from when he was 17 months old.

Our first feature! My First Games and the kidzes in the Sunday Times :)
Everyone started saying that I should import these board games to sell since they could not be found in Singapore. Board games which could teach young children to listen to and carry out instructions, to lengthen the children's concentration span, to teach them turn taking, graciousness and honesty through game play... very educational indeed! Kiasu parents in Singapore were sure to snap them up, said everyone!

So just as I figured "If I don't give it a try, I'd never know..." I got some stock in in mid 2009... then guess what? We found out we were pregnant with the twins! The pregnancy was really tiring and I slept most of the first trimester away. Second trimester with the twins felt like third trimester of Isaac's pregnancy... I was just as huge too, but it was only second trimester! I had not much choice but to delay the start of My First Games. When Asher and Shawna were born, it wasn't easy on any of us either. Having one baby was exhausting enough, imagine double mouths to breast feed, double the diapers to change, and double the times to bathe the babies! 

Simply Her sent a make-up artist and a hairdresser to spruce me up, provided the pretty dress and had their photographer take that lovely shot of me! Hubbs didn't even realise it was me when I showed it to him!
Hence it was only in late 2010, when the twins were almost a year old, that I decided to just put together a  website and start selling the games. All through this time, I still had a full time day job. Thus, with three kids in the house, I was extremely occupied even after working hours. So I had to wake up at 3am every night, to put together the website. 

Through the next two years plus, I continued to have a full time day job, while doing this on the side. I made sure that I did whatever my full time job required and was very conscious of getting my priorities right. They were: family, full time job, my board game business - in that order. Thus, as you can probably guess, I didn't have very much time for the business. If there were sales, there were sales, but if there weren't any sales, I could hardly complain since I wasn't doing much at all. I started to think if I should quit my full time job in order to put in more time and effort in My First Games

The Business Times article was my favourite! The reporter wrote what I said, almost verbatim!
I felt that there was a lot of potential in this business but I would need to invest time and energy into it. Isaac, my eldest child, was also going to attend primary school in 2014, which wasn't all that far away. It would be good if I had a job which would give me flexibility in working hours, and more time with my children. Thus, as far back as 2012, I started wondering if I should quit my full time job and go full time on this board game business of mine. What was holding me back was the comfort zone which I was in after working for more than a decade in the corporate world, and the fact that I would most certainly have to take a substantial pay cut. Inevitably, there was also the fear of failure. What if I couldn't make it work? What if I don't earn money? What if I earn just a pittance? I figured that I was relatively young enough such that I could return to the corporate world if I really couldn't earn much from this... Still I hesitated...

One day, out of frustration, I said this during my prayers: "God, I don't know what I should do. You tell me. You give me a sign. Tell me if I should do My First Games full time, or not. I trust in you, Lord!" Less than two weeks after I said this prayer, the holding company of the company that was funding the company I was working in, filed for bankruptcy protection in USA and in the company's country where the headquarters of the company was. I was stunned. That was as clear a sign as can be.

So I made up my mind. I would do My First Games full time. God has spoken and He will bless me on my way. The path that I should take is clear. I worked till the company I was with had to close down the Singapore office which I was a part of. Hence, since April 2013, I have been a full time Work At Home Mumpreneur (WAHMumpreneur). Since then, I have been blessed by being featured in a number of print publications, as pictured above...

 So, with God's grace, that's how I became a full time Mumpreneur :)


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