Awards 2014

Together with a panel of judges consisting of experts from various specialisations
such as health, education and finance, we have determined which organisations
have consistently stuck to their mission and core values to bring us the best they can offer.

These organisations, whether newly launched or already a household name
have swept us off our feet with their well rounded and thought out initiatives.

Find out this year’s winners in The Birthday Edition.

Birthday Treats

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Check out the full fashion spread in The Birthday Edition.

Book Review:
Today I am…

Today I am…
by Mies Van Hout

Fish Book Co., hardcover, $20, 3+

Ideal for beginner readers, this book features fishes which make a splash of bold and vibrant colours on each page. Each fish has a specific expression reflecting a different emotion. Made to look like crayon drawings, young children will relate easily to the illustrations and enjoy matching each fish’s expression to the emotion. Brace yourself for surprisingly thoughtful questions such as why the bored fish is depicted in brown or why the smallest fish instead of the biggest is tagged as brave.

Children will be exposed to drawing techniques such as how squiggly lines give a fish nervous vibes and makes it look like it is shivering. Your child will also learn how drawing a fish with varied facial features and in different colours makes a huge difference!

Use the Book:
– Encourage your child to draw his or her own fish
– Talk about the different emotions and ask your child when he or she feels the happiest
– Play a game of making expressions to match the emotions featured

Be one of the 10 lucky readers to win a copy of Today I am… worth $20!

Fill in the entry form here by 30th September 2014. Good luck!

A Place
We Call Home

62, social activist, entrepreneur & author,
mother of three.

How do you relate to Singapore as your home?

I am a daughter of Singapore. I have travelled around the world but this is home. I’m from the generation which sang three different kinds of national anthems, and went through water rationing and racial riots in the 60s.

What did you like best about growing up in Singapore?

I have seen how a little dot has grown into something we can be proud of. Of course, there are areas to be improved and many things we can be annoyed about. But there is a sense of belonging and foundation I do not feel anywhere else. It’s like home where you can get angry at your family members but you cannot cut yourself from it.

Besides establishing Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts with your husband, you are also the chairperson of Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) amongst many other roles. Did your children face a lot of pressure to be equally successful as they were growing up?

I am sure they did but they managed it very well. What we have taught them are values to define the way they should lead a mindful and responsible life. Children need guidance until they are ready to take flight. Then, they have to learn how to withstand difficulty and make informed decisions. If they can do all that, we have served our responsibility as good parents.

Grab a copy of The Birthday Edition for the complete feature
including Dr. Georgie Lee, Lee Shih Song and Baey Yam Keng.

Pink, Blue or
Maybe Yellow

Every parent’s utmost concern is to have a healthy baby.
Yet, many expectant parents also eagerly await the day
their ultrasound alerts them of their baby’s gender.

There is nothing wrong with being excited about discovering
whether you are having a little boy or a little girl on the way just
so you can picture more accurately how your new family will be.

However, if you are the type of parent who waited to find out
so you could prepare to paint the nursery pink or blue,
this article will serve as good food for thought…

What can you do as a parent?
We speak to various experts in
The Birthday Edition.

The Kids
Are All Right

Children learn best by observing the world around them,
and watching their parents have disagreements and coming to a conclusion teaches them
that difference of opinion is not a bad thing.

“In the daily grind of life, there’s bound to be moments of dissatisfaction
and distress in a partnership,” says Chong Cheh Hoon, certified family counsellor and
senior vice president of content at

It’s better for your tot to learn how to express his frustrations
rather than keeping it all in. Watching you bicker with your spouse can teach him
how to express his dissatisfaction in a healthy way so that the issue is resolved.
If he never sees Mummy and Daddy express themselves in their relationship,
he will never learn to do the same, and this can be emotionally detrimental
in the long run…

Learn how to argue the right way in The Birthday Edition.

Book Review:
I Don’t Know
Why She Bothers

I Don’t Know Why She Bothers:
Guilt-Free Motherhood for Thoroughly Modern Women

by Daisy Waugh

Orion, trade paperback & paperback, $27.99

The cat is out of the bag! This refreshing alternative to the usual parenting book ploughed with instructional “do”s and “don’t”s will bring sighs of relief to many mothers. Daisy Waugh challenges the idea that there is only one appropriate reaction to motherhood – absolute joy. As a fellow mother, she knows that motherhood brings with it a myriad of emotions, with annoyance and frustration thrown in the mix. Through anecdotes and rants, Waugh often verbalises what other mothers might think but avoid saying out loud.

Waugh’s wit and good humour provides perhaps a much-needed reminder how no mother should have to feel obliged to meet society’s increasing expectations. It is time to take a chill pill, sit back and laugh at her funny recounts and candid retorts.

Waugh does not hold back any punches when it comes to her distrust of organic food and allergies, among other things. It is hard to know what to take seriously when there is a fine line between Waugh’s own opinion and valid advice.

Win a copy of
I Don’t Know Why She Bothers:
Guilt-Free Motherhood for Thoroughly Modern Women Worth $27.99!

Fill in the entry form here by 30th September 2014. All the best!

Win 4
Tickets to
Minuscule: Valley of
the Lost Ants!

We’re giving away 5 sets of 4 movie passes to Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants!

Join a tiny ladybug as he finds himself in the middle of a fierce battle
between an army of black ants with their red counterparts!
Who will end up winning the one box of sugar?
Watch this family-friendly animation opening on 24 July 2014 to find out!

To win, all you have to do is to watch the trailer of the movie below before
filling in the entry form by 24 July 2014

Good luck! 

Win Tickets
to Dinosnores
Worth $120!

A pair of parent-and-child tickets to Dinosnores, worth $120, is up for grabs!

Get up close and personal with dinos from the Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction exhibition,
and enjoy a line-up of fun activities including a movie screening
and exciting interactive workshops.

Sleepover starts at: 6:45pm, 22nd June (Sunday)
Ends at: 10am, 23rd June (Monday)
Where: ArtScience Museum

Simply share the post on Facebook and fill in the entry form here by 18 June, 2014.

5 Minutes With Christina Lai

Hi Christina! How old are your children now?

My daughter is 30 and my son is 25.

Now that your children have grown up, did you wish you could do something more as a parent when they were growing up?

I have wondered if I might have delayed my daughter’s request to study in the US immediately after her “O” levels, just so my husband and I could have spent more “growing up” time with her. Having said that, we can’t be more proud of what she has made of herself today. She got her Masters in Architecture from Harvard, she’s married to an American architect and they have a 16-month old son (pictured). She’s a happy working mother. We had embraced her independent nature and her positive attitude towards learning through her growing years at school and that helped our decision to let her “spread her wings.”

As for my son, he might have benefited more from a stricter enforcement of discipline when he was at school. He went to the Australian International School (AIS) and although he “blossomed” into a more confident person, he could have been a little more ambitious academically, in my own perception of course. However, we are happy that he attained a Diploma in Audio Engineering from the local School of Audio Engineering (SAE) and is in this line of work.

As a parent, you always wonder if you could have done more for your children but in the end, you count your blessings when they are living fruitful lives.

How did you decide on which musical instrument to introduce to your children 
when they were young?

They both started with the piano for the simple reason that I was teaching piano. My daughter picked up the violin and the guitar for her own pleasure. She still plays the piano. My son had a wonderful and inspiring music teacher at AIS who encouraged and gave him the opportunity to play the full range of the recorders (from descant to bass). He moved on to play the complete range of the saxophone (from soprano to bass). My husband plays the flute but neither of us “pushed” our children into playing any instrument.

Music has always been in our home and we went along with the children’s instrumental choices and their decisions for “no exams after a certain grade.” To us, the ability to play the instrument well matters more than paper qualifications.

With 30 over years of experience in teaching, your main objective is to inculcate in your students a self-learning approach. How does it work for children in two age groups: 3 – 6 and 7 – 12?

Beginner piano students (ages 5 – 8 years) follow my instructions of technique, aural training and fundamentals of theory. When they get to the intermediate stage, they begin to apply theory to practice through analysis of their repertoire. As they progress, we move towards a “discussion” approach of piano technique and stylized playing. Through this progressive discipline, piano playing becomes self-learning rather than simply being instructed.

The most “natural” aspect in young children (ages 3 – 6 years) is their rhythmic sense. If you don’t hone this innate quality from young, they “lose it” when they become self-conscious. For this reason, preschool Music & Movement teachers must have the ability to recite rhymes and move rhythmically and expressively in all activities. They must understand the basic elements of music like beats, accents, regular 4-beat phrases, tempo and how to apply these elements in rhymes, songs and dances or movement routines. You will be amazed how quickly children pick up these skills, if well-taught. Towards the end of Kindergarten 1, they are capable of applying these elements with minimal guidance. They will self-learn. (More will be explored in my session in the AFCC Parents Forum.)

What is one parenting method you think Singaporean parents should change?

The belief that “I want my child to play for enjoyment (fun)” when they sign the child up for an instrumental lesson. It is the most misunderstood perception. Learning to play an instrument is not easy. Think of the thing you enjoy doing, be it cooking, sewing, dancing, rock-climbing, etc. Chances are you are quite good at it. The key phrase is “good at it.” So enjoyment does come, but only when you are “good at it.” For that to happen, the hard work (blood, sweat and tears) precedes it.

What is the best parenting advice given to you?

Enjoy your children’s company whilst they allow you to do so. A loving, happy childhood
stays with you throughout your life.


Christina will be conducting a session on ‘Nurturing Language and Literacy Through Music’ at AFCC 2014 Parents Forum on 1 June, 12 – 1pm. Click here for more information.