Archives for March 2014

7 and 17 : My ‘Gifted’ Numbers as a Mom

7 years. Breaking it down to absolutes, it has has been 84 months or 2555 days or 61,320 hours.

That’s how long I have been a mom. It’s no mean feat, coming from someone who didn’t expect a child 7 years + 36 weeks ago, and didn’t intend to have one. I surprised my close friends and family when I gave up my career, pursued a post-grad studies in Early Childhood and then started a part time work option. All of that so as to dedicate more time to take care of this little guy.

I would have probably laughed out loud in your face, if you have told me 8 years ago, that the day I become a mom I will be doing exactly what I did a year after I gave birth to him.

Life have never been the same ever since this guy came into my life. As this little guy is the key factor for all the life-changing experiences I have encountered in life the last 7 years.

desired to have another child sometime ago, but I soon came to realized that K will likely be the ONLY child that God plans for me to have.


The Numbers 7 and 17

7 and 17 are very interesting numbers for us. These are the numbers that often pop up in my life in the strangest of places.

Last December during our short trip to Hong Kong, the number 7 or 17 appeared so many times, until I could not ignore it. From tables in restaurants, seats to ticket numbers, numbers that I could never have been able to select for myself.

Kyle and I are both born on the 17th day of the month, his being in March, while mine is in September.

17 is also the last of the 7 prime numbers of indivisible numbers of 1, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13 and 17.

If you have read the bible before, about 1 in 5 bible scriptures contain a number. So do numbers in the bible contain any significance? I believe so.

Gematria is the technique of using the numeric values of Hebrew and Greek letters to find a hidden or symbolic meaning to the corresponding word. It has its roots in interpreting Hebrew scriptures in order to seek out hidden meaning and has been adopted by both Christians and the occult. Some Christians maintain that gematria has real meaning in scripture, while others warn of its mystical roots.

Taking the number meanings in Jewish or English GemetriaRachel equals to the number 117 while for K (with his names) equals to the number 775. There you see the numbers 7 and 17 in our Names Gemetria.

If you take note of what numbers that you often chanced upon, you might realised that you have special number/s too. Using the Gemetria Calculator, try not to get distracted by results the strange words that people search out with the same number Gemetria as your name 😛


What does the number 7 and 17 symbolize? 

7 symbolizes completeness and spiritual perfection, while the 17 symbolizes “overcoming in enemy” and complete victory in Biblical numbers.

Not that I am implying that K and I are spiritually perfect. Rather, what I believe is that completeness and spiritual perfection can only be found in our life in Christ.

From the bible, this is where the number 7 and 17 are found;

“By the 7th day, God completed His word” (Genesis 2:2) The Bible’s Old Testament ‘Feast of Booths’ was complete after 7 days (Leviticus 23:24).

There were 7 pairs of each animal taken into Noah’s ark (Genesis 7:2).  And God began to flood the earth on the 17th day of the 2nd Hebrew month, and Noah’s Ark and its 8 passengers (1 + 7 = 8 !) rested on the mountains of Mount Ararat on the 17th day of the 7th month. (There’s 7 and 17 again!).

In the book of Revelation, which I believe is not just symbolic, we can find 7 churches (a depiction of the modern church as well). In this same book, the Judgement of the earth is completed with 7 seals, 7 trumpets and 7 bowls of wrath.

From the creation of Adam and Eve, there has been approximately six millennia on the earth; and the 7th millennium will see Christ’s rule on earth, and complete earth’s history.

Jesus Christ gained a complete victory over death and the grave, when God resurrected Him near sunset on Nisan 17 (Saturday, April 8, 30 A.D).

Kylephoto3 In the book of 1 Corinthians in the bible, the 17th mention of the word “LOVE” comes when the apostle Paul states that it is the GREATEST gift of all (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Which incidentally ties together with theme of this post. The LOVE a mom has for her child/children, the LOVE that God has for us and it is LOVE that inspired the beginnings of this blog.


How did a 7-years-of-being-a-mom post turned out to be a post on biblical numbers?

This significance of biblical numbers are just one of the many ways that God demonstrates that His presence is always here with K and I.

I often like to say that K’s birth is an accident, since I didn’t plan for it. But after learning about the significance of these biblical numbers, God has showed me that our very existence did not come by accident.

God has planned exactly when He wanted K to be conceived, and I have been specially hand-picked by God to be the mom that God wanted K to have.


So when anyone asks me what are my special numbers? I will either say 17 or 7, as ever so often, God pulls out a 17 or a 7 out of His hat, and throws it my way to remind me that He LOVES us and is always here with us.



These photos were all taken in the month of March 2014. This March has proven to be a very special month, not only for me, but also for K.

The weekend before his birthday, K experienced something very special that proved to him that God is very real in his life and that He listens to his prayers.

See that duo in the picture above, of a stunted Iron Man and a Captain America figurine without his shield?

Hb got K the Limited Edition Iron Man figurine from a 7-Eleven store. He surprised K with the box on Saturday afternoon, and when hb got it he didn’t know what character will be in the box. The little boy prayed that he will get an Iron Man or Captain America.

K had a 14% chance that he would get either characters, and was totally thrilled when he opened the box and found that it was an Iron Man figurine.

Then that very afternoon, when he went to the mall with hb for a games arcade treat, he met a cleaner uncle in the toilet, who said, “小弟弟,这个给你” (Translated – “Little Boy, this is for you”), and the uncle passed the Captain America with the missing shield to K.  It turned out that some child, left the figurine on a table in the food court and never returned to look for it.

What are the chances that Cleaner Uncle was able to meet K on the same day and then decided that he was the boy to pass the figurine to? I would think extremely remote!

When you know God personally, He becomes so real in your life, that coincidences become commonplace. So much so, that I would think that these experiences and numbers are God-incidences and not just mere coincidences. Through this, God has also shown me that He has a great sense of humor 😉

I thank God for the 7 years that He has gifted to me with this little boy and I look forward to the many many sets of 7 years ahead as K’s mom. No matter what life may bring, I know I will be able to take it with hope and courage as I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!


What’s your number? Try to pay attention to some numbers that have very special significance, or seem to jump out at you in many many places. You just might be able to discover the number that God has for you. You can check out this site to find out the Jewish Gemetria numbers for your name, and read here for your biblical meaning of your number.  

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Harder. Better. Faster.

Before you start to get any weird ideas about this post, this picture will help you to visualize what this post is all about.


I have been dropped a bomb that I have to try harder to coach Kyle in Chinese by his enrichment teacher, as he is way behind his classmates in Chinese enrichment class. Enrichment class is filled with children who attend Chinese SAP Schools, most who have strong proficiency of the language.

With disbelief I say this; the Chinese SAP School still continues to haunt me even when I made the decision not to put K in my hb’s alumni.

Seeking external help for your child in academics has become an issue of economics. K and another girl in this enrichment class are just about the only ones that don’t attend these schools. So they are the minority, majority demands will always win, as demand translates to dollars and cents for the school.

And I have learnt that not coaching your child with an advance syllabus ahead of what is taught in school, puts him/her in a disadvantage position in Enrichment Class.


This is what I discovered

The enrichment teacher highlighted that the school is only 1 lesson ahead of what is taught in school. I had to clarify what ‘school’ he was referring to, and the teacher mentioned the names of 2 Chinese SAP schools located in the central/west.

This is taught in a P1 enrichment class;

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The worksheets in Pri 1 Enrichment Class consist of written activities for i) Re-arranging the sentence, ii)Choosing the right chinese character iii)Comprehension with multiple choice, added with 3 more written comprehension questions.

There is no way he is able to do this by himself, without having the teacher sit next to him and guide him letter by letter, word by word.

No wonder the enrichment teacher told me that he needed to catch up, having a slower child like K in the class disrupts group instruction!

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There is also 1.5 pages of read-aloud passage for the child. I can confidently say that he can only read less than 10 high frequency words in this passage.

Err.. I think looking at this, enrichment school at least 6-12 months ahead of the MOE curriculum!

My conclusion : if u are a parent with a child in a Chinese SAP school, rejoice and do a dance. Your child is close to 1 year ahead of the other children who attend all other schools that follow the MOE syllabus.

As for those who plan to put you child in Chinese SAP school next year or the year after. Its-time-to-PANIC, cos if by any chance your child is like mine, and to make the situation worse, throw in a ‘potato/banana’ mum…your child first year in Primary 1 is about to make you very miserable.


What to do?

I was extremely stressed when I went through the worksheets. The reality is that the gap is tremendous, despite coaching him with Chinese at home.

We have to try many times harder than we are doing now with Chinese home-learning, till we get Chinese characters coming out of our eyes and ears.  I think i will need to get a tuition teacher for K to catch up with Enrichment class.

Does it make sense to be paying for supplementary classes and then working very hard with home learning to ensure he is on par with his classmates standards in enrichment class? Will it make me feel better if he is months ahead (like 12 months…) of his classmate in his school?

Maybe I am the confused parent here. Enrichment likely means ‘further enhancement of already capable standards’ or ‘help for children taking higher Chinese’. I somehow understood that incorrectly.

So instead of taking the jump to look for an alternative group tuition/enrichment classes. I called the teacher and told him that we will move K down a level to K2. What matters is that the pace at K2 is good for him, since it scaffolds his learning and still challenges his learning of the Chinese language.

Here’s Enrichment Class worksheet at the K2 level,

ChineseEnrichment 11 2 ChineseEnrichment 12 2

For those unfamiliar with the MOE syllabus of Chinese, the first 2 semesters of P1 are focused on teaching the children HYPY, Chinese Character recognition does not come in until the last two terms of the year. That is, if your child does not attend a Chinese SAP School.

Incidentally, I found a video on Youtube with the same title as this post; ‘Harder, Better, Faster’ by Daft Punk. The video really ties in with the theme of the pursuit of high achievement in Singapore’s societal culture. You will need to watch the video to the end, to get the gist of the subliminal messages from the song.

Once your children join the Singapore production line, feelings of insecurity and insufficiency will be thrown in as a bonus!


P.S. Don’t ask me what Enrichment school this is, as I am NOT going to divulge the name of the school.

Update 13 Mar PM – I would not say that this is a bad school. K enjoys the format of teaching in this school, as the children learn through games, songs and stories also at P1, and the teachers are caring. I wouldn’t know this problem if the teacher didn’t bother to highlight to me, he could have easily cater to the rest and ignore him in class. It is still a good enrichment school, as I don’t wish to judge the enrichment school as ‘not being a good enrichment school’ just because the class is not catered to one child, my child.

Another March Giveaway!

It’s giveaway month in March, as it is the month of K’s birthday and he is turning 7 very soon! So we want to celebrate with friends who have been reading Catch FortyWinks Blog.

I will be picking 3 random winners from the comments below, so do leave a comment for me and you might be one of the 3 people who will win one of these sets of Chinese Picture Books! Giveaway CLOSED.

Congratulations M Lim, Nancy Cheng and Winnie, you have won a set of Chinese Picture Books each. I will be dropping you an email about your win. 

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How a ‘Potato/Banana’ Mum Can Teach a Child Chinese

I am known as a ‘potato/banana’ amongst some of my friends.

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Chinese language is a tough language for me to master, especially when it comes to written Chinese. Conversationally, I fumble and mumble through the language. I used to score O for my 听写 in Secondary School, as I hated the language and gave up trying.

But I am determine to not let history repeat itself.

So I will share with you how a potato/banana can teach a child Chinese using painless and straight-forward ways, minus the frills. You really don’t need to be fantastic in the language in order to coach your child with the language, especially for preschool levels or lower Primary levels.

Here are the ways :

1. Chinese Dictionary 

When reading a Chinese Picture Book with K, I will often stop in between pages when I encounter words that I cannot read. So that’s when the Chinese Dictionary comes to the rescue! It will be ideal if I had the time to do some preparatory work before I read a picture book with K, but often I don’t have that luxury of time.

This might seem like a ‘duh’ sort of idea to be added here, but I did say straight-forward ways. So any Chinese picture book can be read, regardless of your standard of the Chinese language. Just as long as you have the Chinese dictionary and you know how to look for the words. Besides, this method works really well to enrich your chinese vocabulary, so you will be killing two birds with one stone.

For a more convenient solution, only choose picture books with HYPY.


2. Sticker Books (Giveaway Alert! Read to the end.)

I used to have K sit through a sticker book with me and I read out loud the vocabulary words that are found in the book, while he happily pasted the stickers. He has since outgrown this kind of books, nonetheless, this is a useful resource to have, to guide your pre-schooler in learning vocabulary.

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3. High Frequency Words

I use the SAGE series of books to guide him to learn high frequency Chinese words. We are halfway through the 1st series (we are quite slow, since we have just started with it). This series has repetitive words introduced through short, despite rather inane stories with funny graphics. Thus this method of learning high frequency words is useful for him to remember the word and its context.

We will likely finish these in the next 1 month or so and move on to the next stage of Sage books, so drop me a comment if you are interested to buy over this pre-loved set from me.

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4. Magazines with Han Yu Pin Yin (HYPY)

Hao Peng You (好朋友) is a cheap and good resource that can be used for regular re-alouds. We subscribe to the magazine through his Primary School and K collects the weekly issues from school. The magazine focuses on daily life and moral stories, it may not have the most exciting of stories, but it’s relevant. It will work well as long as your child is keen to sit through with you to do the read-alouds and try out the worksheets in the magazines.

The best part of the magazine for a ‘potato’ teacher is that it has HYPY.

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5. Chinese programmes

TCS Chinese dramas are not my favorite choice, as I am not too keen on the story lines of lost-love, triangular love affairs of girl-like-boy but boy-likes-another-girl, of revenge and the likes of these. Well, the only Chinese TV programmes that we do get to see nightly during dinner time, which are even more melodramatic, are the TVB Cantonese dramas that my mum watches.

Recently StarHub launched a channel, Redifussion Channel 325. As quoted from their marketing materials on the website;

‘…aims to boost Primary School students’ Chinese language proficiency through a week-by-week assessment that closely follows the Primary School syllabus. The syllabus on Rediffusion TV is curated and updated regularly by its educational arm, XX centre, which runs an established chain of language schools. Its syllabus will mirror lessons taught in school on a weekly basis, allowing students to continue their Chinese education at home. Showcasing a curriculum specially designed for curious minds, each episode on Rediffusion TV offers rich graphics, clear voiceovers, and step-by-step guidance—all to make learning Chinese more memorable and enjoyable for children from the ages of seven to 12. The programme even features tips on examinations and stress management.’ Screen Shot 2014 03 06 at 2 20 07 PM

Sounds good if the child sees the appeal of the panda, and for parents who do not have enough of the step-by-step syllabus at school. Cable TV with Redifussion channel now helps your child ace their chinese exams in school! I think it will be a challenge for this programme to help your child love the Chinese language, as it is really quite dull.

To share my constructive criticisms, I sent them an email recently to share my thoughts that they need to do better with this channel. Have more options of fun cartoons or General Knowledge chinese programmes for children, as I am not going to spend an additional $8.56 a month on poor programming like this.

I think we are better off reading 好朋友.

In the meantime, our best alternative for another cheap and almost free way, is through Youtube. Specifically with Xi Yang Yang (喜羊羊). I like that there is plenty of slapstick drama in the cartoon, which appeals to the humour of an almost 7 year old. The other plus point is that there are Simplified Chinese subtitles, and endless episodes of this series is available on Youtube.

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I used to like Doraemon as a child, but I think the themes of ‘hero and wimp’ are over-emphasized in the cartoon.

So, I am on the constant look-out for Chinese cartoon series on Youtube, as I don’t want to have to purchase DVDs from Dang Dang 当当网 which eventually will clutter our space.


6. Consistency Counts

Home-learning for Chinese is scheduled 3 times a week for Kyle. We are getting into the regular routine of spending at least 45 mins a day reading, speaking the language or watching Xi Yang Yang for at least an hour weekly. I spontaneously (try to) lapse into speaking Chinese language to him at random times, so that the language does not get too ‘foreign’ for him.

School adds on additional challenge for us by adding Ting Xie 听写 and the occasional ‘surprise-test’ to assess Kyle’s ability in the language. The feedback that we have gotten so far from his teacher is that he ‘can understand and do well in assessments, but limited in his expression of the language’.

K does get additional help for 1 hr 30 mins weekly as he attend Chinese enrichment classes. But I add on enrichment classes for him, just to make myself feel better that I am trying ways to help him with the language. Enrichment will still be pointless if I don’t make that effort to coach him at home.


So it is really not impossible for a ‘potato’ to coach her child in the Chinese language!

All it takes is that additional effort (especially when you are not great in the language), as well as the help of additional  resources and discipline to follow through. It will still be manageable for me for the next 3 years, I suppose.

We are using these ways to work on K’s proficiency in the Chinese language and have seen improvement. This constantly serves as a good reminder for me to be thankful that I did not go ahead with putting K in hb’s alumni; a Chinese SAP primary school.

I am certain that if I have made that choice, it will be more stories to share with plenty of tears and pain!


Now, Catch Forty-Winks is giving away a set of 11 Chinese Sticker Books, suitable for children 3 – 5 years old.

All you need to do is add your experience with Chinese language with your child in a short comment and I will do a random pick of the winner from your comments below. The winner will be contacted through email. Giveaway CLOSED. 

Congratulations Cheryl, you have won the set of 11 Chinese Sticker books, I will be getting in touch with you through email to deliver the books to your home address. 

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How do you manage Chinese language learning with your child? Do share here!

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