Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Letter to My Kids: My Proposal Story

To my two darlings,

The other day, you read about how I met your father. Today, read all about how I proposed to your father.

Yup, I proposed to your dad. It’s a bit different from the usual conventions.. You may not know now, but soon you’ll know there are certain social expectations of males and females.

Nah, your mummy here isn’t the ‘gender equality’ kind of woman. In fact, I think that there’s no such thing as gender equality. I mean, if there is, then really, females have the equal ability to propose to males too right?

Really, me proposing to your dad isn’t about gender equality. It is because of our situation.

Nope, I didn’t get on my knee or give 999 stalks of roses. I can be romantic, but not that romantic. And I’m not going to waste money on flowers that will die.

As you can see, your mummy isn’t a ‘flower’ kind of person. That’s why your dad has never given me any, except on our wedding day. (Though secretly, I do hope that someday he gives me a bouquet just once. Ok, that’s contrary to what I said before, but then, women can be such confusing people sometimes, you’ll understand one day).

You know from the little poem how your daddy and I were good friends for a very long time, and after some time of having our own relationships, we somehow found each other.

I guess when we did, we kind of knew we were stuck with each other for life. Not many words were exchanged, but we knew we had found our other half.

Still, confirmation was needed. I mean, I wasn’t getting any younger at that time.

And I told him so. Yup, I was pretty direct, and I said something along the lines of, do you want to marry me and if so, please give me a sign so I don’t have to wait aimlessly.

He did; he spoke to his mother, your grandmother, of my existence, and a while later, we had moved on to the ‘meet the parents’ stage.

That was pretty nerve wrecking (you’ll understand why in future; I promise, I won’t torment your boyfriend, as long as he treats you proper). We survived that together, as your daddy and I were committed. 

We were determined to marry each other, and so, with our parents'  blessings, and their agreement to not hold an extremely expensive wedding banquet, the preparation process for an adventure of a lifetime began.

We started off the journey as friends, soulmates, and we’ve continued it with yet another more exciting life adventure. A life adventure that includes our most precious: you, my darlings.

We may have our squabbles, as any married couples do.  Know that your mummy and daddy love each other deeply. Always.

Life Adventure

Your mummy

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This is part of a 'Proposal Stories' blog train hosted by Michelle of The Chill Mom where fellow mum bloggers reminisce our proposal stories. 

The Chill Mom

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Thank you for reading. If you like this post, please do connect with me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, so I can share our fun adventures, thoughts and exploits with you. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

13 non-academic June holiday programmes

Oh holidays oh holidays!
How I yearn for your coming!

Can’t wait! The holidays are in two weeks’ time, and I really really really really want to go out and have fun with the kids! Let the kids go crazy!!! 

Besides adventures out as a family, I think the kids do need some me-time for themselves to do what they like - read, write, draw, paint, whatever. I admit, I’m rather tempted to look for more academic programmes, especially since EV is heading to Primary 1, and I want to make sure that her transition to her next milestone of education is as smooth as possible.

However, I stop myself. EV is just 6 years old after all. She has a lifetime before her to engage in the paper chase; why should I subject her to that now?

So I’m looking for alternative holiday programmes that can engage her differently, that can stretch her mind in more ways than one - creatively, logically, physically. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be many such programmes that are catered to younger kids; most are for the ages of 5 or 6, which means that AA will be mostly left out from the experiences.

Here are some programmes that caught my attention.

Logical - STEM / Coding / Robotics
STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics involves the teaching of concepts like energy, forces, programming, gears, mechanics, distance, acceleration and angles. Classes and workshops offered by different schools will vary depending on how much of the concepts they teach. Some may be included more towards robotics, while others will focus on coding. Some have themes based on popular characters while others prefer to go the practical way.

Lego Robotics/Engineering workshop @ Bricks4Kidz


Playing with Lego is never fails to catch kids’ attention. Now let them see their creation move! That’ll be something! Bricks4Kidz even has a theme that will entice Frozen fans aged between 5 and 7 years old, as well as a Star Wars themed camp for kids 6 and above. There’s also a Stop-Motion Animation workshop for those above 7.

There are several runs for each 3-hour workshop throughout the month of June, and only at the SAFRA Toa Payoh branch. Prices are one of the more cost effective ones. A 2-day camp costs around $190, while a 4-day camp costs $380. The animation workshop costs $480. Find out more at Bricks4Kidz

Lego Robotics @ Worklab


So far, this is the only place that seems to have robotics classes for as young as four. Classes span over 5 days for about 2.5 hours. There doesn’t seem to be any obvious themes for the younger My Camp Junior group. However, for the older RoboCamp Apprentice group, themes are more related to real-life issues, such as ‘Earth’s Little Heroes’, ‘propeller’ and ‘Oceanic Adventures’. The price is quite reasonable, at $449 per child per camp. 5-day classes for kids 7 and above is $499 per child per camp. Drop off the kids and then chill out around Forum the Shopping Mall. Find out more at Worklab.

Coding camps at First Code Academy
What…. Coding? Basically it means programming. There’s recently been a surge in the emphasis on learning coding and programming language. It’s the latest buzz word in the education of the future generation. Being the digital natives of the future, the rationale is that it is crucial for the younger generation of today to learn coding in order to face the challenging digital future that they will inherit.

Alright, quite a mouthful. Basically, the idea is that if you want your kid to be ready for the future, coding is one of the languages they need to learn. Or so some people say. 

To me, whether it’s good for my kids’ future or not, learning a new language that teaches them logical thinking is always good exposure. 

There are a lot of schools now offering regular classes in programming. However, they don’t come cheap. So the alternative is holiday coding classes. Only a few offer classes for kids from 6 onwards though, and First Code Academy is one of them. The cost of these 5-day classes depends on the age group your child is in: for the younger group, the 2-hour workshops costs $450, while for those aged 9 and above, the 3-hour workshops cost between $690 and $750.

Do a little bit of research and you will find out that the courses for younger kids aged 6 to 8 years at First Code are based on coding apps that you can download for free, such as Scratch and Hopscotch. This means that potentially, you can save the money, download the apps, and teach the kids in the comfort of your home. Still, if you want to outsource the teaching and let the kids get their time to socialise with their peers, and give yourselves a little bit of me-time during the busy holidays (busy because of entertaining the kids), then perhaps the classes are a good idea.

The ones for older kids are longer, lasting about 3 hours, during which they can develop their own Android app or learn Javascript language. Find out more at First Code Academy.  

Parent-child programming workshops at The Keys Edge 
As a parent, you’re a ‘sotong’ (read: blur) at coding and programming as well? Then I think the parent-child workshops at The Keys Edge is a good idea. The equally good thing is that the workshops are held regularly on the weekends, not just during the holidays, so you can really go whenever you are free, throughout the year. Some workshops here are based on more life practical themes, such as ‘designing a video game’ and ‘running a restaurant’. Of course, these 2-hour workshops are age specific, and it’s always good to check before signing up. The best news is possibly the price, just $40 per workshop. Find out more at The Keys Edge

Coding workshop @ in3labs
This is another one that offers STEM-related workshops for kids as young as 5, and what’s more, you have a choice of 2-day, 3-day or 5-day camps that last 3 hours each day. Cost ranges between $170 to $395, and there’s an option to buy Arduino coding sets for further learning beyond the workshops. Arduino is an open-source software for coding and creating electronic objects. Besides Arduino, participants are also introduced to coding with Scratch, Android and Lego. Find out more at In3Labs

Robotics workshop @ Wonderswork


The astronaut themed workshop sounds interesting, and it’s for kids 7 years and above. This ‘AIR Space Camp’ is quite fun in that the price includes a flight suit, badges and astronaut ice cream, whatever that is. This camp spans over 3 days, 4.5 hours per day, and costs $468. For younger kids, robotics pits the powers of superheroes against minecraft. This Lego camp runs for 2 days, for 4.5 hours each day, and costs $368. Comparing with some of the other workshops, the price is a bit on the high side. However, the location is at Liang Court, along River Valley Road, so perhaps convenience could be the reason for this steeper price. Find out more at WondersWork

Science & Nature
Nature learning @ Singapore Botanic Gardens


This has to be one of the best well-kept secret. I chanced upon this last year, and since then, EV has been attending the 4-hour ‘Celebrating Wildlife’ workshops for the past two holidays. Since we live quite far from Singapore Botanic Gardens, it makes more sense to go for something that lasts a little longer, while fitting in some picnic and swan watching at the same time.

There are also shorter 1-hour workshops or tours, and even craft and drama sessions. Singapore Botanic Gardens runs these regularly during the holidays, and I love how friendly these sessions are to the wallet. A 4-hour workshop costs just $50, and the kids get to bring back a plant. 

For the upcoming June holidays, the ‘Celebrating Wildlife’ series visits reptiles, frogs, toads and birds. If they are similar to previous workshops, which included nature exploration, then expect to get up close to nature. There’s even a Father’s Day planting workshop on 18 June, Saturday. Find out more at Singapore Botanic Gardens

Science learning @ Lollipops
Convenience is not at issue, as these workshops are held all over Singapore, in various community centres. Kids can learn about cells, human digestive system, human skeletal system, winds, airplanes, and more. Each workshop lasts about 3 hours, and the cost is about $30. Awesome! The only gripe we have is that since these workshops are held at community centres, registration is done through the People’s Association OnePA website, which isn’t exactly the most user friendly and can be a hassle at times. Find out more at Lollipops

Explore science @ Explorer Junior


This is yet another opportunity to learn about nature and science. Explorer Junior is an enterprise that is supported by the National University of Singapore. And this holidays, it has four workshops that explore a variety of science and nature, such as architecture and bugs. The Environment and Architecture workshops are for kids between 6 to 10 years of age, while the Innovators workshop is for those aged 7 and above. The Bug’s Life workshop is for kids aged between 4 and 7 years old. The Environment workshop teaches about sustainability and environmental science, while the Architecture workshop exposes attendees to concepts of urban planning and building. The Innovators workshop is about design thinking, prototyping and tech development, while the Bug’s Life workshop teaches about the anatomy of insects, their life cycles, habitats and pollination. 

Other than the 1.5-hour Bug’s Life workshop, which is held at the Trehaus Cowork at Claymore Connect over four Saturdays in June, the other workshops are 3.5 hours long and are held at Hort Park. Prices range between $180 and $280. Find out more at Explorer Junior

Creative
Design Innovation camp at The Keys Edge
Design innovation is currently the buzzword in creating products. Basically, it calls for a different approach to designing, using the design thinking process, where the creator has to empthatise with the end users first and understand their needs, before coming up with an innovation solution that effectively tackles the users’ needs. 

Sounds complicated, but really, it’s about thinking creatively out of the box, and making sure that you don’t just design something for the sake of designing, but design something that is relevant and useful, effective and innovative.

It’s interesting that The Keys Edge has this camp for kids between the ages of 6 and 8. Looking at the curriculum for the 5-days, it definitely looks eye opening. You can see that there is a clear introduction of the design thinking process and a challenge for the whole week - to think of creating playground or learning activities for underprivileged children. Throughout the week, the kids learn about pulleys, levers, and automation that might help them make a prototype for their ideas. There’s an excursion to the IDA Labs and also a guest speaker.

This camp doesn’t come cheap though. For a 5-day course that lasts from 830am to 2pm, including lunch, the price is $690. Still, it is one of the most unique holiday camps that I’ve come across and exposes kids to a different thought process. To find out more, go to The Key Edge Design Innovation camp.  

Art classes @ Heart Studio


This is one of our favourite places for holiday programmes. EV and AA love the teachers there, and look forward to the classes every holiday. Since they love it so much, why don’t I sign them up for the regular classes? Well, because Heart Studio is not near to where we stay, so commuting there every week can be a challenge, especially if DaddySay or myself have to work late. 

That’s why we opt for the holiday programmes, almost every holiday! There are different themes to choose from for different age groups, and the 3-hour workshops cost $75 each. For this round of holiday programmes, there are 2-day camps as well as workshops conducted in Mandarin. Find out more at Heart Studio

Sewing classes @ Sew Into It


I can still remember sewing in school, using the old traditional sewing machine that needed much coordination of the hands and feet. Then I remember hand sewing a pencil case using my old jeans. Yup, I was already repurposing my old clothes way before. Somehow, that spark for sewing fizzled, and here I am, trying to rekindle it again. Maybe my kids will do a better job?

Sew Into It has a number of workshops for adults and kids aged 6 and above. During the upcoming holidays, they are having a Kids Love Sewing series of workshops, that lasts between 2 and four hours and costs between $40 and $70 each. The longer workshops are considered to be Level 2 and require the use of a sewing machine, so completion of at least one Level 1 workshop is required. If your child is a novice, then one of the two Level 1 workshops would be ideal - learning how to sew a Reversible Book Cover or a Drawstring Backpack.

There are also Softie Sewing workshops to learn how to sew soft animals such as Ollie the Owl, Pat the Pigeon and Ellie the Elephant. These workshops are about 2.5 to 3 hours long, and costs range between $60 and $70. The good thing about these Level 1 workshops is that it is not limited to kids; adults can join too.

Want to learn something that’s a bit more practical, like how to sew a pencil case or a water bottle holder? Again, these kids sewing workshops are categorised into Level 1 and Level 2 workshops, and some, like the Groovy Cross Body Bag, are suitable for kids 9 and above. They cost between $50 and $70 and lasts between 2.5 and 3 hours.

Several workshop dates are available in June. Find out more at Sew Into It.

Physical
Rock wall climbing @ Climb Central


Holidays are also time to get physical, and why not try something a little different? Extremely convenient is Climb Central at Kallang Wave. You can drop off the kids at the holiday classes, and then head off to chill out at the mall. Last December, we enrolled EV at the 1.5 hour Intro for Kids drop-off class for kids aged 5 to 12, which cost $42 per child. She had loads of fun, and has been asking to return ever since. This time, we’re eyeing the Beta Kids Club (Starter) programme, which requires a commitment of four lessons held over two weeks (Tuesday and Thursday). This is also a 1.5 hour drop-off programme that costs $180 per child (for four lessons) for kids aged 5 to 12. 

Want to drop the kids off for the whole day? There’s the full day Awesome Beta Climbing workshop for kids 7 to 12 which costs $135 per participant. Probably something we might consider when EV comes of age. There also 2-hour parent-child climbing workshop which costs $42 per child and adult pair. Find out more at Climb Central

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Thank you for reading. If you like this post, please do connect with me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, so I can share our fun adventures, thoughts and exploits with you. 

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

How I Met Your Father

A poem to my two precious about how I met their father:

My little darlings
How did I meet your daddy
This is our story

Twenty-five years back
At a campfire we met
In the mid of June

With floppy long hair
A loud booming voice, he wrote
I love all of you

Teenagers we were
His friend caught my eye, not he
T’was young puppy love

So daring me called
We met at old library
Lunch at Burger King

Your daddy and I
Hit it off extremely well
Fast pals we became

Midnight calls till 3
Nothing we could not confide
He was my soul mate

Younger days

Then I went away
To study far down under
We drifted apart

We led our own lives
Apart, not knowing, two souls
Waiting to find each other

Lost and bruised, weary
Life likes to throw a curveball
We met, nothing changed

Still best friends, soul mates
Yet we know it's not the same
We’ll be more than that

Korea trip

Look left, look right, straight
Years searching for just the One
He's just beside me

And so together
We start a life adventure
From friends to couple

Wedding

My little darlings
That's how I met your daddy
My soul mate for life

Terracotta

Hua Shan

To my husband, soul mate and best friend of over twenty-five years, nothing is the same without you. Thanks for being my pillar of support back then, now and for many years to come.

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This post is part of the "How I Met Your Father" blog train hosted by Michelle of The Chill Mom, where fellow mum bloggers reminisce our love stories and share how we met the daddy of our kids.

The Chill Mom
 
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Thank you for reading. If you like this post, please do connect with me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, so I can share our fun adventures, thoughts and exploits with you. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Week in the Life of a Blogging Mum

Time passes so very fast. We are almost in May. Honestly, I have not been blogging much the past few months. The heart is willing but the body is tired. From the organizing the kids’ birthday party in January to preparing for Chinese New Year, to clear in the house for the 10-day HDB toilet upgrading and cleaning up the mess after, it's been a terribly busy start to 2016. That of course is on top of juggling work and being a mum. And now as I'm typing this, I'm down with the flu bug that I tend to get every year around this time. Think my body is asking me to slow down. 

Minus all the ‘distractions’ that we had this year, what is a typical week like for me? What do I have to do that keeps me busy, besides looking after kids who don't even let me have 5 minutes of peace to shower?

Work
First and foremost, there's work, from Monday's to Fridays. The days typically start at 530am, when I prepare myself, squeeze in 15 minute of yoga, then wake the kids up and prepare them. After getting them on the bus at 705am, the hubby drops me off at work. Then it's trying to get as many things done as possible within the working hours, so that I can try and go home without thinking about work. On long days, I don't get home till 630pm, but there are good days when I can reach home around 3pm, and that's when I try to do home learning with them.

Homelearning
The kids are happiest when I can get home early, because it means painting or messy or crafting time. I treasure these moments too, when seeing their smiles just brightens everything up. I admit, this year we have been doing less, with what have been happening at home, and also with the increased homework and spelling (both English and Chinese) that EV has been getting from her kindergarten to prepare her for primary 1. But I try to make it fun for her where possible, for example create letter cards and dump them into her sensory bin so she gets messy and learns her spelling at the same time. And because AA likes to do whatever EV is doing, I do simple CVC letter cards for his sensory bin too. 

Still, I know that I can do more. After this flu bug goes away, I have to. And I will. Ganbatte!!!

Alternative Activities
My two kids do go for activities outside of their kindergarten. Both have music, Abacus, phonics on weekdays, and swimming, Berries (Chinese) and Shichida on weekends. EV’s music lesson is near our home, so transport is not a problem. It's the same for the Abacus lessons, which both EV and AA attend. I'll usually bring both kids for their phonics lessons after work, and I also accompany AA on the day of his music lesson. These days are also when I try to get the grocery shopping done.

Saturdays are designated swimming days. That happens in the morning, after which we head over to my mum’s place to spend the rest of the day. That's also where the kids attend their Berries class. 

We head to Shichida lessons on Sunday mornings. Both kids have been attending this since they were one year old. Beneficial? Well, both kids have great memory, but I really cannot tell if this is thanks to Shichida or thanks to their own ability. Both enjoy the class though, so that's why we've been at it for such a long time.

Wind down time
Every night, since EV was in my tummy, I have been reading to her. The habit continued with AA. Now, there’s no way that I can sleep until I read at least one book to each of them. Even though EV can read on her own now, and does sometimes read to her brother, she still enjoys me reading to her, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction books. 

Us Time
How do we squeeze in time for ourselves? Where possible, I try to do yoga one or two hours a week, but there are times when I don’t do yoga for weeks at a stretch. At the same time, I also try to squeeze in a few laps while EV is having her swimming lessons, provided AA doesn’t insist on sticking to me.

And then couple time. Well, to be honest, there’s not much, but we do try to arrange our times so we have some time away from work and kids. Normally, we’ll go for late night movies after the kids are asleep. Recently, we managed an impromptu date after hubby picked me up from work, and we had some pretty unhealthy food washed down by a few bottles of cider. Yeah, not very healthy. But for the couple time we enjoyed, I think it’s worth it.

Us Time

Blogging
So, how do I squeeze in blogging time? Granted, the busy period that we had the first few months of this year rendered it almost impossible to find much time to blog, as I’m usually exhausted physically and mentally to write anything. And I guess the life of a blogging, full-time working mother is like that, at least, for me. 

Even without the crazy upgrading and what not, it’s no easy feat to juggle work, kids and home learning. I will usually do up my posts after the kids fall asleep, so that I can fully focus on what I’m doing. 

Unknown to many people, except for fellow bloggers, posting a post is more complicated than it sounds. 

First, the content of the post needs to be conceptualised. What am I going to write about? Is it going to be a review? Or perhaps am I going to share about home learning activities? Or maybe I want to write about this great adventure we had? 

Once that’s done, images need to be taken and then edited. And of course, words have to be written.

All of these take time. The sad thing is, many people think that writing a blog post is as quick as snapping one’s fingers. The truth is, it takes time, and effort, to maintain a blog. So if I can’t do it after the kids fall asleep on the weekdays, then I will find time on the weekends to do so. Rare days when I can leave work much earlier than usual are extremely precious to me; I will usually head to the library or a cafe and catch up on my posts.

Despite the time required for blogging, do I still enjoy it? You bet I do! Though I’m more selective of what I blog these days, I still enjoy the creative process immensely. I guess I’m still very much a writer at heart.

So there, my typical week in a nutshell. It seems the same week after week, but the kids and hubby keep me going, with much laughter and tumbles every day.

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This post is part of a blog hop where fellow Singapore Parent Bloggers share a week in their lives. Peek into the life of 29 other families over at Week In Life of Blogging Mum and Dad, including

Meiling, a mom blogger at Universal Scribbles who shares about her parenting adventures with her two children while juggling the various roles as mom, tutor, coach and trainer. Check out how her week goes in a week of a blogging mom.




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Thank you for reading. If you like this post, please do connect with me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, so I can share our fun adventures, thoughts and exploits with you.