Loading...

Follow A Happy Mum | Singapore Parenting Blog on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
Or

Valid


I've always believed that learning goes way beyond the classroom. We can see so much, hear so much and learn so much from everything around us. That is why while I try to cultivate a love for reading in my kids, I also encourage them to go outdoors, get up close with nature, take an interest in geography and history, observe our surroundings, ask questions about how things work and understand more about the world we live in.

As my eldest embarks on her Primary 3 journey this year, one thing that makes me glad is that she is not just an avid reader but also an inquisitive learner. Yes, that means I might have to answer dozens of questions a day just to satisfy her curiosity but if it helps her, and sometimes both of us, to pick up new knowledge and learn new things together as parent and child, why not?

She has also started on composition writing since last year and it's quite evident to see that while she has a long way to go and there is plenty of room for improvement, this thirst she has for books and knowledge has helped her face her fear of writing on a blank canvas, be capable of churning out contents and progress gradually over time as a confident learner.

As parents, do you think it is important to help our kids build up their general knowledge and does this impact their writing skills? I would definitely say 'Yes' to both.

******

As part of British Council's Young Learners programmes, a group of school children aged 10 to12 years old came together to film a light-hearted video that talks about the importance of good general knowledge for composition writing. I thought the theme was very interesting - "Imagine you are an astronaut in space and you are going to write a letter home. What would you say?" as it makes the students sit down to think about the knowledge they possess and the content they have to offer. You can watch the full video here or click 'Play' below.



Personally, I believe that it is beneficial for kids to possess general knowledge which will in turn translate to better writing skills. Having a strong fundamental knowledge and good understanding of how the world works will give you more substance, instead of fluff, in your writing. Even though grammar and vocabulary are also important, it is crucial that you at least have the contents up your sleeve which makes you sound credible and gives you the power to impress your readers. This provides the confidence and self-assurance one needs to get from the beginning to the conclusion.

With a strong belief in pushing children's boundaries when it comes to world knowledge, British Council's innovative teaching approach motivates its students to think deeply and critically as confident individuals. This can give the children an edge when it comes to schoolwork, including composition skills, especially for young kids like mine who are in the lower primary level and getting acquainted with writing for the first time. To find out more about the English for Primary courses offered by British Council, go here.

In our capacity as parents, we try our best to instill a love for learning and a thirst for knowledge in our children from a young age. Here's sharing the eight ways in which I try to help my kids enhance their general knowledge:
 
1) Instill a love for reading and visit the library regularly

We make regular trips to our neighbourhood library every few weeks and the kids always look forward to these trips. They will choose a handful of books, which is a mix of fiction and non-fiction, to read on the spot and pick a few favourites to borrow and take home. Since my eldest was a toddler six years ago, we've cultivated a habit of bedtime reading in our household and kept it going strongly even when we go overseas or when we've had a truly busy day. Now, all three kids look forward to our bedtime storytelling session which is a must before they go to sleep every night.




2) Build up a collection of non-fiction books

Set aside some shelves in the home as a library corner for the kids. Let the books be within their reach so that they can feel free to take a book to read anytime. To help improve general knowledge, make sure that there is a good mix of both fiction and non-fiction reads which are suitable for their different ages. You can also include encyclopedias, magazines or any educational materials to broaden their options and encourage them to read different genres of books from time to time.


3) Go to museums, zoos, nature reserves

Going outdoors is a fun bonding experience for the family but it can also be a great learning opportunity for the kids. We always leave our weekends free - that means no work, no blogging, no enrichment classes - so that we can go explore different places. Bring the kids to museums, zoos, nature reserves or parks, ask them to keep an eye open and observe their surroundings, read the information boards and learn as much as they can.



4) Do mind maps and flashcards

Since last year, we've been making flashcards for our girl whenever she is keen to learn about a science concept, for instance on the water cycle, photosynthesis, how fire is made etc. These are basically just notes that we jot down on a piece of paper and include diagrams whenever we can. On her own, she has also started learning about mind maps in school and done it by herself too. Doing this helps the child to visually organise information and retain memory of what has been taught or learnt.



5) Read and summarise newspaper articles

Since she loves to read so much, I started a new routine this year and that is to let her start reading newspaper articles and get to know more about current affairs. It's not a lot, but it's a good start for an eight-year-old. Every month, I will pick out a handful of interesting articles, cut them out and stick them into a scrapbook for reading in her free time. I've also told her that she will soon learn summary skills and tell me a line or two about every article she has read so that it helps her to remember too.



6) Watch news and documentaries

We don't let the kids play with phones or tablets (we don't even own an iPad yet) but we do let them watch a little TV every day. That said, we limit the time on how much time they have to watch, be it cartoons, music videos, movies or variety shows. At the same time, we encourage them to watch the news with us or watch documentaries too. Their current favourites are the ones on Netflix which talk about animals and I must say they have learnt much about so many animal species, including their habitats, characteristics and behavourial traits too!



7) Observe and learn from the surroundings

Learning can take place anywhere, be it at home or outdoors. I think we have to always remind ourselves that and don't let ourselves or our kids be confined to just textbooks, assessments books or classroom walls. For instance, a visit to the loo prompted my kid to ask me about where does our waste go, a cup of water she drank gave birth to a conversation about water treatment and NEWater, a trip to Peirce reservoir let them come up close and learn about apple snail eggs, a walk in the park gives them the chance to see different kinds of bugs and observe how they behave and so on. Let our kids be exposed to their surroundings, ask them questions and make them ponder, give them a chance to develop their own thinking skills and be eager learners.





8) Encourage curiosity and creativity

Kids are curious by nature. As parents, we can help to nurture our child's natural curiosity by showing interest in what they have to say or ask. I know, it's hard to answer so many questions a day when we need to get on with life, with chores and with whatever is keeping us on our toes. However, if we want to fuel our child's desire to learn, then we have to be a mentor whom they can turn to anytime knowing that they will not be discouraged, they don't have to be scared about asking what seems like a trivial or insignificant question and they have the freedom to come up with the most creative answers. After all, if they can't turn to the people they trust the most, who else can they go to?

What other tips do you have about improving general education in our children? Do share with me in the comments and let's work together towards raising kids who have a passion to learn, are not afraid to ask and love to acquire new knowledge.

British Council conducts courses for Pre-school, Primary and Secondary levels across four centres (Napier Road, Marsiling, Tampines, Toa Payoh). To register for their courses, go here or call 6807 1589. For more information, visit www.britishcouncil.sg or follow them on Facebook.  

Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration between British Council and A Happy Mum. All photographs and opinions are purely my own.
Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
I've always believed that learning goes way beyond the classroom. We can see so much, hear so much and learn so much from everything around us. That is why while I try to cultivate a love for reading in my kids, I also encourage them to go outdoors, get up close with nature, take an interest in geography and history, observe our surroundings, ask questions about how things work and understand more about the world we live in.

As my eldest embarks on her Primary 3 journey this year, one thing that makes me glad is that she is not just an avid reader but also an inquisitive learner. Yes, that means I might have to answer dozens of questions a day just to satisfy her curiosity but if it helps her, and sometimes both of us, to pick up new knowledge and learn new things together as parent and child, why not?

She has also started on composition writing since last year and it's quite evident to see that while she has a long way to go and there is plenty of room for improvement, this thirst she has for books and knowledge has helped her face her fear of writing on a blank canvas, be capable of churning out contents and progress gradually over time as a confident learner.

As parents, do you think it is important to help our kids build up their general knowledge and does this impact their writing skills? I would definitely say 'Yes' to both.

******

As part of British Council's Young Learners programmes, a group of school children aged 10 to12 years old came together to film a light-hearted video that talks about the importance of good general knowledge for composition writing. I thought the theme was very interesting - "Imagine you are an astronaut in space and you are going to write a letter home. What would you say?" as it makes the students sit down to think about the knowledge they possess and the content they have to offer. You can watch the full video here or click 'Play' below.



Personally, I believe that it is beneficial for kids to possess general knowledge which will in turn translate to better writing skills. Having a strong fundamental knowledge and good understanding of how the world works will give you more substance, instead of fluff, in your writing. Even though grammar and vocabulary are also important, it is crucial that you at least have the contents up your sleeve which makes you sound credible and gives you the power to impress your readers. This provides the confidence and self-assurance one needs to get from the beginning to the conclusion.

With a strong belief in pushing children's boundaries when it comes to world knowledge, British Council's innovative teaching approach motivates its students to think deeply and critically as confident individuals. This can give the children an edge when it comes to schoolwork, including composition skills, especially for young kids like mine who are in the lower primary level and getting acquainted with writing for the first time. To find out more about the English for Primary courses offered by British Council, go here.

In our capacity as parents, we try our best to instill a love for learning and a thirst for knowledge in our children from a young age. Here's sharing the eight ways in which I try to help my kids enhance their general knowledge:
 
1) Instill a love for reading and visit the library regularly

We make regular trips to our neighbourhood library every few weeks and the kids always look forward to these trips. They will choose a handful of books, which is a mix of fiction and non-fiction, to read on the spot and pick a few favourites to borrow and take home. Since my eldest was a toddler six years ago, we've cultivated a habit of bedtime reading in our household and kept it going strongly even when we go overseas or when we've had a truly busy day. Now, all three kids look forward to our bedtime storytelling session which is a must before they go to sleep every night.




2) Build up a collection of non-fiction books

Set aside some shelves in the home as a library corner for the kids. Let the books be within their reach so that they can feel free to take a book to read anytime. To help improve general knowledge, make sure that there is a good mix of both fiction and non-fiction reads which are suitable for their different ages. You can also include encyclopedias, magazines or any educational materials to broaden their options and encourage them to read different genres of books from time to time.


3) Go to museums, zoos, nature reserves

Going outdoors is a fun bonding experience for the family but it can also be a great learning opportunity for the kids. We always leave our weekends free - that means no work, no blogging, no enrichment classes - so that we can go explore different places. Bring the kids to museums, zoos, nature reserves or parks, ask them to keep an eye open and observe their surroundings, read the information boards and learn as much as they can.



4) Do mind maps and flashcards

Since last year, we've been making flashcards for our girl whenever she is keen to learn about a science concept, for instance on the water cycle, photosynthesis, how fire is made etc. These are basically just notes that we jot down on a piece of paper and include diagrams whenever we can. On her own, she has also started learning about mind maps in school and done it by herself too. Doing this helps the child to visually organise information and retain memory of what has been taught or learnt.



5) Read and summarise newspaper articles

Since she loves to read so much, I started a new routine this year and that is to let her start reading newspaper articles and get to know more about current affairs. It's not a lot, but it's a good start for an eight-year-old. Every month, I will pick out a handful of interesting articles, cut them out and stick them into a scrapbook for reading in her free time. I've also told her that she will soon learn summary skills and tell me a line or two about every article she has read so that it helps her to remember too.



6) Watch news and documentaries

We don't let the kids play with phones or tablets (we don't even own an iPad yet) but we do let them watch a little TV every day. That said, we limit the time on how much time they have to watch, be it cartoons, music videos, movies or variety shows. At the same time, we encourage them to watch the news with us or watch documentaries too. Their current favourites are the ones on Netflix which talk about animals and I must say they have learnt much about so many animal species, including their habitats, characteristics and behavourial traits too!



7) Observe and learn from the surroundings

Learning can take place anywhere, be it at home or outdoors. I think we have to always remind ourselves that and don't let ourselves or our kids be confined to just textbooks, assessments books or classroom walls. For instance, a visit to the loo prompted my kid to ask me about where does our waste go, a cup of water she drank gave birth to a conversation about water treatment and NEWater, a trip to Peirce reservoir let them come up close and learn about apple snail eggs, a walk in the park gives them the chance to see different kinds of bugs and observe how they behave and so on. Let our kids be exposed to their surroundings, ask them questions and make them ponder, give them a chance to develop their own thinking skills and be eager learners.





8) Encourage curiosity and creativity

Kids are curious by nature. As parents, we can help to nurture our child's natural curiosity by showing interest in what they have to say or ask. I know, it's hard to answer so many questions a day when we need to get on with life, with chores and with whatever is keeping us on our toes. However, if we want to fuel our child's desire to learn, then we have to be a mentor whom they can turn to anytime knowing that they will not be discouraged, they don't have to be scared about asking what seems like a trivial or insignificant question and they have the freedom to come up with the most creative answers. After all, if they can't turn to the people they trust the most, who else can they go to?

What other tips do you have about improving general education in our children? Do share with me in the comments and let's work together towards raising kids who have a passion to learn, are not afraid to ask and love to acquire new knowledge.

British Council conducts courses for Pre-school, Primary and Secondary levels across four centres (Napier Road, Marsiling, Tampines, Toa Payoh). To register for their courses, go here or call 6807 1589. For more information, visit www.britishcouncil.sg or follow them on Facebook.  

Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration between British Council and A Happy Mum. All photographs and opinions are purely my own.
Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
时光飞逝,随着狗年的到来,我开始体会到何谓岁月不留人。三十五年的人生就这样过去了,有时想问问自己,如果能够让时光倒流,我会改变什么吗?现在的我,过着的是我梦寐以求的生活吗?我儿时所拥有的抱负和理想,都实现了吗?遥望未来,我是否仍然要坚持走这条路?

或许是中年危机来的早,又或许只是杞人忧天,但是总觉得自己在新的这一年里的思绪特别多,尤其是到了夜深人静,想睡却又睡不着的时候。

今年到外婆家拜年的时候,年老八十的她,已经不认得我是谁了。小时候,每当学校放假的时候,我都会到外婆家住上一段日子。我们一起打麻将、吃肯德基、帮狗狗冲凉、包云吞、打电动、逛街、买菜, 这些都是和外婆一起共享的美好回忆。如今的她老了,病了,不认得我们了,这些点滴的回忆,还会在她心中荡漾吗?

我每次都说回忆是一辈子的,但是,这是真的吗?有一天,轮到我老了,病了,我还能记得我想记得的一切吗?我好希望我能够。但是,我们始终不是输给病魔,就是输给岁月。前阵子,有位生性活泼开朗的朋友败给了癌症,离开了这个世界。最近,一位我非常在乎的朋友也在和病魔搏斗。上个月,有位读者写电邮来告诉我她因为一场病痛失去了四岁的孩子。生命,原来真的好脆弱。

我抬头看看在床上呼呼大睡的宝贝儿子,想想在卧房睡着了的两个女儿,我能拥有他们,是我人生中最大的收获。别人常常不理解为什么我能拥有赚大钱的机会,却选择过着必须依赖丈夫的零收入生活。你们不懂,这些孩子就是我最大的财富。即使如此,我又怎么舍得让别人带大他们呢?

朋友常说我的生活烦闷,二十四小时面对孩子,是所谓的 “没生活”。你们不懂,正是因为他们,我才真真正正的活着,他们使得我的人生多姿多彩,使得生命更有意义。

路人说我一个带三个,肯定很辛苦。他们得知我们家中没有女佣,更是觉得不可思议,甚至可能觉得我在吹牛,因为在现代的社会,这听起来不太可能。你们不懂,这一切的辛苦,比起孩子带给我的欢乐和满足感,是微不足道的。

能够做全职妈妈不是一种牺牲,而是我的特权。(Read my post on how being a SAHM is a privilege, not a sacrifice here)

如今的我,只想好好珍惜每一天。虽然不能说我不会发飙,不会骂人,不会啰里啰唆 (怎么可能?),可是,至少我希望每晚临睡前,能坦然告诉自己,我已经把握了今天,把想做的都做了。

我想多多告诉孩子我有多爱他们,而不是把这些话藏在心中,认为他们理所当然能感受到。不管是大宝,二宝,三宝,我要他们知道他们每一个在我心中的分量是同样的,我对他们的爱,是公平的,是无私的,是永恒的。 

我要保持健康的生活,多运动,多注意饮食习惯。这一切,不是因为我怕死,而是因为我怕我不在了,没有人照顾我的孩子。我要看着他们长大成人, 我要分享他们的心路历程, 我要陪伴他们每一天,直到他们展翅高飞。我有预感,要我这个做妈妈的学会放手,学会告别,即将是一件比登天还难的事。

我想要做个好妈妈。也许在某种程度上,我做到了,因为两个女儿都说自己的志愿是要成为一名母亲。是啊,不是医生,不是护士,不是老师,她们说她们也想做个好妈妈。无论如何,我心中肚明自己的缺点,希望自己在新的一年里,能更好的控制自己的情绪,拥有更多耐心,认真聆听孩子们所说的每一件事。

怀胎十个月,生孩子一刹那,教育孩子却是一辈子的事。我,还有很长远的路要走。

再想想,倘若时光真的能够倒流,我想我不会去改变任何一件事。因为这一切的一切,我才能走到这一天,我才能是现在的我。这个我,很感恩,很知足,很快乐。能够过着这样忙忙碌碌,不被他人理解的全职妈妈生活,这比什么都珍贵。 我过着的一天,就是梦想又实现的一天。我小时候想当妈妈,当老师,当女强人,当作者,现在的我,什么都是,早已实现儿时的心愿了。哦,还有,我当时只觉得自己顶多生两个,所以现在身为三个孩子的妈,更是超出了自己的想象。

未来永远是个未知数,但是我知道,自己选择抛开一切,走上这条人生道路是我一生中最幸福的事。孩子们,是你们让我体会到活着的意义, 是你们带给我前所未有的快乐。所以,我不会回头,我不会退缩,我只会更勇敢、更自信、更昂首阔步地走下这条幸福之路。

祝愿大家在狗年合家欢乐,过个“旺得福”的一年。

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Remember I shared with you all about Radisson Golf & Convention Centre last year and how it makes for a luxurious yet family-friendly getaway? If you missed it, you can read all about it here. That post became one of the most popular travel posts on the blog and I'm so glad I managed to share all about this fun-filled haven which is just a one-hour ferry ride away.

At the end of last year, we were deeply honoured to be invited back to Radisson for a second visit. I mean, if I were the client, I would probably want to get different bloggers every time so that they can cover different perspectives and reach out to a wider mass. To be able to receive multiple invites from places like Club Med, HARRIS, LEGOLAND and now Radisson, it validates what I do and makes me feel assured that my work on the blog is being valued. So, thank you very much for motivating me to keep writing.

In this post, I will be sharing with you more about the revamps at Radisson and how it is now more family-friendly than ever. My kids enjoyed themselves tremendously at our last visit and even up till now, they still talk about it from time to time and wish that they can go back again. What's more, once again, I will be hosting an exclusive giveaway and two of you will win a 2D1N family stay in Radisson Batam - which includes breakfast, spa sessions and dining vouchers too! Read on to find out more.

******

MEET MISMI

The first time we came, we were awestruck by the grandeur of the hotel lobby which came complete with gorgeous hanging pendant lights and golden swirls. This time, we still felt very much welcome, thanks to the friendly staff and cosy reception lounge. To make it even better, we were greeted by a very adorable monkey called Mismi, who is now the mascot of Radisson Batam. He was so nice as to spend time occupying the kids while we got ourselves checked in, even giving them friendly hugs and high fives too.



Besides the warm welcome by Mismi and the staff, the kids also indulged in what they loved since the first time they came - the addictive welcome lemongrass drink with basil seeds! Yums! It's definitely a good way to get everyone settled down and we were looking forward to what was lying in store for us.



A TOUR OF THE EXECUTIVE SUITE

Rated as a 4.5 star luxurious hotel, Radisson Golf & Convention Center boasts 207 rooms and suites, as well as 33 one-bedroom accommodations. For both times we were there, the housekeeping service was top-notch and we were impressed by the professionalism, efficiency and politeness of the staff.

For our visit this time round, we stayed in the Executive suite and a connecting Deluxe room for the kids. Sitting on a high floor, the Executive suite occupies an area of 90 sqm and offers a splendid view of the Sukajadi golf course and the swimming pool. Ideal for business professionals, families with kids or couples who like to indulge, the suite comes with a working desk and workstation, two LED 40" televisions, rain shower shower cubicle, separate bathtub, in-room complimentary mini bar, complimentary WiFi, bar counter, refrigerator, dining table and chairs.

Yes, it has a nice bathtub, a huge fridge and a homely dining table too! These are perfect for families with young kids so we were very thrilled to be staying here for three nights. The last I checked, a one-night stay in the Executive suite costs about SGD190-240 and prices vary depending on the period of stay, how far in advance you book and the demand during that time. Nonetheless, I thought it sounded pretty reasonable for such a comfortable and luxe hotel. I will be taking you on a short tour in the video below but here are some pictures taken of the suite so you can have a better idea.





See the inviting queen-sized bed and enormous living room? The space was so huge that the 40" TV looked kind of small in it. How huge does it feel? Let's just say we played hide and seek for a good half an hour and still managed to find a handful of good hiding spots, which totally delighted the kids.


Inside the bathroom, you can find toiletries which come in handy travel sized bottles and these are from Ritual, a well-known body care brand from Netherlands which strives to make use of organic ingredients to create high quality, luxurious products.




This is one of the things I love most in the suite - the bar counter! It was so inviting that we decided to have in-room dining not just once, but twice. Being able to dine in the comfort of the suite made it feel much more relaxing for us as parents. This was mainly because the kids were free to run around after they had finished while being confined in a safe space and therefore the hubby and I could tuck into our food and sipped our wines. Yay!


Even though the suite was huge, it only had one bed so we were glad to have a connecting Deluxe room for the kids which came with twin beds. What impressed us was how the room was nicely set up and waiting for us to step in. There was a tray of yummy chocolates and candies that the kids couldn't get enough of (it was near Christmas when we were there), the baby cot was already set up properly, and there were even three helium balloons - two pink and one blue - to greet the kids when they came into the room. No wonder they were very excited to be sleeping in this kids' room! Okay, I admit the hubby and I eventually had to split up to sleep with the kids so it was a relief that we had such nice beds to sleep in. Is it just me or do you love hotel beds too?


Having a spacious balcony with an awesome view meant that the kids could spend some time here gazing at the golf course or swimming pool, or just playing with bubbles and among themselves. We wanted this holiday to be as chilled and as relaxed as can be, so instead of taking it at a hurried pace, we just wanted to take things slow and easy this time round.


INTRODUCING "TUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE"

In my previous post, I shared with you about the Kids' Club and mentioned that while my kids loved playing there, it didn't look like there were too many toys or activities and I kind of wished that they had more to offer, given the huge space available.

I think my wish kind of came true because within the short span of six months, the entire Kids' Club was revamped and it now boasts a new name called "Tumble in the Jungle", is filled with beautiful jungle themed wallpapers and tree vines hanging from the ceiling, has a big, lovely tree house with cute animal plushies in the middle, a table soccer game, a ball toss game, hopscotch and more!













I saw this noticeboard in the Kids' Club that talked about animal conservation efforts but what caught my eye was this notice that stated that by taking a picture in Kids' Club and emailing it to Radisson, the hotel will award the family with a complimentary Saturday buffet dinner if the picture gets used on their Facebook page. Not a bad way to encourage people to start snapping away!





The girls were happy to get the chance to play puzzle games at the computer station because Mama hasn't started on letting them play computer games at home and we don't own an iPad too. Haha. That kept them occupied and happy for a good half an hour while the hubby and I went for our much deserved spa session. More on that later!



Moving onto the two new and most exciting highlights of the Kids' Club which take place every weekend, these are 1) Face Painting and 2) Meet the Animals sessions.

My kids are always very excited whenever they get to paint their hands or faces so it was nice to see them become a tiger and a butterfly as they tumbled in the jungle. What fascinated me was that the face painter was one of the hotel staff but I must say she had the patience and really made an effort to paint every stroke and detail nicely. Thanks for making the kids so happy!





The best part of the trip, according to the kids, had to be this - the chance to come up close and interact with animals! By animals, I actually mean reptiles in our case. We did hear that there are usually sugar gliders too but alas it was their mating season and we didn't get a chance to see them. Instead, we did come up close with a few geckos, iguanas and even pythons.




See how fearless these two girls are? They actually surprised some of the hotel staff because they didn't inch away from the animals but instead requested to hold them in their palms, put them over their shoulders and kept stroking them as if they had been our pets for a long time. Like seriously, where do they get this kind of courage from? Definitely not from me because you should have seen how long I hesitated before I was brave enough to hold the snakes.








An incident happened to Ariel and that was when one of the geckos she was holding bit her forearm and left bite marks and a little blood. We presumed it was because of the hot weather and how everyone was trying to hold it and keep it from running away. She was the only unlucky one who got bitten and so I wasn't surprised when she started to cry. In fact, I told her it was okay to take a rest since we had already been with the animals for, I think, a good half an hour already? While other hotel guests came and went briefly, we were the only family who stayed there from start to end and that was only because my kids refused to leave.

Yes, even though she was once bitten, this brave little 5-year-old wasn't twice shy and she wanted to go again after a few minutes! Not only did she hold the geckos again, she also went for the pythons and was so plucky to have them wrapped over her shoulders and placed on her forearms too. I was indeed very amazed at her resilience and it was good to see that she could overcome the fear too.

As for Angel, well, she was the most patient and loving one of the lot who treated each and every animal as if they were hers, especially the baby iguanas who seemed to love her so much and wouldn't let go of her when other kids wanted to have a try too. We ended up spending over one and half hours just being up close with these animals but seeing how the kids truly enjoyed every bit of it, I was glad we managed to make the most of this rare opportunity too.







THE NEW ZOYSIA SPA

Now that the spa is taken over by the hotel management instead of being run by a third party vendor, it was easy for us to spot the differences on our second visit. For starters, the whole place now uses blackout blinds and while it was brightly lit previously, the new spa looks much darker and dimmer. I personally prefer this new ambience because it seemed so soothing and calming the moment I stepped in.




As parents of three with no help, it's almost impossible for the hubby and I to even go on a date, much less indulge in a couple spa session. So this was definitely a once in a blue moon treat for us and you bet we relished every minute of it. If you require babysitting service during your stay, you can request for it at the concierge too.

I chose to go for a Indonesian traditional massage while the hubby took up the Swedish massage. It was one of the rare times that I felt honestly relaxed and I realised how much tension was in my body, even though theoretically I don't have a job other than being a SAHM. For those 60 minutes, I told myself to let go of all my worries and just enjoy that truly deserving massage. It was really good to have the hubby beside me because he honestly needed to take a break too! Yay for couple time!



FAMILY-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES

I've shared about this in detail in the previous post but just so you know, here are some other family-friendly activities that you can do during your stay in Radisson Batam.

-> Swimming 

We love the outdoor infinity pool at Level 1 which has a breathtaking view of the golf course. There is also a wading pool beside the main pool which is good if you have toddlers and a Jacuzzi pool for the older ones too.






What I did this time..
Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
It's been a busy start of 2018 for us. Well, I guess it's the same for everyone too. You know, sometimes I do wonder what we are occupied with. Is it the never ending work, or in my case, household chores? Is it about the kids' schoolwork, which only increases over time? Is it endless spellings that I'm not sure are meant to test the kids or the parents' patience? Is it looking after babies who are home all day and never seem to give you a moment's peace? Is it getting ready for CNY which is just around the corner? Is it trying to stay connected with friends and family despite everyone is so caught up with their own busy lives?

For me, I think it encompasses all of the above and more. I still try to cook at least 5-6 times a week for the kids, I do the washing, vacuuming, laundry and ironing, I decorate the house and get it ready for CNY, I make somewhat feeble attempts to keep the house clean, I fetch the kids to school every day and bring them to and fro their enrichment classes, I am still trying to keep the blog alive and since me-time only happens late at night for me, I sacrifice much of my sleep to continue this hobby. I think that's why I'm finding 24 hours a day to be insufficient for me to do everything that I want to do.

Yup, I admit I'm quite an overachiever at times and I don't know what it means to take things easy. One way or another, we are still going to make ends meet with no extra pair of hands, no helper, no part time cleaner - all I have are my three little 'helpers' and a hands-on hubby but who needs to be away often or works late into the night most of the time. Yup, solo parenting, I am so not afraid of you and confident to tackle you any day. In this post of "Happiness is...", it's about me learning to let go. And I mean that in many aspects, not just one.

I cherish our family weekends a lot because these two days might be the only days of the week that the kids get to spend with their Papa. While we previously used to think of new and exciting places to explore and always went on family adventures, I try to let go a little more now because it really doesn't matter so much what we do or where we go - as long as we are together. Many a time, I leave it up to our spontaneity and we would decide that morning on where to head to. It's challenging but also thrilling to have to make plans last minute, as well as pack our barang barang to suit the occasion, but I'm kind of getting used to and liking it too. Carpe diem, people, let's seize today!






The weather hasn't been that kind last month but we still went out twice or thrice a week. All right, I admit we were caught in the rain more than once last month too. Yes yes, this Mama never learns her lesson but you also have to understand how much things I am already bringing out every time I go out with the kids. At least, I usually have one rain cover or shawls in my bag so that the kids can use them when it rains. Haha. While others might perceive me as a forgetful or even lousy mum to let my kids 'suffer' in the rain, I think we kind of enjoyed it and it was that kind of experience that we won't forget easily. In any case, I've never really been too bothered by what others say because after a while, you realise what matters is what you believe in and what you do.





The firstborn began her Primary 3 journey in a new school this year, so that was a huge change for her and for us too. Read more about our reasons why and how the transfer process works here. People have been expressing their surprise, and sometimes worry and dismay (including my in-laws), when I tell them that my girl has started coming home herself this year. It might be a short walk but she has to cross a two-way road, a crossroad junction with traffic lights and two zebra crossings to get home.

I made the decision not just because it would be much easier to put the two younger ones down for their afternoon naps without needing to lug everyone out of the house under the hot midday sun just to pick her up, but also because I think this girl is ready to be more independent.

My mum used to let me go to school and come home myself starting from Primary One. What is it that is stopping parents nowadays? I'm not really sure but I know I told myself to let go, to worry less and trust more, to give her the opportunity to learn, to make mistakes and to grow. It's been a month since she has come home by herself and so far, it's been working out great for us. Phew!




I've been enjoying my one-on-one mornings with the boy after sending the girls to school. Yes, this little boy wakes up with us at 7am every day so that he can send his beloved sisters to school too. After that, we have 3.5 hours of time together before we need to pick the second sister. On some days, I try to make lunch but that would mean I have to leave him alone to play or let him watch TV. On other days, I tell myself that it's okay to eat out and we will just head to the food court after picking the sister. On another point about letting go, I have let the boy start eating on his own since he was, I think, a year old? He makes a huge mess at times, still does, but I have to remind myself that it is okay. Seeing how adept he is at using chopsticks and feeding himself nowadays, which means I have the luxury of eating my food before it turns cold, I think the messes were all worthwhile.


I take the kids for art classes and Heguru classes weekly and we always dine out after that. That means out of 10 meals, including lunches and dinners, from Mondays to Fridays, we have eight left to settle on our own. Out of these eight, I try to cook around 5-6 of them. They are usually very simple meals (you can see from my pics) and I also usually cook bigger portions of soup so that I can have leftovers for the next day and just dump some fishballs/vermicelli/vegetables into it for a quick fix lunch.








Back at home, I've tried to include the kids in the kitchen more every since the year began. I let the eldest try mincing meat using the cleaver, I taught her how to fry a sunny side up and omelette, I let her learn to peel potatoes and carrots, I gave the middle one a try at frying vegetables, peeling vegetables and preparing ingredients, and I also didn't exclude the two-year-old but let him try out simple tasks like beating eggs and washing rice too.

It's true that they don't always do it well and they can more than double the time I would need if I did everything myself. It's also true that they have made messes and I wondered if it was a smart move after all to let them try. But seeing the look of accomplishment on their faces and how they sit at the dinner table with pride knowing that they played a part in cooking it, that is priceless. It's also a good reminder for me that I have to let go of some things that won't matter after a while, yet hold onto those that truly do.



There were some days that I felt more exhausted than usual and to admit, I did lose my cool at the slightest things around the house. I nagged at the kids incessantly, I chided them for not taking responsibilities for their own chores, I reminded them time and again to step up to their plates, I even told them that if this were to continue and that I feel so tired before the chores are done at the end of the day, we might have to engage some help. I didn't mean it as a threat but as a real consequence that might happen because I was really deadbeat on some days when the hubby didn't return, when the three kids didn't give me even a moment to breathe, when the stars just didn't seem aligned and the day didn't go as well as it could have been.

And then, the magic happened.

It's like something just snapped in place and the girls just suddenly got it. They understood. On not just one but a handful of days in January, I woke up from my afternoon nap with the baby boy to find a surprise in the living room for me. Besides the very sweet handmade cards and messages on the white board that says "I'm the best Mama in the world", I also wake up to a cleaner floor, tidied up tables, neatly put away toys, folded laundry and more. See, magic, right?

It's like those years of nagging, chiding, teaching and reminding suddenly worked. Just like that. I told them to help out more in the house on weekdays so that we can play on weekends, I told them everyone had a part to play in the chores because we all lived in the same house, I told them that Mummy would really appreciate every little effort they put in, I told them they are capable of doing more than what they think they can as long as they try. And they went above and beyond what I could have ever asked for. Thank you, my girls.


On the topic of letting go, January 2018 was the first time my kids learnt about loss and grief. You see, one of our beloved hamsters unfortunately left us and the kids were totally devastated. It's funny how I was actually the first one to shed tears but once I did, their dams broke open and there was no stopping their tears.

It broke my heart to see how my eldest girl wept. Unlike her younger sister who let it all out and bawled incessantly for nearly an hour, she wept in a much quieter manner but that look of sorrow on her face, it was something I've never seen before. Yes, you might say it was just a pet, just a hamster, but it was something that mattered dearly to her and it was the first time she had to learn to let go. We hugged, we held hands, we wrote goodbye notes, we said our last farewell to dear Nella, we had a moment of silence before we buried her and the kids drew a tombstone, filled with lots of love and tiny hearts, for her.


I know there will still be many more life lessons waiting for us and it will not be easy to learn to let go of some things that we hold close to our hearts. Even for me, I'm still learning what it means to let go when it comes to being a mum. It's hard, it's tough, but I hope I'll slowly get there.

This month has been a good start for us and I think I can say that we've had a busy yet truly awesome start to the year 2018. For now, we are looking forward to celebrate Chinese New Year with our family and friends! Till the next "Happiness is..." post!
Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
My kids love theatre.

That is why over the years since this blog took off, I've usually enthusiastically replied "Yes" to media invites for theatrical shows. I try my best to do reviews for them in the hope of helping to fuel the growth of children's theatre scene and keep it going vibrant and strong. In case you don't know, in our case, these collaborations are not paid so it's always a question of whether you have the passion and love for theatre in the first place. And we do. We really do.

Thanks to KidsFest which was launched by ABA Productions in 2012, we've had the chance to witness world-class theatre which hail from Australia, Britain and United States and more. We see our favourite characters being brought to life, we get to enjoy scenes from our well-loved books on stage, we enjoy quality family bonding when we discuss about the shows, we instill an interest for the arts and culture in the kids, we encourage their creativity and let their imagination flow, we learn important life values which will hopefully stay in their hearts for a long time.



This year, we've had the opportunity to watch not just one, but two awesome shows at KidsFest 2018 and here's sharing with you all about them.

UGLY DUCKLING

The kids are in love with this well-known tale by Hans Christian Anderson and last year, we bought a book for the little sister so that she could read it during bedtime storytelling. So when I knew that Ugly Duckling was going to make its inaugural appearance at KidsFest this year, you bet we were not going to miss it.


Everyone knows the fairy tale story of how the the ugly duckling is teased and laughed at by his siblings, how his mother loves him all the same, how he can't fit in no matter how hard he tries, how he is forced to run away and spends a miserable winter alone, and how he eventually turns into a beautiful swan, spreads his beautiful wings and takes flight with his new family.






The show, which is brought to life by tutti futti and York Theatre Royal, talks about that and so much more. It is a story about finding self-worth and teaches you to learn to accept yourself; it reminds you of the importance of family and how you should be forgiving; it tells you that beauty comes from within and it's never about what you are born as, but what you do with your life.


The three-man cast in this show was terrific and together, they brought to life characters such as the kind Mummy Duck, the bewildered Ugly Duckling, his mean brother Fluffy, and others such as the goose, swan, dog and cat. I'm always so amazed by how they can take on so many roles and yet not get confused about their lines and each character always has a distinct demeanour on stage.


Using creative props, lighting and live music, the story was enacted in a most compelling way and it took us through the four seasons from spring to winter - my favourite was how they used paper scraps for snow and a white cloth for the icy pond. We loved the original songs which were apt and catchy, we were impressed by how Ugly could swim, somersault and dance in the pond, we liked the twist where he showed his filial piety and flew back to look for his mother even when he was a gorgeous swan who had performed for the Queen in Buckingham Palace.

In the final scene, Ugly was with Mother Duck when she had just given birth to a new batch of eggs and among them was a chicken egg which she had picked up from an abandoned nest. Ugly then realised that Mother Duck did the same for him and though she knew he wasn't a duckling from the start, she still loved him as much as she loved her own babies. It was a reminder of humanity, of how we should always reach out a helping hand regardless of our backgrounds, of how our lives are not determined at birth but are as a result of our characters, our beliefs and our doing.

To quote what my hubby said, who by the way is someone hard to impress in the theatre, "I thought the cast was awesome! Can sing, can dance, can act, can be funny, can multi-task, can do everything." Well, we can only imagine how much hard work goes behind the scene and are thankful to the crew and cast for putting it together, and that we had a chance to watch this play firsthand.

******

WHAT THE LADYBIRD HEARD

This book by Julia Donaldson has always been one of our favourites - we love that it has so many animals, we love the catchy rhyming words, we love the clever ladybird who never said a word, we even love Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len because these two thieves help to make the story so engaging and hilarious.



The first thing that struck my mind before the show began was "How is the cast going to act out so many animals, even if they take on multiple roles? Surely there is over a dozen of them in the book!" That was something I was very much looking forward to discovering. Of course, my kids were also very excited to watch this colourful story being brought to life, so even though they had skipped their afternoon naps as we just explored the crowded streets of Chinatown, we went into the theatre all happy and thrilled about the show.

Not long after it began, a surprising moment came when the cast announced that they needed someone to act the role of Lanky Len and started to comb through the audience. Yes, I'm pretty sure that made everyone, especially the adults, sit up and pay attention. It turned out that they picked an usher who was standing at the side and he was totally surprised and goofy when he got up the stage. Angel said to me "Mummy, I know he is part of the cast because he already has a microphone attached to his ear when they called him". Yes my dear, very smart. But still, it was a pretty ingenious move by the cast and it definitely helped to lighten the mood and make things cheery in the theatre.


I was impressed by the huge, adorable fine prize cow looking over the fence who always bobbed her head to and fro at the right moments and there were also two cat puppets - one who meowed and one who purred - who sat at the window sill. Wait, so how about the rest of the animals?

Well, this was the part that left me awestruck. The cast proceed to make the animal characters out of props found on the farm, for instance a black broom became the dainty dog, a white watering became the goose in the pen, a wheelbarrow and rug became the woolly sheep, a bicycle and a trough became the handsome horse and so on. It was really fantastic to see the creativity that went into it and everyone in the audience was blown away every time an animal came to 'life'.

As for the ladybird, it would light up at difference places on the stage and the cast would ask the audience to search for it. What a good way to engage the kids, right? There was also a point where the lights suddenly went off and the ladybird became a red speckle of light that danced through the sky. Everything about this show was so engaging that we didn't want to miss any moment of it, not even the toddler who usually gets fidgety and distracted after a while.



I love the part where Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len drove onto stage in their van, showed off their tools hidden in the back of the van, sang a song and did a dance about them being mean crooks before they started devising a plan to steal the fine prize cow from the farmyard. These two had so much camaraderie that it was fun watching them interact and we were very tickled by their funny jokes and hilarious antics.



My kids were also amazed by the use of musical instruments - which was done live on stage right in front of us - that accompanied their every moment when they sneaked into the farm. Everything flowed so seamlessly and we totally enjoyed the awesome acting, the dance choreography, the songs, the puppetry and the use of creative props.

Last but not least, there was also a surprise at the finale where the cast asked the audience to stand up and move along to the beat. I remember the hubby and I were saying "How come all of them know how to play musical instruments?" It was all very impressive! One was playing the flute, one was playing the guitar, one the ukulele and one on the cajon. They earned a loud, lasting applause from the audience when the show drew to a close and we totally enjoyed ourselves from start to end too. I have no doubt that What The Ladybird Heard will be one of our top favourite shows so far - and we have a pretty long list accumulated over the years.

Thanks to KidsFest for bringing to us so many spectacular shows this year! We hope our love for theatre will continue and that we can go on to share more shows with you, our dear readers, in future.

Disclosure: We were invited to review the above shows in writing this post. All production images are provided by KidsFest and all opinions are purely our own.
Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
We've been looking forward to the 27th of January for a long time because it was going to be the day of Safari Zoo Run 2018, an event which we could run for a meaningful cause, get together with our animal friends and enjoy a day full of fun, laughter and family bonding.

Alas, the kids had been feeling under the weather for the entire week and even though we all woke up excitedly and promptly on the day itself, the hubby discovered that the little sister was running a fever and things started to get into a frenzy. While he was adamant that she should skip the run and stay home to rest, I checked her temperature, which turned out to be 37.9°C, and I was of the opinion that she could still go but stay in the stroller for most of the journey.

So we got into a little bit of a disagreement and when we told the girl that she should consider staying home to rest in case her condition deteriorated, she started to bawl badly. Well, that helped us to make a decision more swiftly and even though the hubby was reluctant, he still got ready and drove us all to the zoo. So, with a toddler who had a runny nose and bad cough, a preschooler who was feverish and also coughing, and a primary schooler who was suffering from a headache the night before, we made our way to the starting point of our 5.5km run. Yes, 5.5km! We chose to run the longer route like last year because we had enjoyed the experience so much and wanted nothing else but to do it again this time round. I kept my fingers crossed for good weather, smooth run, cooperative and happy kids, and hoped that things would only get better from there.


The flag off time was 8am and since I had told the hubby that we needed to arrive at 7:45am (it's a tactic I've learnt over the years), we made it in good timing and even had time to pose for some family shots after putting on mosquito repellent and sunblock lotion for the kids.



It is a good thing that Safari Zoo Run allows the use of strollers in the family runs so we could use it to carry the diaper bag, baby necessities, water bottles as well as extra clothes for the kids just in case. Since Ariel was the one feeling most sick that day, we decided that she could sit in the stroller while I carried the boy in my trusty Tula carrier for toddlers. In any case, this kid doesn't like to sit in the stroller most of the time and loves to demand for Mama to hold him. Oh well, while I still can do it, why not?

See the crowd of people? It's pretty awesome knowing how many families are supportive of this family-friendly event that takes place annually. Despite being early, we were flagged off in the fourth wave and I didn't even know how many waves followed after us. We were all feeling thankful for the breezy weather, plus the upbeat music and bubbly emcees definitely helped to build up a positive and cheerful atmosphere.

Here's Canola the manatee who helped to flag us off! Yup, we love Canola but we decided to remain faithful and chose to run for #TeamChawang again this year!

You know what's the best part about Safari Zoo Run? It's being able to run through the Zoo and Night Safari, come up close with all the beautiful animals, enjoy the morning breeze and cherish being able to do this with the people you love most. Even though we always encourage our girls to run as best as they can and never give up during races, when it comes to Safari Zoo Run, it's another game altogether. For this 5.5km, all we want is to enjoy nature, admire the animals, take a break whenever we like, do things at a leisurely pace, take deep breaths and simply appreciate life for what it has to give.

Here's sharing some photos we took during the run - which is the only family run where we can, and want to, stop in our steps so many times to take gorgeous shots of the animals and feel our breath being taken away by the beauty of everything we see.



See how close we could get to the animals and how the bright daylight made the photos appear nicer? I wasn't even using a DSLR, just a point and shoot compact camera.


It wasn't long before the sick girl decided that she felt well enough to get off the stroller and join her elder sister in walking, running and sightseeing. She was excited to check out every enclosure and was jumping with joy whenever she spotted one of the cute animals. Not even 1km into the run, we passed by the home of kangaroos and look, we decided to have a standing broad jump contest - which was my worst Napfa event for as long as I can remember. It was hilarious because the boy just kept running and falling over, and we realised that the big girl can jump as far as I can already. Haha.



Check out these beautiful kangaroos and how awesome is it that we got so up close with them! The hubby was saying we were so near to the extent that we had to be careful of their hind legs because if they kicked, our kids would fly. But, these marsupials were so tame that we just stayed on watching them eat for quite some time. Yes, weren't we in a run? Well, it's not always that we had such a precious opportunity to gaze at kangaroos from such a close proximity, and best of all, there wasn't even much people around us! So, I really didn't mind spending a little more time here if it made the kids happy.

Thanks to the thoughtful organisers, we had plenty of water stops and could quench our thirst with mineral water and isotonic drinks. See how my girl was already beaming and smiling so happily? It's not hard to see that coming outdoors instead of staying cooped at home was doing her some good!

As for me, I had to embrace the fact that the boy wanted me to either carry or piggyback him for nearly the entire 5.5km run. Yup, that means I perpetually had a 12kg load and the hubby commented that it was a good workout for me!







For the second half of our journey, we were stoked to see even more animals up close, from the towering giraffes and majestic lions to the endearing mother-and-child hippopotamuses and the cute as a button meerkat.

The Safari Zoo Run is probably the only run where we will stop halfway just to take a family photo, and boy am I glad we did because this was such a moment to remember. I mean, conquering a 5.5km journey with three sick kids in tow? That's gotta be a milestone for sure.

I have to give the thumbs up to the big girl because even though she barely recovered from her illness the day before, she had zero complaints during the run and while the siblings could get into the pram or carrier, she completed the entire journey on her own two legs, be it run, jog or walk. You go, girl!






The last highlight of our journey was seeing dear Chawang, Sri Nandong and their baby calf Neha, who is over one and a half years old already. Did you know that elephants have a pregnancy that spans 22 months long? Yes, that is more than double of ours and makes the longest gestation period for all mammals. Amazing, right? I always view these magnificent creatures with awe and was delighted that we managed to come up close with a handful of them during the run. It was really heartwarming to see how Neha was trying to clean herself in the mud yet she never ever wandered too far off from her mum, who was always there to guide and protect her. Awww, such a strong mother and child bond!



We finally made it to the finishing line and even if we were one of the last few families to do so, I believe it was all worthwhile to take our time to admire the animals, appreciate nature and enjoy every moment of the run. My little troopers were ecstatic to see the finishing line and even more so when they received their medals - which I believe they truly earned and deserved.



For the first time after the run, we had the opportunity to come up close with reptiles at the carnival. If you saw our pictures from Batam where the girls held geckos and iguanas in their palms and wore pythons around their necks, you will know that they are always thrilled to interact with these animals too!

It was truly a great morning spent as a family at Safari Zoo Run 2018 and I couldn't have thought of a better way to spend it. Wait, we are not advocating that you should always let the kids exercise while they are sick. As parents, I think we know best what our kids ought or ought not to do, so just make sure you don't go off the limits and always monitor how they are feeling. For us, it was indeed a wise decision to stick together as a family and attend the run because the kids were all feeling happy and contented after a whole day of fun and joy. So, I believed the fresh air, the lovely company of the animals and the happiness lingering in this family-friendly event helped to dispel all their discomfort and made them feel much better.

If you think we went straight home after the run, well, we didn't! Why? That was because all run participants were allowed to explore the Zoo and the River Safari for the rest of the day, so we really wanted to make full use of it since the kids had voiced out that they wanted to stay.




We went on the Amazon River Quest, which was a first time experience for the little sister so you can imagine how much joy that ride alone brought her. See that wide grin on her face? She was so excited throughout the journey, especially when she spotted the animals or when we went over the rapids.

After exploring River Safari and having a delicious lunch at the Mama Panda Kitchen, as a final treat for the kids, we took them to check out the Land of Giants exhibition in the Zoo, which we made it just in the nick of time since it only lasted till end of January. The big girl is a bug lover so she was the one who pleaded for us to take her here and we couldn't really refuse, could we? She loved reading all about these insects and even made it a point to take a photo with every single one she saw.





Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
I love being all matchy-matchy with my girls. Yes, it's awesome that I have two daughters and even more awesome that they love to be all matching and coordinated with Mummy too. I mean, if we don't do it now, then when? I'm pretty sure they won't wanna do it as they get much bigger (and I get much older), so we try our best to cherish every opportunity we have now.

Matching outfits from Moley Apparels

While it is not that hard to hunt for matching mother daughter outfits and we usually go for one-piece dresses, it is rare that we find any mother-daughter matching accessories. Wouldn't it be nice to add some sparkle for Mummy and her girl, especially now that Chinese New Year is around the corner?

When Gemmetry introduced me to their catalogue and showed me the Mother and Child Freshwater Pearl Bracelet and Bangle sets, I was stoked because this would be the first time I could wear matching jewellery with my girls. Let me show you more of our beautiful pieces and for those who would love to win a set for you and your child, I have not one but TWO Mother and Child Bracelet/Bangle sets (each worth $228) to be given away too. So read on!

Gemmetry is a local startup and online retailer that offers a range of unique gemstone accessories as well as lifestyle products. These include rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, pendants, keychains and more. Every product goes through a meticulous selection process in order to ensure quality and affordability.


What most excites me is their recent launch of their Mother and Daughter collection - the first part of the launch is focused on pearls and consists of the above freshwater pearl designs. Now, I've never been extremely fond of pearls because I assumed they make me look a tad more old-fashioned. However, these exquisite designs proved to me that with the right amount of pearls and a beautiful design to chain it all together, pearl accessories can exude so much elegance and beauty, making you shine without the need for excessive bling.

On the left is the Bracelet set and each comes with four freshwater pearls and an adjustable cord for easy wearing. It is a striking, eye-catching design which is well-suited for parties, celebrations and events. On the right is the Bangle set which has a more subtle but classy look and comes with a single pearl matched with a butterfly motif topped with cubic zirconia- a synthesised crystalline material that is an affordable alternative to diamonds, with its similar shine and clarity.

Which one will you choose?

I showed the girls the options and the three of us unanimously chose the Bangle design. For me, it's because I personally prefer a subtle, timeless, classy look and for the girls, I'm quite sure it's because of that beautiful, shimmering butterfly. Our matching bangles arrived in this beautiful jewellery box which opens up effortlessly and comes with push studs to keep the bangles in place.

The bangle is made of 925 silver and it is a flexi band which allows you to tighten and loosen with ease and you can easily adjust it to your preferred size. You can simply wear it around the wrist or loosen it a little and go for a forearm bangle look too. There is only one size for adults but for kids, you can choose from either the newborn set (suited for newborns up to 4 years old) or the child set (suited for girls from 5 to 12 years old).

This is how the bangles look on us. Lovely, aren't they? Both Angel and Ariel are wearing the same sized child bangle so having a flexi band really helps me to adjust according to their sizes. I'm pretty sure they can continue to wear these for many years down the road and if they last as long and as well as I hope they will, it's surely a good and worthwhile buy considering that these bangles don't burn that big a hole in the pocket.

Matching outfits from Moley Apparels
If you would like to get the bangles or bracelets for your child only, you can also get them separately from Gemmetry instead of having to get the Mother and Child set. It's nice to see the girls being able to twin not just in their dresses but in their accessories as well!

Matching outfits from Moley Apparels
We are definitely excited to wear these beautiful, matching bangles to go 拜年 during the upcoming Chinese New Year! Yes, we can all do with some glitter during this festive season and I'm glad we will be adding a touch of sparkle together. As mother and daughters.

To find out more about Gemmetry, visit their website and follow them on Facebook.

******

CNY Promotion

From 25 Jan to 28 February, key in the coupon code CNY18 when you check out and enjoy 15% off all products and free shipping too!

Giveaway on A Happy Mum

Good things must share! That is what I always advocate so here's an awesome giveaway where TWO of you will stand to win a Mother and Child Freshwater Pearl Bracelet OR Bangle set (each worth $228) from Gemmetry! 

*For the kids' sets, note that the Pearl Bracelet only comes in Newborn size (for newborn to 4 years old) but the Pearl Bangle comes in either Newborn size or Child size (for 5 to 12 years old).

To join in this giveaway, leave a comment in this post with your name, email address and choice of either the Bracelet or Bangle set. Indicate in the widget that you have done so and to increase your chances of winning, you can choose to carry out the rest of the options. Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Disclosure: This is a sponsored review for Gemmetry and we received the Freshwater Pearl Bangles in writing this post. Product images are provided by Gemmetry and all other photos belong to us. All opinions are our own.
Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
When I asked the girls what birthday themes they would like for their parties, they didn't take too long to decide. The big sister wanted a Sylvanian themed one (read all about her Sylvanian themed tea party here) while the little sister would like a Shopkins themed one. 

Shopkins? Yup, the one word that was foreign to me not too long ago. Thanks to her classmates, Netflix, colouring/story books and a huge display of Shopkins in every Kiddy Palace we passed by, I soon got acquainted with it. It seemed to me that anything and everything can be a Shopkin so I was pretty thankful because that meant it wouldn't be hard for me to come up with the party decorations and games. 

In this post, I'm sharing all about Ariel's 5th birthday and how she had a blast at her fun-filled Shopkins Tea Party! Woohoo, yes, another birthday post to share!


The Preparation

In wanting to keep the party cosy and intimate, we decided to invite just five of her good friends from school. Since it was her birthday, I gave her the freedom in deciding who to invite and it wasn't long before we did up a simple invitation and passed to them. To our joy, all of them RSVP-ed saying that they would love to come! I was worried that they would be busy or go away on holiday since it was in mid-December so it was really a relief knowing that things could go as planned.



I had to deal with something important from the start and that was to help the big sister determine her role in this party. Initially, she was adamant on wanting to join in all the games as a participant because in her words "Meimei could play all the games during my birthday with my friends, I also want to play with hers." Fair enough, right? So, it was a little tough trying to explain that some of the games were more suited for the younger kids and since she was three years older, I suggested that she could become the game master instead - and she eventually took on that role with glee.

In fact, she helped me to come up with a list of activities and was in charge of writing them down so we couldn't forget. It was really nice to see that she was able to see the big picture and be willing to be my most able assistant on the day itself.



As for our wall decor, I kept it simple and adapted the template I used for the Sylvanian party. All I did was to search for images of Shopkins and superimpose them onto the letters that I wanted to print out for the bunting.


Ariel wanted to have a drawing game too so I did up game cards and printed them out myself - these include everyday items in the house (which might possibly be a Shopkin, haha). I also printed out some colouring pages because these are always handy to keep the early birds occupied while waiting for everyone to arrive.


One of the highlights of our decorations had to be this table centerpiece, which was a Shopkins house we made by ourselves using a cardboard box, wrapping paper, foam, straws, empty containers, felt etc. It took us quite some time to make it two-tiered but we did it eventually! Ariel even designed and drew things like a painting, a clock, a TV screen for the house. We also borrowed some furniture pieces from our Sylvanian sets and of course, chose some of our favourite Shopkins to 'stay' in this cute little house.



Lastly, I know how much my girl would love to play the pinata on her special day so I did a simple one of Popsi Cool using an empty cereal box, crepe paper, felt, cardboard and old socks. I will share more in a Creativity 521 post when I can, stay tuned for more pictures if you are keen to see how it was done.

The Setup

The night before the party, I laid out the Shopkins themed tablecloth and disposable tableware that I bought online (can't seem to find any of them in the party shops here). We put up the lightbox - it's such a great way to teach the kids to spell - and I also printed out round labels to stick onto the party hats.



As for the goodie bags, these have to be the most awesome, generous ones we've given away. See below? Each pack comes with a Shopkins Cutie Car, a Shopkins Kinstructions with buildable figures and over 100 pieces to put together, a sticker book, a chocolate egg and candy.



I was happy to see that the guests were thrilled with these party favours and one parent even asked his daughter when he saw the building set "Are you sure this is for you to take home or not?" and was surprised when we said "Of course!" That is the good thing about having a small party, you get to do more, give more and play more!



Just like the sister, Ariel did a kind deed on her birthday and that was to ask for donations to SPCA and help her animal friends instead of getting gifts. She was very thrilled whenever her friends or their parents gave her the cash and would happily put into the donation box. I'm going to share more about our trip down to SPCA, which we did on her actual birthday, and how we gave her a present she has always wanted to reward her for being such a sweet, sensible girl.



As for the party dresses, we didn't get new ones for the girls but instead ask them to pick what they would like to wear from their wardrobes. Ariel picked out this pretty, purple, princessy dress which fitted her to a tee and I love how happy she looked in it!

 Food

The good thing about organising a tea party is that we don't need to cater or cook up a storm. Instead, we asked the birthday girl what kind of food she would like and just topped up from there. For Ariel's party, we had a variety of treats including donuts, eclairs, cream puffs, croissants, gingerbread cookies, cupcakes, macaroons, cocktail sausages, french fries, nuggets and fresh fruits. Haha yup, definitely an overkill but hey, better to have more than less, right? Our guests were pleasantly surprised that there was so much food and so many choices to pick from and some even commented that the food looked too pretty to eat!






The Party

Now, it's time for the party to begin! First of all, check out this sweet message the big sister wrote for the birthday girl. Yup, so glad I took a picture of it before it got erased as we needed the easel stand and whiteboard for one of the activities.



Activities

Now, let me tell you all about what we did during the party and how we kept our guests entertained!

-> Colouring 

First of all, the kids who arrived first were just to happy to receive a Shopkins wristband and then they proceeded to the colouring station. I know I still love colouring as an adult and I hope my kids will always find the joy in this simple but timeless activity too. I printed out as many different Shopkins colouring pages as I could find and the girls were happy to pick their favourites!



 -> Feed Me

The second activity was to toss the balls into our hungry laundry basket who was dressed up as a Shopkin. Haha, you just need to add eyes and a mouth, right?


All you need to do is throw 20 balls within a time limit and the number of balls you get into the basket will determine your score. The big girl, a.k.a. the game master, was a little nervous but nonetheless very excited to explain the rules to the participants and she was also the time and score keeper too.


I swear it wasn't rigged but Ariel turned out to be the champion of the game with 17 points! Hooray for my girl! Anyway, all of them received this Shopkins bouncy ball to reward them for their efforts, no matter the score.


-> Shopkins Treasure Hunt

This third activity was devised by the game master herself. She thought of hiding Shopkins figurines all around the house and asking the participants to go around and hunt for them one by one. I helped her to improvise it and we decided to split the people into two teams and each team had to locate five specific Shopkins - I took photographs and printed them out as cards for them to refer to. This was a good way to teach them about teamwork and learn to work together cohesively.


So, the game master hid all the 10 Shopkins in different corners of our house and the girls had to go around using their eye power to spot them one by one. You have to have an eye for detail to spot some of them! Can you see one of the Shopkins hidden below?



This game was well-received by the girls who never played anything like it before and they were jumping for joy every time they found one of their Shopkins. The tricky part was when you find a Shopkin that belonged to the other group, should you keep mum or do you give them a clue?


 -> Guess what am I?

For the next activity, it's something that Ariel enjoys and that is... drawing! The girls took turns to draw and the rest would have to guess. The answers would be things that you can find in the house and these can vary from necklaces and shoes to ovens and refrigerators. I find it a good way to help build up confidence too because the kids are usually very afraid and skeptical when they start to draw but display more confidence as they keep trying till their friends guess the correct answer.



The Pinata

Last but not least, this was the one activity many of them looked forward to - smashing up Popsi Cool. Haha, yes, that was literally what they did. The hubby and I managed to tie the pinata onto our laundry rack with twine and adjusted till it was more or less the right height.


I can't believe that I still managed to find the blindfold I did for Angel's Rapunzel Party three years ago! That saved me the hassle of having to make a new one but we couldn't find the wooden sticks we used previously so the hubby and I had to improvise and we decided to use our mop sticks and wrapped them up with Christmas-y paper to jazz them up a little. Haha.


Honestly, I didn't expect Popsi Cool to be able to endure a beating but it managed to stay intact and let each of the girls get a good three turns (each turn involves three hits) at smashing it. Even the big sister and the baby brother got to try it out too and everyone had so much fun!


It's never so much about the treats, right? I mean, we did put lots of stationery, stickers, candies and biscuits inside but I think the fun part was actually in trying to break the pinata and sharing the laughter with your friends.


Cake cutting ceremony

The activities, though simple, took up close to two hours and once we were done, it was time to cut the cake as some of the guests had to reluctantly leave already. Of course, we had to take some group pictures first before saying goodbye!


Here's a close up of the log cake we got from Prima Deli for her special day. We topped it up with a DIY cake topper I printed, as well as some of her Shopkins which she picked out herself. These came with holes in the bottom so all I needed to do was to insert short pieces of straw and poke the other end into the cake.


Ta-dah! Happy turning FIVE, our darling Ariel! We hope you enjoyed your Shopkins Tea Party to the max and will remember these fond moments for a long time to come. Here's a big Thank You to all the friends who attended the party and helped to make this day such a memorable one for our girl.




******

More celebrations!

Oh yeah, this blessed birthday girl didn't just get one cake for her birthday, in fact, she had several because we celebrated in school with her teachers and classmates, as well as at home with our closest family members too. Here are some pictures for keepsake.

This was taken in her school and I was so thankful that the hubby could squeeze in some time..
Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
We made a huge decision last year when we decided to let Angel transfer to a new school once she starts her Primary 3 journey in 2018. It wasn't something I had planned on doing if you were to ask me a couple of years ago; but it is something I felt like I had to do now - for the betterment of everyone.

PROXIMITY MATTERS

I have to give you the background information before I let you know why we made this choice. Nearing the end of her Primary 1 year, we already knew we were going to move and so I had put her on a waitlist in a school which will be within a walking distance from our new house. As you know, I'm all about proximity and it is my top criteria when it comes to choosing a primary school (read more of my tips here).

However, things came to a halt there as there were no vacancies and then, P2 year started for her in her previous school and she joined dance as an CCA, had swimming classes for a term, was nominated to become a student leader, aced all her quizzes and exams, and basically settled down so well with her classmates and teachers that she was absolutely loving every day of school. In fact, she had perfect attendance the entire year, other than the one day where we asked for permission to let her skip school to attend a navy family event. This school, despite being a neighbourhood school that did not require balloting and was only 10 years of age, impressed us in more ways than one and I was happy to send all my kids to this school. Why not? It was only a 10-minute walk from where we stayed previously and it was a breeze sending her to and fro school.

That was.... until we reached the minimum occupation period, the baby boy became a toddler who needed more space, the girls were cramped in their bedroom which also functioned as a storeroom, and we realised we needed to move on and were on the hunt for the ideal home which would suit our family needs best.

Within a few months, we were so lucky as to have found this home which seemed like our best bet so far. Things moved on quickly from there - the signing of papers, the appointments with HDB, the renovation, the making of our happy home (go on a house tour here and read all about the making of), the changing of pre-school for the little sister - and we moved into our new house in Jan 2017.

With so many changes in our lives and a hubby who just got promoted and was working into midnight nearly every day, I tried my best to keep up with our routine and thus, Angel remained in her school and a part of me had assumed that maybe this would be it, we would just adapt and get used to travelling to and fro as such.

THE TEDIOUS TRAVELLING

Okay, what travelling?

Let's see. In the morning, she would have to leave home by 7am so that she can reach school by 7:40am. On most days, the hubby would drive her to school and when he couldn't, we had no choice but to get my father-in-law to help (fyi I never like to depend on others for anything in life which explains my strong will in surviving as a SAHM of three without a helper) because I still had to fetch the sister to her preschool by 8am.

As for coming home, even though we opted for the big girl to take the school bus back home, the way it works for her previous school was that there would be NO school bus service every time the child had to stay back - be it for CCA, enrichment classes or any other school activity. Now, her dance practice took place twice a week and she had swimming classes with the school on some days too. That meant.... I had to pick her up myself AT LEAST twice a week. For the whole year.

How long does it take us to travel there by public transport? We have to walk to the train station, switch trains, then walk again to her school - which took us around 40 minutes. One way. If I were to Grab, it would take me just 10-15 minutes but I'd much prefer to go via public transport and not waste money on cabs if I had the choice. Her dismissal timing would be at either 4pm or 4:30pm on CCA days, which means I HAD to wake the younger siblings right smack in the middle of their afternoon naps - that was the most regretful part - and then travel down to her school to pick her. Yes, I can't possibly leave them at home and I wasn't ready to let my P2 girl travel home on trains by herself yet. We would get home at 5-ish and I would need to rush to make dinner. Sometimes I would opt to dine outside on our way back and yes, I am quite the expert already at dining out with three young kids (read my 15 tips here) because having to solo parent on most weekdays, I don't really get a choice.

It was hard, but we survived that for a whole year. A whole year of spending so much time to commute and disrupting naps and wasting money on school buses and having to wake up earlier than if the school was as near to us as it used to be. Still, seeing how much she enjoyed school and had a passion for learning was my greatest motivation to keep going.

THE OFFER

Then, we got a call from her new school to say that there would be vacancies at Primary 3 and she was offered one of the slots. It was a surprise to me because I had assumed that after a year of being in the waitlist, chances would be very slim. The hubby and I had a talk about it and while we both supported the idea of transferring (you have no idea how much he dreads the traffic jams when sending the girl to school because it makes him late for work), we wanted to respect her choice and her preferences. Of course, her first reaction was NOPE, I don't want to change. But this girl, I tell ya, she is amazing in more ways than one and she often displays maturity which is past her age.

Throughout the course of a week, we had a few discussions and we listed the pros and cons for her. She started to be more open to the idea and in fact gave me this reply one night "Mummy, let me go and think about it." Every time she asked us what WE wanted for her, I assured her that what we wanted was not as important as what she wanted and I made sure that I listened to all her concerns. A friend of ours, who is a vice-principal, told me that he thought we were kind and patient because if it were him, he would have just taken up the transfer offer and told his daughter straightforwardly that she WAS going to change to another school. He also assured me that kids of this age are very adaptable and since we were going to a new school of similar age and similar philosophies, she would settle down very quickly.

When our mature firstborn gave us the green light and said she was ready to accept the changes and move to a new school, things progressed swiftly from there. I broke the news to her classmates and teachers, held a farewell party for her, printed out autograph book pages for her friends to fill up so that she could have a form of closure. I also did all the paperwork, ran to and fro the schools to settle all the documents transfer and the end of last year, she was officially transferred and I did all the usual preparation - get the school uniforms, buy the books and stationery, wrap the books, iron the name tags and so on. How exciting, right? A new school, a new start for all of us.

All excited to go back to school again, though we love the school holidays a lot since we get to spend 24/7 together.

For those of you who might be looking at transferring your child too, here's a quick overview of the procedure.

APPLYING FOR A SCHOOL TRANSFER

If you have shifted and would like to transfer your child to a school nearer to your new residence, you can do so online via STEPS-IS here. However, you might not be guaranteed a place in your first choice of school so I would recommend that you do it the manual way, like what we did, instead.

1) Visit the school you would like to transfer your child to and fill up the necessary form for request of student transfer. You will be put on a wait list until further notice.

2) When there is a vacancy and the new school calls you up (in our case, it took over a year), you will need to confirm if you wish to take up the slot. Once you decide to, go down to the new school to obtain the acceptance form which has been endorsed by their principal.

3) Take the acceptance form back to your current school and break the news at the General Office that you are transferring your child to another school. It is best to withdraw only when you have confirmed a place in the new school. The principal, or head of admin, will have to endorse accordingly and you are required to get back all the necessary documents (those that were done at P1 registration) and your child's report book - which might take slightly longer if exams are just over.

4) Take the form, report book and all the documents to the new school and you are more or less done! What's left to do is to buy the new books for the new year, get the new school uniforms, orientate your child and help him/her settle down in the new environment when school starts.

On the last day of the first week of school, it was raining when we made our way back home after picking up the big girl. Which was also the last time we did that.

OUR NEW ROUTINE

Two weeks into the new school year, she has settled down well and is showing her usual bubbly self who loves to read, loves school, loves making new friends and loves to learn. Yippee! What I love most is all the good things that come with our new routine, namely:

- The girls get to wake at around 6:50am and have their breakfast together - which was something they could never do last year because the elder sister had to rush to travel to her school.

- We all get ready to head out by 7:25am (actually we can leave at 7:30am and we will still be in time) and I bring ALL three kids with me. Yes, just me because the hubby needs to go to work. We walk the eldest to school, then send the middle, and finally I bring the youngest with me to breakfast and grocery shopping. All we need to do is.... walk! No more needing to take the bus, travel by train or depend on the public transport, woohoo!

- I get to spend a couple of hours at home with the boy and I make lunch too, then at 11:30am we head out again to fetch the little sister from her preschool. Yes, she only goes for 3.5 hours of school even at K2 level. We have lunch at home, or sometimes at the food court if I don't cook, the two younger ones play together for a while and then I make them go take their naps.

- At 2:10pm, on all days except one where she stays back later, the big sister comes home. Yes, and she does it all by HERSELF! This girl ah, I intended to pick her from school the whole of the first week before letting her try coming home herself and on the second day, she already voiced out that she could do it and it was okay if I stayed home with the younger ones. What??! Yes, that's my independent, wise and sensible child who remains me so much of myself (I started walking home at Primary 1 and crossing road junctions on my own, so says my mum). Anyway, we still picked her from school the first week and the younger siblings were happy to get to scoot to her school on sunny days and carry umbrellas on rainy ones. Their nap times got delayed with all the going in and out of the house but I really wanted to at least be a good mum for a week? Haha.

- Now, the big girl brings her own umbrella so that she can come home herself, be it rain or shine. She did so for the whole of second week and I think in such matters, practice makes perfect and she will only get more confident as time passes. Yes, I've reminded her umpteen times to be careful on the road (she has to cross two roads with traffic lights and two zebra crossings to get home) and so far, I know this girl is really cautious so it's time to let go and give her the opportunity to try. After all, when she took the school bus back last year at Primary 2, I also let her walk to the carpark and come up the elevator on her own already.

- She gets to eat a hot lunch at home because I will get it ready on the dining table for her. When she finishes, she even manages to take a quick nap. Yes, no more time wasted on travelling means more time to rest, more time to eat, more time to spend with her siblings and more time to be with me. That is why I will always prefer to go to a school nearby, it truly makes a huge difference!

 A new ergonomic school bag from MoonRocks, thanks for giving the girl a great start

As for me, I feel thankful that we are getting into the swing of things and the new routine seems to be serving us well and that will be the way it goes for the next 10 years of my life. Haha yes, I have two more kids who have yet to go to primary school but boy am I glad they are all in good hands, thanks to the eldest sister who made the leap, and we will all be able to walk to school from now on. At least, till they reach secondary school which is too far for me to think about right now.

Thank you, my dear Angel, for being my brave, sensible one and for being so mature in handling this matter. Mummy is so proud of you and glad to see that you are loving your new school too! I hope you will be happy every day and never for a moment feel that you have expectations to live up to, but instead be able to shine in your own ways, forge strong friendships and bonds, embrace every opportunity to learn and find joy in everything you do.
Read Full Article
Visit website

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free year
Free Preview