Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Old school fun - Plastic Bubbles

Living in Singapore means that I get to show my kids some of the things I play with when I was a little girl. And this is just one of them!

They bring back such wonderful memories. I am teaching the kids how to blow really big bubble, how to mend the bubbles when there are holes, how to make them bigger without the sticks and even how to make one bubble inside the other! 

Here's the girl with a bubble that is bigger than her head!

I found that these are sold on Amazon.com and are called B'oonies Plastic Balloons! Some other places call it plastic bubbles and blowing balloons.  During my time, it was all transparent but now, they come in multiple colours as well! 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Rallye Singapura

The girl's teachers organised an activity for the grade 3 end of school term to encourage them to put together some skills and knowledge they learnt over the school year.  "Rallye Sungapura" is a amazing race like outing for the students to put into practice their map reading skills, navigation skills, reading skills and the life skill of using the public transport (buses and mrts). It also incorporate some history and geography into the entire activity.

As the girl had been pestering me to be as a parent chaperon for quite a long time, I finally agreed a week before the event as they were really lacking volunteers. They needed 20 parents and honestly, how many parent would be able to sacrifice 6-7hrs of a day, managing a brunch of kids, traveling to various parts of Singapore in public transport.  But, they did find 20 willing souls.  :) 

And so, on the day of, we had to report at the school at 8am! We were all given a small bag of food for lunch, consisting of a bottle of water, a baguette sandwich (what would you expect from the French school), a bag of chips and a packet of Oreos. Then we huddled into a classroom and were given our instructions.

A pair of parents would take six children with us and try to go through as many of the "Places of Interest" listed as possible. There were 14 locations and they were spread all over Singapore.  We were supposed to only take the bus or MRT. Of course, we were welcome to walk too! As a general guideline, we were advise to go first to Orchard to the Singapore Visitors Centre to get a tourist map to help us locate the various places of interest.  Luckily for our team, being Singaporean, I already knew where to find most of those listed.

So off we go.... We appointed one of the kids to lead us to orchard from the school. We had to take a bus and then an MRT. 

We began to cross off the list.
1) Lido Cinema (We had to take a picture infront of it.  The teachers also showed a picture of Lido in 1920!)

2) Singapore visitors Centre (the only picture of all of us in the team)

3) Singapore Art Musem

4) War Memorial Park (The children had to answer questions about the period of the war, the number of casualties etc)

5) St Andrew's Cathedral

6) Boat Quay - Raffles Landing Point (There were some questions about the two important persons in Singapore's history)

7) Clark Quay

And then we were off to the lighthouse of Fort Canning to join all the other teams for lunch at around 11:30.

We had a good picnic lunch and I managed to have a chat with the teachers and some of the parents.  Interestingly, some parents were raising some points about elitism in some of classes in the school.  I was rather amused because whatever they are referring to pales in comparison when we look at how our local school promotes elitism with exams, streaming etc.  In the French school, students of all capabilities are accepted and classes are mixed and never grouped according to the children's grades.   The French educational system do not encourage examinations until O levels!  And before this major examination, students are never placed in classes to segregate them according to their grades or abilities/capabilities.  And being someone who grew up in the local education system, I am glad I managed to give my kids a break from the pressure cooker.  Learning is made less stressful without the constant pressure to have to meet certain grades or marks.

And so, after all these intense conversation, we were ready to embark on the next part of the rally.

Looking at the charts and maps, we decided to explore one of the points that the teachers recommended, Haw Par Villa.

And since it's along the way of Vivocity, which was another that we should tick off on the list, we stopped by to complete our task of that location. We had to get to the top of Vivocity and take a picture of Sentosa.  We also took the opportunity to grab some fruits for dessert and juices to fuel us up!

And finally, using the MRT, we got to Haw Par Villa!  We were warned by the teachers to NOT bring the kids to the courts of hell though.

In Haw Par villa, we had to identify the three statues below:-

In addition, we had to explore the park to find out more about Tripitaka.  At first I was wondering who is this Tripitaka.  Upon reading more on the questions we had to answer, I realized that he is none other than the master of the monkey god in Journey to the West!  I only know him as "Tang San Zang" from all the local TV shows during my younger days.

And before we could gather all the information required, we noticed that it was beginning to drizzle and we are running behind time!  The adults quickly gathered the children to make the trip back to school as two of them were taking the school bus home and we cannot afford to be back late!

In the end, by the time we reached Ang Mo Kio MRT station, we were seriously behind time so even though we were told not to, we had to make the last part of the journey by taxi.  As I had to pick the little boy up from his class as well, I rushed along with the ones who had to catch the school bus to the taxi station to hop into the cab.  Thankfully, we managed to reach the school just five minutes passed the end of school day!  What an eventful time!  I had to apologize to the boy's teaching assistant for my delay and luckily, the two students did not miss their bus.  Eventually, the others caught up as well.  It was definitely an exhausting day but very fulfilling and enriching too.  I'm sure the grade 3 students thoroughly enjoyed this massive and ambitious outing.

For the parents, I'm sure the foreigners learnt more about Singapore and the locals like me needed to have our memory refreshed. 

This is something parents can attempt with your kids too. Pick up 10 places in Singapore of great significant and let your  child/children pick a few and then plan out a route to visit these places within 4-5 hrs. It's fun and challenging at the same time.   Go, try it! 

Dream Mama Styling

A week ago I was invited for a media event called, Dream Mama by Dream Factory.  Dream Factory by Ines Lignon inspires to help the every day person, male, female, young and old to look stylish and good in an effortless manner.  As much as we love to, not every woman looks like a yummy mummy everyday.  We all have our bad hair days, fat days and "nothing in my closet fit me" days.  So, when given the opportunity to speak with an expert like Ines Lignon, I was happy to check out what kind of advise she would provide for us mums.

Honestly, in Singapore I feel less of a pressure to dress up and look chic but when we lived in Paris, I honestly would not step out of the house unless I am sure I look good.  French women are mostly very well dressed and you definitely do not want to look grubby walking along the streets of Paris.  I know that I took better care of myself when we lived there.  Even during my pregnancy and right after giving birth, I was very conscious of how I present myself.   I made sure I am neatly dressed the moment I stepped out of my bedroom!  No pyjamas for me!  This is a habit I inculcated in the children now.  They would change out of their pjs into presentable clothes before they come out for breakfast.

Anyway, back to the event.  It was held at a pop up at Isetan Scott, level 2.  When I arrived, I noticed that the event was filled mostly with Japanese mums.  Ines is very popular with the Japanese because of her work with Miss Universe Japan as the National Director between 2003 and 2010.  She transformed the Miss Universe Japan pageant from almost obscurity to one of the top beauty events in Japan. This amazing lady has worked with the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, Liv Tyler and many other celebrities.  Yet, she was without airs, was stylishness and at the same time approachable when meeting the average mothers like me.

We were all made comfortable during the session, it was almost like a girlie chit chat, with great tips of how to improve our personal style.  We started with everyone asking questions.  Being the busy mum, I asked her how we can look stylish if we had only 5 mins to get ready in the morning, something I'm sure most mummies can identify with.  Her point was to make sure we have clothes in our closet that we know looks good on us that we can rely on for those days. We probably should have a few sets (ready with even accessories) to just throw on without even thinking on days that we feel unattractive.  Ines also shared with us her "all in one" lip stick which she could use on the cheeks, on the lips and even on the top lids to brighten up the face quickly.  It's a quick way to be a dream mama without taking too much of our time.

Lucky me, I was one of the ladies who were given a quick makeover by Ines.  On that day, the styling team consisted of herself and two other Miss Universe!  Miss Universe Singapore 2011, Valerie Lim and Miss Universe Japan 2009, Hiroko Mima.

Here's me and my transformed look, a biker chic mum!  Ines noticed my purple streaked hair and commented that actually, I am rather funky and could do well with the look.  Interestingly, the crop biker jacket is not very much my style but when I looked at the pictures taken, I have to admit that the jacket actually slimmed me down and gave me a nice edge.

When I asked if I should carry the bag at the crook of my arm, she said it's actually better to hold in with the hand and low as this lengthens the body rather than making the entire frame broader by carrying it around the shoulders or the crook of the arm.

Thank you Dream Factory for the invite.  I really enjoyed the session.  Ladies who are interested could check out Dream Factory's website for the transformation classes. They also have workshops for younger kids.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Lost my name Book

A few months back, a particular sponsored ad kept appearing on my facebook feed.  I clicked on it a couple of times and one day, decided to really take the time to check out the website and I loved what I saw!

As an adult, I love to read (and write).  And as a parent, I love reading to my children.  I started reading to my kids from the time they were little babies.  We read every night before bed and it is a huge part of our routine.  When I was sleep training them, I could be reading the same book up to 20 times a night before they eventually fall asleep!  Today, at the age of 5 and 8 years old, we still enjoy reading before bed.  The older girl would mostly read by herself but we would be reading with the little boy.  The girl is an avid reader who devours books at an average rate of a book a day or up to three books a day during the school holidays and I see the little boy having similar appetite for books.

Anyway, I digress.

The website was lostmy.name and they create personalised story books for little children.  I am sure they are not the first as I had seen other personalised books companies but they, in my opinion, have one of the nicest illustrations.  The story and its accompanying images are beautiful.  On the website, you would be able to create a preview of what the book looks like based on the child's name.

I made the order for the little boy and finally the parcel arrived after five weeks. :)

The book looked as good as I imagined it to be!  The paper used were of good quality and recycled.  I was quite excited to give it to my little boy and to read it with him.

Soon, he came home from school and right after he changed out of his uniform, I sat him down and gave him the book. I explained that the little boy lost his name and the book will help us find it.  As we read, we went through the letters the main character in the book found through his adventure. When we finished the collecting the alphabets, I asked the boy if he knew what the name was and he told me, "oh, I'm forgetful so I cannot remember!" Hmmmm... So we went through the book again and this time, his eyes lit up and he broke into the sweetest little grin! "Did YOU make the book, mummy?" "You made it for me?"  Oh, such a precious and sweet moment!  He was amazed at how the story was all about him.  

After that he was so eager to share the book with his sis and later in the night, with his papa.  

I am so glad to have ordered the book. It is unique and created this special moment for me and the boy when we first read it together.   

That night, the husband asked me about ordering it as gifts for our friends' kids. The only thing about buying it as a gift is that one has to plan ahead as it took almost five weeks to get to us in Singapore. 

My readers could get a 10% discount by using the LOVESANDRA10 at checkout. I hope you like the book as much as we do!