Excuse Me…

Excuse me while I:

  • Take some time off social media
  • Spend more time focussing on the kids
  • Catch up on sleep
  • Catch up on reading
  • Work on getting together our holiday itinerary for next month’s holiday (luckily the 2 holidays after that don’t need any itinerary!) for a grand total of 14 family members. Wish me luck!!
  • Enjoy the rest of the year before my baby goes to primary school!

Review and Giveaway: Gymnademics

I have been meaning to do an update on Scout’s classes at Gymnademics but haven’t really had the time to do so recently. We’ve been attending the Pre-fellow sessions with them since last November, and I’ve really loved seeing how she has enjoyed the sessions and learnt so much from them. Even though I’m a third time mum, there is still much to learn!

Here’s a little summary of some of the activities each class consists of. I wish I had more pictures, but it’s so difficult to take any when your mini-me is stuck to your leg 95% of the time in class. In class she is super shy, but she does really enjoy it because she’s always so enthusiastic to go, and at home she is able to do the actions that she learnt in class.

I have to say, that the first few sessions were quite a work out for both of us! The class moves quite quickly, and the fast pace might make the class seem a little haphazard, but at this age their attention spans aren’t long either, and we slowly got used to it and the routine, and now we both enjoy the sessions.

I like the philosophy behind the classes – many of the physical activities are created or emphasized because specific movements are linked to different parts of the developing brain. For example, encouraging the child to climb to improve dexterity and cross-coordination (meaning each hand and leg is doing a different thing from each other); the trapeze and hanging from bars in general is good for expanding the lungs, as well as strengthening the shoulders and arms to aid in writing ability; practicing sitting on the floor and hugging the knees while rocking back and forth is good for strengthening stomach muscles which in turn aid in strength for writing (side note: writing is a so important and complex that there are so many muscles linked to it!); etc.

In the class they also use many very catchy songs, which Scout and I have grown to love, and so have the boys! One of my favourite discoveries has been the songs that they use for the mathematics section, and Mittens has probably benefitted the most, memorizing some of the songs or learning some new calculation tricks (e.g. to add 5 and 9, think 5 + 10 then minus 1 = 14). During the maths segment they also use the opportunity to flash some number dots. I’m not a fan of flashcards or number dots, and I’m skeptical of the theory behind number dots that children have an innate ability to figure out the number of dots just by looking at them, but I don’t mind my kids being exposed to them.

Having said that though, I used to be a lot more adverse to flashcards than I am now, because at Gymnademics they don’t flash them at lightning super human speed, so in a sense, it’s kind of having a large book that is just cut out into flash cards? Also, it’s good to have toddlers see the words as they hear them, to create more print awareness. Scout, also from the influence of her brothers, has been very interested in learning the alphabet, but I think the Gymnademics flash cards also help.

I am no expert, and prior to Gymnademics my only (flash cards- based) experience was at Happy Train, where they do flash the cards pretty fast. Apart from the speedy flash cards, I quite liked the programme there – they have plenty of memory, motor skills and other activities, but the sessions run in three languages, English, Japanese and Chinese (so each week is a different language), and it is very seat-work based, which is difficult for many children, especially boys! Every lesson was a task for me to get Abacus to stay in his seat! And when it came to the Japanese language class, well I liked it because I took basic Japanese so it was a nice revision for me, but try getting a restless tot to sit still in a class, in a foreign language…..I feel a tired from just thinking about those days!! So I’m really happy that Gymnademics have a more holistic approach, where there is really seldom a dull moment.

I also like that some of the teachers are very observant and would suggest specific activities for your child each week, for example, practicing jumping, or hand movements and actions, etc. They are very knowledgeable and are genuinely happy to see the children progressing in the classes as time goes by. They are also very open to suggestions and feedback, and after I noticed that we were reading some nomenclature cards from right to left, I suggested that they would want to consider changing it from left to right, because that’s the way we read, and it’s a good skill to reinforce because not all people do this well, and some adults even require a ruler to read effectively – just something I learnt from Thinkersbox!

After each class, sometimes at the end of the week, they will email a “Parent Child Bonding Package”. It includes home-based activities, the flashcards used during the session, and even the Chinese nomenclature of the key words although they aren’t mentioned in the class. I think that the materials are even good for older kids, and I try to show them to all the kids. Heck, I think even I learn something new every week!

I would also like you to know, that after a trial with Gymnademics that I paid for myself, I was the one who approached them to see if they would be interested to collaborate on something for the blog. Although they did sponsor some classes for me, I am paying for the majority of the classes myself.

If I had to recommend only ONE class for toddlers, this would be it. It’s a good all rounder with exposure to literacy, numeracy, music, and of course, lots of physical activity.

 

Giveaway!

Gymnademics are sponsoring THREE free trial classes worth $58 to my lovely readers, so if you are keen to win yourself a trial class, please do enter the rafflecopter here! The contest will run until 28 September 2014! Good luck!!

 

 

Giveaway: Vaby subscription box

Vaby

The August Vaby box

Look what arrived in the mail! It’s the new Vaby concept box, something I wrote about previously here.

vabyAs a subscription-based concept, you will receive samples from various vendors each month, in one neat little package. The items in it depends on the ages of your children that you’ve input in your profile when you sign up as a member.

vabyFor the month of August, the Vaby box that I was sent included the following items:

  • Korean Adhesive Labra (worth $49.00) – wow! It is not free size, and they checked with us before sending it over, so it’s definitely something I can use.
  • Zoo bib (worth $4.90)
  • Lavender fields concentrated Laundry Poweder by Idocare sample
  • Nurtureme Organic Food sample
  • Portable Pencil Mini Fan (so handy in our weather!)
  • Kids Party Entertainment Voucher
  • The Playhouse Unlimited Play Voucher (the kids are so gonna love this!)

Read more about the Vaby box in my previous post here! You can subscribe to purchasing the box at $18.90 a month.

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The July Vaby box

GIVEAWAY!
I have five Vaby boxes to give away, just enter using this super-easy Rafflecopter here.

Contest runs until 17 September 2014! Good luck!!

 

 

A visitor’s guide to the Pinnacle@Duxton skybridge (for kids)

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View of the south and west.

Anyone still on a National Day high? Although we are such an urban jungle, I think one of the best ways to appreciate our city is to view it from high above. There are many places with breath-taking views that range from restaurants to bars to Super trees. This is just one of the many!

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The new and the old.

Welcome to Singapore’s tallest government housing. You could call it council housing or public housing, but it has less of the negative connotations. Approximately 85% of Singapore’s population live in flats built by the Housing Development Board (HDB), and by and large these flats and its proximity are where all the amenities are. You can read more about public housing in Singapore here.

The Pinnacle@Duxton (names with @ really annoy me) is an iconic 50-storey estate featuring a sky garden on the 50th floor and a 800-metre jogging track on the 26th level. For a nominal fee of $5, anyone can visit the sky garden (sorry no access to the 26th for the general public), although it is free for residents and their visitors.

Here is a pictorial guide to the sky bridge, and I’ve highlighted several points you might like to know if you’re thinking of bringing your children on a little excursion.

The 50th storey

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This shows the different views from the various blocks, starting from Block A on the left to Block G on the right of the image. Source.

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View of the CBD

There are several areas of interest that the kids could play at too.

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Hillock

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Hillock

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The Beach. The blue part is actually just a rubber surface.

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Rocky. (I am not making these names up!)

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Rocky is a great workout for me. It isn’t so easy to climb, so I spend more energy hoisting the kids up than they do climbing it.

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Fiesta.

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Cottage.

Along the sky bridge there is only ONE section near Block C that is sheltered. This might be a problem if it rains, especially since you’re not allowed re-entry if you’ve paid for it. It is sometimes very windy, so you might want to bring along an extra shirt or sweater for the kids. Don’t forget to bring lots of water, although if you are thirsty there is a vending machine on the third floor of Block G, next to the RC room and facing the overhead bridge. There is also a larger vending machine (as well as an AXS machine) at the Community Centre.

Access to the Sky Bridge

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To activate your EZ Link card, you can do so at the first level of Block G, just behind the bus stop and 7-11.

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Use this machine to activate your card.

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Now, if you’re thinking maybe you can just pay $5 for one person and slip the rest through, please take a look at this gantry. Kids (depending on how skinny they are) can probably enter with adults – for me with a baby in arms and a toddler in tow, it’s quite a squeeze.

Read more FAQs about accessing the skybridge here.

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Note the house rules. There are NO rubbish bins along the sky garden, only at the lift lobbies, so please take your trash along with you TYVM.

If you are bringing a pram, once you’re on the 50th floor, you can call the admins who will deactivate the locked gate for you to access, and repeat the process to exit. No bicycles or skate scooters are allowed either (boohoo!).

While it is usually pretty tranquil on most days, be warned that some times tourists and students do come by the bus load. And there is the occasional couple taking wedding photos. But there is usually plenty of space for all.

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Fireworks at RWS

On some nights, you will be able to catch a glimpse of the fireworks from Universal Studios. On special occasions such as National Day and New Years’ Eve where there will be fireworks at the Marina Bay area, you will be able to catch a glimpse of fireworks too, if you don’t mind the entire CBD blocking the view! On such days there are special restrictions for access to the bridge.

 

 Other areas

If you are able to access the 26th floor, there are several play areas which I actually think are more suitable for kids than on the 50th. Of course the view is not as spectacular, but the kids certainly don’t mind.

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The Spacenet. The slide looks very slippery but it’s the exact opposite. and is actually not much fun to slide down!

The slide

The slide

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The Meadow. Instead of the real slide at the playground, the kids love using these structures as slides.

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name of this place? These little colourful wiggles are hollow tubes to allow sound to travel through.

There are NO toilets anywhere in the estate, except on the third floor of Block F, facing the walkway to the Tanjong Pagar CC, and there are also toilets in the CC itself, and the food court at Block E (but they seemed to have closed so the toilet is not in use for now!).

There are also three (yes three!) playgrounds on the third floor of the estate, spanning from blocks C to E. The little ones would definitely like that! And if it still isn’t enough, the Duxton Plain Park is a stretch between the estate leading to Eu Tong Sen street.

 

Around the Area

If you’re looking for a bite after it before your trip, there is a small cafe Maple Cafe at the Tanjong Pagar CC which offers an ice cream buffet. Otherwise there are plenty of hipster joints in Everton Park, and even a traditional but organic soya bean place. Then there is the Bukit Pasoh area (for everything from Oso to Restaurant Andre to cafes like The Lokal), Keong Saik Road with boutique hotels, restaurants, famous zhi chars, and a traditional roasted meats and duck eatery. The Duxton area also boasts a wide variety of cafés, bakeries and restaurants, and even a wonderful little bookstore called Littered with Books who have a good collection of children’s books at very reasonable prices.

 

I hope you find this useful, do let me know if you have any questions ao that I can make the guide more comprehensive!

 

 

 

 

Thankful Tuesday: Having a village of support for a short break

Last week we escaped on a 3 day holiday without the kids. Although it was short, we enjoyed the freedom, the company of our friends and of course all the amazing food that Penang has to offer and unbelievable prices. We literally ate throughout the entire day, sampling as much as possible, shopping or taking breaks only so that we could start eating again!

We travelled with two other couples, and coincidentally (or is it a birds-of-a-feather kind of thing?) all of us have three kids each. So 6 of us on holiday meant that we had to make arrangements for, and rely on something like 15 adults to help mind the 9 children, aged 6 months to 11 years, while we were gone. As a rough guestimate, I think only about 4 of these adults actually help out daily or a few times a week – the others are occasional caregivers/entertainers that had to be roped in!

But lest you think we just scoot off and wash our hands of everything, it is no mean feat planning the logistics, and managing the various personalities and temperaments of all those involved, even when we’re away. And I’m NOT talking about the toddlers!

I know some parents who have never, or rarely travel without their kids, and with a larger brood it gets even more difficult to get away, but if like me you’re with them SO much during the day, it’s almost a necessity to have a chance to sleep uninterrupted, to have a breather, to just go to the next room without being yelled after for, etc. On an ordinary day, with one kid not yet in school and who probably naps less (or equivalent) to her 4.5YO brother, one who doesn’t nap, and and everything else inbetween, it just feels like it can get a little overbearing. Just by a tiny weeny bit.

The chance to travel and explore new places, do new things, to feel young and carefree again, to be able to enjoy the moments without having to be interrupted to feed, entertain or wipe someone’s bum, even if it’s for a short few days, is precious.

So we are of course extremely lucky and so grateful to have these 15 people whom we can count on to help make sure the monkeys don’t kill each other over the weekend. It’s also good that the kids know they can depend on someone else other than their parents, and for us it’s nice to have the opportunity to miss the little monkeys. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and a break is good for both parents and children, no?

And while we might have returned to kids who have caught the flu, whose eyes have turned to squares from too much screen time, or kids who might need a little coaxing back to their routines, we are thankful for all the people who have stepped up to help out, even if it was a little stressful or caused them (and us too!!) a little emotional distress. But hopefully it was not have been too much emotional distress, and that when it comes to the next time round (oh I’m definitely looking forward to our next trip, whenever that might be!), they will hit by selective amnesia and be placated by the copious amount of goodies we brought back this trip :p

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are you doing this weekend? (August 2014)

I love the old adage, “When it rains, it pours”, and it seems like this is one of the weekends where there will be so many things going on!

The Singapore Garden Festival has been ongoing since 16 August, but sadly it looks like I might have to give it a miss if the kids don’t get better from their flu.

There is the Rise and Shine Expo 2014, and you can read more details about it in my previous post here. Even if you’re not keen on the parenting seminars or trial workshops, it’s worth a visit. Also do look out for Thinkersbox at booth A13 and 15, who are running a special promotion for their Intellibox, which I previously reviewed here.

Gymnademics will also be at Rise and Shine. We have been attending the classes there, and I will have my review of their classes up very soon! You can learn more about their classes and their upcoming September holiday programme. More details here.

Then there is also the Mother a Tongue Language Symposium which comprise of workshops, activities and performances, and exhibitors, organised by the Ministry of Education. For many of us, bilingualism (ok, just learning Mandarin) can be quite a struggle, so this should be an interesting event.

Then there is the Act 3 NTUC Income Kite Festival 2014!

And if none of those events interest you (only the Garden Festival is a paid event, the rest are free leh!), there are plenty of OTHER fun for free things you can do in Singapore (on any weekend, not just this coming one!). Hope over to Gingerbread mum’s Fun for Free page to find out!

Now if only we (ok more like I!) had the energy to attend ALL the events!

Fun for Free Singapore – Police Heritage Centre

“Singapore is SO boring!”

“There’s nothing to do for kids here!”

“Singapore is SO expensive!”

I’m sure these are common gripes you have either made or heard about Singapore. The truth is, there are plenty of wonderfully entertaining places scattered all over the island. And many which are FREE! In conjunction with National Day, my dear friend the Gingerbread Mum started a blog train on FUN FOR FREE SG (Singapore, lah) places, so today is my turn to bring you a fun for free place. Read on, and then head over to the FUN FOR FREE page to see MORE exciting fun (and free, if you didn’t already get the concept) places – all 31 of them!

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As part of Children’s Season 2014, we booked a tour of the Singapore Police Force’s Police Heritage Centre, which is tucked away in a little corner of the Police Headquarters at Irrawady Road, Novena.

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The Police Heritage Centre is open to members of the public but you need to make a booking and can’t just walk in like other museums. You have to bring identification of everyone above 7 years old (because younger than that they don’t have student pass right?) and exchange them for visitor passes. And there are lots of police regulars on their way to police business. That didn’t seem to scare the boys into behaving themselves (darn).

"How can I help you ma'am?"

“How can I help you ma’am?”

We arrived and started with trying on some uniforms. Only Mittens was sporting to do so, and the younger two were only interested in showing me their butt. Oh the joys of motherhood. Because this tour was designed for kids, the guide was quite good at engaging the (older) kids and making it more interactive. It’s not easy to make history come alive and be more relevant for children, so it was definitely better having a guide than if we had gone through the centre ourselves.

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Luckily I haven’t been stopped by one of these guys on the road! (Well if he wants to commend me for being a courteous driver, I won’t mind!)

Mittens quite enjoyed himself learning about the history and various aspects of the police uniform, batons, guns and all. They display historic as well as modern day equipment.

There is plenty of interesting history, including a display on the racial riots, which Mittens said he had learnt about in school (which surprised and impressed me). They showed many things police that have changed over the years – the uniforms, the various police landmarks , such as the now Red Dot Museum (my mum said they used to have to take their driving license test from there!), and the building with the colourful windows that is now used by the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA). They also showed the various police vehicles including the “ang chia” (literally, red car), which was used for the riots.

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Rioters. Literally, right??

Rioters. Literally, right??

The centre is pretty new-ish that incorporates installations with technology, making it more relevant to modern day policing. It is very interesting, but not so fun for the younger ones, so I think the minimum age to really appreciate the centre would be 5 or 6 years old.

 

The National Museum of Singapore and Peranakan Museum (and what else?) are incorporating technology into their installaions, and although

A few of our museums (NMS, Peranakan, etc) are incorporating technology into their installations, and although this is a little creepy, it illustrated the old kampung “neighbourhood police post”. See that long banana leaf thing? It was used to beat out fires if necessary!

This is a traffic light. As in the man manually controls it! Behind him on those white screens are some videos of I think it was the Japanese occupation and WWII. I ushered the kids quickly past it, as it was a little graphic. Photo source: Singapore Police Force.

The centre is semi-stroller friendly there is one small area that you can only access by stairs but I think it wouldn’t be a problem to leave the pram by the side and visit the area. It’d be shocking if someone stole your stroller at the police headquarters right?? There is no parking on the premises, and you can park at Ren Ci but we parked at the Novena Mount Elizabeth Hospital. Or, it’s a short walk from the Novena MRT station.

You can find more photos from SPF themselves on Google+ here.

 

Police Heritage Centre
Police Headquarters
New Phoenix Park
28 Irrawaddy Road
Singapore 329560
T: 64782123
Website

Opening hours:
Tuesdays to Fridays 10am to 530pm
Saturdays 10am to 1pm
Mondays, Sundays and Public Holidays CLOSED.

“Admission is free but visits are by appointment only. Group visits of 30 persons or less are encouraged for an optimal experience. A complete tour of the centre takes about one and a half hours.”

 

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Tomorrow, Mummy PC will be bringing you back to the nature, into our very own forested area to experience the real beauty of a nature trail, which she thinks it suits family with young children. PC is an ordinary mother of two girls, blogs and digi-scrapbooks at scrapmumloft. While juggling a job outside, she manages a 90sqm dwelling and its occupants exhaustedly. Often fight with time and produce what-she-thinks-best outcome, that includes huffing and puffing to catch a bus or a train after work to reach the girls’ student care/childcare and receives their grins. She is one blessed mum!

Check out her blog at scrapmumloft.

 

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And here are the 30 other fun for free places on the blog train!

1 Aug: Tiong Bahru Park by Gingerbreadmum
2 Aug: Queenstown Heritage Trail by Princess Dana Diaries
3 Aug: Jurong Regional Library by Finally Mama
4 Aug: Singapore Maritime Gallery by Peipei Haohao
5 Aug: Singapore Philatelic Museum by Kids R Simple
6 Aug: Sculptures of Singapore by Gingerbreadmum
7 Aug: Fire Station by The Js Arena
8 Aug: Esplanade + Merlion by Prayerfull Mum
9 Aug: Bukit Batok Nature Park by Meeningfully
10 Aug: Lower Pierce Reservoir Park by The Kam Family
11 Aug: I12 Katong – water playground by Universal Scribbles
12 Aug: IMM by Mad Psych Mum
13 Aug: Tampines 1 Water Playground by Amazingly Still
14 Aug: Sengkang Riverside Park by Itchy Finger Snap
15 Aug: East Coast Park by Toddly Mummy
16 Aug: Sembawang Shopping Centre Playground by Joey Craftworkz
17 Aug: Animal resort by Raising Faith
18 Aug: Botanic Gardens by Mum’s The Word
19 Aug: Police Heritage Centre by Mummy Ed (THAT’S ME!!!!)
20 Aug: Venus Loop, MacRitchie by Scrap Mum Loft
21 Aug: Road Safety Park by Miracule
22 Aug: Marina Barrage by J Babies
23 Aug: Gardens By The Bay, Children’s Garden by Finally Mama
24 Aug: Changi Airport T3 by Mother Kao
25 Aug: Pockets of Nature by Mum in the Making
26 Aug: Changi Airport T1 by Growing with the Tans
27 Aug: Pasir Ris Park by Ingspirations
28 Aug: Gardens by the Bay Supertree Grove by My Lil Bookworm
29 Aug: Vivocity Play Area by Amazingly Still
30 Aug: Punggol Promenade + Punggol Waterway by Chubby Anecdotes
31 Aug: Westgate Wonderland by Xavvylicious