Nov 27 2016

42

Published by under Life

Alf

Happy birthday to my partner in everything and longest-running project! I want only the best life for you. :)

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Nov 22 2016

School Holiday Coding Workshops: Tink Tank

Published by under Reviews + Sponsored Posts

Tink Tank

Layla attended a workshop with coding school Tink Tank in May this year–I was able to sit in and observe the class for over two hours, and I was impressed with the trainers and the way they displayed understanding and sensitivity when interacting with kids. (Read my review here.)

So I’m happy to let you know that they’re once again running workshops for the holidays. The November workshops are over, but December dates are still available.

One workshop is My First App, a class designed to introduce children to the simple mechanics behind creating a mobile application, with a focus on logical thinking, creativity, and problem solving skills. Another is First Line Of Code, which introduces programming to kids and is similar to the class that Layla attended.

I asked Deddy, one of the co-founders of Tink Tank, a couple of questions to clarify the school’s vision and approach.

Could you tell us why parents should consider Tink Tank over other coding schools?

Based on feedback from parents, our young teachers in Tink Tank can connect on a deep level with the kids and see things from a kid’s perspective. That helps ensure that the kids can learn effectively and sustain their interest. Parents have told us that their kids always look forward to attending our classes.

We focus a lot on teacher-student interaction, and this includes talking to each student in our regular classes, to listen to his/her feedback on what went well and what can be improved. We make sure our slides are colourful and vibrant to attract the kids’ attention. We believe it is these small things that will make a difference, and the kids’ needs are always at the centre of our pedagogy.

After attending either of your holiday workshops, how can kids build on the experience?

Through each workshop, we hope to show kids the world of programming and spark their interest. After the workshops, we would love for them to come back and embark on a programming journey with us–through our regular classes–because we believe kids need guidance. It’s not merely about doing a project at home as a one-off task.

Our slogan is Code.Create.Change. This is the main idea we want to convey to parents and students–that the ability to code allows us to create something out of nothing and hence, create a change.

What web sites and apps can you recommend for kids to try at home?

A highly recommended web site is Hour Of Code. Online games include Code Combat and Lightbot, which train logical thinking. Apps you can try are Hopscotch, Scratch 2.0, and Scratch Junior. Board games for introducing coding concepts to kids are Coding Farmers, Code Monkey Island, and Robot Turtle.

I hope you’ll give Tink Tank’s workshops a try. It’s only because of time constraints (due in large part to Layla’s hectic gym training schedule) that we haven’t been able to pursue any follow-up classes with them. And if you do, I would love to hear about your child’s experience with them too.

Get details and sign up for My First App here.
Get details and sign up for First Line Of Code here.

For readers, use the promo code EVELYNDISCOUNT to enjoy $30 off the workshop fee ($150) for Tink Tank’s workshops in December.

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Nov 15 2016

Hidden In Plain Sight (Scholastic)

Hidden In Plain Sight

Alf is away for a couple of days–school trip–and I’ve been in a work trance, looking up from my laptop only long enough to yell “Quiet, please” like a crabby tennis umpire. I told Layla she would have to help me out with some book reviews while she’s on vacation, but I didn’t want to turn it into an assignment either so we’re keeping it light. From how well-loved this book looks, it’s clear that it’s a winner!

“Hidden In Plain Sight” is by Singaporean author Su-Lin Ang, and it clinched third prize in the Scholastic Asian Book Awards in 2012. Layla said it’s a story about six kids who chance upon a puzzle box, which leads them on a trail to hunt down treasure. Let’s find out what else she thought about it. Continue Reading »

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Nov 09 2016

Wow

Published by under Life

So we’ve gone from “four more years” to this, and here we are now, trying to make sense of the world. Ron said he was screencapping something I said for posterity, and I decided to do the same. How are you feeling?

trump

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Nov 03 2016

Sleep It Off

Published by under Life

Hand

Do you think everyone else is holding hands when they sleep?
No. Just us… and that old couple in Titanic.

Well now I’m bursting with curiosity! Is this something you do too, or are we just the corniest couple around?

I’ve long outgrown spooning; it makes me feel claustrophobic and I prefer sleeping on my back these days. And yes, I have my regular bedmate back, since we’ve successfully transitioned Z to sleeping in Layla’s room. We had the walls in her room whitewashed a few months ago, did some decluttering, bought Z his own mattress, and in he went, just like that. No fuss at all. I have to confess I felt a twinge of the empty nest syndrome, even though they were just in the next room. It’s hard to let go.

I also have to say I didn’t feel very deprived with my husband sleeping on the couch for the last five years. We’re affectionate with each other–there’s always plenty of hugging and snuggling at the very least, primarily because my husband’s physical presence has a calming and centering effect on me, and even while I’m working, I do go up to him for a quick hug just to destress. This is, thankfully, the one area that we’ve never had to fix. Although I did notice recently, right before Z’s big move, that we were taking an embarrassingly long time to go through a mini pack of Fetherlites… at that rate, a jumbo pack would’ve lasted us a lifetime! But well, we’re all back where we belong now.

p.s. Speaking of hands, Z made us pile up our hands the other day, and he said, “Handburger!” He’s definitely already better at puns than I am.

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Oct 23 2016

Party Of The Year

Published by under Life

GNR

Is there a 30-something in Singapore that isn’t going for this, or at least considering it? I haven’t met one yet. All the GNR fans are crawling out of the woodwork now–I didn’t realise there were that many! I’m sure some of them are converts because of “Patience” and “November Rain.” That’s the snob in me talking.

Speaking of GNR, I issued Ron a new challenge the other day: Find my new blog. Yes I have an alternate online abode. I intend to lay this blog to rest eventually, perhaps a year or two from now. So I’ve picked a new name and written a few posts, but mostly I’m parking. It’s on WordPress, and I gave Ron some clues to help him along: My favourite song, from one of my favourite bands. With an “s” appended to the title, because the title was already taken.

He thought it was GNR. Nope. Welcometothejungles.wordpress.com just doesn’t do it for me.

You’re welcome to join the search as well, if you have time to kill. If you know where to find me on Spotify, you can poke around and make some guesses. It’s not a song off my playlists. I’ll be truly impressed if you can find me. I’ll buy you coffee or send you something off Bookdepository!

Leave me a comment over on the other side, if you get there. If not, the easier way is to wait it out, and ask me for my new link when I finally decide to shut this blog down.

Update: Ron’s solved the mystery. I gave him an additional clue that made it too easy–consider it best friend privilege.

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Oct 22 2016

Just Another Saturday Night

Published by under Life

Airbnb

What time will you be home?
Not sure, babe.
Ok don’t forget I’m going out next Saturday, and on Halloween too.

Right before Alf and I had this conversation, he was telling me about his colleague’s sister, whose protective instincts extend to having to sit next to her husband at every social encounter, just to be safe. I always feel a little sorry when I hear stories like these. If you’d had a window into our lives five years ago, you’d have seen me demanding an estimated arrival time from Alf, and getting mad at delays. How do couples strike a balance between space and stability? How did I get to this place of peace? I wish I could sit every insecurity-ridden girl down and hand her my roadmap, but I really don’t have one. (My love guru Diana does, though.) I know I’ve worked hard to like myself, a lot, without crossing the line into self-centredness and narcissism (I hope). I work at being trustworthy too; attraction is fluid after all, and you don’t always see it coming. I trust my husband, to some extent. But more than that, I trust my destiny. It’s as simple as that, now that I’ve arrived. I hope I don’t lose my way again.

Space and stability. It’s the feeling I get when I look at the picture above. Love at first sight, I must say, and I have to make my way there one day, preferably alone. Or maybe with a girlfriend. I did have solo travel dreams for ’17 but I’ve also recently received the estimate for Layla’s upcoming orthodontic work, so… Priorities, right?

In other news, I’m absolutely thrilled that Mr. Ronbot is blogging again, after a years-long hiatus. We used to have this cosy friendship community, where we were all linked up and putting up our random finds and thoughts of the day. There were some petty fights, but nothing permanently damaging. I miss that! Not the fights of course, but knowing what my friends are thinking about–FB updates aren’t the same. If you have a blog that I don’t know about, leave it in the comments so that I can stalk you too.

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Oct 12 2016

Remembering Basil Alcove

Published by under Life

I got finger-trigger happy earlier and was trashing a bunch of blog posts, and then of course the inevitable happened and I discovered I’d permanently deleted something I’d wanted to keep.

You see, earlier this year I’d received a comment on the blog from someone very special to our family, on this post. Continue Reading »

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Oct 11 2016

Picture A Tree (Scholastic)

Picture A Tree

Picture A Tree

When I was growing up, I mostly stayed indoors. My mom’s a homebody, and she also preferred it if we kids were sitting quietly and amusing ourselves, so she stocked our home full of toys, and later, computer games and videos. It’s not what the experts today would recommend, but I would still say I had a fun childhood, especially since I was blessed with the freedom to choose my own entertainment.

I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

It was only post-motherhood that I started to venture out more. I’ve clocked many green hours with my athletic 10 year old before she entered school, because she takes after her father and if staying indoors is unbearable for her, I suffer too. Z has couch potato tendencies like me, but for both our sakes, I’ve put him in a sports playgroup with an awesome coach, and we meet out in the park, weekly, when the weather permits. The play spot we’ve chosen is perfect, with just the right balance of sun and shade. I think trees, and greenery in general, are conducive to conversation too, and there was a morning recently where a new friend and I sat on a bench, watching our kids, while letting our guards down to discuss everything from marriage to music.

In Barbara Reid’s “Picture A Tree,” she crafts a loving tribute to trees using a keen sense of observation and plasticine as her medium. Her artwork, photographed for the book, depicts what trees can represent for us–depending on your perspective, they can be a source of comfort, adventure, or wonder.

There is more than one way to picture a tree.

It doesn’t matter that my kids and I will never have a tree clubhouse. We’ll probably never climb a tree either, but what’s important is that we find our own ways to connect with nature, especially when the heart needs healing, or when the spirit could use a little nourishment.

Picture a tree. What do you see?

Some people think making books for kids is effortless, or that it can be done in a flash. Not the case, if you truly have a vision and a message that you want to bring across in the best way. It’s easy to gloss over the artwork in picturebooks without appreciating the effort that went into creating it–if you’re planning to get your hands on this book (you should!), you also need to watch this behind-the-scenes video.

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Oct 07 2016

Little Spuds

Published by under Reviews + Sponsored Posts

Little Spuds

Usually, when people write to me because they’ve wandered into my blog, it’s for tips on ballet or gym. But occasionally I get touching notes that I save, like this one:

I just want to say I really admire your honesty in sharing so much about your personal life and thoughts.

Cat wrote to me last year, saying she hoped she didn’t come across as a “weird stalker type.” Absolutely not! I don’t get it when bloggers complain about loss of privacy or being recognised in public, because it’s a choice what you put out there. I’m a control freak in some ways, and if I’ve published something, I’m conscious of the fact that it’s available for you to read, whether you’re family, a friend, or a complete stranger. I have specific reasons for sharing my stories and once I’ve deemed that the content has served its purpose, it’s deleted or privatised, no looking back.

Come to think of it, Cat didn’t discover me through my blog–I found her first. Almost a decade ago, she ran an online store where she sold stripey legwarmers for kids, among other things. I bought Layla a pair and ended up using them as arm warmers once, for a gig! I know, please don’t come to me for fashion advice.

Recently she wrote to me again, and this time it was to tell me that she’d opened a new online store called Little Spuds. I’d mentioned in my last post that Z received a surprise package. Well Layla and I got one too, and it was such a treat!

Little Spuds

This is probably the fanciest breakfast I’ll ever make. Z wakes up every morning now requesting a “heart-shaped sandwich.” You can’t go wrong with this sandwich shaper–just press down on the bread and peel the sides away.

Little Spuds

Coin pouches! I know my daughter’s tween friends will fancy these.

Little Spuds

Am digging the tattoos and keychain, and the Little Spuds business card doubles up as a good behaviour incentive card! As I said before, I’m going to be putting in some orders as an official customer soon, and I highly recommend Little Spuds if you’d like to make some kids very happy on a modest budget. There are wearables too!

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