Jul 29 2014

Weekends Are For Dancing

Published by under Reviews

Footwork, dance workshops at the Esplanade

Footwork, dance workshops at the Esplanade

Footwork, dance workshops at the Esplanade

Footwork, dance workshops at the Esplanade

Last Saturday, Layla and I were invited to a “parents & kids” flamenco workshop organised by The Esplanade. I’ve usually said no to Saturday activities because Layla has cathechism classes in the afternoon and I don’t like juggling multiple events in a day. But I’ve had a change of heart, as I don’t want to keep depriving Layla of opportunities to try something new just because I find travelling a hassle–after all, most places are about an hour away at most. And, I mean, there are parents willing to drive across states so that their kids can get the best instruction or exposure!

Despite my best intentions, we left home later than we should have on Saturday and arrived late for the workshop. Fortunately the class was small and they were still at the hand claps stage, otherwise known as palmas. We were taught two kinds of clapping–one with the hands slightly cupped for a louder, fuller sound, and another with the hands flat for a sharper sound. We were also asked to count in fours and try accenting the first beat, and once we managed that, we threw in a foot stomp for effect. (Click here for a much more complicated clapping routine.)

The next thing we were taught was the importance of an open, “proud” posture in flamenco dances. This is no dance for wallflowers–showmanship is everything here, and the first tricky part for me came when our fingers had to be part of the performance as well. What we had to do was move our arms in a semi circular motion, with our fingers opening up like flowers, and that threw me off. Also, it’s a lot more tiring than it looks; flamenco dancing is a good workout for your arms because you’ll have to keep holding them up. Subsequently, we were taught a few simple sequences that we put together for a short dance, which was a lot of fun and not too difficult to follow, although I messed up a few steps especially when the teacher was observing us instead of leading!

Photo courtesy The Esplanade

Photo courtesy The Esplanade

The hour passed quickly and I was glad we’d made time for the session! I felt it was well paced, and although the steps were simple, there were already challenges that we had to overcome. I know that Layla’s interested in dance; she loves watching music videos where there’s dancing and I’ve asked her before if she’d be keen to take a hip hop or jazz dance class, but that’s the point where she hesitates. I think it can be intimidating to sign up for a term’s worth of dance classes when what kids around her age need is a sampler, and what The Esplanade is providing with their Footwork dance classes is perfect for this purpose. I like the idea of parent-accompanied workshops even though Layla’s old enough to do this on her own; it’s a chance to bond and it takes the pressure off the child when the parent tries something and realises it’s not easy! Also, these workshops are conducted by different dancing schools, so if your child enjoys the workshop and would like to learn more, you’ll just need to let the teacher know, and you can discuss next steps.

The Esplanade is holding these parent-child Footwork classes as part of the da:ns Festival, and they’re offering classes for hip hop, flamenco, cha cha, bhangra, and line dancing. The classes are suitable for kids aged 7-10. The workshop fee is S$24 for an adult-and-child pair, or S$36 for a family of three. There are also workshops for youths and adults, as well as for little ones (3-6yrs). Click here for the schedule and other details.

Layla and I received complimentary tickets to a Footwork class at The Esplanade; I was not compensated for this post. Group photos are courtesy of The Esplanade.

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Jul 21 2014

A Staycation At Grand Park Orchard

Published by under Reviews

Grand Park Orchard, Premier Room

We entered the June hols in full colour, but right after, we all took turns getting sick, and I mean the full works–sore throats, runny noses, phlegmy coughs, high fevers, and even throwing up. In between, Alf and I had work to do and we spent about three weeks of the holiday holed up at home. So it was a much-needed surprise when I received an email from Grand Park Orchard offering to host us for a weekend. We took advantage of the recent Youth Day holiday and requested a Sunday-to-Monday stay, hoping to avoid the weekend crowd.

When thinking about how to write this up, I remembered the “day in a life” post I’d put together for my friend Justina two years ago and thought this might make a good sequel. Read on to find out how we spent our 24 hours in town! Continue Reading »

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Jul 17 2014

Science Ahoy! At The Science Centre

Published by under Reviews

Plasticine model of the earth

Last weekend, Layla and I attended a blogger’s preview of Science Ahoy! at the Science Centre. It’s a workshop where kids pretend to be sailors while carrying out a series of simple science experiments and projects. Science Ahoy! is part of the Science Fest 2014 and it only runs for a week, until this Friday.

I’m not a Science Centre regular so I checked with a friend who is, to find out her opinion of this event, and she said it was better organised than some of the events she’d attended with her son previously, and at $5 per participant, it was a worthwhile price to pay for an hour of science.

For me, I felt the kids seemed to have a lot of fun going to the different stations, completing their activities, and collecting their reward at the end. I also thought that a little more could’ve been done at certain stations to encourage the kids to ask questions, or think harder about why their experiments turned out a certain way. If you’re considering heading down or would like to try similar experiments at home, here’s a recap of what we did at Science Ahoy: Continue Reading »

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Jul 16 2014

Breathe Easy, Live Easy

Z in Drypers Drypantz

Z in Drypers Drypantz

Z in Drypers Drypantz

Z in Drypers Drypantz

The mornings have always been hardest for me as a parent. I’m not a day person–I work better at night, I think better at night, and I have the best conversations late at night. Having to get up early was the biggest adjustment I’ve had to make for my kids. And well, when time no longer belongs solely to you, you learn to steal some whenever you can.

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Jul 14 2014

The Blogging Process

Published by under Learn (Grown-Ups),Life

One of my favourite local bloggers, Justina of makingmum.blogspot.com, invited me to join a weekly “writing process blog hop.” I’d been invited once before by another friend, but at the time, I said no. Later, I realised I was interested enough to follow the links and read about how others run their blogs, so Jus caught me at a good time!

To me, the best bloggers have always been the ones who inspire readers to make positive changes in their own lives. Justina, by being focused on her values and passions, has done exactly that. Three years ago, I didn’t craft much at all, but I ventured to make this sign as an anniversary present for Alf after following Jus’s blog for a while. It turned out nothing like her crafts, but she helped me in real life too by giving me tips and supplies! Jus also runs a “Grateful Gatherings” link up on Tuesdays, which I’ve participated in several times. It’s encouraged many moms to reflect and find new ways to appreciate their own lives. And as she shares more about homeschooling with three, I think she will pave the way for others to put aside their fears and follow their hearts. She’s nominated for Best Family Blog at the blog awards this year, so visit her blog to read her writing process and find out how you can vote for her.

Back to the blog hop: How it works is that every Monday, different bloggers are tagged to answer the same four questions about the blogging process. Here we go!

The Writing Process

#1 What am I working on?
We were fortunate enough to enjoy our first sponsored staycation last week, and I’m still figuring out how best to present it. I also attended a lively presentation recently given by two Princeton students and their mom, and I’m excited to write about that, along with how I intend to put more effort into helping Layla find her passions. And, I met a US blogger I’ve been following for years! I unexpectedly spent over an hour chatting with her and her husband, and I’ll definitely share a few thoughts relating to that experience. Plus, Layla’s rock ‘n’ roll party is coming up next month, so expect a few party-related posts too.

I know I haven’t posted anything in the last two weeks–in light of recent events, I wanted this to be the first post to appear on my blog, as a way of making clear where our family stands without having to say too much. Continue Reading »

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Jun 30 2014

A Lovely Weekend, And A Few Words On Love

Published by under Life

Layla-1

Layla wrapped up the school holidays by spending a weekend with my friends and chalking up two first-time experiences–visiting the Night Safari and the River Safari, on consecutive days. Wait, maybe it’s three firsts since she’s never spent two days in a row at the zoo before! In between, she had her fill of Netflix cartoons, ate better homecooked food than she would’ve at home, slept in her own airconditioned room, and enjoyed a much-needed break from nagging and yelling. I’m surprised she was willing to come home.

This was probably the best bit of Layla’s holiday, but I’m going to veer off track here to talk about something else. Layla’s pictured in pink, and this was not a deliberate choice, but if you live in this country, you’ll know that there was a pink vs white war going on this weekend. I didn’t read too much about it; there was no need, since it’s not hard to figure out what the fight is about. Pink represents those who believe that gay people are entitled to their legal rights, which includes being legally recognised as a couple, while white is for those who want innocence and righteousness restored. I don’t stock either of those colours in my wardrobe, so I was out and about in brown on Saturday.

The friends who hosted Layla over the weekend, they’re both women. They live together, they’ve built a life together, and I don’t think either of them would call their decision a “lifestyle choice.” They love each other, simply because the heart wants what it wants.

Of course they are just one couple, and not all gay relationships are about love. (Not all relationships are about love, no?) But if you believe that two consenting adults should live their lives in hiding so that you and your family can lead a sanitised existence, I think that’s irresponsible. Your insecurities belong to you, so own them and take steps within your capacity to protect your family; your fears are not a national problem requiring government intervention. And don’t make it my problem either, because I don’t need a seldom-enforced rule in place to reassure me about how my kids are going to turn out.

As for the weekend, I trusted that my daughter was in safe hands even before one friend said to the other, “Don’t let her out of your sight! Even if you need to go to the toilet, make sure she’s standing outside your door and you can see her feet!”

The fact is that my children will grow up around people who’ve realised that they’re never going to pair up and play house with the opposite sex. They will also grow up going to church. If this were a Facebook-defined relationship I’d say it was complicated, and Alf and I haven’t decided on an official statement for Layla and Z when they start asking more questions. What I would definitely say is that the sound and fury surrounding homosexuality has reached ridiculous heights, and this has been perfectly summed up by a pastor that I respect:

During baptisms, we should no longer ask people to confess Christ and his resurrection, just their stance on gay marriage.

I don’t have ready answers, but I know I would want us, as a family, to focus on getting our own lives in order instead:

Perhaps the popular culture seems to fixate on homosexuality, so the issue seems more pressing and urgent… but so is inequality, and premarital sex, and gossip, and all other sins, most of which are far more regularly practiced in the Body. Christians have allowed the issue of homosexuality to loom so large that it casts a shadow on all other things. The DEBATE on homosexuality may be more public and rancorous, but this has not changed the nature of sin–it is universal, it is pervasive, and it begins on our own doorsteps.

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Jun 26 2014

Play Days

Published by under Play

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yes I did it, I finally bought myself a real camera after getting a tip-off on a good Qoo10 deal from my designer/photographer friend Shirley!

Shopping for a camera was something I’d been putting off for the longest time because I always feared getting confused over the different dials and settings. Also, I didn’t want to splurge on a new gadget only to discover that I preferred taking pictures with a phone cam. But the deal really was good–it was within my budget–and I trusted Shirley’s opinion, so I decided to stop overthinking this and go ahead with the buy. I still have a lot to learn, obviously, but I’m glad I have a proper camera now.

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Jun 18 2014

9 Years, 16 Years

Published by under Life

Toa Payoh Rise

Alf and I celebrated our ninth anniversary of being husband and wife a few days ago. Or perhaps “celebrated” is the wrong word–we acknowledged it, and smiled at the fact several times throughout the day.

We dated for seven years before we got married, so I like to track our togetherness time as well: 16 years. The early years were spent in the old neighbourhood in the picture; that was once my block, and the bottom windows were mine. We got married because I had received a notice that the area had been marked for development and it was a possibility that the buildings would have to go. Well, this one still stands, although it doesn’t quite fit into my life anymore.

In the FB update I’d posted, I revealed our “secret” for staying together this long–it’s a day-to-day process of working to be kinder to each other, to fight less, and to laugh more. Actually I think this philosophy only came about in the last two years or so!

My husband gave me a lesson in kindness recently, after he heard that I’d had a string of disappointing or annoying encounters with near-strangers and familiars. He told me I needed to do two things:

#1 Stop thinking too highly of people. Alf knows I tend to idolise people, especially creative people, and I’ll go to the extent of crediting them for changing my life. (But they have!) Once I’ve elevated these individuals, I leave them with little room to fail, and I’ll be more upset than I need to be when they do.

#2 Stop thinking too badly of people. He said his own philosophy was that everyone is motivated by some form of selfishness, and there are no exceptions to this. In my world, there are sometimes only two categories (“You rock!” or “You suck!”), but for Alf, we’re all equals and in-betweens, and he finds it easier to forgive transgressions with his worldview.

It really made sense to me, which is why I’m sharing it here. It’s advice that works for marriage too.

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Jun 10 2014

Giveaway: A Party Photography & Design Package

Party Photography & Design Package Giveaway, Singapore

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you may know that I run a party photobooth service called The Party Paparazzi. It was a pet project between me and my sister-in-law Jac until she moved to New Zealand last year. It took me a while to find a new partner, but I’m now teaming up with Nadia of Itchyfingers Photography to offer the following service for small parties:

The Party Paparazzi’s No-Frills Party Package (UP S$450)
* 2 hrs of event photography
* 1 hr of “booth” photography (photos are taken in a single spot, with props, and 4R prints)
* All soft copies returned

We’ve realised that we both share a passion for wanting to help parents (especially moms) throw awesome parties without busting their budget. After all, we’re both budget moms ourselves. We got to talking with yet another mom who shared our vision recently, design mom Ann of Beautiful Revelry, and we’ve come together to organise a giveaway for ONE lucky parent, who will walk away with:

#1 The Party Paparazzi’s No-Frills Party Package (valued at S$450)
#2 Beautiful Revelry’s Digital Design Package (valued at S$175), which includes design work for the following:
* Invitation
* Up to A2 sized banner/backdrop
* Custom message bunting (unlimited alphabet)
* Mini toppers & tags
* Table tent
* Dessert table signage (up to A4 size)
* 2 x Party hat designs
* Cake bunting/topper

To qualify, please note the following:
#1 You must be a parent planning for your child’s party, and based in Singapore.
#2 You must claim your prize by 31 December 2014. (We can be slightly flexible on this.)

To enter, please do the following:
#1 Like these Facebook pages: The Party Paparazzi, Itchyfingers Photography, and Beautiful Revelry.
#2 Leave a comment here with your full name and a valid email address, stating:
* The number of children you have.
* Their birthday months.
* Whether you have liked our pages on Facebook.

Invalid entries will be disqualified. Please note that shoot availability is also subject to the photographer’s schedule.

Not everyone gets to win or participate, so here’s more good news: While our contest is running, we’ll be giving a S$125 discount off The Party Paparazzi’s No-Frills Party Package to EVERYONE–whether you’re a parent or not–who likes AND comments+tags a friend or shares this contest photo on Facebook. But again, please note that shoot availability is subject to our photographer’s schedule.

Closing Date: Wednesday, 25 June 2014, 6PM. A winner will be picked at random and the result announced on the blog on 26 June 2014.

Update 26/6: Congratulations to Deborah William Li! An email has been sent to you.

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Jun 06 2014

Lights For The Night, By Philips And Disney

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Adora asked if I’d be interested in a pajama shopping date. We’d been invited to our first pajama party in decades and going in our regular clothes seemed like a cop out. Adora’s idea was to have us dress as this pair and I was sold after I saw this picture, but we were both busy and a bit lazy, so it didn’t happen. Strangely, we still managed to turn up in fairly matching outfits at the party. I guess our minds were already in sync!

Disney Philips Imaginative Lighting

The pajama party was actually a Philips launch event for their new series of night lights, which they had teamed up with Disney to produce. The lights they were introducing included cuddly little lights called Philips SoftPals, which came in the form of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, as well as Sulley and Mike from Monsters Inc. And there were these image projector lights that reminded me of my old View-master toy because you could point them at a wall to view pictures of Disney princesses or scenes from the movie Cars. There were also flashlights in the shape of Winnie The Pooh and Jake The Pirate, and wall lights depicting Disney characters. I think they covered their bases well with this range of characters–hardly anyone will be left out.

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