Wednesday, October 29, 2014

DIY Frozen Party!

The kid recently had her birthday celebration. With quite possibly about 90% of the girl population around the world, the theme was none other than Frozen. Yup, after months of prep work for the party, this very word sends chill (all pun intended) down my spine. LOL

The kiddo decided very early on (as in more than half a year prior) that it would be totally COOL (yes, corny I know) if she were to have a party at The Rink where her friends can have a go on ice and she gets to do what she enjoys too!

If you are looking to host a party with a Frozen theme, The Rink is a pretty good idea and here's sharing our prep journey.

:: Here’s 5 easy steps to planning a Frozen Party:

1) First up, decide on a venue and book for the date.
In our case, it was at The Rink. You can give them a call, check and book for a slot. Each slot is for 2 hours and you can check with them if you could come in a tad early to do up the room but they do provide a very simple printed laminated 'bunting' for the birthday child on one of the walls in the party room.

2) Birthday invitations

I went a little crazy this year as I am so anal about designs so I sort of created 3 different invitations. You can easily google for Frozen images. My eInvite below was created very simply using powerpoint, nothing fancy like Photoshop.

All you have to do is to place the image as the background, create a border and add on a ‘sticker’ (also googled), insert in a text box for the words. The version below was sent out as the first eInvitation. Thereafter, I mailed out the hardcopy invitation cards.

Because I created so many different versions, I used the 'last' design (below) as a reminder eInvite one day prior.
3) Party favours

The party this year is a much cozier party as Dumpling invited about 10 friends excluding her cousins. With the guest list decided way early on, I could then work out how many sets of party favors we needed.

It is a personal habit of mine to include personalized gifts and books whenever I can. With the invitee list all mapped out, I was able to suss out the various Frozen titles and ordered them when I happened to receive a discount code from Books Depository!

For her girlfriends who are P1 going kids in 2015, I also ordered some fun watches from eBay.

Now, I believe that many parents would face the same challenge as me when it comes to this theme for the boys – what do we then give as favors for them? I saw some really fun ideas of packing marshmallows, pretzel and choc / raisins in a bag where we can ‘build an Olaf’ but I wanted something a tad more personalized.

I googled a bit and decided on making some personalized aprons. I bought the image off etsy as well and got a friend to add on the names of the boys for me. I then printed on some iron-transfer stickers (Avery brand) and did the ironing on and voila!

Favor bags packing in process...

Favor bags all ready!

4) Décor

This gave me quite a headache as the Frozen themed décor were all out at the various party stores that I went to. So, having to improvise from there, I worked on using the Frozen colors of light blue and white.

a) Buntings
Birthday buntings are a must for me and you can find many options on Etsy is an amazing place and the best part is that many of the sellers offer personalization meaning that I could add on Dumpling’s name to the order.

b) Balloons
Balloons are a cheap and effective way to jazz up a room. Because my party was in the morning, I was not able to order the helium-filled balloons from the company as many of these are able to deliver only after 10am. What you can do instead is to blow them on your own. Thereafter, tie 3 – 4 to one string and use the tape to paste the string onto the wall. Here’s how ours look:

5) Cakes cakes and cakes!
I placed my order with Diana Gale, a fellow mum blogger at Domestic Goddess Wannabe whose food blog recently won an award! Diana was really great. All I had to do was to google for photos to show her and basically shared that I would like to have an ombre cake and some mini cupcakes. One of my close friends then helped me to place the order for the cake toppers (as I decided to swear off fondant cake this year). Once the sugar and the toppers were added to the cake, it was definitely ‘theme’ ready!

I also ordered half a dozen of jam-filled cupcakes from Diana where the buttercream was also in the frozen blue. Diana provided the printed cupcake toppers too!

The cakes were yummy and we had children oohing and ‘aiming’ for the slice / cupcake which they wanted. It was not overly sweet and I particularly love the jam filled cupcakes where Diana also added some shaved white choc as ‘snowflakes’.

Final Tips:

I am a stickler for small details so in my case, since I DIY the design and printing (I go to Bras Basah for cheap printing on matt art card, stickers, etc.) I try to make personalised items as much as I can.

I designed and printed personalised water bottle labels...

Tent Cards

And personalized thank you tags which I tied to the goodie bags as the items in the bag differs slightly

As signages are often the first point of 'contact' when the guests arrive at any venue, The Rink was kind enough to allow me to design the 'Welcome Signage' which is inline with the theme too.
Dumpling aka 'Queen Elsa' LOL attracted a fair bit of attention as she posed with the signage)
Having details like these help to 'glue' the whole theme together.
Of course, the rest of the party was a breeze as the kids basically entertained themselves on ice! Kids having a safety crash course before starting...
The cousins...
Close friends...

And of course, we ended off the lovely morning with the birthday cake and song!

To all our friends and family who celebrated with us, thank you for taking the time and for your lovely wishes. We are blessed many times over with your love. :)
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Active and Outdoor Play: A Johnson’s Baby Active Fresh Powder Review

Leading a healthier lifestyle has very much been an area of key focus for the past few months where I started some new fitness initiatives. I took up ice skating classes together with the kiddo earlier in the year and have been exercising weekly for the past few months. I like that the kiddo has an avenue to expend her energy and burn her ‘beans’ when we play outdoors or head to the rink.

Much has been said on outdoor play time and how it is important for early childhood development. In fact, in a recent video which I watched, The Play Experiment, Johnson’s baby conducted a social experiment to find out how kids play.

I personally thought that the findings were very interesting! Do you know that 7 out of 10 kids chose idle toys (figurines, devices, board games, etc.) over active toys (bicycles, soccer balls, Frisbees, etc.)! Whatever happened to the sun, the air and the great outdoors?

It seems that today's parents understand and see the importance of early childhood education for their kids as stepping stones to succeed later in life. However, it is also interesting to observe that this trend creates a more sedentary lifestyle for children, leaving little or no time for kids to play outdoors.
It is no secret that I favour outdoor time and as Dr. Chong (Dept. Head, Child Development, NUH) aptly shared in the video, kids who play often generally sleep better, can communicate their needs better and even focus better. So what’s the recommended time you might ask? 60 minutes each day.

As for me, with the change in lifestyle, I decided to bring Dumpling with me to Krabi recently where we had a chance to spend some time outdoors. I received a bottle of Johnson Baby’s Active Fresh powder just before I left for my trip and I brought it along with me.

:: Road Test
Johnson Baby’s Active Fresh powder uses a technology which neutralizes malodor where the powder masks it and renders it odorless. More than that, the Active Fresh technology continues to release a long last fragrance as the day wears on.

:: The Sand
Dumpling loves to run and bask in the sun and so do I. While I love to perspire and enjoy a good workout, Dumpling gets irritated when she gets all sticky. I, on the other hand, am one who is sensitive to smell. We used the powder when we headed to the beach and the sand did not stick to Dumpling much!
 (See how little sand stuck to her? Happily digging for seashells as the sand didn’t bother her much!)

:: The Sea
As for me, I put it to the test as we went snorkeling.

 While I love the sea and the sun, the seawater does tend to also be a tad sticky after snorkeling when we are on dry land.

So, I used it after our snorkeling and the light flora fragrance lingered on as the afternoon wore on. There was no sticky feeling and I felt fresh too.
:: The Sun

I even used it on a hot hot hot morning when we went elephant trekking!

It was definitely a great choice as the flora fragrance helped me deal with the ‘funky’ smell at the elephant trekking area.
So did the powder survive the road trip? Definitely! It is now a regular product which we use daily before leaving the home!

(The munchkin showing me her cheeky face and having fun apply the powder on her own)
The range (Bath + Powder) is available in major supermarkets and other retail outlets.

:: Disclaimer:
This is part of a sponsored conversation and review for Johnson’s Baby active fresh initiative.  Johnson’s Baby is advocating 60 minutes of active play a day which helps to build a sharper mind through increased concentration and improved problem solving skills, which aids in better academic performance.  (Based on a study conducted by the US Department of Health and Human Services and is adapted by several programs worldwide.)


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Parenting with Love - Counting down to Primary School

It has been almost 3 weeks since my last post. I have been tied up at work and on a few new 'projects' for our homeschool but there are also a lot of things have been on my mind too. With the munchkin entering into mainstream school in just a few months, a lot of doubts and worries clouded my mind. I believe very much in homeschooling but that would require me to take a step back from work and depend on a single source of income. Something that I am not prepared to do for the moment.

I do not like the academic drill and focus of the local system. While I understand the reasons for standardized tests, I feel that there are also many other areas which results and grades do not shed light on. I certainly feel that there is more to “life” than being textbook / worksheets smart. I rather have a child who enjoys discovering and is a keen learner than one who aces through rote and does not find joy in learning. I love my job and my colleagues so I cannot imagine how life will be where one has to go to school and yet dreading it daily.
When we homeschool, we do it at our own pace and at our own time, without having to worry if she is left ‘behind’ as the classes and activities can be tweaked according to her interests and her abilities. With public school, I will face the pressure and the competitive culture that Singapore is known for. Having a type ‘A’ personality, I worry that I get sucked into the whole Tiger Mum approach. I fear that I end up pushing my child. I fear that I will be one of those parents whose only mode of communication is to yell incessantly at the kid. Or worse, to yell at her for missing out on that half a mark on a paper. With each push and each yelling session, I worry that I will be a step removed from her, and from the bond that we have so preciously built up for the past few years.

Then I had a chat with someone from the Ministry recently and she shared something beautiful, and something wise with me.

On something beautiful: a businessman she met earlier in the week shared with her his ‘glorious’ 'successful' days where he had houses, penthouses and sports car aplenty. Unfortunately his business crashed during the 'dot com' era and though he managed to start up something again, it was never quite the same. His eldest child is getting married in a few months time and he told my friend that his greatest achievement is not how his business grew or how he managed to salvage the situation. His proudest moment instead is when his child said to him that she did not need any money from him for the wedding or renovation. But for him to keep the money for himself, for ‘old age’ she said. His greatest achievement lies in his children and how they have turned out, not what their results were.  
The wise sharing: my friend suggested for me to pen down on what sort of daughter I wish to see in 3 / 5 / 8 / 10 and 15 years down the road. Pen it down as a letter to her or as a journal entry for myself. "Read it again and you can then see what truly matters to you, as a parent," she said. 
In various blog entries, I have shared that I would consider my role as a mum, a successful one if my child is happy, healthy and is a compassionate person who also loves God. A year on and I still feel the same, and have the same thoughts. So yes, this will be my mantra and guiding light for the next 15 years to come. Hopefully I will still be able to remain as the fun, loving and supportive mum.


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Monday, September 22, 2014

Your Thoughts #4 - Dance your way to fitness!

"Since I was a kid, I always have that deep desire to empower women and help them discover who they truly are. That dream became true when I started Tahiti Dance Fitness ( TDF) with my sister Lila. 
TDF is for me the best way to share my passions and skills in order to uplift women the best I can. 
I feel blessed and honoured to be able to offer to every single student, guest or audience what I love doing the most such as dance, fitness, wellness knowledge, singing, playing ukulele, designing artistic costumes & outfits." Beatrice Heitiare Caisson.  

I had the chance to be introduced to the graceful (and soulful!) Tahiti Dance last week when a girlfriend tagged me in a shout out for a complimentary trial (Thanks Carolina!). Dumpling was excited to be attending along with her friend and frankly, I was quite curious to see what the dance is about.

Today I have with me, Beatrice, one of the co-founders of Tahiti Dance to share her thoughts with me on Dance and Positive Affirmations.

Me: Hi Bea, Tahiti Dance is such a niche area! Why the thought to start this genre here?

Bea: It's actually a funny story. At age of 23 my goal was to live in Japan for a long time.  I moved to Tokyo, but after some uneasy times, it became clear for me that I couldn’t get a full time job and build a life there. I then decided to fly to Singapore and visit my sister. That's when she shared with me the idea of building a Tahitian dance school together, and that's how we decided to start TDF. 

My sister and I share the same passion about dance, fitness and wellness. We both started dancing and performing since youth. And we believe that beyond the artistic expression of dance, we can also create a fun and easy to follow wellness activity for women willing to stay into shape and improve their lifestyle. That's how we came out with the idea of Tahiti Dance Fitness in 2009. 

We imagined together how fun it would be to share what we love the most in our culture (Tahitian drums, ukulele songs, happy tunes from Tahiti) with dynamic fun shaking easy to follow steps for a great cardio work out combined with our knowledge in health & wellness. That is why Tahiti Dance Fitness is not only a fun dance fitness program for women of all ages; it is also a philosophy and lifestyle we wanted to share by incorporating a unique Wellness part to our classes (relaxation, stretching, and health tips).    

Me: How is this dance good for children (and even mums!)?
The benefits from Tahiti Dance Fitness to children & adults are an improvement of focus, coordination, posture, self-confidence, self-discipline, stress release, staying fit; besides that we also strive to help our students understand that wellness & happiness is a holistic concept, a philosophy of life.

It includes not only the physical form (dance, fitness, physical improvement) but also an inner awareness on oneself & others. In addition to that, we aim to provide an uplifting community of ladies filled with positivity and being supportive to each other.

Me: In the class earlier, I saw Kim (one of the instructors) giving the girls some positive affirmation at the end of a dance sequence. (Kim got the girls to repeat after her, that they can achieve anything that they set their minds to.) Why the affirmation and is this something that is woven into the Tahiti Dance culture?

Bea: We have affirmations sentences in kids class about important values in life (ex: Confidence) and they are a part of our Character Building program in TDF. The purpose is to strengthen our students character to help them blossom into respectful, caring and self-confident individuals

The affirmations are not something that is woven in the Tahiti Dance culture. Rather,  we have worked over these past 4 years to come out with a holistic program providing dance, fitness, physical & psychological wellness. 

The class that Dumpling attended is a glimpse of our yearly programs & cycles. The TDF program is built in a way that it offers the very best tools to empower all students towards a healthier & happier lifestyle.

Me: Thanks Bea!
Post note:

The dance class was a fun one for Dumpling. I like that there was positive affirmation being introduced to the girls in class. As it was Dumpling’s first time at a dance class of any kind, I think remembering the sequence was a challenge for her.

By the end of the class, however, the kids were able to do it with the teacher cheering them on and telling them that they can achieve anything that they put their minds to. She got the girls to repeat after her a few times and frankly, after the girls repeated the 'mantra', they started to say it with conviction too. J

I also love the fact that the activity helps to boost the children's confidence and the body awareness. The little girls were encouraged to step out and dance in front of their classmates. It was a pleasure to enjoy that energy and buzz in the class and certainly to watch Dumpling step out of her comfort zone and the moment where it 'clicked' and she could suddenly groove!  

TAHITI Dance & Fitness Pte Ltd
8374 8408
43 Carpenter Street, #02-01, Clarke Quay MRT, Exit E

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post nor did I receive any compensation. This is part of series where I get to chat people up and share their thoughts! All opinions are 100% mine and so are the grooving genes from Dumpling! J

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review + Giveaway! My Home – 我的家

It is hard to get books by a local author let alone local contents AND bilingual one at that too. When I first received My Home – 我的家 (set of 2 books - story and activity book) I was attracted to its bright colours and cute illustration. After ripping the shrink wrap off, I was not disappointed as I flipped through the pages on the hardcover story.

:: The story
The story is narrated by a young boy, Jason (小杰) who started out his day looking for playmates. As he roams around the house with his faithful companion Blackie (小黑)looking for unsuspecting ‘victims’ to play with him, the reader is introduced to both Chinese and English terms used in a typical home setting.

The story is told in a fun manner as we stumble upon Jason’s father in the bathroom

 To getting Jason to help Grandma out in the kitchen

To extending the concept of ‘Home’ beyond the apartment but neighbouring facilities.

And of course along the way, children are introduced to the various vocabulary on things in the house and outside of the house. To facilitate children in reading, Han Yu Pin Yin is included and the Chinese text is printed above the English copy too.
The font size is big and colourful (good for young readers) and in instances where the story wishes to introduce the Chinese term of the English word, it deploys the clever use of ‘colour’ to make the association.

(The word 玩 is printed in pink to correspond to the English word 'play')

:: The illustration
The illustration is bright and colourful and it certainly attracted Dumpling. What she enjoyed the most was lifting the flaps where it made the reading more ‘interactive’! It was actually quite fun for us to hunt around on each of the pages for the flaps to lift and see what lays behind.

 :: The activity book
The title also comes with an activity book and while one of my first thoughts when I received the title was that the title could be a tad too simple for a 5+ year old child, the activity book closed that gap for me.
It has a good mix of simpler activities (pasting of stickers) for younger children
to activities such as writing and word recognition

Games were also included towards the back of the book too:

Up for grabs! I am also pleased to share that I have not one but three sets of My Home worth more than a total of $90 to give away! 
Enter through Rafflecopter for your chance to win!

:: Terms and Conditions:
- Entries that do not fulfill the requirements stated will be disqualified without notice.
- Winners will be notified by email, through the email address provided.
- This giveaway is open to Singapore residents only. 
Disclaimer: I received this set from Read with Me Mommy in order to do a review on and give my opinion of it. No monetary compensation was received for this post.

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram

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