Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Review: The Sound of Music

Five days after watching one of the world's most famous musicals "The Sound of Music", the songs are ringing in my ears, and in good way. The Marina Bay Sands Theatre was indeed buzzing with the sound of music last Thursday, where Dumpling and I attended the Gala Night. Melodious songs filled the air over the 2+ hours stellar performance which had Dumpling and I singing and tapping along with the singers.


The Sound of Music was an all time favorite when I was a little girl – especially since I pay the organ and we had to learn solfege so the musical’s theme song resonated well with me.  When I became a mum, I was very intentional in sharing the many classic movies which I enjoyed with Dumpling and The Sound of Music, is one such treasure.

The Sound of Music is a production inspired by a true story: The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. In this broadway musical, it centers on Maria Rainer, a-nun-in-training, and a widowed Captain von Trapp, with seven children. The story takes place preceding WWII where the underlying tension between the Germans and Austrians was felt in the production.

That evening was the second time catching the musical for Dumpling and myself, and it amazed us no less. Carmen Pretorius, who acted as Liesl in the last production when it staged here in 2014 now returns as Maria. Frankly, at the start, I thought that she has large shoes to fill but her delivery was on point throughout the whole show; she did not even look like she broke a sweat as she hit those high notes with such clarity. :p

Pretorius was believable as the young and carefree Maria (employed as a governess) who looked like she’s one who’d scrapped knees, climbed trees and sang freely on mountains yet in the same breath, was mature and brave enough to stand up to the regimented Captain von Trapp who runs his household military style.  


The story's main theme is notably on love. Not just the love story which blossomed slowly between the Captain and Maria but also the motherly love that Mother Abbess had for Maria, and the sisterly love between the nuns. From the start of the show, it was clear that Maria somewhat stuck out like a sore thumb in her study to be a nun where she was always breaking rules. However, Mother Abbess was patient and kind and saw more in Maria than Maria ever saw in herself. 

The exchanges between Maria, the nuns and Mother Abbess treated us to the lovely prowess of the performers' vocals. The show started with "Maria" where the nuns harmonized beautifully. Mother Abbess was also exceptional and stole the show in her solo rendition of "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" where the theatre rang with her high notes. 


The von Trapp children were absolutely adorable (with local cast members too!). Dumpling and I actually had a "double" treat because we were seated directly behind some of the children cast members whom I noted, could not help but hummed along during some songs. :)

The little star of the show (both in the 2014 and this production) was Gretl who had the crowd eating out of her little hands with her performance of "So long, Farewell". Brigitta also brought many moments of laughter with her precocious personality and (sometimes too) honest views. Friedrich was well casted as the gangly teenager. The audience around me were clearly engrossed as many (including Dumpling and myself) sung and hummed along with the famous "Do-Re-Mi".

With such strong performance from the cast, it would be easy for Captain von Trapp to be overshadowed. Instead, he held his own with his duet with the Baroness (How can Love Survive) and the ever famous "Edelweiss" as he bade farewell to Austria.


Because this is a love story which took place with an impending war, there were discussions of it between Captain von Trapp, Baroness Schrader (the captain's original love interest) and Max Detweiler (the captain's friend). The captain's political views towards the Germans were all too obvious and this created much tension between him and the officers where he was forced to flee from Austria and the audience was once again treated to "Climb Ev'ry Mountain", ending the show on a crescendo. 

As this is sung "live", it would not be realistic to expect the same plot development as the movie because of time limitation. The whole background of the war may be lost on younger children but I'd say that the songs and sets will more than enthrall them. A musical that is great for the family; highly recommended! 

:: PERFORMANCE TIMES:                
Tuesday to Friday:           7:30pm
Saturday:                          2:00pm and 7:30pm
Sunday:                            1:00pm and 6:00pm

:: TICKET PRICE:                                   
From $65*
* Excludes the booking fee of SGD$4 per ticket


:: BOOKINGS:
INTERNET:  www.MarinaBaySands.com/ticketing or https://www.sistic.com.sg/events/sound1217
PHONE:   +65 6688 8826
IN PERSON AT:
Marina Bay Sands Box Offices (Museum, Theatres, SkyPark, Retail Mall and Hotel Tower 1 Lobby).For more information please log onto - www.MarinaBaySands.com

Disclaimer: Dumpling and I were invited to the Gala Night so that we can share our experience on it. All views expressed are entirely mine and does not represent the organisation that I work for.

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 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Gogoprint - Your "Go-to" digital printer for personalised printing!

Amongst my own circle of friends and contacts, I have noted that increasingly, we are getting more entrepreneurial as many are dabbling into small businesses. With that, having ready simple collateral such as business cards, tags, and even brochures are important in communicating the services and products we carry.

I, for one, definitely should look into the printing ofbusiness cards for my blog, something that I have put on hold for the longest time. But with the kiddo’s party, that’s another story altogether. I find planning for her parties easy as they are usually theme bases are you can read more about a “Frozen” party here and a “How to train your dragon” art jamming party here.

I have been doing self design for the invitation cards as well as gift tags etc, for the last few years where I print them at a digital printer in Bras Basah. But this year, I decided to try out Gogoprint's online service as it even provides door-to-door delivery! 


Gogoprint is a leading online printing marketing and technology firm, which has the distinct vision to make ordering printing products easy and cost-effective, thereby helping small- and medium-sized businesses to market their businesses and to grow. From popular promotional materials such as flyers, brochures and folders, to business cards and digital booklets, choices are aplenty. So this year, I decided to try out Gogoprint where everything is done online, with just a few clicks!

Gogoprint’s products are listed on the mainpage where at one glance you can click and enter into the dedicated product page where you can then specify your requirements by choosing:
  • Size
  • Materials
  • Finishing
  • Quantity, etc

In the case of our gift tags, we can even opt for the position for them to punch the hole for us to loop in the strings!

As Dumpling’s birthday theme this year is on Star Wars, we decided to print a booklet in addition to some gift tags and sticks using similar artwork like what we did for her e-invitation.

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The party booklet which turned out gorgeous. The print was crisp and the matt lamination looked really great with the black!

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Check out our stickers and thank you gift tags! We could print round shaped stickers with Gogoprint! Something that I couldn't do with my previous printer! 

Best of all, the order was done in just 3 steps! 

Here’s a walk through of how simple it was to order:

:: Step 1: Choose my options

So this is where I get to customise on materials, size, finishing (glossy or matt) and the number of pages for my booklet. What was useful for me was the short description for the under “materials” which helps me make better choices on the type of materials to choose.



:: Step 2: Choose Quantity and Delivery Speed

 The website shows very clearly the various price range for different quantity and different delivery dates. For my 8 pp booklet, I noticed that the incremental difference for non urgent orders is only about $1+ per booklet!  



 :: Step 3: Upload File
And just like that, I was brought to the next section to upload my file (free for pdf files). (For my artwork, I used both powerpoint as well as Canva to create them.) 

And once the file is uploaded, I was then prompted to checkout where I can make my payment via credit card. 

 


:: What about delivery?

The delivery was prompt as per the date indicated in my cart and the booklets were gorgeous! The printing was crisp and sharp and the paper, as per what my order was (I opted for a thick paper for the cover). Check them out! 



Disclaimer: This is a sponsored conversation where Dumpling and I were invited to review the Gogoprint's digital printing service so that we can share our experience on it. All views expressed are entirely mine and does not represent the organisation that I work for.

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 

Monday, October 9, 2017

POSB Smart Buddy - Preparing your child for the future world

Singapore, as a whole, is moving towards a cashless society in its aim to be a smart nation. This is made even more evident in PM Lee’s recent National Day Rally speech. And as parents, we are encouraging coding and STEM so it is certainly not surprising that our children are getting a lot more tech savvy than we were at their age.

POSB Smart Buddy Programme is a tech (with a mobile app) that teaches children how to spend and save money using a watch which is a device for cashless payments. I was invited for a briefing as well as to trial the watch with Dumpling.


:: What are the features of the POSB Smart Buddy watch?

The Smart Buddy watch also acts as a fitness tracker (steps and calories counter). Additionally, if your child’s school is participating in the programme, it allows your child to make cashless transactions in the school’s canteen, school’s bookshop and even at merchants out of the school compound.


:: How does it work?

The POSB Smart Buddy watch is linked up to your savings / current account. More importantly, it allows the parent to view the below to understand the spending patterns of the child:




:: 3 things we like about the POSB Smart Buddy Watch

1) Ease of use

It’s as simple as a “tap and go” to make that NETS transaction. Dumpling tried first this out at Popular bookstore. 




All she had to do was to raise her watch and tap against the payment unit and the transaction was reflected real-time via my app.

2) Real-time “top up” and transactions update

I was away at the library when the dad and her decided on a KFC meal and the kiddo wanted to pay for it. Her balance was at $5.80 but the meal costs $8.8.



A quick call to me and I topped up there and then in the library and she was able to pay for it in under 2 minutes!



The best part is in the event if your child drops the watch, we can disable the watch via our app on the phone remotely! How’s that for security? J


3) Encourages the kiddo to be more active

Believe it or not, Dumpling was really excited with the steps and calories counter as it looks somewhat like the smart watch that I am using. She was motivated to walk a lot just to see how many steps she took and if she can outdo herself the following day. I think that this feature, when rolled out in more schools, will be one which will get the children trying to outdo each other, which in turn, get them to walk more and lead a healthier lifestyle. 


:: OK, so I understand the functions of this watch but I am worried about financial literacy. Won’t this watch not allow the child to understand that?

Honestly, to me, there is not much difference between the POSB Smart Buddy and from the child’s EZ link card which is used for bus trips and even for library charges. The only thing is that for EZ link card, we, as parents are mainly the ones responsible for topping up and for managing the account. But in the case of the POSB Smart Buddy watch, the child will be responsible for the spending and savings. 

Now, isn’t this a good thing?

This is especially so if you have a young child (e.g. Primary 1 / 2) where you can now monitor the spending and speak to your child about it before it escalates to a larger “overspending” issue? So how can I make the POSB Buddy watch work even better for us?

:: Here’s 3 tips:

1) Let them earn their allowance

Frankly, Dumpling has never had allowance going to school. We secretly joke that she must be the poorest student we know. :p But the main reason is because she does not fancy school food and even at this stage I still pack her a bento daily. She has an emergency fund which she can tap into but that’s about it.

With Dumpling “earning” her allowance (or commission ~ a term which I learnt from a financial guru), I hope that she grows up with a less entitled mindset. And by earning, it is not the chores that she is tasked to do, but to take on extra tasks. This, I learnt, makes her more careful with her spending as she now understands that money does not grow on trees. 


2) Spending, Saving and Giving

Besides the spending and saving portions, I do get Dumpling to put aside a “giving” portion back to church or any organization she wants to by understanding a certain % of her savings goes to charity.
To us, giving back is very important and I’d like for her to have such a life habit as it is certainly more meaningful than spending on frivolous items such as yet another eraser or shopkins item. 


3) Budget and Plan

Budgeting is a regular topic that I have been talking to her since young. There were instances where I did not give in to whimsy purchases or the 3rd expensive meal that weekend and I’d always told her because we do not need it. Rather, I am saving for our next vacation or for e.g. Christmas gifts, etc.  
Because of such exposure from young, I’d say that she is somewhat quite aware and showed that she seems to be quite prudent with her money management where we monitor how she spent her money recently at a Pasar Malam (night market) near our place.

Right now, Dumpling wants to have her own spending money for the upcoming X’mas and perhaps personal spending money for a year end vacation so.

To find out more please visit: posb.com.sg/smartbuddy 

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored conversation where Dumpling and I were invited to review the POSB Smart Buddy watch so that we can share our experience on it. All views expressed are entirely mine and does not represent the organisation that I work for.

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 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Parenthood: how are you taking care of yourself?

On a daily basis, my schedule is maxed out ~ from being an employee full time to heading home to "parenting" to blogging during free(er) times to bringing the kiddo for her classes etc. A friend of mine, reminded me recently that self care is extremely important and yes, that got me thinking ~ how am I taking care of myself?

I am not sure if any of you will resonate with this but I spend both money and time without blinking when it comes to things to do with Dumpling, but when it comes to myself, I am a lot more prudent.

But one of the things that I have been really conscious about is skincare and personal grooming because whether we like it or not, people do judge us based on how we look during the first few seconds. And as I have no patience for  heading out for facials and perhaps my schedule is too erratic, I find it easier to do eye spa and face spa, etc on my own. So self care for me, comes in the form of home range skincare.

I have been using Mary Kay for a few years: from the whitening range to the Timewise range (for those in 30s) to the new acne range, Clearproof, the products have worked really really well for me.
So I am glad to share that for this month, (as it is my birthday month!) I've decided to do celebrate with a giveaway of 1 x Mary Kay Skinvigorate device with + a personal skincare / beauty workshop at the convenience of your home!

I have personally benefited much from this cleaning brush as the bristles are so soft yet it cleanses so thoroughly that over the course of a few weeks, my skin improved in texture and clarity. Customers who have purchased this have shared really positive feedback too!

1) What is Mary Kay Skinvigorate?
It is a face brush device which has 2 speeds settings (400 and 200 rotations per minute.

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2) How does it help me / my skin?
It cleanses and removes make up 85% better than cleansing with our hands! With the bristles and the rotations, it deep cleanses as well as helps in unclogging pores. Based on clinical studies, 96% reported that it provides a more even-looking skin tone too!

Because I do not believe in recommending anything that I have not used below, here's the before and after photos of my face! (Not filtered!)


You can see for yourself that my skin looks smoother and clearer! My freckles (hereditary!) are also less obvious. :)

3) Who is it suitable for and what does each set consist of?
The beauty of this brush is that it is suitable for all skin types and I have clients who also bought it for their husbands!  Each set consists of batteries, the hand held device as well as 2 brush heads (each last for about 3 months!)

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Stand a chance to win 1 x Skinvigorate device (worth more than $80!) + a personal skincare / beauty workshop.

Here's how to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

:: Terms and Conditions
  1. The product cannot be exchanged and are not exchangeable for cash
  2. Please answer this question in the comments section below: “What is main your skincare concern / challenge?”
  3. 1 winner will be selected and I will reach out via email to make an appointment (weekend only) and deliver Mary Kay Skinvigorate to you! A 60-90 mins session is needed for the sharing and hands-on trial (you get to ask me some questions you may have for your skin and try out some products at no obligation!) 
  4. By taking part in this giveaway, you agree to receiving emails on Mary Kay products which I will share from time to time. 
Disclaimer: This giveaway is a personal giveaway where all opinions expressed are entirely mine and does not represent the organisation that I work for.

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 

Monday, September 11, 2017

A reflection: Term 3 of Primary 3 – I want a happier child

I want a happier child. And by that, I am saying that I want a well balanced child who has time to reflect, moments to dabble in her interests and even quiet moments to be bored. Dumpling is in P3 now and the workload this year has been tremendous so I cannot imagine how things will be like in the next 3 years.

The irony is that I work with teachers and leaders who work with children in the early formative years, where we often celebrate uniqueness and creativity; where we are reminded to respect each child’s expressions and feelings. So how is it that once they hit Primary school, all things come to a halt and rote learning and endless worksheets and homework seem to be the way to go?




I recall that while growing up and attending lectures (during Uni and Poly days), there was much talk and in a way, comparison, between our youths versus those in Western societies. Most often than not, “creativity” and “entrepreneurial spirit” (the lack of) are two areas which are often brought up.

How do we, then, encourage children to develop these skills? Because it seems to me that most of my friends and I “learnt” through rote learning and worksheets while growing up. So how is it that as a nation, we are still using a similar approach 30 years ago when everything else has evolved? And how does that encourage children to think out of the box and problem solve when everything is so structured? Can creativity and critical thinking skills even be cultivated? 

Honestly, I have no idea. But I would think that a self-directed learner has a higher chance of being a more creative child with more out of the box ideas than one that has been constantly exposed to just an instructional / didactic approach. When a person is engaged (regardless of age), “active” learning takes place as the person is more inclined to read up, research and learn more about that topical interest. Similarly for children, they are more likely to experiment and dabble into things when they are engaged. However, to do that, children need time and loads of it to reflect and to ponder.

Dumpling, being homeschooled at a young age, was encouraged to pursue and read up on whatever that catches her fancy and till this day, she still has a very keen interest in “Ancient Civilisation”, “Mythology” and “Social Studies”. She finds the lifestyle of the Mayas and Incas fascinating as the same with Greek Mythology. And in the same breath, she’s shared with me that in Norse Mythology, the days of the week were named after their gods and goddesses. For e.g. Friday is named after Freya and the day was known as Freya Day while Thursday is named after Thor. How fascinating that is. :)

While watching a documentary on Jane Goodall last evening, the narrator mentioned a place, Tanganyika, which Dumpling shared with me that it is now known as Tanzania (Tanganyika united with Zanzibar to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar and the country was renamed the United Republic of Tanzania.) And I was blown away. 

So I made a decision to reschedule Dumpling’s classes and to free up more time for her after school. Why? Because I want to have a happier child. And more importantly, I have realised that while Dumpling does well academically, I have learnt that if I were to continue to push her towards maintaining that academic excellence, she’d just be textbook smart where she'd regurgitate facts but I recognize that we both want more than that or she'd not be the inquisitive and passionate child that I know and that I love so dearly.

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In an interview that Jack Ma did, he shared that he does not need his son to be the top three in his class as “only this kind of person [a middle-of-the-road student] has enough free time to learn other skills”. That was a pivotal learning point for me. For any child to continue to excel academically and to be able exercise that level of precision during exams is to practise, practise and practise some more. But that also means that the child is limited to only that academic exposure and nothing else.

Now, I do get that practice makes perfect but why are we so fixated on only that version of “perfection”? And why is it only results centric?  

The only answer that I can come up with, is that "perfection" is the version most of us were measured against when we were studying. So that same “value” we have pegged to results is the same value we are using to measure our child’s success and even the “standards” of schools here (elite versus neighbourhood schools). And Singapore, having gone from a third world country to a first world in 50 years, further cements that "results" is the panacea. So, the system can’t change because in a way, we can’t. Unless we see beyond the value of "just grades" and recognize that our children are all created different and we should celebrate that diversity, then likely, this will always be an academic rat race. 

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Dumpling and I had quite a few chats on the rescheduling. This is in a bid to leave her with more "tinkering" time - be it doing some online reading / research, or working on one of her subscription boxes, doing her SCRATCH coding or start work on her stop animation project. Of course, the slight sense of unease is still there but I trust that the future world values things BEYOND grades. 

Sure, grades will open up some doors and maybe opportunities for them but I also believe that other traits such as grit, being able to work well in teams, to lead, creativity, etc., will bring her further in life. 

I recently told her "baby, I don't need you to always be the top 3 in class ya? You know that right?" To which, I am very heartened to share that she said "yes, I know. Because you want me to just be happy and to do things which make me happy." 
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