15% off Children's Books at The Groovy Giraffe

You may remember that I first wrote about The Groovy Giraffe here. I am so happy that this little online bookshop has come a long way since then.

They have hit and gone beyond 1000 likes on their Facebook Page, and would like to celebrate by offering you a 15% discount for books in the Children category! Yes, this means all your favourite books from Pop-up, Picture, Early Reader, Activity, Chapter, Non-fiction to Audio books categories. I'm going to be shopping for advanced birthday presents!
Use coupon code 
to enjoy the 15% discount. 
Valid from now till 19 March 2014!

Toddler Classes at Gymnademics

Bun has started Pre-Fellow classes at Gymnademics!

I wrote about Gymnademics here and here. Since those earlier posts and the Gymnademics' website include good descriptions about the school's philosophy, approach and curriculum, this write-up will be about what goes on in a class.

The questions I have been asked revealed to me that many people think Gymnademics is primarily a gym class. I myself had this misconception when I first knew about this school.

Here are a few things that stood out for me after attending two sessions:
  • There is a good mix of physical activities and quiet sit-down ones (including intellectual work).
  • Activities are kept short and the transitions quick.
  • Music is used effectively during each activity, and to signal change.
  • Good guidance and tips are shared with parents/guardians during the classes.
  • Emails are sent after each session with information about complementary exercises parents can do with their children.

The photos above show a mix of physical movements that a child goes through during a class. These are interspaced with intellectual, often sit-down activities that you see in the photos below.

At the start of a class, a 'circuit' is set-up to allow children to engage in physical movements such as climbing, balancing, crawling and sliding. From the teachers, I learned how best to support Bun during this time by holding her the correct way and at the right angle. During each class, children will also get a opportunities to swing on a trapeze bar, and do shuttle runs by transporting toys from one container to another.

So what were the 'intellectual'/sit-down activities included in a class?

Where to Buy Natural, Organic and Health Food in Singapore

When we first knew about Bubbles' intolerance to certain foods, dealing with it was like having to learn a new language. Having to cut out gluten, chicken, eggs and milk, most of our meal staples had to be eliminated. I went on a mini rampage, seeking out resources and looking for places to buy suitable food. I was familiar with some of the usual places to get organic food, but needed more information about specialized items. I scanned magazines, websites and forums, kept my eyes peeled whenever we were out shopping, and made mental notes about where to get what.

Below is a list of shops in Singapore where you can purchase health and natural products for various dietary needs. It includes both online websites and brick and mortar shops (many have both options!). Products you can buy include organic foods, quality meats, foods made from healthier, more natural sources, and foods free from dairy, gluten, eggs, or other common allergenic ingredients. Although this list is primarily about food, I included a small category on home and beauty products for now.

I hope some of you will find this list useful! Although I have not bought from all of these places, they do come recommended, and I hope to update and refine this list over time. If you have any shops to recommend, do drop me an email!

If you are looking for a certain product, I always recommend first checking out NTUC Finest or Cold Storage Supermarkets. They are big chains that carry a large variety of food, including dedicated segments for natural, organic and health foods. If you rather not make a trip down, you could search their online stores (limited products) or give them a call. My personal favourite outlets are NTUC Finest at Bukit Timah Plaza, and Cold Storage at Great World City.

Another popular source to purchase natural products is iHerb.com. While this is not a Singapore-based website, many of the prices are lower than what you can find in Singapore, even with regular shipping costs. This is a to-go site for many people I know. 

Dried Goods, Supplements, Oils, Sauces, Dairy

Meats and Seafood

Vegetables and Fruits

Home and Beauty

My Art Studio

Now that the Chinese New Year festivities are over, and my mother is increasingly getting stronger, I am trying to get our lives back to some normalcy. This means prodding the household engine back to cruise mode, weaving in some social life, working on this blog, and plunging into projects that have been put on hold.

Sometime last year, I was invited by My Art Studio to take Bubbles to try out their school holiday programme. As we were unable to make it, we were offered a regular art session to try out. The lovely people at the studio extended the invitation to a number of my blogging friends too, and made it one fun arty gathering.

Celebrating Chinese New Year in KL, Malaysia

We are back from KL!

This trip turned out to be a blessing in many ways. We managed to attend the yearly Chinese New Year Day 7 dinner hosted by an uncle. We usually miss this as we would have returned to Singapore by Day 3 or 4. It was really nice to meet so many relations in one place. The food was also exceptionally good, and my girls collected quite a haul of red packets from people we hardly knew, including the uncle's business associates! We did our usual round of visitations, and even managed to catch up with old friends for a meal. What we missed, going up on the second weekend of CNY instead of the first, were the regular Day 1 open houses, where the aunts will cook delicacies like Kueh Pie Tee, Pig Stomach Soup, and various noodles and vegetarian dishes.

Our Chinese New Year celebrations are not complete without some shooting of fireworks and playing with sparklers. This year was no different, although we fired off a lot less, as our young nieces and nephews were not around, having gone back home the week before.

I was thrilled that besides having time to eat out, some shopping happened during this trip too! My sister-in-law bought me a gorgeous handmade ring that has pretty seashells sewn on it, and I got myself a sturdy camel-coloured handmade bag. We also picked up matching cotton dresses for the girls, and some clothing for Roboman. All at fantastic prices. Very, very pleased :)

Hope you enjoy these photos. We forgot to bring our camera, so I had to rely on my old phone to take all of these shots!

A Different Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year since my marriage has always been the busiest festival in the year for me. We usually head up to KL on the eve of Chinese New Year, complete festivities there, and return in time for another round of visitations in Singapore the following weekend. It is good for us that traditionally, the Spring Festival lasts for 15 days!

This year, for the first time since Roboman and I got married, we decided to do a switch and stay in Singapore for the beginning of the holidays, and head to KL the following weekend instead. I was excited about this because I have not had the chance to see many of my distant relatives for a long while, and my children have never experienced CNY in my parents' place on the first two days where most of the festivities take place.

In addition, my mother was granted a couple of hours of home leave (from the hospital) on CNY Day 1! It was a time of rejoicing indeed. After visiting my grandmother in the morning, we spent the rest of the day at my parents' place, where troops of relsatives came to visit. I enjoyed the endless chatter, tiring as it was to host so many people throughout the day. It was also very heartening to see my mother, although sitting on a wheelchair, immersed in the interactions with those who love her most. I was on my feet most of the day, and cooked dinner for the family that evening. I was physically tired but in my heart, I truly rejoiced.

My two girls received a lot of attention, being the youngest, and busied themselves either banging on the piano, playing with rubber ducks in a basin of water, or doing (a lot) of drawing. We let all diet restrictions go for Bubbles go that day, and believe me, she had a grand time snacking!

We spent the rest of the next two days visiting relatives and two other households. We did 8 homes in all, and it was wonderful because we bumped into other people visiting the same homes as we did. In previous years, we will usually be the only visitors as most people would have made their rounds the week before!

Roboman lamented about the quietness of the celebrations here, being used to the endless bangs of fireworks being shot from gardens of neighbours in KL. I had to agree, that some festive cheer seems missing when one is used to that noise. Still, the cheer for this year's CNY came very much from within, fired by the warmth of family and familiarity.

Do you celebrate Chinese New Year too? How was yours?