Thursday, 19 January 2017

Decluttering is all about discarding!

Is it Chinese New Year soon?!! Yay to decluttering!

I've been so bogged down. What else, but kids. In midst of trying to upkeep my motherly roles and duties, I've been trying very much to keep the house in good order. That is, to tidy and declutter. With a determined mind, I am crafting our space to be more peaceful and comfortable. Not sure about you, but I get a terrible headache by the sight of clutters and items without a 'home'. I got really serious and embarked on a reading journey with Marie Kondo's book, The Life-changing magic of tidying up - the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing. She's one sensational consultant who coaches on the magic of tidying.

When I first read about her, I had reservations as she probably doesn't know what she's writing from the aspect of living without kids. 

Decluttering is for anyone, regardless of age. I had the kids on board our tidying journey. The book recommends that before we move onto tidying, we should discard whatever that doesn't spark joy to us. That is, hold onto each piece of clothing, toy or memento, and ask yourself if this item truly sparks joy and whether it deserves a keeping space in the home. Keeping items for the sake of "just because" doesn't give it a strong reason for staying.

We began with the rooms. All in the recommended sequence, clothes, toys, books, CD/DVDs and papers. Moving onto shoes soon. Before tidying, we gathered each category separately, and from there trashed out, almost intensely, a total of 15 garbage bags of clothing, toys, books and of unwanted stuff!

Clothes were sieved out by my Grandma's helper to bring home and toys were mostly donated or sold on carousell. A great way to cash out your preloved items. And sometimes, you feel better that someone will pay for what you have truly treasured. It seems easier to let go this way.

These are 2 bags left of clothing for our friend to bring over to Cambodia.

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Clothes for donation

I reckoned if I needed to keep the kids room in a tidy and clutter-free manner, I do need their involvement. That's pretty much of how Js spent their December holiday.

Jazz's wardrobe is still spilling with clothes that she had to keep discarding and get more serious about keeping clothes that truly spark joy. Mum's fault, I know. For buying too much clothes.

It's true, raising daughters are more costly. Not much of a choice, she borrowed space from her brother's wardrobe, next door.

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Wardrobe declutter

After which, we folded the clothes with Marie Kondo Method. Her key is to store things standing up rather than laid flat. Here's how we folded most clothing. First, fold each lengthwise side of the clothing toward the centre (such as the left-hand, then right-hand sides of a shirt) and tuck the sleeves to make a long rectangular shape. Next, pick up one short end of the rectangle and fold it toward the other short end. Then fold again, in the same manner, in halves or in thirds. The number of folds should be adjusted such that the folded clothing fits the height of the drawer when standing.

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Neatly displayed clothing

I've to say we really love this method of folding. It's a pity that we took this long to discover this method. It allows us to at once, glance at the clothing we have and not miss an opportunity of neglecting any piece.

These were almost tough to sort because every piece seemed to spark joy among them. And for having kids of varying age, we keep a huge range of toys. Mum's fault again, for getting too many toys. But seriously, we've cut down much on toys buying. Most were blessed or gifted on their birthday. Which is one major reason why I often spend much time and thoughts on gifting.

So then, even after a massive sweep, the toys are still very much invading their room space. Different gender attributes much to the toy collection too. It ranges from cars to princess plays. In fact, the older kids are spending more time in school and gradually less time for their toys at home. It is wise to only keep toys that they really love and look forward to play after school and over the weekends. 

Loose and free toys that comes with meals or food packaging are such a pain. We discarded a big lot of it.

We sorted the books which was another headache as Js love books. Still, we managed to sieve out some that doesn't spark anymore joy. Brought them to the books exchange corner at the library, in hope to give the books another life in a new home. We slowed down in buying books, and instead, visit the library more often.

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Books exchange corner - All our contribution

Some books have sat on my shelves for years without being completed. I knew that 'later' or 'another day' is unlikely to arrive. I swept those books off my shelf for the books exchange corner too.

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Tidied bookshelf

Lastly, we sorted papers. I am one Mum who treasures much of what the kids have created at home or in school. Their room has got crafts, doodles, drawings and papers laid around. I treasured them so much in the past that I would stick every creation onto coloured paper to create something like a lapbook.

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That very day, we went through every piece, from the littlest doodle to their nicest drawing, most pieces don't spark joy in them anymore. Discarding them was a green light and it did feel lighter for having a big space freed up. If the creator didn't mind me discarding, I should not mind too.

And of course, they kept a few pieces that they really loved.

I've to confess, even after a mega wipe out, their room still look much intense with toys and books. I attribute this to the fact that I have 3 kids, and their room is the only space we keep most toys.

There's still much work to go in our rooms and common spaces. Not only it's a massive project, it is extremely time consuming. You do need to set aside much time for a mega project like this. And of course, with a changed mindset of not hoarding.

We have learnt much from this period of massive decluttering:

1. Buy things more carefully and consider carefully where it should be kept in the house. 
2. Don't buy meals or food just because of toys.
3. Retract from being a typical Singaporean, going and queuing for freebies. Which most times, the stuff given are deemed unnecessary. We should get picky about freebies too.
4. Some hobbies require the space for storage. It really is quite a consideration before plunging into a series of hobby collection or activity.
5. If we designate a space of each item, we don't have much problem with clutter.
6. Don't stack. Instead try storing things vertically up, where you have good view of everything. 
7. When you buy something new, use it soon! Most times, we keep till forgotten. Or if not, buy only when needed. 
8. Believe what your heart tells you in sparking joy.
9. Space is valuable. Keep only the precious.
10. In our ever busy days, 'later' or 'another day' quite means never. DISCARD.

Though much have been reduced in the process of tidying, we have yet to come to the point where we know it's just right for us. More needs to be reduced. We do need more room and space for comfortable rest and really enjoy being home.

This is just progress of the kid's room. There's just so much about decluttering! And perhaps, another post for progression in other areas.

This coming season of spring cleaning, are you looking to only rearrange and maximize space, or discard and store items that only spark joy? Things that stay should be worth a keeping space in your home. I think we have come to a point to only possess the things we need and really love.

Friday, 13 January 2017

The Ant and The Grasshopper [Giveaway]

A classic fable from Aesop... The Ant and The Grasshopper make a return!

Once there lived an Ant – a hard-working and ever-busy Ant who never seemed to have time for play or relaxation. And then there was Grasshopper, with time on his hands and nothing much to do all day. And visiting from time to time, there was Caterpillar!

Somehow they were friends. All day long Ant would work hard, without stop or rest, collecting grains of wheat and storing them carefully in her larder.

And the Grasshopper would laugh, and say “why do you work so hard, dear Ant? Come, and rest awhile, listen to my song. Summer is here; the days are long and bright. Why waste the sunshine in labour and toil?”

But summer does not last long – and soon Winter and the frozen cold will come…
What will happen to Grasshopper then?
What exactly will Ant do?
And where will Caterpillar go?

Come join itheatre for another fast-paced and interactive production, specially created with the younger audience in mind, but with unexpected twists and turns to keep even the grownups engaged, involved and on their toes!

In the original Fable by Aesop, the ant work all day, never taking time to appreciate the world around them. Whilst he Grasshopper does not see the value in working. There's much to their perspectives and I am sure we can learn something from this tiny insect world!

The Ant and The Grasshopper is a 50 minutes musical is suitable for THE WHOLE FAMILY – ANYONE 3 years old and above! Get your tickets here!

Ant and The Grasshopper
Date: 18 Feb to 19 March 2017
18 Feb - 10 Mar 2017,  Thu - Fri: 10.30am
14 Mar - 17 Mar 2017, Tue - Fri: 10.30am and 2.00pm
Sat and Sun: 11am and 2.30pm

Venue: SOTA Drama Theatre
1 Zubir Said Drive, Singapore 227968

We have 2 sets of  family tickets (4 tickets each) for giveaway to 2 lucky families. The winning tickets show will be on 19 February (Sunday), 11am. To take part, all you had need to do is:
Facebook Giveaway (1 winner)
1. Like Mum's calling on Facebook
2. Like itheatre on Facebook
3. Like and Tag on this Facebook post, 3 or more friends whom you think will be keen on this giveaway.

Instagram Giveaway (1 winner)
1. Follow @mumscalling and @itheatresg on Instagram
2. Like this giveaway photo
3. Tag in the comment section of this Instagram post, a friend or more whom you think will be keen in this giveaway. One tag per comment. The more you tag, the higher your chances!

You don't have to, but sharing is caring! And yes, you may try your luck with both handlers. Giveaway closes on 20 Jan 2017, 2359hrs. Best of luck!

Terms and Conditions:
  • Winners will be picked by
  • Winners will be announced on Facebook and this blog post
  • Winners will have 48 hours to respond, failing which a new winner will be drawn
  • Date and Time of show is firm
  • All incomplete entries will be disqualified.
  • All entries will be verified before the winners are announced.   
  • Giveaway is no way sponsored, endorsed, administered or associated with Facebook. 

Friday, 23 December 2016

The story of the Candy Cane

Christmas is here, almost! Above and beyond the expressions of love and blessing this season, we always talk about the reason for the season within the family, that is the birth of Christ Jesus on Christmas day.

On our recent trip to the library, I discovered a book about the candy cane and fell so in love with the inspirational story behind it. I've to be so honest that I had never really wondered so much about candy canes and Christmas. It has such a wonderful story that I thought it has to be shared!

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Looking at the candy, what letter does it look like? J. Yes, Jesus! The reason for the season. And when you turn 'J' over, it reminds us of a shepherd's staff. The shepherds in the field were the first to find out about Jesus' birth.

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And what about the stripes? "By His stripes we are healed." Before Jesus died on the cross, he was whipped and bled terribly. The red reminds us of His suffering and blood.

The candy being white makes us white and pure as snow. When we give our lives to Jesus, his blood washes away our sins. 

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This, is the story of the candy cane! Candy cane never looked the same anymore. Of the many variations candy canes come in today, the red and white is probably the most meaningful of all, as well as the best tasting.

Have a wonderful and blessed Christmas, everyone!

Book Title: The Legend of the Candy Cane
Author: Lori Walburg
Call Number: English WAL

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Our first wakeboarding experience!

There's always a first try to everything. We had our first cable skiing experience at the Singapore Wake Park. It's very much similar to wakeboarding. So how exactly is wakeboarding different from cable skiing? The stark difference between riding on a cable and behind a boat is the use of motorized towers and system versus a motorboat.

We are no enthusiasts in any water sports, and I was really doubtful about trying something that doesn't define me. A big part of me was really about the opportunity the kids could get on to try a new sport. We decided to go ahead with a decision to get into the water with the kids, rather than just chilling by the cafe. The man didn't escape.

We made arrangements for Juboy, just so we could all play together.

It must be age. Trying something new sends me much into the state of being apprehensive. I had no idea what I would be in for, especially coming from zero background on wakeboarding. It was most natural that we all started off with the easiest board, which is kneeboard. Really easy, no skill required, except to sit and relax.

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The only trait you need is being confident in water. A life float was attached to us and the only swimming, or if not, leg paddling we had need to do was to swim towards our board after each ride. Hang onto it and swim towards the walkway. 

Never too young or old, as long as you think you can do it. A recommended age for kids would be 6 year old and above. Jare is 5 and he wooshed it off well.

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After trying the kneeboard, it was the next challenge to move onto wakeboarding. This, I've to say requires a couple of tries to discover the right balance between our body and the board. It wasn't too difficult and I'm pleased that I got it on the third attempt. Having no flare in sports, if I can do it, anyone can.

Be assured that the friendly instructors on site will guide and help you along. For the little kids, a crew will await for them at the end point if they are too little to handle.

Js had a tougher time staying balanced on the wakeboard. It may not be easy, but it isn't difficult either. Kids' sized wakeboards are available. Jare clocked the most number of attempts among us and I admired his 'Never give up' attitude and his desire to 'Keep trying.' He really loved it and wanted to get it all up and balanced! Good training on that perseverance.

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All these being only possible with the Park's beginner-friendly systems called the System 2.0. This cable system is great for anyone, adult or child learning to kneeboard or stand on the wakeboard.
The speed of this cable is adjustable, which makes learning how to stand on a wakeboard easier.

After which if the adult is confident enough to go steadily fast, he may graduate to ski on the full size cable, where there's greater tension and smoother ride. We conservatively stayed on system 2.0, with the kids.

Apart from the sporty experience, I had really love these cute little life float on the kids! Friendly walking sharks they are.

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So yeap! It was great fun for everyone of us, and there was much contentment and happiness with the experience and bond we had in venturing this new sport as a family. You do need to give it a try with the kids! Whether or not we mastered the skill, it was a nice day out for us. Or if you prefer to stay away from the shine, you may opt for night water ski! So cool.

Full shower facilities available. Lockers are also available, except that you need to bring a lock along, if not, you may purchase one from their store. After all the exhausted energy, it was most comforting to fill our tummies by their cafe and bar, Coastal Rhythm.

Clock in your visit soon. Friendly warning: It can be extremely addictive!

Singapore Wake Park
Opening hours
Mondays to Fridays: 10am to 10pm;
Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays: 9am to 10pm.

1206A East Coast Parkway,
Singapore 449891

Located between:
East Coast Park Lagoon
Food Village and
East Coast Seafood Centre.
Carpark E1

Disclaimer: Sponsored wakeboarding experience. All opinions and photos are solely ours. 

Monday, 12 December 2016

Lessons with The Little Executive

Executive function skills consists of working memory, impulse and emotional control, flexibility, planning and prioritizing, self-monitoring, and task initiation. These skills are necessary to ensure tasks are followed through from the beginning to the final stages, enable us to make decisions, see the big picture as well as details. 

If our child is equipped with the essence of these skills, I will say learning in and out of school will be a breeze. Jazz had embarked and now, completed an 11 weeks journey with The Little Executive (TLE). TLE, aims to develop essential brain-based skills and cognitive processes that children need in order to succeed both in and out of the classroom, all the way to the boardroom!

Building on the 3 pillars, Essential skills, Learning habits and Growth mindset, TLE aims to help each child discover his innate ability to be independent and self- aware, equipped with tools to assess and change his performance, growing into an astute, whole, and happy person.

I've to attest that these skills can be lifelong if we choose to intervene and bring in the right learning habits from young. Activities and curriculum developed by TLE are catered to the different age groups from preschoolers to primary school kids.

Here's a peek into Jazz's first lesson with her teacher, Ms M. In 1.5 hour, the following 6 tests were covered.

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Here are some understanding I have gained as a sit in parent.

Bobo's room
Bobo is a bear. A room was made for him, both in 3D and 2D. The mapping of 3D to 2D and vice versa is a key mental manipulation. It allows the seeing of things on paper in a 3D form, and is a critical skill needed in primary school.

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Visualising in 3D definitely helps with solving the problem. It is a crucial skill in seeing how reality and text are a representations of each other.

Stroop Exercise
I thought this was really interesting and challenging as it goes along.

Refer to the chart of pictures below, the kids were tasked to call out the names or colours of the animals on the chart to the metronome beat. They go from rows then to columns. On the first row, it goes bear, pig, cat, monkey, bird and so on. Followed by colours, blue, red, yellow, green, red and so on. The challenge increases as the speed gets faster with the metronome beat.

This is an important skill to develop selective attention and block out distractions. It means they will have to put away the identity of the animals and concentrate on its colours, and then vice versa.

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This is one good way to manage multiple instructions, build on concentration and train our brain to persist and stay on task. When one of the picture is for example, replaced by a name, say 'tree', it allows the mind to think flexibly, adjust to the unexpected and accept new information over the old. 

It builds on that growth mindset when kids are asked to up their challenges. 

Handwriting exercise
This is Jazz's favourite segment. It allows her great fun with shaving cream!

Using an ice cream stick, the kids draw the horizontal figure '8' repeatedly for about 1 to 2 minutes. The crossing of the mid-line enhances the left and right brain connections.

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This fun activity develops concentration span by having to focus on the task of drawing '8' for a long period of time. While drawing, they do need to display active listening skills on when to 'freeze', 'change direction' or 'continue.'

Wrap Up!
The lessons are often summed up with setting goal for the week. Which Ms M will discuss the steps needed to achieve these goals and check back the following week. It makes them think really hard and want to achieve more when we bring goals and thinking out of the usual home settings. 

Above are some of the many tests done to measure specific skills. I do not think problems with any of these tests will predict how bad or good a child will do in real life, it simply prompts parents to intervene early and help the child outgrow. Executive functioning skills can be trained and strengthened.

I love the rationale and benefits curated behind these activities, and most importantly, a team of educators who knows how to deliver these activities effectively. It really isn't about saying "good job" or "well done" all the time. I noticed the constant praising of an effort over achievement. This cultivates a growth mindset that prompts a child to go for greater heights!

Instead of a downright reply of "right" and "wrong", the teachers throw the kids thinking questions like, "Is yours like mine?" Which sends them into the state of checking, re-checking and thinking. It trains them to eventually start looking and listening. That's what will help our kids excel better in and out of classrooms, as well as future workplaces.

At the end of the term, a progress report is given to help parents understand the significant progress and areas of improvement. Jazz is dominantly shy in class and resists from speaking up when asked to. I do hope she gets better and is more comfortable about sharing in class.

The most significant progress I saw, was her interpretation of 3D to 2D images. While most of us would commonly term drawing as front view and back view, we were impressed that she was taught front profile, side profile and back profile!

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It teaches more than just mapping of the dimensions, but also learning to look at things and matters from a different perspective. It's so often that we jump into various conclusions without even analysing the different aspects.
Just how essential these skills are!

These are some skills, parents could have potentially missed out. Academic isn't all that encompasses a child's growth. There are the learning habits and growth mindset to tackle.

Aside from TLE's regular curriculum, they conduct holiday camps too. Jazz enjoyed her weekly lesson, which we called it the Bobo bear class. It wasn't a single bit dull or boring, so be assured that your kids will enjoy and see it as purely, learning through play.

Check them out soon! 

The Little Executive
144 Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 229844
Contact: 6908 1889

Disclaimer: Jazz was sponsored a term of class with TLE. All opinions and photos are solely ours.