Mums deserve a treat this Christmas – review of essano skincare products and giveaway

It’s 10 days to Christmas – are you feeling the heat yet? Is your to-do list growing at a monstrous rate and developing a life of its own?

I know that harried feeling, and I don’t like it. I’ve been trying to do what I can to simplify, first working on trimming my schedule (as well as the kids’), then also simplifying the tradition of gift-giving. I’ve ordered most of our Christmas gifts from Book Depository this year, and I think the kiddies will still enjoy them!

To me, the key to enjoying this season is to hold fast to joy and gratitude; so we’re counting our blessings, and sharing them with those around us, in small ways.

Another key is to simplify and slow down. For me, some easy ways to do that are:

  • Take a day off and have a personal retreat (bring a journal but leave your phone behind or switch it to airplane mode)
  • Cut down on activities on weekends, leave time to breathe as a family
  • Simplify our skincare regime

To help you achieve that last one, I’m really glad to share with you about essano’s range of organic and natural skincare products, just launched in Singapore. I tried out their products from the Treat Your Skin pack, which contains:

  • Certified organic rosehip oil 3ml
  • Gentle foaming facial cleanser
  • Regenerating facial moisturiser
  • Moisture restorative night crème
  • Intensive hydrating body lotion
  • A drawstring bag for on-the-go moments

essano treat your skin pack

After using all the products, I concluded that my favourites were the facial moisturiser and restorative night cream. I really loved the way they made my skin feel soft and supple, just overnight! (I think the night cream does a more intensive moisturising work so I tend to use it every few nights, while I rely on the facial moisturiser almost every night.)

Since I started using essano, I realised that I could cleanse, moisturise and treat my skin, just relying on this pack of nifty skin tools! This makes a nifty gift for time-stretched mums who often don’t have time to keep up with a regular skincare routine. The travel-friendly size also makes it easy to pack and bring around when travelling.

Made in New Zealand with only plant and mineral based ingredients, essano products are cruelty-free and formulated without sulphates, parabens and silicones. The facial skincare range is powered by Rosehip Oil which is clinically proven to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, scars, stretch marks and sun damage.

~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~

I’m really stoked to give away one essano Treat Your Skin Pack to a lucky reader. This would make a perfect Christmas gift for yourself, or a special woman in your life.

To enter the draw, just do the following:

  1. Leave a comment on this FB post, sharing one way that you’re simplifying your life this Christmas.
  2. Get a bonus entry by tagging 2 friends on this instagram post.

*Contest ends 22nd Dec, Thursday, 11.59pm. Open to all Singapore residents. The winner will be announced on our Facebook page on 23rd Dec, so do stay tuned.

** Meanwhile, check out essano’s facebook page for updates on their products and promotions!

essano treat your skin

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6 Tips On How To Protect Your Family From The Haze (Giveaway Closed)

We escaped the haze this year for the most part, save for a couple of days with high PSI and PM2.5 pollutants especially during August this year.

We’ve stocked up on masks and air purifiers in our home. But I’m thankful we didn’t need to use them much.

Still, although the index has kept within bearable limits, I sometimes feel the haze effects even before I realize that it’s around us. I guess I’m more sensitive by nature – even when I was packing my house for the move, my body reacted with sneezing, sniffing and cough. For weeks I woke up with a congested nose and throat, and with itchiness around the palate area.

The kids get affected at times, especially Josh, the youngest of the lot. Allergens in the air tend to irritate his airways and cause cough and runny nose. I know some friends whose kids’ ezcema gets triggered too.

Do you know the best way to protect your family against the allergens present in haze?

Here are 5 tips:
1) Increase intake of water and fresh fruits and vegetables to help the body flush out toxins and boost immunity
2) Wear a good grade mask and avoid strenuous outdoor activities
3) Purify the air in your home with an air purifier (preferably fitted with Hepa-filter) to remove dust, smoke and allergens when indoors
4) Shower and change clothes to remove allergens from skin and hair
5) Rinse eyes and keep skin moisturised
6) Do our part by buying eco-friendly home and food products

Here are more helpful and informative links to help us combat against the harmful effects of haze:

12 immunity-boosting foods to eat during haze
Hope this clears the air – navigating the confusing world of air purifiers

To help you be prepared for the haze, Xepa-Soul Pattinson, a leading pharmaceutical firm in SE Asia, has designed and assembled an Allergy & Haze Kit. We have 1 Allergy & Haze Kit to give away to one of our readers!

adezio-haze-and-allergy-kit

Each kit comes with:
1) an Allergy & Haze handbook
2) 10 Disposable face masks
3) Euderm cream to replenish the skin’s moisture and provide relief to infantile and allergic eczema
4) Rinz eye drops to soothe tired and irritated eyes
5) Tissue pack

The Allergy & Haze handbook provides succinct information on the effects of haze, and I found that it’s quite child-friendly too, with lots of images and colourful illustrations. So you can even use it to explain to your kids to help them understand why the haze is bad for our health, and what we can do to protect ourselves.

Haze and allergy handbook

~~~ GIVEAWAY CLOSED ~~~

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This giveaway ends on 22 Oct 2016, 11.59pm and is open to readers in Singapore. The winner will be contacted using the email provided when entering the draw and will have 48 hours to respond, failing which a new winner will be drawn. Good luck!

This post / giveaway is sponsored by Xepa-Soul Pattinson. 

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5 Values From Wicked The Musical To Teach Your Child

Watching Wicked The Musical is like entering a colourful fantasy world of wizards, witches, enchantment and magic.

It tells the tale of two unlikely friends – the blonde and popular Glinda and the green-skinned outcast, Elphaba.

wicked-uk-international-tour_carly-anderson-and-jacqueline-hughes

While you can watch Wicked and be absolutely blown by the cast, the singing, the beautiful live music, and theatrical effects, there are also several meaningful lessons that we can teach our children through the tale.

In the enchanted land of Oz, things are not always what they seem. This brings us to the first value that we can teach our children…

1. Never judge from face value.

The green-faced “Wicked Witch of the West” actually has a heart of gold, while the more popular Glinda the Good Witch tends to go with the flow and pander to the people’s wishes. The Wizard of Oz is supposed to be all-powerful and all-wise, but he turns out to be a fake.

So while it’s ever tempting and easy to judge people and situations from the way they look on the surface, let’s teach our kids to always dig and examine a little deeper.

wicked-uk-international-tour_carly-anderson

2. Friendship stands the test of time, and change.

Though Glinda and Elphaba may have started off on the wrong foot, though their personalities are at the opposite extremes, and though they are rivals in love, they build a firm and loyal friendship.

Also when Fiyero, Elphaba’s love interest, gets turned into a scarecrow towards the end of the musical, she continues to stay true to him.

wicked-uk-international-tour_carly-anderson-and-jacqueline-hughes2

3. Always help the lowly and outcast feel included
The “Dancing Through Life” party scene is perfect for discussion here. When Elphaba shows up to the party in the weird ol’ witch’s hat (gifted by Glinda) and tries to join the dance, she makes a fool of herself. The dancing stops…until conscience-pricked Glinda decides to be kind to her and adopt her awkward dance moves. The result is the beginning of a beautiful friendship between the two. Sometimes you never know what you do for another person when you help them feel part of a group.

4. Good deeds may not always be rewarded, but do them anyway.
As the song goes, “no good deed goes unpunished.” However hard Elphaba tried to save the animals from losing their speech and status in society, she kept getting wronged and blamed. So let’s remind our kids that doing the right thing doesn’t necessarily lead to rewards. A lot of the things that we do out of conviction of our hearts will go unseen. But keep doing what is right and honorable anyway.

5. Keep getting up even if you fall, and you might just defy gravity.

Elphaba may have been heartbroken and disappointed by the ones she held dear many times, but she kept going and was relentless in her pursuit of what is good and noble. At the end, her ingenuity rescued her as she managed to fool all Ozzians into thinking that she was already dead, when it fact she had only disappeared through a trapdoor.

What a story to encourage our young ones to keep pressing on inspite of challenges and difficulties. A worthy and beautifully-moving musical spectacular through and through.

Wicked The Musical is running till 20 November at the Grand Theatre, MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands. Tickets, ranging from $55 to $230, can be purchased from Sistic.

Images from Base Entertainment Asia. All opinions and stories are my own.

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My Gym Buona Vista – Review and Giveaway! (Closed)

We were invited to try out gym classes at My Gym Buona Vista recently and we let JJ have a go because he’s a real Tigger and loves to romp, jump, and bounce all day long.

He started their Terrific Tots programme in May and have been looking forward to attending gym class every week since. Like…once the lift door opens on Level 3 of Rochester Mall, he’s out like a rocket. He barely turns to wave goodbye to us. He just can’t wait to move and play and jump!

What I like:

1) The class begins with free play.

Kids who arrive early get to romp, jump, scale walls, and hang on the monkey bars before class starts. And everyone knows when the class starts without the teachers even saying anything. The cue is in the music: when it stops, everyone stops their activity and assembles at the circle. Nicely done.

gym slide

 

2) There is proper warm up and stretching time.

Here they are below stretching their back muscles.

gym warmup

There is also circle time where kids get a chance to speak up and introduce themselves by answering a simple question. I thought it was good the programme actually incorporates some social skills component so the kids can get to interact with one another.

In this pic below, the kids are doing “tummies in the middle” – this is where the instructor will prepare the kids for what’s coming up, and give important instructions.

gym huddle

3) The exercises build up in complexity.

Round 1 is the simplest, then subsequent rounds add on another layer of activity. Take for instance this hanging beach ball game. In the first round, the kids have to just kick the ball. For the second round, they have to add on a forward roll. So it stretches the child’s ability to listen, follow and remember instructions.

4) The kids get to do circuits incorporating different actions and challenges.

In this circuit below, JJ had to swing on a rope like Tarzan, and then forward roll on a sloping gym-mat.

And for this one, JJ had to wind around some cones, climb up and down the stairs, and complete the circuit with a forward roll.

Every week’s activities and relays are different, working different parts of the body,and stretching different parts of the brain.
5) The gym setup changes weekly.

Things are moved around, and different tools and challenges are featured each week. The kids can play and practise on a balance beam one week, and hang on the monkey bars another week. So there’s always something new.

gym balance 2

6) Safety is always emphasised.

Whenever the kids have to do something requiring balancing, they are reminded to spread their hands like an aeroplane to help them.

Gym balance beam

For forward rolls, the kids are always reminded to tuck in their heads, to prevent neck injuries. For backward rolls, they are taught to use “pizza hands” which are hands that are spread apart to help them achieve stability.

The gym instructors also focus on imparting proper techniques before challenging the kids to do more complex actions.

Here is JJ doing a handstand on a plank. He has been practising handstands for a few lessons before this, and usually on a mat.

Gym_handstand

Before that, he was actually walking on the plank and practising changing direction by jumping and twisting.

gym twist on beam

7) The activities promote listening and memory recall skills.

In the picture below, JJ is trying to focus to jump into the right-coloured hoops. The kids were given verbal instructions to only jump into the green and yellow hoops, and to avoid the rest. Such activities may look simple, but it requires active listening on the kids’ part to be able to follow through the tasks successfully.

gym jump hoops

8) They use a range of manipulatives to train motor skills and agility.

One of my favourite activities was this one pictured below, where the kids have to throw a scarf into the air and catch it; then throw it, turn around, and catch it again. I could tell they were all having lots of fun doing this, because the way a scarf falls is…well quite different from say a ball. It was a sensory experience and I know JJ was relishing the touch of the scarf landing on his face. Quite a memorable sight!

gym hanky throw

All in all, JJ loved the classes and I believe he’s benefitted in terms of gaining better balance, coordination, and body control.

And now we have a…

~~~ GIVEAWAY!~~~

I have a trial class valid for redemption at My Gym Buona Vista to give away to 3 readers. Just follow the instructions of the Rafflecopter app below to join in! Open to Singaporean residents only. The contest will close 9 August, 11.59pm!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here’s a snapshot of the classes available here.

My Gym schedule

For further enquiries, do contact My Gym @ Buona Vista
Rochester Mall, #03-24/25/26,
Singapore 138639

Phone: (+65) 6684 9220
Email: buonavista@mygym.com.sg

Operating Hours:
Tue – Sun: 9am – 6pm

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Every Child Should Learn To Code, Says Co-founder of Tink Tank

Can you believe that kids as young as 7 can code some bananas to make music? Here is Vera and Dana (Life’s Tiny Miracles) playing on their banana piano!

How did they do it?

Well the teachers from Tink Tank first demonstrated to the kids how to code a virtual piano in Scratch, and then got them to do it on their own in pairs. They got to choose the characters that they liked and followed some basic steps to code their own piano.

The first code is to detect which arrow key is pressed, the second code is to tell the computer to play a certain piano note and the third code is the animation that they chose for their character, be it to change costume or colour or position, etc. Subsequently we connect the laptop to makey makey, which is an invention kit that turns everyday objects into touchpads.

 

But how does learning to code really benefit kids?  Deddy Setiadi, co-founder of Tink Tank shares more in this exclusive interview…

I believe that there has been a lot of buzz in recent times about how coding is the new literacy and phrases like “digital literacy” is becoming more commonplace. While our current world is shaped fundamentally by subjects likes math and science that we learn in school, the current and future world that we live in will be very much a digital world, where our lives are also fundamentally shaped by computers and connected devices.

A lack of literacy of programming may be crippling in future as it is undesirable to merely be passive consumers of technology. That’s why we at Tink Tank feel that every child should learn to code or at least have some exposure to it.

While not every child wants a career as a programmer, coding is a valuable life skill for everyone.

 

No matter what path you choose as your career in future, computer science skills will prove valuable. For instance, a personnel in marketing will benefit as marketing has gone digital. Crucial components of marketing such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will likely involve HTML coding and using tools like Google Analytics. Of course, if your child is going to work in the IT sector, he/she will likely have excellent job prospects because with Singapore working towards becoming a “smart nation”, the Ministry of Communications and Information has announced recently that an additional 30,000 ICT jobs will need to be filled by 2020.

In addition, attending programming classes will help build up important life skills such as problem solving and computational thinking skills. Coding is very sequential – you need to know what to write and why one code comes after another. One will be able to make logical connections that can help him learn to analyse different situations and look at the big picture before drilling down to the smaller steps to reach the goal. Computational thinking also allows kids to grasp concepts like algorithms, variables and arithmetic operators. Also, whenever they do hands on coding activities and face errors, kids will learn to identify the problem and debug the programme.

 

What is the optimal age to begin learning coding?

I think 8 years old onwards would be appropriate as children of this age would have developed an adequate level of logical maturity, while still be very open to learning new concepts and have a strong curiosity about their environment.

 

What do beginners coding programmes involve?

There has been a growing amount of free online coding tutorials that are popular among both kids and adults, such as Hour of Code. Depending on age group and interest, people normally start off by learning app creation or basic website design/development. It may sound daunting, but it’s actually really easy to get started! For kids, essentially what they need is to be fairly familiar with simple typing and the use of the laptop and be able to grasp simple instructions in English and follow them.

 

We live in a gadget-filled world. How can parents manage children’s use of computers and gadgets, even while exposing them to interesting programmes such as coding?

Yes, this is a concern that many of us have as it is not easy to strike a good balance. I believe that the way to best of managing also differs depending on how old the child is and how much prior exposure he/she already has to devices.  Perhaps when first starting to introduce the kids to such devices, parents can let kids use devices that have pre-installed coding / learn-to-code apps or games, but restrict the use of internet – either by blocking the internet entirely, or blocking certain websites like Facebook, 9gag etc.

Before the device reaches the hands of their kids, it should already be prepared for its use – educational purposes only.

Of course it will help if parents also have some knowledge on coding, or other relevant technical knowledge to further guide the kids along.

As the kids grow, I think the focus transitions to teaching children about responsible use of their devices, which isn’t limited to not losing it or breaking it, but also using it for the right purposes. It is best not to be too restrictive and to give the kid some freedom and trust because you do not want them to be doing things out of spite or defiance. However, I think it would be good to be transparent about checking their use of the device, because doing it behind their backs will just make them take the undesirable surfing elsewhere.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Deddy!

Exclusive offer for readers for Tink Tank holiday coding workshops

Tink Tank is offering a special promotion price of $25 (original price: $150) for readers who want to sign up for their upcoming First Line Of Code workshops in June. Tailored for children between 8-12 years old.  Just enter the code “JUNEDISCOUNT” when booking your slot!

Through this workshop, your kids will:

1) Be exposed to basic computer science concepts using Lightbot, an educational video game and Coding Farmers, a fun board game.

2) Write their first line of codes and create computer games using Scratch.

Workshop details:

  • Date: 05 June 2016 OR 12 June 2016 OR 19 June 2016
  • Time: 8.30am-12.30pm OR 1.30pm-5.30pm
  • Price: Special price of $25 for readers. Just enter “JUNEDISCOUNT” when booking your slot! (Original price is $150)
  • Venue Singapore Shopping Centre, 190 Clemenceau Ave, 239924 (Beside Parkmall), nearest MRT station: Dhoby Ghaut 
  • Things to bring along: Fully charged laptop and stationery. (Let us know if you are unable to do so, and we will make arrangements for a spare laptop.)
  • Note: Parents are invited to join the kids at 12noon or 5pm respectively for parents’ presentation.

Workshops are kept to a cosy 8-10 kids per session so seats tend to run out pretty quickly. Sign up now!

**Thanks, Tink Tank, for the special offer, and for having us learn to code with you guys!

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