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Inline Skating Lessons At Inlinex

(Not sponsored!)

Time flies. It has been half a year since the boys started lessons with Inlinex at Bedok Reservoir Park. After fifteen lessons, sadly, we have to stop our weekly lessons cos Kor Kor is starting primary school in the afternoon session and his usual weekday swimming and wushu classes will be moved to the weekend. (I already foresee attending one class each day of the weekend to be very tiring. Can’t imagine trying to squeeze in one more >.<)

  

The instructors are all young people, lively and energetic and they get along so well with all the children! My boys not only have fun learning inline skating, they also enjoy playing and bantering with the instructors. 

Each session, the students might get assigned to a different instructor, according to the number of students per level who turn up that session. This might seem less than ideal, but each student has a record book which indicates what he or she has learnt so far, so the instructor is able to provide guidance accordingly. And amazingly, I have been impressed with ALL the instructors my boys have tried! 

I also love the flexibility of the lessons – no need to commit to a fixed day or time. There are six timings every weekend, just show up at any one (or even more than one, if you wish!) Payment is for a term of five sessions, no penalty for missing lessons, no need to inform beforehand if you want to go for lesson. 

Inlinex also conducts inline skating classes at quite a few other venues, including an indoor one at The Riverwalk. Kor Kor is currently attending skateboarding lessons with them as he requested. And to make full use of our time, Didi is attending inline skating classes at the same place while Kor Kor learns skateboarding. 

  
  My biggest headache now is, there are only weekend classes at Bedok Reservoir Park, so HOW am I going to reunite my boys with the lovely instructors there??? 

  

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Southern Islands

We went to St John’s Island today! It is an easy 30-minute ferry away, departing from Marina South Pier. Ferry departs only twice a day on weekdays, at 10am and 2pm. But if you take the afternoon ferry, you won’t have much time on the island, as the last return ferry leaves St John’s Island at 3pm. See the schedule here

 

Jetty at Marina South Pier

 
We wanted to check out the new Public Gallery for the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park. Nope, no mistake, the gallery is really on St John’s Island. Though I did have my doubts upon arriving at St. John’s Island…. because there were no signboards or directions to the gallery. 

With some help from Google (yes there’s strong 4G even at St. John’s! But only the area near the jetty and lagoon. No service as we walked further inland), we managed to find the gallery. 

At the end of the jetty where you alight, there is a map (not a very useful one). After that, you see fences going around a big area. Go in through the open doors and walk uphill along the path. 

 

About halfway to the gallery

 
Then you see a few buildings and a fork in the path. Keep left and the gallery is just a bit more further up! We walked for about 15 minutes from the jetty.

 

Finally!

 
I had expected more exhibits…. But actually the gallery is very small. I think it’s because I read about this gallery when they had their opening and there were special exhibits/events for the opening… but I thought those were permanent… Hmm, I don’t think it’s worth walking in the hot sun to get here, unless you are very very interested in marine life?

   
   

Then the fun begins!

I love that we are facing our skyline!

 

Nothing big or exciting, but the kids enjoy poking around haha

 
The beach is clean and the waves are gentle. Even Meimei has no problem playing in the water by herself. We have the beach pretty much to ourselves. 

But that’s not all! Since the return ferry makes an hour-long stop at Kusu Island on the way back to the mainland, we take a walk around.

 

Big turtles!


There are many turtles around. We saw a really huge one near the wishing well at the entrance to the temple. The kids fed the turtles some bread. No signboards prohibiting feeding, so it should be ok?? The turtles are definitely happy with the bread : )

By the way, there are cold canned drinks for sale at the temple! Ahhhhhh….. I really melting by then.

Upon arrival at the Pier, we continued our fun at the Singapore Maritime Gallery on level 2. We dropped by in the morning while waiting for our ferry, and the boys haven’t had enough!
   
    
 
The best part is the Ship Bridge Simulator!

 

Captain Kor!

 
When the boys finally have enough of the gallery, we proceed to the rooftop playground!

 

Small playground….

  

….. with gorgeous views


All in all, I think I still prefer Pulau Ubin for its rustic charm and largely untamed nature. St John’s doesn’t have much except a small nice beach and research facilities.. Kusu Island, only the temples and turtles… Still, it’s a good experience getting to know our islands better. And we had lots of fun with our friends today! 

(We were there with two other mummies and their kids, but I try not to use photos of other people especially children for their privacy :P)

 

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Back To Basics

For the longest time, I had been wondering how to get the boys to help out regularly with housework. Not that they were (too) unwilling to do…. but sometimes I forgot… sometimes we headed out very early (once they finished their milk). For instance, if the plan was to spend the whole day outdoors, I might feel that we might as well bring our breakfast out for a picnic or eat out, as the eating and cleaning up would take quite a while, especially for Meimei who was messy and un-threatenable.

It’s great to spend more time in the great outdoors. But eventually, the boys’ chorelessness got to me too much, and I decided that again, we had to make a choice – chores or outdoors? Chores won, cos we do not have to completely give up on outdoor time, just have to cut down (and say goodbye to our 1000 hours, boo hoo. Oh well, no pain no gain.)

‘Worse’, as I am trying to let the kids eat more homecooked food, and also because they are usually able to go to bed earlier if I come home and cook, we are further cutting down on outdoor time as we leave for home earlier. So…. go out later, come back earlier… oops..

Our current routine

730am Milk & breakfast

The boys have to finish by 830am, or else they don’t have to finish the food/milk and will lose a privilege for the day. Good thing is they usually do finish on time. (But how are they going to have one hour to eat when they start primary school?? Gloomy.)

After breakfast, it’s time for housework followed by wushu practice (just some simple exercises cos mummy is NOT a wushu exponent. Urmm, or wushu practitioner at all :P)

It’s a different chore everyday, something simple. The main purpose is to get the boys in the habit of doing housework, and to drill into them that they are supposed to do housework. (You are welcome, Future Daughters-in-Law.) I clean the house on my own too, so what the boys do are all extra. The house will not be any diritier if they don’t do their chores… this is so that I won’t get stressed about them doing the chore well (i.e. up to my standards) Previously, they helped when I was really cleaning the toilet. I would be rushing to finish the cleaning and feeling very stressed by time ticking by while the boys were either fooling around (not clean!) or very serious about their work (taking too long!)

One chore a day – dust the shelves & wipe the balcony, clean the playmat, mop the bedrooms (with Magiclean wipes), wash the toilet, wash the dishes for one meal, cook one dish each (with heaps of help from me).. Sunday is rest day!

They are done by 9am and run off to do their own thing. (read or Lego or random toys or just playing or run around the house) I continue with my chores if any (I vacuum the house daily at least. Monday is Housework Day and I wash the toilets and mop as well. It is also Child Neglect Day until lunchtime.)

I start lunch prep by 10.30am. So in-between I am free for about an hour to play with the kids or help them out if they need my help (crafts or Lego or they might request I read to them).

Depending on the dishes, we eat at 11am or latest 11.30am. After lunch and fruits and washing up, it’s around 12.15pm. I start dinner prep now especially if we are going out. Then, by right,12.30pm or thereabouts is Meimei’s naptime especially if we are going out for swim class or wushu class in the afternoon. When she goes for her nap, I spend 30 minutes one-to-one with each child. While I am with Didi, Kor Kor usually disappears into his bedroom (reading or doing Lego). Then Didi goes for his nap and I spend time with Kor Kor. After that, Kor Kor goes for one hour of quiet time (ya, no prize for guessing, he reads or plays with Lego). And it’s my rest time for about an hour! Well, I get to rest (i.e. check facebook!) once I finish up some (and there is always some!) miscellaneous tasks around the house.

BUT as the Princess Monster has not been sleeping well recently, I have to spend time coaxing her to sleep. (This traumatic event shall be documented once I survive it.) So one-to-one time with the boys is tentative for now.. depending on how long Meimei takes to KO.

Around 2-3pm (depending on which class we are heading to), the kids resurface and we go out. Reach home by 6pm after class, have dinner, shower and start bedtime routine.

If we do not have class that day, I prefer to bring them out in the morning, after breakfast, housework and wushu practice. Go out around 9am, lunch out, reach home 1pm+ for their naps and quiet time. I unpack from the morning outing and start dinner prep if necessary.

You might have noticed there is no reading time, no one-to-one time when we go out in the morning. I think it’s ok, because when we are outdoors, I am not so distracted by housework or cooking and can pay them more attention, which sorta make up for the one-to-one. As for reading.. back to basics, remember? And the fundamental is my sanity. Not gonna squeeze it in.. though we usually do end up reading unless I am really too tired or busy.

So now, our priorities are, ample sleep for the kids, mummy’s sanity, routine, chores, free play, outdoors, reading, other engagements, roughly in that order. We used to play board games together almost every afternoon, as the kids got to choose the activity for their time with mummy. (They often chose to do two-to-one as they wanted to play board games together.) But I realised that meant they wouldn’t get much readalouds for the day, only two bedtime stories at night. Frankly speaking, I admit that the daddy and I were not too keen to read loooong stories or explain things properly to them at that time of the day. So, prioritize readalouds over board games! The best part? The boys have been playing board games by themselves quite a lot! We have a board game night once a week, with Daddy too, when we play the more challenging ones which Didi can’t manage yet. Sometimes we play simple games too, just for fun and laughs! 😀

By 8.30pm, the boys are in bed. Meimei goes to bed earlier, timing depends on how fast I finish the dinner wash up.

“When you have the choice, choose outdoors.”

That is still our mantra – we choose outdoors over other outings (museums, indoor playgrounds, Science Centre, watching plays, etc). Beaches, parks, water playgrounds, cycling, hiking, yes!

 

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How Many Hours Outdoors??!? 1000!

A few months ago I came across this blog 1000 Hours Outside. At first, it was just another parenting blog which caught my attention and I started to follow it on facebook. Then gradually, I got more and more inspired and decided to join the challenge! Yes, I have committed to gifting my children 1000 hours outdoors within one year!

I began intentionally increasing our time outdoors and tracking the hours in February. It has been two months, and we have clocked 117.5 hours. Argh, yep, we are behind schedule. To hit 1000 hours, we need about 83 hours a month. But well, February we were down with HFMD, and in March we had an overcast and wet week at Taiwan (SIGH. And even after we came back to sunny Singapore, we are spending a few more days at home just to recover from the depressing trip. Now I know I need to live in a tropical country. I need the sun. Anyway, that means my April tally gonna fall short as well.)

But why 1000 hours in the first place?

Charlotte Mason recommended that children between the ages of zero and seven spend 4 – 6 hours outside every day.  This amount of time is backed time and again by research showing the astronomical health, social, and developmental benefits that accompany time in nature.  That amount of time on a daily basis was unrealistic for us so we aim for that amount of outside time three to four days a week.

Four to six hours a day, three to four days a week puts us roughly in the ballpark of 1,000 Hours within a year – which gave the website a catchy name.  So I went with it.

I tried googling for other guidelines on the amount of outdoor time children need. But all I could find were the minimums – that children need at least n minutes outdoor. But why would I want to give my children the minimum when I can give them more? I am not a CM homeschooler, no special reason other than not wanting to follow any one philosophy, preferring to let my children relax and lead our learning. But hey, I do like her idea of children spending a lot of time outdoors! And of course, there are many, many good reasons for outdoor play!

Nine more months to go before Kor Kor starts primary school, and 882.5 more hours! Definitely not giving up. So, what are the lessons I have learnt these past two months?

Firstly, even though I have always been quite outdoorsy and thought I had been bringing my children outdoors quite often, it turned out that we did not actually really spend that much time outdoors. Argh. It takes very intentional planning to fit in more outdoor time. I am now more conscious of my choice of activities for the kids. Not that theatre performances or indoor playgrounds or museum visits aren’t good, but now I follow the guideline of ‘when you have the choice, choose outdoors.’ The best part, it’s usually cheaper than other options :p

Secondly, it’s not so good to go overboard either. The first week of February we hit 26.5 hours and the second, 30 hours. Very good, right? But I was exhausted! And I think the kids were too. They didn’t exactly say they felt tired (energizer bunnies, they all), but Kor Kor was complaining he had no time to do his stuff at home (all important stuff of course. The Lego bricks were slacking!!) Breakdown of the hours:

Week One. Sunday 2 hours at stadium jogging followed by playground. Tuesday 9 hours at Bishan Park. Wednesday 1.5 hours swim class plus free play. Thursday 5 hours at ECP. Friday 8 hours at the zoo. Saturday 1 hour playing at the grandparents’ yard.

Week Two. Sunday 2 hours at stadium and playground. Monday 8.5 hours at Pasir Ris Park. Wednesday 1.5 hours at the pool. Thursday 8.5 hours at Botanic Gardens. Friday 6.5 hours at Bird Park. Saturday 2.5 hours can’t remember where. (I noted down the hours but not always the venue/activity.)

We spent three full days outside in a week! When the kids woke up, they had to get ready to go out. By the time we reached home, it was time for them to get ready for bed. After that, I made up my mind to keep to a maximum of 20 hours a week. Then, the HFMD curveball hit us, and it was March when we ventured out again. Happy to report that we did 20 hours in the first week of March, and we all felt happy and rested : )

I think it’s easier to hit more hours outdoor when we spend a longer stretch of time or even a full day from morning to dinnertime. Maximising the utility of travel time and packing and lugging the kids all the way there,.. haha. And the kids seem to be better able to settle down and be really engrossed in their outdoor play. Otherwise, it seems pretty touch-and-go… soon after arriving, we would have to pack up and leave for meal/nap/bedtime.. Fully enjoying the ability of the boys to last a whole day without nap, and Meimei’s ability to nap anywhere in her stroller!

I am expecting to crawl out of this recovery rut by the end of next week latest. Probably will try to visit indoor attractions for the time being while I get back my groove again. Because the key is not to force yourself to do things you don’t feel like doing, Mummies! Am just taking a break, and will bounce back soon! Shall update on our outdoor adventures then : )

[Was trying to go to bed earlier for the past weeks. Also trying to resume a decent exercise regime. But ended up just stoning on the sofa and not getting much done. Even though I kept thinking of writing my blog. I have decided to just accept I am an owl. Run at night after the kids go to bed, then write blog after running and resting.

Please teach me how to be a mother and get enough sleep and have a life!]

 

 

4

Camping at P.Ubin : )

We have done it! A 2D1N camping adventure at P.Ubin, with fellow homeschoolers. A total of seven families and 17 children, most of whom were below five years old. Amazed? I was! 😀

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Our campsite

Our itinerary was simple – met up at Changi Point Ferry Terminal in the morning, took a bumboat ride to P.Ubin, set up camp, had lunch at a local restaurant, cycled around the island exploring. Then it was back to camp in the late afternoon to cook dinner, followed by a night walk after washing up.

Dinner, prepared in mess tins over solid fuel

Dinner, prepared in mess tins over solid fuel

The older kids playing. (This is too funny. I try not to post any photo with other people in the photo, but in this case, it just happens that my photography skills plus my iPhone 4s camera blurred most of the faces!

The older kids playing. (This is too funny. I try not to post any photo with other people in the photo, but in this case, it just happens that my photography skills plus my iPhone 4s camera blurred most of the faces!

So how did we manage camping with three young kids? We were pretty minimalist – other than the usual things like clothes and diapers, the only ‘camping gear’ we brought were the tent (which we had from pre-kids days), mess tins (hubby’s army gear), solid fuel, and a few torches. Dinner was very simple, just instant noodles and luncheon meat. It was the first time our kids got to eat instant noodles, and I am sure just once wouldn’t cause any damage. (Well, it’s likely to be instant noodles again when we go camping again. So be it!)

All of us slept on the hard ground, with just the tent separating us from the grass. No mattresses for us. Frankly speaking, my idea of camping is for my boys to rough it out. The standard shall be same as what they gonna get when they go for National Service 😛

Kor Kor cycled on a bicycle we rented from one of the numerous bicycle shops on the island. Didi was in child seat on Hubby’s bicycle, while Meimei was on mine. Unfortunately I am not a very good cyclist and the group had to wait for me to catch up >.<

It was my first time cycling with a child seat. Before that, I never knew how unstable the bicycle would be even with the stand down, when the child was in the seat. The uncle at the bicycle shop did warn us not to leave the child alone on the bicycle, and we took his advice seriously. But alas, an accident still happened. I was not strong enough to hold on to the bicycle while getting on (i.e. with only one leg on the ground), and I caused Meimei to fall!

I include this photo here not to gross you out, but to show you how 'heavy' the fall was..

I include this photo here not to gross you out, but to show you how ‘heavy’ the fall was..

Luckily luckily LUCKILY Meimei was wearing her helmet and buckled in on the child seat, so she did not sustain any injuries at all. The brave girl didn’t even cry! But she did fall, and her head did come into contact with the ground, so I am really very thankful that I decided to bring her helmet along. In fact I had just bought her helmet a few days before the camping trip for this purpose. Previously I wasn’t sure whether a child riding in the bicycle’s child seat needed a helmet, though I would definitely ensure the cycling kids wear their helmets. Parents, please let your child wear a helmet as long as she is on a bicycle! Or a balance bike.. or skates.. or skate scooter.. any of those dangerous speed machines.. ok??

I did a recee trip with my sons the weekend before

I did a recee trip with my sons the weekend before

All in all, I enjoyed the camping trip a lot, and the boys said they had fun too. I am glad they finally got to try camping, and hopefully we will get to do it again soon! And we shall also go over to P.Ubin for more nature regularly!

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We Made Insect Specimens!

Yes, at Kea Xplorer again! I had signed the boys up for this even before we attended the woodwork session, because I hope the boys would love and be comfortable in the great outdoors. But it was beyond my expectations, and seriously, I was blown away by the exhilaration of catching the insects with our own hands and making them into specimens!

There were two parts to the insect specimen workshop. In the morning, we went insect-hunting.

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Briefing at the beginning of the session. Yes the instructor, who was also our woodwork instructor, MADE the benches!

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Let’s go catch some bugs!!

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The bugs no chance

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My boys. Cool, right? 😀

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A slug!

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Instructor demonstrating how to break the nerve of a butterfly

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Got to hold the butterfly

Does it look like we were in a ulu forest? Actually, no! We were right across the road from many, many residential apartments, and a bit farther down were some other industrial-like buildings. It was just a long strip of some trees. It proved to me that we need not go to the forest or mountains to get a good dose of nature.

Before we attended this session, I was wondering HOW to catch the insects. I mean, I did spend quite a lot of time at places like Venus Loop, but other than mosquitoes and ants, I never noticed any other insects…

OK, the key word here is ‘noticed’. It is just about purposeful noticing, aka observation, aka Open Your Eyes Big Big. All we had to do, was hit the clusters of long grass with the insect net a few times, and we saw numerous grasshoppers, katydids, unknown insects jumping out!

But that didn’t mean it was easy to catch them. The little things were quick! And also very smart. After a while, it wasn’t that easy to spot them anymore. Argh. Never mind, then we moved on to the second part – making the captured insects into specimens.

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Demonstration… on a handmade clay beetle 😛

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Tata! Our work of ART! Haha, ok, work of sweat : )

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And we were given mealworms to bring home as pets!

Sorry, not many photos of the specimen-making process. Because I was too busy listening and learning and guiding the boys to do and urmm, doing it myself 😛 So, how did we make the specimens? Basically, what we did was a fast-forward version of the proper procedure. The insects should be soaked/dried for days between the steps. The instructor had many jars with various chemical solutions to kill/preserve the bugs. What we did – immoblised the insects on corkboard with pins, then glued them to the box, and lastly the box was sealed.

Ya, I know that wasn’t much help, haha. Anyway I am definitely the wrong person to ask if you wanna make insect specimens yourself and this post was never meant to be an Instructable. The point of this post is to tell you how absolutely impressed I am by this workshop! If you are interested, do check out Kea Xplorer for their upcoming sessions. You can also see more photos of our session at Insect Specimen Pak 1 and Pak 2.

By the way, I am in no way affiliated to Kea Xplorer and this is not a sponsored post. I paid for the workshops and had never met the instructor prior. But really, I am now a super fan and strongly recommend their workshops to everybody! Good things must share! : )

 

2

New Enrichment Class!

After rockclimbing, Kor Kor has started gym class!

I can’t say much about whether the class is good, cos I don’t really get to be in the class. We can look at the kids through the big glass window, but that’s about it. Asked Kor Kor whether he enjoyed the class, he always said yes. OK…

But I am much happier with the environment! The gym school is at East Coast Park, so while Kor Kor is in class, the younger ones get to spend the one hour at the beach. (Instead of just waiting for him like what we did at The Rock School.) After class ends, we fetch Kor Kor together and return to the beach for more outdoor play.

Since we are already at ECP, we make use of its other facilities too!

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Learning to cycle

 

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Cllmb a tree!

 

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Long kang fishing