Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Your Thoughts #3 - Ice Skating as a Sport

Dumpling and I took up Ice Skating some time in April this year and we have been having loads of fun. What I also find interesting is when friends question the practicality of indulging in such a sport and ask me "Why this sport? This is Singapore you know? Where can you go with such a sport?"

So I reached out to Richard Rowlands, Manager of The Rink at JCube and posed some of these questions to him. :)
Me: I understand that you were a former figure skater who represented UK. Singapore, being a temperate country, is certainly not known for winter sports. What are your thoughts on the local ice skating scene?
I started skating at the age of 8 years old after watching the winter Olympics on television. I convinced my parents to take me skating and they signed me up for the Learn-To-Skate courses in Cardiff ice rink in Wales. I started with once a week Learn-To-skate classes.  As my interest grew and ability improved, the number of days I skated increased from one day a week to two, and continued to grow to six days a week at the peak of my skating career. I had competed at British championships in the pairs discipline with my partner from 1997.  We went on to win the British championships in 1999 and represented Great Britain at the Junior World Championships in 2000 and 2001 held in Germany and Bulgaria respectively.
At The Rink at JCube, one of our aims is to nurture the community interest though the Learn-to-Skate classes and grow the talent in Singapore for the present and the future of all ice sporting activities, including figure skating, speed skating and ice hockey.  The Rink at JCube had the privilege of hosting the Singapore National Championships for the last two years and we have witnessed some amazing talents from the figure skating and speed skating community. During the National Championships, I watched the development skaters and the national team making good progress and saw them competing internationally for their country, which is an honor to any athlete.
Me: Many parents whom I have spoken to feel that there may not be much progression for their children in this winter sport. What are your thoughts on this? 
One of our aims at The Rink at JCube is to grow the mass participation of ice skating through our community activities and Learn-to-Skate classes called SKATESTAR, a syllabus developed with Singapore Ice Skating Association (SISA) and approved by Sport Singapore. There are different levels of "progression", for e.g. Learn-to-Skate (a group lesson with other skaters of a similar age) spans across 4 basic levels. The next progression will be to choose the ice sporting discipline they wish to pursue – such as figure skating, speed skating or ice hockey – to progress further and eventually joining the National Sports Association (NSA). 
Me: For parents with children who are keen, what are 3 - 5 tips you can share on starting their children in these?
My top five tips for parents are:

:: Bring your children to a public skating session and get them onto the ice to gauge their interest.

For skaters under 10 years old, renting a skating aid (e.g. penguin show below) is the best way to get started as it will help the skater achieve the correct skating stance. Not to worry if your child is over 10 years old as a seal skating aid is also available for rental.

:: Join skating classes.

At The Rink, the programme we have is "Learn-to-Skate" which is a great way to introduce children to ice skating and the different ice sporting disciplines. Besides acquiring the technical skills required, the classes a great way for the children to meet other skaters of similar age and ability. Parents will also get to familiarise themselves with the operations of The Rink, as well as the coaches if your child would like to pursue lessons at an accelerated speed.

:: Purchase a good pair of ice skates.
Rental ice skates are great for recreational skaters. To advance further, a pair of your own skates will help accelerate your progression through the elements. 

:: Practise, practise, practise.
Always take advantage of the practice sessions after the classes to master the skills that have been learnt during the classes.
:: Take advantage of promotions.
At the moment, we are running a student discount, which entitles students to skate every day for three months for as little as $100.
Finally, tip number 6 (an additional tip : ), please ask any of our crew if you have any questions or if you would simply like some advice. Our crew and I will be more than happy to assist.    

Me: Are there any myths which you wish to debunk? 
The one myth that we hope to debunk is that skating is an extreme or dangerous sport. Recreational skating is fun and unlike most sporting activities, it is a low impact sport that emphasises motoring skills. It is also a form of cardiovascular exercise – a good alternative for those adverse to visiting the gym. Ice skating is a great stress reliever and as much as 600 to 800 calories can be burnt per hour.    
About Richard Rowlands

Richard is the Manager of The Rink located at JCube, Singapore’s first and only Olympic-size ice rink that is owned by Sport Singapore (formerly known as Singapore Sports Council) and managed by CapitaMalls Asia.  

Richard has been based in Singapore for the last two years where prior to this, he operated ice rinks in India, Dubai and portable ice rinks around the United Kingdom.

(Richard above, with his crew at The Rink)

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Monday, August 25, 2014

September Holiday Activities!

Half of the month has passed and in another 2 weeks time, the September holidays will be here! Here's a list of ideas for you to make the best of for the upcoming break!

1. Geronimo Stilton 'Live' on Stage @ United Square!
Dumpling loves Thea Stilton series and this is one that she is looking forward to :) 

Geronimo Stilton has his bags all packed and ready to go on a vacation! However, due to a slight miscommunication between Geronimo and Walter Newsynose, the newly appointed travel writer for Gazette Newspaper, it turns out that the travel itinerary is not quite set yet.

Joined by his beloved nephew Benjamin, naughty cousin Trap and imaginative sister Thea, Geronimo needs the help of all daddies and mummies, boys and girls in the audience to help decide where they should jet set off to.

Kids can look forward to an engaging mousey adventure filled with games, dance, songs and a whole lot of fun! Get your paws ready to tap and clap along!

What’s more, the Meet & Greet sessions are open to all fans! Simply queue for a Meet & Greet pass 1 hour before each show and be the first 50 families to Meet & Greet Geronimo, Thea, Trap & Benjamin Stilton after the show.

Wednesday, 3 Sept to Monday, 15 Sept
Mondays to Fridays : 2pm and 7pm
Weekends : 2pm, 5pm and 7pm
No shows on 9 Sept, Tuesday.

United Square Atrium

2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ‘Live’ On Stage

These mutant turtles were big during my days when I was a kid so it's kinda cool that they have returned and on the big screen too! For those of us who love these pizza loving turtles, here's more details:

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will rise from the sewers of New York City and hit the stage at City Square Mall in an all-action experience! Look forward to meeting the Turtles – Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo – join in the action as they share some tips they have learnt from Master Splinter. Be ready to get up close and personal in a Meet & Greet session by redeeming an exclusive Meet & Greet pass with a minimum spending of $50*. (There is also an exclusive 3D floor art of these turtles!)

6 to 14 September (daily)
Mon - Fri at 2pm & 7pm; Sat & Sun at 1pm, 4pm & 7pm

City Square Mall, L1 Atrium

3. National Orchid Garden - Free admission to National Orchid Garden for Students and Accompanying Adults       
Did you know that orchids are one of the largest and most diverse families of flowering plants in the world? From 30 August to 14 September 2014, we are extending free admission to National Orchid Garden to students and accompanying adults.
When and where:
Date: Saturday, 30 August 2014 to Sunday, 14 September 2014
Time: 8.30am - 7pm
Venue: National Orchid Garden
Opening hours: 8.30am to 7.00pm daily (last admission is at 6.00pm).
Free admission criteria:
1. Children 12 years old and below.
2. Students are required to present valid student cards.
3. Adults accompanying children and/or students for the visit.
4. Not applicable to tour groups and tickets purchased in advance
4. Jacob Ballas Children's Garden Workshop
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will not be a stranger to our Outdoor Fun posts, some of which are about the workshops that we have attended at JBCG. Here's the full list of their activities for Sept.

The ones which I am personally keen are are:

Suitable for children in K1 - P6 levels

When and where:
Date: 8 Sept, 2014
Time: 10am - 11.30am
Fee: $30 (including all materials)
Location: Botany Centre, Singapore Botanic Gardens

Suitable for children in K1 - P6 levels

When and where:
Date: 11 Sept, 2014
Time: 9am - 1pm
Fee: $50 (including all materials)
Location: Jacob Ballas Children's Garden

5. The Rink Holiday Ice Camp

If your kid (and even you!) prefer sports, then the ice camp will be for you!

When and where:
Date: 8 - 11 Sept, 2014
Time: 9.30am - 10.15am
Fee: $171.20 (includes admission, skates rental + open practice skating time - 2 hours)

Venue: Level 4, The Rink @ JCube

Click here for more information

6. SRT's Nightingale (English)

What is it? The nightingale? I do not know it at all, and it lives in my empire!" SRT's The Little Company brings you a refreshing new take on Hans Christian Andersen's well-loved fairy tale. Directed by Kate Golledge (Red Riding Hood, 2013), The Nightingale is a joyful burst of song that reminds us all to appreciate and value the world around us

Enchanted by the lilting birdsong of the plain-looking, brown Nightingale, the little Emperor of China captures and keeps her in a gilded cage for his daily entertainment. But soon, along with her freedom, the beautiful voice of the Nightingale is lost and a singing mechanical bird replaces her

Will she survive her days in captivity? Will she ever fly freely again? Join the Nightingale and friends in their quest for her freedom. With catchy rhymes, beautiful music and clever dialogue, it is a 'trill-ing' show that will definitely captivate young audiences!

When and where:
Date: Now till 14 September 2014
Venue: Singapore Repertory Theatre

Click here for sistic booking

7. Bollywood Veggies
Bollywood Veggies need no introduction having been in the news many time over. This place is a nice option for parents to head out to, on a breezy morning where you can take a walk around the plantation (at time of post, the unguided tour is at $2 per adult, kid gets in for free).
If you are looking more of a guided tour / activities to do, here's an excerpt from their website on one of their activities:

(Image source: Bollywood Veggies)

The Medicine Garden - Tour & Workshop NEW!
The Medicine Garden showcases a collection of tropical plants well known for their natural remedies. The plot is divided into different categories, each highlighting the qualities of plants that address:

  • Immunity and Protection: Plants that offer protection from diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and dementia.
  • Kitchen Remedies: Culinary herbs to aid digestive health.
  • Ginger Garden: Here, we feature a variety of ginger plants that are used in the making of Jamu, Indonesian and Malay traditional plant remedies. Jamu tonics such as the Kunyit Asam are well known as an elixir for general wellness and weight loss.
  • Health and Beauty Care: This part of the garden showcases exotic flowers, shrubs and trees that are traditionally well known for their use in natural beauty care.
Click here for more information on their activities and farm tours (the outdoor cooking activity looks kind of interesting).

8. Be a Panda Researcher Workshop at Panda Party

This programme allows you to hone your skills as a Panda Researcher! Visit various stations to identify panda tracks, examine panda poo and paw prints. You will gain insights into tracking methodology in the wild and how results from tracking the giant pandas help us understand more about these bears and ultimately save them from extinction. 

When and where:         
6 & 14 September 2014
10.30am - 12.00pm
$33 (Adult), $24 (Child)
Friends of River Safari: $8
Recommended Age:
9 years & above

Closing Date for Registration:
3 September for 6 September programme
11 September for 14 September programme
Click here for more information!
9. Kids Stop Sept Holiday Programme:

KidsSTOP™ is a one-of-its-kind edutainment centre in Singapore that aims to engage children from pre-school to lower primary levels, aiming to expose them to science in their formative years. During the September holidays, the centre will be organising 2 workshops for 2 different age groups"
A Spectacle of Science! (For 6 - 8 years old)

Are you fascinated by the world around you? Do you want to learn about the science that explains amazing phenomenon? Would you like to gather interesting information and showcase your findings as a science presenter?  Come and join us for an engaging journey to discover exciting science facts and acquire basic presentation skills through staging a science demonstration or activity which will be recorded!
This programme aims to develop your confidence, enhance your inquiring and presentation skills and of course science knowledge!
When and where:
Date                      : 9 or 11 September
Time                      : 9.30 am – 12 pm
Venue                  : KidsSTOPTM Party Room
Fee                        : $40 per person (inclusive of admission to KidsSTOP)

Min & Max no.  : 5 & 20

Journey with Drippie! (For 4 – 5 years old)
Once upon a time, there was a little water droplet named Drippie who lived in the river. Unaware to her, she had a very important mission on earth and that was in the water cycle! Join Drippie on a journey of adventure as she discovers the importance of water to all living things on earth and completes her mission in the water cycle.

This programme imparts knowledge on the importance of water and water conservation through interesting stories. Children will be engaged in role play, singing, hands on activities and have a splashing good time at the newly revamped Waterworks!
When and where:
Date                      : 10 or 12 September
Time                      : 9.30 am – 12 pm
Venue                  : KidsSTOPTM Party Room
Fee                        : $40 per person (inclusive of admission to KidsSTOPTM and Waterworks)
Min & Max no.  : 5 & 20

Click here for the link to register 

10. ToTT September Baking Class - ToTT Junior Chef!
Do you have an aspiring chef or a foodie at home? ToTT is running 3 classes (parent and child) in the month of September. From baking Molten Lava Cakes to making Ice Cream to cooking Pasta, your and your child are in for a mouth-watering good time! (See below poster for details)

A special bundle deal is available at $260 for all 3 Junior Chef classes and the children will receive a ToTT Junior Chef certificate.
When and where:
Date: 6 Sept (10am - 12nn), 8 Sept (3pm - 5pm), 11 Sept (3pm - 5pm)

Venue: ToTT

Fee: $98 (parent + child) for 1 class or $260 for all 3 classes

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Foodie Friday - Crab Bee Hoon (Vermicelli)

For some strange reason I had really bad craving for something soupy mid of last week and I was dreaming and lusting over it so I headed out of my way to buy ingredients for Crab Bee Hoon soup!

:: The Gathering List

- Butter (I used about a quarter of the slab) 
- Spring Onion (I love spring onions and I basically used a whole packet which yielded me a plateful of it)
- 4 - 5 thin slices of old ginger
- 4 medium size flower crabs
- 2 packets of raw crab meat
- Half a head of Chinese Cabbage
- 1 packet of chicken stock (I used Swanson)
- 1 packet of Laksa Bee Hoon (Vermicelli)
- 1 can of evaporated milk (I used about 1/3)
- Fish sauce
- Hua Diao Jiu (Chinese Wine)
- 2 - 3 cups of Water

:: The cookout

- Melt the butter over a low flame and add on the sliced ginger, then spring onion, Chinese cabbage, then the crab meat and flower crabs.
- Cook over medium fire for about 5 mins (when you can see the crabs turned red)
- Add the packet of chicken stock & about 2 - 3 cups of water (do your taste test)
- Bring it to a slow boil
- In a different pot, boil water and add the Bee Hoon to the pot. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes till al dente. Drain it and rinse under tap water.
- Add about 1 - 2 tablespoons of fish sauce (to the soup)
- Optional: Add oyster sauce to enhance flavour
- Add evaporated milk and continue to bring it to a slow boil (to the soup)
- Add Hua Diao Jiu to taste (I love this so I added quite generously - about 3 - 4 soup spoonful of it)
- Add Bee Hoon to the wok / pot and cook over low heat for another 3 minutes
- Serve hot!

Linking up:

In the previous week, I shared a wholesome beef stew that usually has my family going for 'seconds'! Here's the recipe!
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

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Your Thoughts #2 - Music for Young Children

I met Yasser in one of Dumpling's violin classes and realised that he was a visitor from Egypt, visiting various schools to understand the music landscape in Singapore. Dumpling and I were naturally excited as he is the first Egyptian we ever met (and especially when we did an intensive homeschool unit on Egypt some months back) and I enjoyed the short chat and the honest sharing by Yasser who was really encouraging towards Dumpling's violin journey.
"Singapore is a great place to study music. You have good music schools here. My 10 year-old son learns the violin too. He wanted to give up at one point but I encouraged him to continue with it. Violin is an intense instrument but do not give up.
Encourage your children to continue for as long as they can. Bring your children for concerts and musicals, expose them to different experiences and make it applicable to them. Being able to play an instrument is great - it allows your children to have an avenue to express themselves. They will appreciate it when they are older."

Yasser El Serafi
Cairo Symphony Orchestra
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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

SG Fit and Fab 30 Blog Train!

Before being a mum, I was exercising 5 days a week and was really healthy and fit. Ironically I piled on the after pregnancy (I put on only 7odd kg during pregnancy because I was still exercising throughout) because of the post natal drugs.

Due to our homeschooling commitments (I homeschool after work) I have been putting my exercise regime on hold for years. I did randomly try a routine out but have not been able to keep to it. That is until the kiddo got older and wanted ice skating classes. 

It ended up being a weekly sort of exercise for us both and I realised how much I miss working out.

So slowly, I added on a swimming session here and there, added on one practice night at the rink, and then added on Yoga (I bought myself a DVD by Seane Corn) for those 'in-between' nights when I am not at the rink or at the pool or when the weather does not forbid me to head out. 

I started sleeping better and I started feeling 'better' too. It is not so much energy level 'cos on the contrary, my energy level has always been very high since young but I started feeling happier that I am getting stronger and leaner. 

What added to my determination to get a routine going was a fall I had at the rink about a month plus back - I landed somewhat awkwardly and landed hard (2 men and a 'seal' - one of the skating aids cut into my lane) and I tripped and landed hard. I could literally feel the vibrations and the impact up my back AND all the way to my gums and teeth!

To add to the complication, I have Scoliosis so my back is not something that I take likely. With Scoliosis, having a strong core is even more important as I need it to support my trunk (body) since my back muscles may not be enough. So, that started a journey of (almost) nightly crunches and variations of planks.

I reached out to my blogger mummy friends asking them to join me in my workout - be it more convenient approaches such as climbing the steps or walking. The idea is to try to keep a routine going for 30 days (read somewhere prior that is how long it takes for a routine to set in) and we cheer each other on, via Instagram

I am happy to say that some of us have survived a month of this routine though there are times we miss out a day or 2. To say that I am proud is an understatement. :) 

From picking up skating as something just recreational...

I have learnt to also be more confident in tackling the harder moves (doing a one foot overlapping turn on ice. Pic below is demo-ed on land)

To taking it up as a personal challenge to improve (and yay! I passed level 3!!!!)

To having bonding time with the kiddo

I dislike jogging and this is something which I have not ventured into but for the cardio aspect, I revisited my love for swimming :)  

(Looking mighty pleased because I started taking it slow at the start of this challenge and swam 20 laps in 50 mins. After a month odd, I am clocking 28 laps in 50!!!)

From building up strength and perseverance... 

and to increasing flexibility through Yoga

Along the way, I came to realise that in a lot of instances, besides being hardpressed for time, it's also the mental barriers that I have to work on. How I am tired, it is ok to rest for yet another day to how am I going to be able to clock the 28 laps again. 

For me, it boils down to 3 things:

1) Consistency 
I hate abs work. I seriously do. But I try not to give myself an excuse given the state of my back so I do it as the kiddo is watching TV (I sneak in peeks every now and then) to make the work less 'hard'. I learnt that I dislike the thought of doing it but once I start, there actually is nothing to it. 

2) Keep the target real
I do try and stretch myself daily but I also keep the 'target' real. I did not go from 20 laps to 28 immediately but paced myself over a few weeks. I increased my crunches from 3 sets of 20 to 3 sets of 30/35 slowly too. Make the sessions into bite size achievable targets

3) Have fun and have mates cheering for you! 
This is where the ice skating comes it. The 30 - 45 min class is not hard but the repetitive practice of the same moves is where I start to feel the workout yet do not feel that it is boring (like what jogging is to me. :p) Importantly, this is where my blogger mummy friends come in. I feel a surge of motivation whenever I read their updates on instagram. You can opt for such 'exercise buddies too' even virtually :)

And of course, celebrate small successes (while not washboard perfect, here's my abs with a bit more definition after 3+ weeks of hard work)  

Interested to find out more tips from other mums? I am pleased to share that, together with 8 other blogger mums, we will be sharing a bit more on our journey to be fitter and healthier with you. Here's sharing our blog train schedule!

8 - 22 Aug: Elizabeth @motherkao (Link updated!) 
25 - 29 Aug: Jenn from @ mylilbookworm 
1 - 5 Sept: Mei @ finallymama
8 - 12 Sept: Winnie @ toddlymum  
15 - 19 Sept: Angelia @ growinghearts123
22 - 27 Sept: Michelle @ mzmichhon
29 Sept - 3 Oct: Shermeen @ meeningfully
6 - 10 Oct: Adeline Tan @GrowingwiththeTans

Next up,  I have Elizabeth from motherkao to share her journey with us!

Elizabeth is a mother to three rambunctious kids. She wifes, moms and writes at The last strenuous exercise she ever did was pushing a baby out two years ago and she has been unfit ever since.

She’s trying to keep fit again and has joined the Great Eastern Women’s Run as an influencer. Follow her on her blog to see how she would ‘pengsan’ again and again, conquering one kilometre at a time.

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

Friday, August 8, 2014

Foodie Friday - Beef Stew

Cooking is a small pleasure of mine because besides loving to eat, I cook to destress. Last week was a beef week for me as I was craving for red meat. Besides making 'homemade' patties, I cooked beef stew for the family. Here's the recipe to share (adapted from Jamie Oliver's recipe)

:: The Gathering List
- Butter (I used about a quarter of the slab) 
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- A dash of dried rosemary (I used McCormicks)
- 500g stewing beef, cut into 5cm pieces
- Worcester Sauce
- Ground black pepper (I used McCormicks)
- All purpose flour + Cornflour
- 2 - 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 4 to 5cm blocks
- 3 stalks of celery (sliced)
- 3 medium potatoes, cut into quarters 
- 1 packet of beef stock (I used Campbell, 500gm) 
- 1 quarter can of diced tomato cubes
- Optional: Tendons

:: The cookout
- Marinate the beef in advance with salt, ground black pepper and Worcester Sauce
- Melt the butter over a low flame and add on the chopped onions then celery, carrots and potatoes. Cook over low heat for about 5 mins
- At the same time, preheat your oven (20 mins on 160 degrees) 
- Coat the beef cubes with the flour mix and add to the casserole dish with all the vegetables. 
- Add tendons (if you have), turn up the flame to medium
- Add the diced tomato cubes and toss it with the rest for a while 
- Add the packet of beef stock
- Bring it to a slow boil. Add rosemary 
- Transfer the casserole dish to the oven. I set it at 170 degrees for 2 hours. 
- Serve hot with bread, mash potatoes or rice. 

Linking up:

I have previously shared a recipe on Chicken Stew with a slight variation. Here's the recipe to share.

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
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