Swimming for Kids

Dear1 and I believed that swimming is an essential skill that all Singapore kids need to have, for obvious reasons that Singapore is but a small island surrounded by waters.  But we waited till Baby2 was old enough so that we can have both Baby1 and Baby2 in the same swimming class, and save us having to make 2 trips for 2 swimming lessons.  :p

After much procrastination, I finally got around to look for a class for Baby1 and Baby2 at the beginning of the year.  Found a class with Baby1’s friend, at Bukit Batok Swimming Complex which is a two bus-stop walk away for us, and on a weekday evening so that it’s not hot nor crowded and with cheaper entrance fees too.  Fantastic!

We had our first lesson on the first week of April, and before the end of September, Baby1 had already went to take the Stage 2 Exam, skipping Stage 1.  Whoosh!

Baby1 had progressed so much in this 6 months.  Initially, she was the one whom I worried more, as she seemed to have more fear than Baby2.  With their back floats on, Baby2 is the one who felt more at ease splashing around and dipping her head into the waters, but Baby1 was so scared of her head in water that she cried.  And you shake your head knowing that a crying child definitely will find swimming even more laborious.

I tried to be assuring, so I’d waved and smile and nod to them every time they finished their laps.  I tried to help, by making them practice their swimming and breathing techniques at home on dry land.  I tried to be encouraging, and gave them prep-talk all the way while walking from home to pool.  When nothing seemed to work, I pretended to be nonchalant and put a book in front of me and my earphones on and told them that I’ll not be looking at them, so just “follow the teacher’s instructions” and swim.

Somehow, something must have clicked within Baby1; either she finally grasped the realization that “teacher is really always right, so just follow teacher’s instructions closely”, or her water confidence has risen when Teacher “threw” them all into the deep deep pool and made them swim back to the pool edge, or she does not dare to defy the sometimes-stern-sometimes-kind teacher.

I must say, Teacher is a very experienced teacher too.  Most other swimming teachers with smaller kids usually start the lesson at the shallower pool, but our Teacher teaches directly at the big pool.  For Baby1’s Swimming Test, Teacher told us not to let Baby1 know that she’s going for a test, cos he knows that she gets scared when she anticipates for it.  On the actual test day with 10 students lined up in queue, she was half oblivious that it was a test and just did her normal routine following the teacher’s instructions.  And cleared Stage 2, phew!

Baby1 is now officially the best swimmer in our family.  She knows freestyle, breast stroke, thread water, diving, and is learning backstroke now.  Conversely, it’s the turn to be worried about Baby2 now.  She’s still reliant on the back float, and cries almost every lesson.  Time to give her lots of hugs, and lots of practice on dry land.

  • Dear2
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School Dental Centre

When Baby1 was in N1, we were very concerned that the childcare centre that she attended did not seem too keen to teach the 3 year olds on oral care. “If childcare will start to teach the children self independence, like eating on their own, keeping their own bags etc, shouldn’t teeth brushing be taught early?  Plus the kids have their meals and milk in the centre.  Plus shouldn’t good oral practice starts from small!?”  We tried to persuade the centre to start inculcating teeth brushing after meals, but the centre only acceded to train the kids to rinse their mouths, and only after lunch before bath. Duh.

Dear1 and I truly believed that good oral care should start young, so we made sure that Baby1 brushes her teeth every morning since then.  Night brushing was challenging, as we counted on her dozing off and having a good night/ uninterrupted sleep while drinking her bedtime feed.  At both the grandparents’ places, we prepared her tooth brush and mug, and constantly reminded the grandparents to brush their teeth, but gramps being gramps, they seemed to encounter different types of difficulties in enforcing the brushing of teeth, haiz.

The last part of oral care have to be regular visits to the dentist.  I am one who is okay with dentist visits.  Of course it’s usually uncomfortable, and always bloody and painful, but I like it when the dentist always removes all the hard plague, something that I could never prevent from ‘growing’ despite my rigorous daily brushes.  Dear1 is more squeamish about dental visits.  Something about the “eeeeeeeh……… zzzzzzzhh…..” of the machinery sounds that Dear1 couldn’t stand, (or simply a childhood fear which is surprisingly very common among many adults?  keke).

Dear1 suggested that we bring the kids along when we go for our (supposedly) yearly dental check-up.  I said “Are you sure?” and “Am I really up to it?”  One: What if Dear1 freak out during his visit?  Two: What if I freaked out during MY visit.  Luckily at this point, I chanced upon a mummy’s blog about the School Dental Centre.  This mummy’s eldest child is about the same age as Baby1, so I was very curious to see how other mummies tackle this issue (which we have to start SOON!).

The School Dental Centre is located in HPB Building in SGH.  It seems to be providing dental services to school-going children, but pre-schoolers can visit them too.  We made an appointment for Baby1, which the earliest Saturday slot was a couple of months later.  Since this is just our first introduction to dentists for her, we were in no hurry.  In fact, a few weeks leading up to the BIG DAY, we borrowed a couple of books relating to dental visits from the library.  Through the picture books, we preempted Baby1 of what’s to happen during the visit.

On the actual day, true enough, Baby1 was scared to the max.  The Dentist was all nice and friendly.  There were many other kids around but that didn’t make Baby1 any braver.  Nor the many colorful cartoon stickers on the walls or equipment liven the atmosphere any more.  Baby1 wouldn’t sit on the chair no matter how we coaxed (or threatened, when all patience and encouragement failed).  She finally relented when the Dentist allowed her to sit on Papa while Papa sits on the chair, phew.

The Dentist did a very swift check (lest Baby1 decides to back down).  Luckily her teeth was in very good condition, which we all kept praising her (and fueling her pride) afterwards and continually even till now, keke. The Dentist also showed her the proper techniques for brushing teeth (seems like the protocol).  Before we left, the Dentist whipped out a box of stickers for Baby1 to choose.  That was the WOW.  For braving the ordeal, all the kids get to bring home a sticker!  How encouraging!  With the permission of the Dentist, Baby1 took 2 stickers, one for herself and one for Baby2 who had been silently watching the whole process with us.  Dentist said Baby2 should come too (though she was only 2 yo then).  We made two appointments for both girls approximately one year later.

Since then, we have been to the School Dental Centre for three times for the kids’ yearly checks.  Next year, Baby1 can no longer come here, as she’ll be in Primary School which the school will take over the yearly dental check ups. For Baby2, she’s still very much looking forward to the next year’s visit, because she’ll get a sticker after the visit!  Keke!

We highly recommend the School Dental Centre for kids.  Baby1’s going to be 7 yo next year, and she’s still having her entire set of her baby teeth, plus 3 molars sprouting at the back.  All kudos to the nice dental experiences (frankly, I think the reason why many adults still have phobia of dentist, must surely be due to bad childhood experiences, hush hush), she’s proud of her pearlies and always takes care to brush them well.  And it’s only $9 per visit (for Singaporeans), so do book an appointment for your kid soon!

– Dear2

ActiveSG Dollars

I love ActiveSG Dollars!

When the Government gave out $100 ActiveSG Dollars to all, we immediately signed up.  Who don’t want free money?  Heehee….   Basically all you need to do is to open an account, and Bingo! $100 gets credited into your ActiveSG Account.

Of course, there’s always caveats to such free money. There’s restrictions on the stuff that you can do using your ActiveSG Dollars, and there’s co-payment too so you’ll still have to fork out some money from your own pocket.

Dear2 has already utilised much of her ActiveSG dollars since last year. Body Sculpt, Zumba and Piloxing.  All these lessons done at Jurong East Sports Complex which is the most convenient location for us.  The balance money is just enough to go for 1 more class by the end of the year.  Going for such classes is especially beneficial for Dear2.  Not only exercise is good for your body, Dear2 gets to work out after work while Dear1 continues work and the kids are in the grandparents’ place, and Dear2 also gets to claim part of the fee using her company’s monthly Sports Allowance.  One stone kills many birds!  What about the actual cost out-of-pocket?  Approximately $3.50 per lesson.  Swee~

Dear2 had also opened Supplementary Accounts for both Baby1 and Baby2, and recently enrolled Baby1 for Inline Skate Class at Choa Chu Kang Sports Complex during the month of March, when Baby1 had a 1 month break from her ballet lessons.  It’s amazing how she got from cry-because-she-cannot-even-stand-up-on-blades, to slowly-and-steadily-maneuvering-her-turns over a mere 4 weeks.  Kudos to the Teacher!  The cost?  Co-paid by her ActiveSG Dollars of course, so we paid about $15 per lesson?  The actual cost?  Dear2 finally managed to persuade Dear1 to buy a set of rollar blades and gear, so we were set back by another $230, LOL.

For Dear1, he came along the Body Sculpt class last year, but was super not impressed with both the Instructor and the class.  Hmm… what other classes can he go for then?

Most people use their ActiveSG Dollars to go to the Gym or go Swimming, but we’ll have to go many many many times in order to fully exhaust that $100.  Not to mention the super crowd now that everyone is trying to exhaust their Dollars by the end of the year again.   Frankly speaking, I’d wish the Minister will just announce that there’s no expiry date to this $100, instead of extending it year by year like what they did last year. This only cause more participation (read: over-crowding) when it comes to the end of the year.  Or better still, keep giving more money into this Account, heehee.  (Haiz I know, Minister already said, they won’t be topping up money again.)

In order to retain that $100, you need to have utilised it at least once this year, so that the balance gets carried over to next year.  Dear1, Baby2, looks like we need to go swimming soon….

– Dear2

Sweet and Salty Unhealthy Comfort Delights

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For some years now, Dear2 and I have been trying to eat healthily, both for ourselves and for our family. But once in a while, we also like to indulge ourselves in some happy food. Therefore, since the quota for happy food is limited, we have to be really selective of our happy food.

No point wasting stomach on lousy food.

These are some of the snacks that we’ve bought recently.

  1. Many years ago, there was a period of time when we would regularly buy 1.5l bottles of Coke from the supermarket. Andbwe found ourselves craving for more Coke when we ran out. It was then that we realized Coke can be addictive. Since then, we have not bought any more Coke for ourselves. Also, since we are trying to lose weight, high sugar drinks such as Coke are avoided. However, we make small exceptions for indulgence, such as when Granny gave us a few cans of Coke leftover from Chinese New Year gatherings.
  2. When I was at my previous job, I used to drink free Milo from the pantry daily. Sometimes, I would even make a Milo dinosaur! Unknowingly, I gained quite a bit of weight and I attribute it to the Milo. But I still enjoy Milo, especially those from the Milo truck. It’s a wonder why Milo truck produces the most consistent Milo. Even MacDonald’s makes lousy Milo at times. Recently, when a fantastic  offer from Nestle online shop came along, 2 cartons (2×24 packets) for $15.50, we just couldn’t resist ordering.
  3. I first started buying Haagen Dazs ice cream from the supermarket when it was selling 2 for $19.90. I love chocolate so naturally I took a pint of Belgium Chocolate. It was heavenly. Since then, we would occasionally try our different flavours of Haagen Dazs, but each one was more disappointing than the last. Even the Haagen Dazs ice cream stick was inferior to Walls Magnum. Well, enough of trying, no point wasting stomach on lousy food. So when a recently NTUC promotion was selling 2 for $19.85, we decided to go straight for Belgium Chocolate x 2.
  4. Salted egg flavoured snacks are all the craze these days. I really enjoyed salted egg, like in double yoke mooncakes. I also fondly remember the salted egg prawns at Whampoa Keng, salted egg crab at Tradehub 21 Kimly Seafood, and 流沙包 from Baker Talent. And I never fail to order a sample of 流沙包 whenever we ate at dim sum restaurants. But it is really high on cholesterol, and I needed to lower mine. Be selective. My colleague recently treated me to some salted egg fish skin and it was rather good. And I heard about salted egg potato chips on the radio. Turns out that they are both made by the same company. So, yesterday, while we were running errands at Ang Mo Kio (we were buying music books for Baby1), we popped by Leban HK Cafe and bought 3 cans of salted egg snacks @ $15 each. Expensive! Yummy!
    The occasional selective indulgence to keep the healthier choice momentum going. :P’

-Dear1

Weekday Jog

I have a new mission. Or rather, a new action plan to an old problem.

The waistline NYR has not been achieved for a couple of years already. Every year, I resolved to fit a cheongsum for CNY, and every year, I can only say “next year then”.

One month before Chinese New Year this year, I decided to wake up at 5.35am every weekday, and do hula hoop while watching 20min of 小毛病 大问题, 健康上菜. It’s a torture to have to drag oneself awake every weekday, so exercise and gain knowledge at the same time – one stone kills two birds, good!

But alas, our faithful laptop had to crash this time when Dear1 upgraded its OS.  This plan gets thrown out of the window, sigh….

Then I came up with the plan to go jog in the early morning on weekdays. Since I wake up at 5.35am to do hula hoop, I’ll just need to wake up 5 min earlier to jog. Since weekdays are such a torture to wake up (I’m super energetic on weekends!!), to go jogging will give me the motivation to not 爬不起来。 And if I jog every weekday, then I can sleep in during the weekends! (good cos the kids don’t wake up at 7am nowadays.)

The plan’s only been implemented for a week, but I’m feeling pretty positive about this. I’ve clocked 16km this week (4x4km), yeah. I take slightly under 30mins to do 4km, so I’ll reach home around 6.15, which is usually the time that I really wakes up even though the alarm clock is set at 6am on weekdays.
To make myself move more (for a while, some days I’d just feel as if I’m an elephant – my limbs are so heavy, my chest slumped; I can’t even sit, stand or walk straight), I’ve signed up for Zumba and Piloboxing using my ActiveSG$ and claiming under the company’s sport allowance. On these days, I’ll probably not jog as I won’t be able to dance during the evening class. Hmm, or maybe not? Heehee…

– Dear2

One Community Walk 2015 @ Jurong Central with kids

We visit Granny’s house at Jurong Central 3 times a week, on weekday evenings, to pick up Baby1 and Baby2. While waiting for the lift to Granny’s house, we often read the many publicity posters at the lift lobby. As a result, we participated in many event at Jurong Central although we aren’t the residents there. So far, we’ve participated in a Bazaar, outdoor Zumba classes, Night Cycling, and this time – One Community Walk 2015 @ Jurong Central.

It can be quite difficult to find an activity that our whole family can participate in due Baby2’s age (2yo). We’ve participated in Jurong Lake Run and Garfield Run with Baby1 but in both these events, Baby2 could only wait at the finish line.

One type of event that could accommodate the whole family including young kids would be a walking event. So when we noticed the poster for a 2km One Community Walk for $3 each, we decided to sign up. :D

The package included an event t-shirt, but there wasn’t any size for Baby1 and Baby2. We just got the smallest size available and it was still slightly big for Baby1.

On event morning, we arrived at the starting point at around 7.30am. After a nostalgic Great Singapore Workout warm up session, most of the participants gathered to form a Singapore Flag formation by holding up red and white umbrellas. This was followed by a welcome speech by the MP for Jurong Central and the official flag off.

The walk started from Blk 491, moving eastwards, making a right turn into Jurong Canal, then right turn into Boon Lay Way, making a round at Lakeshore, before walking back to Jurong Green CC via Jurong West St 41.

Along the way, Baby2 got tired and wanted to be carried. So, Dear2 and I took turns carrying Baby2. Meanwhile, Baby1 was beaming with energy as she ‘led’ our family most of the way. I tried carrying Baby2 high up on my shoulders as we walk. She clung on tight as she was a bit scared but I guess she still enjoyed herself.

Back at Jurong Green CC, we queued up for our goodie bags that contained a bottle of plain water, a roll of bread, and a paper fan. Then, we queued up to collect old school biscuits, and played many old school games such as five stone, eraser fighting (we get to keep the country flag erasers too), giant jenga, limbo rock, and chaptek, to collect stamps which we exchanged for an old school spinning top. Finally, we settled down for a late breakfast of bread and biscuits before heading home. We left at around 9.40am and didn’t stay for the lucky draw at 10.30am.

Overall, we enjoyed this event. There wasn’t too many participants as this was a local event, so it was never too crowded along the way. In terms of value, it was definitely worth the $3 participation fee. However, there were some areas for improvement as well. There were no ushers along the walking route, so if we lost visual contact with the people in front around a bend, then we wouldn’t know where to continue. There were no road marshals when we were crossing the road along the walking route. At one point, the walking crowd split to take 2 different routes, we didn’t know which was the right group to follow. At the end point, the queues were quite chaotic such that we didn’t know what each queue were for.

Despite these minor annoyances, we still had a fun family morning! :)

-Dear1

2015 New Year Resolutions

We had a bad end/ rough start to 2014/ 2015, so only managed to review and plan out our 2015 new year resolutions recently.  Who cares, there’s still 11 more months in 2015.

As usual, we reviewed our 2014 resolutions first, before coming out new ones.  Though Dear1 and Dear2 did occasionally bring out the 2014 resolutions to remind ourselves, we failed quite miserably in meeting them at the end of the year.  Nonetheless, they did serve as good reminders for us throughout the year.  :)

As of any NYR, the 2015 new year resolutions should be SMART.  Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and with a Time.  Here goes:

For Dear2:

– Beauty (take good care of oneself first before you are able to take care of your loved ones): Do daily skin moisturizing and monthly face masks + exfoliation

– Waist: Attain 28″ by year end

– Exercise: Do daily planks (minimum 2x 1min)

– Self Improvement: Try cooking new dish every month

– Cook: Master (盆菜 or other dish) for next CNY by next CNY

– Speak slowly, Listen carefully, Smile more

– Post: Write at least 1 post per month

– Drive: Do 1 morning routine by end of year

For Dear1:

– Weight: Reach 68kg by year end

– Exercise: Do daily planks (minimum 2x 1.5min)

– Self Improvement: Learn 2 programming languages (Python and Julia)

– Temper: Be more tolerant with Baby1 and Baby2

– Post: Write at least 1 post per month

For us:

– Family Activities: Out-of-house/ malls activities once a month

– Couple Activities: Just for Dear1 and Dear2 activity/ new experiences bi-monthly or join 1 (dance) class

– Hugs & Kiss: Hug and kiss Dear1, Dear2, Baby1 and Baby2 everyday

– Travel: 1 long and 1 short trip for this year

– Finance: Save more money in this year

– House: Continue to view house

– Friends and Relatives: Have quarterly gatherings with friends/ relatives

– Nutrition: Eat at least 1 fruit every week

– Family Events: Participate in 1 (cycling) event

– Couple Time: Have just Dear1 and Dear2 time every week

A lot of times, when one reviews the new year resolutions at the end of the year, one will be dismayed that the goals might has changed course along the way.  Time does not stand still, and things are constantly evolving.  So take heart if the circumstances do not go as you’ve wished, for these new year resolutions still serve as a reminder to what your goals were one year back.

Happy New Year!

– Dear2

PS: Last year, we had a couple of monthly goals, but 1 year 12 times was quite hard to achieve given our busy schedules.  So we changed some of these to lower frequency.  Nonetheless, these still require conscious tracking, hence we decided to draw up a list and have them displayed on the kitchen fridge!  :)