Thursday, October 22, 2015

Thank you

Note: This is going to be a rather long post about the wonderful people I've met in my life since October last year. If you're interested to find out more, please read on. Thank you for reading this heartfelt 'thank you' post.

I believe in angels. Everyone of us has an angel, some of whom we know, some of whom we don't, some suddenly appear in our lives during times of trouble to give us a boost.

Like those in the medical field, like doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, paramedics, anyone. In my opinion, they are angels in white. They are on call most of the time, looking after the sick and injured. In addition, they have to deal with worried family members, who can be quite nasty. Definitely, to have a loved one fall sick or get injured can be rather frustrating, emotionally, psychologically and physically, but really, there's no need to take it out on medical professionals. All they are doing is to care for their charges.

It's amazing how these angels in white do their job with a smile on their faces, all the time. It's amazing how they reach out to the people who really need their help, and give them a much needed boost, at the most unexpected times. They may be frustrated, but they try their best not to show it. And when someone shows appreciation, you can tell that they appreciate it. 

Exactly one year ago tonight, I had the most freak accident one can imagine. I could have very well lost my life, as is evidenced by a similar case in Hong Kong about 5 months later, where the victim died. I didn’t, and throughout my recovery till today, I met some awesome white angels whom I’m grateful for. From the ambulance paramedics and the doctors in the emergency room, to the doctor who operated on me and the nurses who looked after me in the ward, to the care I received from the doctors and physiotherapists after I got discharged, these medical professionals have been crucial in aiding in my recovery, physically. Psychologically, well, that is something I need to work on. But without the care and concern of the medical professionals I've met since October last year, I guess it would have been even more difficult.

So I'd like to take this opportunity to thank these angels in white who have helped me on my road to recovery, in one way or another.

- the paramedics, thank you for your support and reassurance while I was feeling very lost by the road and through the bumpy and painful ride. 
- the emergency room doctors, thank you for trying to relieve my pain as much as you could, as you x-rayed my thigh and tried to straighten it as much as possible. Thank you for understanding the amount of pain I was in.
- Adjunct Associate Professor Dr Ernest Kwek, Chief of Orthopaedic Trauma Surgery, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, thank you for operating on me. It was truly my lucky day, or night, when I found out that the head of the department himself would be operating on me the next day. Up from the operation till now, thank you to you and your team for ensuring that the metal rod was well-placed in my thigh bone and that the bone fracture is healing. Thank you for your encouragement and believing that getting back on my two feet would be an easy feat.
- the nurses in the ward, thank you for your care and concern during my stay. I know you had many patients to look after, and were very busy. But you tried to help make me as comfortable as possible before my operation, and after it, you helped the bedridden me and taught me how to look after myself.
- the physiotherapists at the ward and at the clinic, thank you for teaching me how to walk again, and helping me to strengthen my leg. It's still somewhat weak, depending on what I do, and I'll know it will never ever be the same as before. Still, I'm working on it, and hopefully, I'll get my injured leg back to what it was before, as much as possible.

I would also like to thank those at the scene of the accident. Thank you for calling the ambulance, thank you for looking out for me, and offering me water and tissue. Thanks for making sure the truck driver stopped and alighted. Simple gestures like these, and your reassurances made those few agonizing long minutes easier to bear.

I must not forget my family who have supported me with their love and concern. To my mum, dad, bro, sis and the rest of the family, thank you. During our trips to Hong Kong to visit our then critically ill grandmummy, thank you for looking out for me, while I was 'bai ka' and using crutches. 

Thanks to my wonderful helper. With me injured and unable to walk properly, she not only had to help look after the kids, but me as well. She even made sure I avoided certain foods like crabs and so on, which apparently, are not good for bone healing, or something like that. Thank you also to my parents-in-law. Thank you for keeping the kids entertained and bringing them out, since I couldn't do it at all.

And most of all, I want to thank DaddySay. During my recovery, you took over the parenting of EV and AA, so that I could recover well. You ensured that the kids understood I was injured and therefore they needed to be extra careful around me. You brought me for my medical appointments, especially in the first few months. You pushed me in my wheelchair, you stood by me when I walked with crutches, you were my pillar of support during the difficult time. You are and always will be my pillar of strength, my BFF. Without you, I think I would have faced even more difficulties. 

To my little kids EV and AA, thank you both for your understanding and love, for understanding that mummy couldn't bring you out even though I really wanted to, for willingly joining mummy on the bed and play. EV, thank you for understanding mummy's fear of bus stops and big trucks, and thank you for holding my hand last Saturday, assuring me that you will hold my hand tight and be by my side while you led me to walk past the bus stop. I still don't dare walk past the whole bus stop, but I managed a bit. It's a start, and I couldn't have done it without you.

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who have helped me in my ongoing recovery. I assure you that I will stay strong. Thank you.

Thank you


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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Media Invite: Asus ZenFestival

I’m selective when it comes to attending events I get invited to. But when it comes to anything related to tech and gadgets, I get itchy, naturally, since I was a former tech journalist.  There was absolutely no way I could say no to an invite to the Asus ZenFestival.

Zenfone 1

Held on Wednesday evening at Chijmes Hall, the event saw the unveiling of the brand's four latest ZenFones. Though Asus is mainly known for their laptops, they might just make some headway with the ZenFones. The model which attracted the most attention has to be the Zenfone Selfie. It’s got a great Beautification function that automatically adjusts selfies taken, whether it is to smoothen the skin tone, or even to make the eyes look a little larger. This function means that selfies will always look their best, and there’s no need to use any other applications to edit.

Zenfone 2

Zenfone 3

And while I was there, I also played briefly with the ZenFone Selfie’s macro, time lapse and slow motion video recording functions. It definitely seems quite a promising mobile.

Zenfone 4
Various camera functions on the ZenFone Selfie.
Zenfone 6
Trying out the macro function.

Zenfone 5
Having fun with the slow motion function.

Zenfone 7
The low light mode that can adjust shadows.

While at the ZenFestival, I also checked out the ZenFone 2, ZenFone 2 Laser and ZenFone Go, but I still prefer the ZenFone Selfie. I can’t wait to get my hands on a review set. Stay tuned for that.

Zenfone 8

Zenfone 9

Michelle Chong is the brand ambassador and here she is on stage.

I’m doubly glad I attended the event as I also met an old friend, who was the former editor of Straits Times’ digital edition. We had a great time catching up. It’s events like these that give me fond memories of the good old days. Thanks Asus!

Disclaimer: I was invited to the Asus ZenFestival event. No compensation was received. All opinions and images are my own.


Thank you for reading. If you like this post, please do connect with me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, so I can share our fun adventures, thoughts and exploits with you. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Media Invite: Times new concept store @ Marina Square - 5 things you want to know

Times The Bookstore. For some of you, you may remember how this iconic bookstore looked like in the past. I still vaguely remember the blue logo of the past, and these are sweet memories. Sweet because Times was where I discovered the beautiful world of books. Times was where I discovered classics like Little Women and Jane Eyre (abridged versions) during my Primary school days. Thanks to a certain tuition teacher who went to the extent of bringing my mum and I to Times to recommend books for me to read, because my mum was Chinese educated and had no idea where to start when it came to improving my English. This tuition teacher was a retired teacher from the older generation, who spoke perfectly articulated English and had such beautiful cursive writing. I will never forget her and her cat, and of course, our trips to Times to discover books.

Times has definitely come a long way since then. I admit, I’ve not been to Times for years. I don’t know why, I guess I grew out of it, and I was attracted to more independent bookstores and online bookstores. Times, to me, was an experience from the past. I knew they had a revamp, but it still wasn’t enough to entice me to walk into the store.

So when I was invited to check out the new concept store at Marina Square last week, I decided to experience it again. A key question I asked Anna Leong, marketing manager of Times was: what’s the new concept about? Because, as you can see from this photo, Times at Marina Square doesn’t look all that different from its other outlets from the outside.

Photo: Times

Here are 5 things I gathered from my conversation with Anna and my two hours of discovery around the store.

1. There is a good selection of children’s books such as picture books and early readers. I was glad to discover a whole shelf of Shel Silverstein books, and even numerous titles by Leo Lionni. 

Times picture books

There are also several shelves devoted to picture books by local authors. About 30% of the store is dedicated to children’s books and other merchandise.

Times 12

2. The new Times doesn’t just sell books any more. There is a good selection of educational toys and games. Think board games and even Lego. 

Times 11

There are also word card games, games like ‘Vowel Owels’, Play Doh and also science kits. There are even plant pot kits to let kids develop a love for nature.

Times 10

Times 8

3. I think adults, especially Star Wars and Star Trek fans, will be attracted to Times not just for the books. They can also feast their eyes on memorabilia from Star Wars, Star Trek, Game of Thrones and even The Walking Dead. I even saw a little Alien on the shelf, just next to Batman. The folks at the store put these items right at the front of the shop. Smart move I say. Get the adults in, and the kids will follow.

Times 1

Times 5

Times 4

4. I also saw quite a number of other items that are related to books, such as poetry magnets, adult colouring books and even these tempting tote bags that feature classic children’s and adults’ titles. I really love these tote bags, but they’re a tad too expensive for my taste, at $69.90 each. 

Times 2

Times 3

However, I found an alternative - these four tote bags featuring Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Picture of Dorian Gray and Sherlock Holmes, at $12.90 each.

Times 9

5. The 2,800 square feet store is extremely bright and cheerful, and the children’s section has pastel ‘clouds’ on the ceiling. The kids might not immediately notice these ‘clouds’, because they are just so focused on the books in that area, so it’s good that the decorative details are subtle. I like the even brightness of the store - it makes reading more conducive and is better for kids’ eyes. The alleys between shelves and displays are quite wide, so kids can sit and read, and store patrons, as well as prams, can still move around comfortably.

Photo: Times

I like the new Times bookstore, I’m sure I’ll be back really soon. Yet, I fear stepping into the store. Why? It means I’ll most probably, most certainly, buy even more books, even though I don’t read them fast enough. Yes, I buy books faster than I read them, but hey! I do need books all around me for those sneaky me-times that I can steal.

There’s another reason why I dread walking into Times at Marina Square.

Times 7

A whole section devoted to Disney! Eh…. I’m not sure whether I should let EV see this…..

Can’t wait for the biggest, 7,300 square feet Times bookstore to open at Waterway Point in Punggol in January 2016. The only thing that might keep me away? Distance. I got to stay far far away.

Disclaimer: We were invited to the launch of the Times Bookstore at Marina Square. We received a complimentary card and a $50 voucher. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions and images are our own, unless otherwise stated.


Thank you for reading. If you like this post, please do connect with me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, so I can share our fun adventures, thoughts and exploits with you. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

13 (and more) ways to transform Daiso items into home learning activities

Yes, Daiso. The one shop I would go over and over and over again. Wouldn't you if everything is just at $2? Of course, Daiso is also a terrible place. Go in with the intention of buying just two to three items, and very often, you come out with more than ten. Arghh!!! But no matter how much we buy, we can always find ways to use them, right? :) There are just so many surprising finds that are potentially useful. All you have to do is to think a little bit more, squeeze those creative juices and viola! What I like about Daiso is the ability to use many of its items to create home learning activities for EV and AA.

So today, on this Daiso blog train by a group of Singapore Mom Bloggers, I'd like to share some home learning activities that I've created using oh-so-affordable items from Daiso (underlined items). Truly friendly to the pocket.

Language Literacy & Mathematics
For several of these activities, the materials were adapted for language literacy, number recognition, counting and even mathematical equations.

Wooden blocks (cubes & cuboids), plain-coloured tapes & fine marker pen
These blocks run out of stock really fast, because they are just so versatile! Kids can build with them, draw on them, the list is almost endless. Because they can be hard to find, I usually stock up on them the moment I see them at the shops. I stick plain-coloured tapes on the cubes, so that they can be reusable, and use them to build EV and AA’s language literacy and mathematical ability.

Story cubes

For language literacy, we use the blocks to do activities such as:
- CVC word formation - consonants and vowels are written on individual blocks, and words like CAT can be formed.
- forming words of two syllables or more - syllables of several words are written on separate blocks, for example, TA-BLE, and the mission is to join the blocks together to form complete words.
- sentence making - simple complete words are written on the blocks, and the task is to form simple sentences.
- roll & rhyme game - create a dice with the wooden cubes. Create worksheets where each dice value corresponds to a short vowel, long vowel or word families. For example, if the focus is short vowel, then 'number 1' can correspond to the '-at' word family, 'number 2' can correspond to the '-ap' word family and so on. The task is to roll the dice, identify the specific word family, and then write similar words that rhyme. The difficulty level of this activity can be adjusted to suit someone who has learnt short and long vowels, and word families, or someone who is just starting out forming simple CVC words
- story telling cubes - draw various images (can be of different categories such as animals, transport, food/drink, colours, musical instruments, toys, objects and so on) on the blocks. When the ideas are ready, take turns throwing the cubes and tell a story. Each person can take turns to tell the next part of the story.
- Chinese character recognition - write simple characters to enhance recognition. Or, write the different components of characters, and join the correct parts together like a puzzle.
- Chinese sentence making - write characters on the blocks, and form simple sentences by putting the blocks together.

We also use the blocks for counting, number recognition and simple mathematical equations. Just write the numbers and equation signs on the blocks, and throw the cubes to make it a game of ‘fastest wins’. We sometimes use pebbles, pom poms, and wooden pegs to enhance the learning.

Zips, fine marker pens, paper & paper clips
This activity can be used for forming words of two syllables, and for sentence making. Cut the felt into moderately sized pieces. The syllables of the same word is written on two separate felt pieces, then attached to each side of the zip using paper clips. Then have the child 'join' the syllables together by zipping the zip. Using paper clips means that several two-syllable words can be 'joined' and learnt in this way. Alternatively, this can be used for making short sentences. Write the first and second parts of various sentences on longer pieces of felt, for example, 'Peter is reading' and 'a book'. The child needs to find suitable parts, attach the parts to the zip and then 'join' the parts together.


This activity is for enhancing the learning of word families. Simply cut the pages of the notebook into two parts, one slightly thinner than the other. Write the consonants or consonant blends such as 's' or 'tr'on the thinner strips, and the word families such as 'at' and 'ain' on the thicker strips. Then the child can flip the pages back and forth to create and learn words. In the process, silly words that don't exist may be created, but it's ok. It's all part of language learning.


Wooden clothes pegs, paper & fine marker pen
I created this activity for EV, as I thought this might be a more engaging activity than just writing or memorising her spelling words. Just write the alphabets on the wooden clothes pegs, and write the spelling words on strips of coloured blank paper. Then it is up to EV to find relevant alphabets and match it to the words on the paper. Each correct word gets a sticker. This can even be turned into a speed game, as she becomes more familiar with the words.

Wooden peg

This can also be adapted for mathematical equations. Just write equations on strips of blank paper, write the answers on the clothes pegs, and then match the correct clothes peg to the equation. Or, for sometime simpler, draw groups of dots on a piece of paper, and the corresponding numbers on the clothes pegs. AA had to count each group of dots and match the correct clothes peg.

Stickers & coloured origami paper
This activity is mainly for AA, to help him in learning about letter and number formation, as he’s slowing beginning to write simple strokes. I cut out letters and numbers using Daiso’s coloured origami paper (You can actually use any coloured paper, but I use Daiso’s because the paper is smaller, so there’s less wastage. Plus it’s extremely affordable at $2 a pack). Sometimes, I get EV to help me cut the letters and numbers out as reinforcement.


Plus, as the big sister, it gives her much satisfaction to know that she’s helping di di learn. Once the cut-outs are ready, I get AA to stick stickers on them, following the stroke rules of the respective letters and numbers.

Pipe cleaners, coloured paper (cut into strips) or Post-its & fine marker pen
I created this activity as a more hands-on way for EV to learn her words. I wrote alphabets on strips of paper, one alphabet to a strip. Write the letter nearer the bottom of the strip. If using 3M Post-its, they may need to be cut into thinner strips. Using Post-its might be easier and quicker, as they are already in a smaller size; may just need to cut them thinner. Then roll the top of the strip around the pipe cleaner. For added security, I stuck a small piece of scotch tape behind. Slowly create the word, adding strips of alphabets one after another. Then when ready, just remove the paper from the pipe cleaner, mix it all up. I wrote the complete words on a bigger sheet of paper, and got EV to form the words from the pile of paper strips.

Pipe cleaner

This activity can also be extended to learn mathematical equations. Just replace the alphabets with numbers and mathematical signs.

Hemp string & paper
This is extremely versatile. Alphabets and numbers can be written on the paper and give to any kid of any age to trace using different lengths of yarn. The difficulty can also be modified, such that words are written instead of alphabets.

Hemp string

Pipe cleaners, pebbles, poms poms, measuring tape
EV and AA use these materials to measure and learn about perimeter, length and height. They measure anything they can find in the home, from tables to sofas, to dolls and cars. In the process, they discover that a table can be as tall as 10 pipe cleaners, while a toy car can be as long as 10 pom poms. Each of them also has a retractable measuring tape, which they use to measure like little builders. I also teach them about units of measurements, like centimetres.


Sensory Fun
Fake grass, pebbles & Safari Ltd Toobs Dinosaurs
We are dong a home learning theme on Dinosaurs, and this sensory tub really got AA excited. It’s simple to set up - just some fake grass and pebbles from Daiso and a couple of toy dinosaurs. Later, the kids also asked for recycled milk cartons and bottles to 'feed' the dinosaurs. It was good seeing them engage in pretend play too, and made up story about he the dinosaurs were lost and needed to be saved.


Water beads, marbles & Safari Ltd Toobs Sharks
Whenever EV and AA run out of ideas to entertain themselves, they’ll always turn to their parents and say ‘What should I do now?’. Water beads is a sure winner with them. So I try to think of as many sensory tub combinations with water beads as I can. Usually, it’s just looking for whatever is available and putting these randomly together. Because really, as long as there are water beads and water, the kids will be kept busy for quite a while. I generally like to add marbles, pebbles, plastic alphabets and numbers, or even toy creatures. Add ice for a little variety. Varying the ice shapes (big blocks, cubes, spheres) can also make a difference.

Water beads

Strainers, flour, baby oil, moulds
This can get a little messy, and I don't just mean the kids. I first put the flour in a shallow container, give the kids strainers and off they go sifting the flour. Over-enthusiastic AA likes to fling the flour all over the place, so it's a good idea to have this activity in the bathroom, or anywhere where it's easy to wash off after. Later, I add baby oil to the flour, and get the kids to mix them up into a nice soft dough. Once this is achieved, the moulds go in for some shaping exercise. This activity is deliberately broken up in to separate parts, so that the kids can be engaged for a longer time.


Wooden blocks, pom poms, recycled milk cartons, recycled Yakult bottles, Safari Ltd Toobs Knights & Dragons
This was really one of those random activities I put together one hazy afternoon, when I was tired and extremely uninspired, but surprise surprise! It got the kids busy for quite a while. I think it stretched their imagination, and also trained their motor skills. They could stack the blocks into the milk cartons,, which I had cut into half, or they could squeeze the pom poms into the Yakult bottles. Or they could build their own castles, bridges and what nots for the knights and dragons to battle it out.

Blocks  pom poms

Pom poms, paper, glue
A really simple activity that also practices motor and spatial skills. I drew a simple tree, and got AA to glue green pom poms on to it. This makes him practice the dexterity of his fingers as he holds the pom poms, puts glue on them, and paste them on the paper. I deliberately got him to leave spaces in between, and then asked him to guess how many red pom poms he needed to glue to make apples. For more creativity, felt or foam can be used for the tree trunk, and even a bright cherry sun can be added.

Pom pom tree

Hope you enjoyed the ideas shared here. Do share what home learning ideas you have using items from Daiso.


Next up on the Daiso 101 blog train is Adeline of Growing with the Tans. Adeline loves good deals, and what better place to find them than at Daiso? When she isn't out shopping at Daiso, she looks after her 3-year-old son, Noah, and blogs about their family life, activities that keep Noah busy, and books that they enjoy.

This post is part of the "DAISO 101" blog train hosted by Mum in the Making. Click on the button below to get the full list of Daiso posts, and happy shopping!


Thank you for reading. If you like this post, please do connect with me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, so I can share our fun adventures, thoughts and exploits with you.