Thursday, 26 November 2015

The day my phone drowned

You've heard of people dropping their phones into the toilet or swimming pool. But have you ever heard of anyone having their water bottle contents spill in their handbag resulting in their phone becoming water damaged?

Yeah, it happened to me. Such rotten luck, isn't it?

My kids advised me to leave it in a bag of rice, and it should dry out and be able to work after 3 days.
Effective home remedy?
I took their advice, as the shops were closed anyway, but by the next morning, when it still could not power on, I decided not to let it corrode further and took it to the shop.

The strange thing was, I was surprised how calm I was.

I had 5 seconds of panic, thinking, "My photos! My to-do lists!" and irritated with myself for incurring the unnecessary cost to replace the phone.

Then my considerations went to my leather handbag. I don't know which was worse. My spoilt phone or my spoiled bag.

But after that wave of panic washed over me, I thought, oh well.

Guess my 6 days of retreat had left me in a zen mode, and somehow, losing material possessions did not disturb me as much as I assumed it would.

One of the things we reflected on over the week was that all of us needed to slow down, and to focus on the "essentials".

As I went about my day without a phone, I suddenly felt liberated.

I could not be reached by anyone. Not even my kids! I had total freedom and peace.

Initially, I felt the urge (probably borne out of habit) to look into my bag to check if I had text messages I had missed. It's like someone calling out to you constantly.

But then I felt a new found sense of lightness that I could concentrate on whatever I was doing and not bother about anything else, without having 10 things going on in my head about what I needed to get done, what I had forgotten, what else I had to settle.

In the in-between moments of waiting in line where I would automatically do something "productive" on my phone like replying to emails or reading the news, I realised I could simply do nothing.

It made me wonder, how did we live before the advent of mobile gadgets?

We seem to be shackled to them in this day and age.

For all it's benefits, it's sad that our gadgets have taken over our lives. We have forgotten how to just be. To enjoy being in the present moment.

To be free.

Alas, after 3 days, I had my phone back. And life returned to normal. With the phone usually within reach.


~ - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Monday, 23 November 2015

{Interview #9}: Dr. Phillip A. Towndrow - Research Scientist

Dr. Phillip A. Towndrow, 59, is a Senior Research Scientist at the Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He is married to an administrative assistant in a foreign embassy in Singapore and they have two children aged 23 and 12.

This initiative is part of our 101 Paths to Success series of interviews to gain insight into how successful people came to do what they are doing, and enlighten parents that there is a vast array of occupations for our children to discover. Hopefully it might spark an interest in our children and youths to start their journey of discerning their life's path.

Your qualifications

BA (Hons.) Philosophy, University of Essex (UK)
MA Applied Linguistics, University of Surrey (UK)
Ed. D., Durham University (UK)
Dr. Phillip A. Towndrow
Describe your job

I work in an educational research centre. I plan, organise and manage studies in how teachers teach and how students use new media in their learning. A large part of my job involves working with teachers and other educators to design lesson tasks and activities around particular topic and thematic curriculum areas. I'm also expected to publish my work in academic journals and tell others about my research findings through classes, seminars and conference presentations.

Tell us about your career path

I started teaching English as a foreign language. I then moved into the planning and supervision of a large computer assisted language learning project at a university in the Arabian Gulf. It was at that time that I did my Masters and I realised I had an interest in learning and academic writing. In the effort to progress in my work and studies, I moved to Singapore to do a Doctorate in Education. By the time I finished my coursework, I already had a number of publications under my belt. I continued writing and researching on various projects and used (as much as I could) all opportunities to meet people and collaborate.

How did you find your passion / area of interest?

It was unplanned and, in part, opportunistic. I've always liked learning new things and explaining concepts to others. My first degree was in Philosophy and that is where I learnt through my excellent professors and teachers at the University of Essex to craft arguments and write concisely, logically and convincingly. I remember writing a 500-word essay on Plato and getting an A+. That came as a bit of a surprise (I'd always been an average learner in school) but I decided to continue with Philosophy because I was good at it. My professors encouraged me and that's how my 'love of learning' began. I have been passionate about trying to understand things all of my life.

Which aspect of your job gives you the most satisfaction?

I derive great pleasure in making things and helping others express their ideas. Ultimtely, I want to make sense of life and the world around. My greatest joy comes from shining light in parts where darkness, ignorance and injustice prevent people from doing all that they can to make the world a better place to live and work.

What does success mean to you?

I guess that for many, success in what they do is linked to their material achievements and performances. Of course, it's important for me to have citations, sell books and give many talks etc.. But, for me, I feel I've been succesful when my students, colleagues and the people I meet go out of their way to say, "Thank you. You made me think differently. I now understand (X) better."

How do you balance your time between work and family?

Well, my starting point is to draw a line between paid work and the rest of my life. I strive to put God first in everything and then family comes next. That said, I can't stop thinking about my work. There's always an idea that pops into my head. I'm constantly writing and rewriting sentences in my mind, in notebooks and on my computers. Anything and everything I look at, eat or hear can spark an idea in my mind. So, I have to be very careful. At least I know I can't be at or in work all of the time!

You must be incredibly busy. How do you avoid being burnt out?

Prioritisation is key and I must set limits. I have multiple 'to do' lists on all of my gadgets and devices. I set myself a number of things to do each day. I try not to leave things to the last moment and to give myself a lot of lead time when it's possible. If I have a large job, for example, read a 250-page thesis, write a book or plan lessons, I break the task down into small parts. Read a chapter a day or write a page a day, and so on. I know there will be unplanned events, contingencies to deal with and other urgent things to complete but I try to keep focussed on what's important and not on what other people say is necessary.

When I'm feeling overwhelmed or burdened, I know that work--life balance issues are looming. For me, the solution or remedy is to back off and go to a quiet place to pray and reprioritise. Ultimately, it’s always important for me to slow down and reflect on what I’m doing and why.

Are you involved in any charity work?

No. But I do some unpaid service work to the community through talks, meetings, tutorials and writing.

One piece of advice to parents

Your children are a precious gift from God. Find all ways possible to learn from them who you are and what it means to live a full and meaningful life.

One piece of advice to teens

Listen to and obey your parents. When you feel like running to your room to hide from or avoid a situation, turn around and instead give your Mum or Dad a big hug and kiss. It will change your perceptions.

To be a good research scientist, it takes someone... who has a clear and precise vision of a transformed world through education and cares passionately about the quality of the work they do for themselves and others.

{Interviews} 101 Paths to Success

#1 - Dr Karen Crasta Scientist Associate Prof at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine

#2 - Jeremiah Choy Creative Director Sing50 Mega concert at the National Stadium

#3 - Elaine Yeo Musician Singapore Symphony Orchestra

#4 - Chong Ee Jay Cyber Wellness Educator TOUCH Cyber Wellness

#5 - Professor Tan Huay Cheem Cardiologist Director of National University Heart Centre

#6 - Ruth Wan Children's Book Author Timmy and Tammy series

#7 - Andrea Decruz Media Personality Owner of CINQ Salon & Belmont Flora

#8 - Ebelle Chong Dance Practitioner / Choreographer SSLD:7 in R.e.P 2015

~ - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Brewerkz at Sentosa Boardwalk

We were invited to the newly-opened Brewerkz restaurant at Sentosa Boardwalk for dinner and the kids were all excited. We have always loved their Riverside Point outlet for its laid-back atmosphere, but this location is unparalleled.

Flanked by the picturesque Resorts World on one side and Vivocity on the other, with cable cars overhead, it feels grand yet cosy. We got there before dusk and soaked in the beautiful view surrounding us. Alfresco dining can't get much better than this!
Brewerkz at Sentosa Boardwalk
We started off with our favourite Nachos appetiser - tortilla chips served warm topped with a hearty mix of tomatoes, olives, jalapeños, salsa, and guacamole.
Nachos $22
Calamari $17
The gran must have her salad, and she was keen to try their speciality - Soba Noodle Salad with Salmon. She enjoyed it very much, and shared her grilled salmon with Kate.
Soba salad with Salmon $28
Pizza is standard fare when we dine out, and the girls loved this thin-crusted smoked salmon version.
Smoked Norwegian salmon pizza $24
Their gramps was in the mood for lamb, and we all snuck some from under the leaves. Nice and succulent. Thankfully the portion was quite big. You have a choice of sides with the mains, such as French fries, Beer-battered onion rings, White cheddar mashed potato or side salad. For a $2 upgrade, you can have the Sweet potato fries, Truffle fries or Orange Butter Broccoli.
Rack of Lamb $42
Cowboy burger $24
We ordered a Meat Lovers pizza as well, and the kids polished everything up! We had a slow and relaxed meal as we wanted to catch the light show at 9pm.
Meat Lovers pizza $23
#5 ordered his usual Fish & Chips kid's meal, which comes with a drink and a scoop of ice-cream. They provide crayons and an activity sheet to keep the little ones occupied.
Fish & Chips $14
While the rest of us sat and chatted, Kate and #5 entertained themselves with the lights embedded in the wooden floorboards. They come on and off intermittently, and that was enough to keep them in stitches as Kate tried to stomp them with her foot.

There is ample space for the kids to run around while the adults enjoy their dessert and hand-crafted beer, which needs no introduction.

Sitting here watching the sky turn dark, time seems to stand still.
Brewerkz Sentosa Boardwalk
At 9pm the Crane Dance show at RWS commenced, and even though we could only see the back view, it was a treat. Kate had never seen it before, and was enthralled by the dazzling light and water display.

The show is on daily, however I did a quick check and discovered it will be closed between 16-26 November 2015. Here is the link to the Crane Dance schedule.
Captivating display
The finale was a burst of fireworks!

It lasted less than 10 minutes, but what a way to end our meal.
Sane tip: A good meal, entertainment and a chance to relax all rolled into one. Simply lovely.

Save tip: {GIVEAWAY} I am pleased to give away 3 vouchers worth $50 each to my readers. All you have to do is:
  • Like Mummy Wee's Facebook page
  • Like this post on Facebook
  •  Leave a comment on Mummy Wee's Facebook post stating your name and email address
  • 3 lucky winners will be chosen at random
  • Open to Singapore residents only
  • Ends midnight of 23 November 2015
  • Winners will be announced on Mummy Wee's Facebook page on 26 November 2015
  • Winners will be contacted by our sponsors.
Directions: Park or alight at Vivocity. Head towards the Boardwalk which links to Sentosa. Brewerkz is somewhere in the middle, on the lower level. NOTE: If you have strollers or bicycles, you need to go by the left side to avoid having to carry your wheels down the flight of stairs. Let me try and explain as best as I can:

As you start walking on the boardwalk, imagine it being 3 lanes. The left 'lane' is by the road, the middle 'lane' is the travallator and the right 'lane' is by the water. GO by THE LEFT 'LANE'. Keep walking until you come to an entrance to the right, and enter that. You would have reached the lower level. You will see The Wine Company, followed by Brewerkz.

Brewerkz Sentosa Boardwalk

Sentosa Gateway
#01-05 Sentosa Boardwalk
Singapore 098072
Tel: 62210702

Operating Hours:
Mon - Thur: 5pm - 11pm
Friday: 5pm - 1am
Saturday: 12pm - 1am
Sunday: 12pm - 11pm
Eve of Public Holiday: Opens till 1am
Public Holiday: Opens from 12pm

We also love their Riverside point outlet which is near Clarke Quay.

Disclaimer: Our meal and the giveaway are sponsored by Brewerkz. All opinions are my own.

~ - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Monday, 16 November 2015

How Kate gave up her pacifier

Like many new parents, we tried not to give #1 and #2 the pacifier. However, they ended up sucking their fingers. That was much worse as they had access to it anytime of the day, and would pop it in their mouths whenever they felt sleepy. Yikes, the germs! It was also very tough to get them to stop sucking their thumbs.

We made sure the rest of the kids did not suck their thumbs, and had to resort to using the pacifier. I know there are many mums who manage without the pacifier or allowing them to suck their thumbs, and I don't know how you do it!

For us, it was hard enough to manage so many kids, and I used the pacifier to help them fall asleep by themselves.
Her last photo with a pacifier!
When #3 was around 2 years old, we told her it was time to get rid of her pacifier, and threw all of them away. She cried for a few nights, and seemed fine after that.

However, little did we know that it bothered her so much. When she was about 6 and had her own pocket money, she bought herself a pacifier! I guess we should not have done it in such a harsh and abrupt manner as she must have been rather attached to it.

With Kate, we gave her a pacifier but ensured she only used it at bedtime and nap time. She had two to rotate, and when one had a tear in it, I did not replace it and made it known to her that she was down to the last one.

A few months before her third birthday, we felt it was time she gave it up. We explained to her that pacifiers were for babies to help them to sleep and she doesn't need one now as she is no longer a baby.

She fluctuated between being ready to give it up and being adamant that she needed it. When she saw her baby cousin, she would fetch her pacifier and offer it to the baby. She even whispered to the baby that she is now a big girl and doesn't need it anymore (so adorable hearing her try to convince herself). However at bedtime, she would change her mind.

We prepped her for many weeks, and told her that we would throw it away on her 3rd birthday. We talked about the lovely party that she was so looking forwards to, and the presents she would receive.

I intended to keep aside a couple of the presents unopened, and when she whined for her pacifier, I would whip out one present per night to wean her off it smoothly.

A few days before her 3rd birthday, her pacifier had a slight tear in it, and she didn't want to suck it. She asked for a new one, but I told her no. She thought about it, then walked to the dustbin and threw it in herself.

That was it! No fuss, no crying. I was quite surprised, really. No need for my sneaky plan.

It took her about 30 minutes longer to fall asleep, and when she woke up in the middle of the night, she lay in bed for a long time before falling asleep.

The next day, she asked for it at nap time and at bed time, but did not make a fuss when I reminded her that she had thrown it away.

After that, she had no problems falling asleep without it.

The end :)

Do share with us if you had managed to wean your child off at a younger age, and what method you used as many new parents are keen to find out.

~ - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

The Keys Academy - Wall Street Basics Holiday Camp

Stepping into The Keys Academy, it is apparent you have entered a premium education facility. The sizeable premise with its sleek interiors offers a glimpse into the standard of the lessons which are to be conducted behind the glass walls.

Over the years, my 5 kids have enrolled in a gamut of holiday camps. Speech and drama, creative art, robotics and sports, just to name a few. All of the centres try to make the lessons fun and engaging, thus I was expecting no less with the Wall Street Basics Holiday Camp which #1 had been sponsored for.

However, The Keys Academy goes one step further, and what sets them apart is this:
"Innovative & Interdisciplinary" Students learn relevant and applied skills, plug into our global network of experts, and have fun along the way. We position ourselves at the intersection of play and rigour where innovation thrives.

Global experts? I did a quick check on the credentials of the lecturers for Wall Street Basics, which is suitable for ages 14 - 17.

Connor Krone is an expert in teaching entrepreneurship and was awarded a Yale University Fellowship in Business / Managerial Economics in 2011. He served as Program Director for the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, a $20 million funded global youth development organization, and is also the founder of Student Investment Lab and Fund (SILAF), a financial literacy program for high school students with a twist where students manage an active portfolio of stocks.

Global experts, check.

The last line, where they position themselves at the "intersection of play and rigour where innovation thrives" struck a chord with me.

This is precisely what I have been trying to achieve with my kids over the past decade. My constant lament is that our education system does not encourage creativity and innovation. They have the rigour, but there needs to be a balance with more open-ended experiential learning. Where the schools are lacking, I attempt to provide the opportunity at home for play and inquisitiveness to flourish.

Have I finally found an education academy which is able to carry out this lofty goal? I was getting more and more intrigued.
The Keys Academy
#1 jumped at the chance to know more about this topic as I have touched very briefly about the stock market when their questions arose in our daily conversations. Their queries were more than I could handle, and I was glad that my eldest has the opportunity to learn from the professionals.

I glanced through the program brochure and my interest was definitely piqued. They were going to be taught the basics of how financial markets work, understand how geopolitical events affect the stock market, and have hands-on application by practicing trading with a simulated portfolio of $100,000. The guest lecturer for this camp is Parag Khanna, CNN Global Contributor and Senior Research Fellow in the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

I was blown away. Never had any of my kids attended a holiday program of such calibre. I couldn't wait to find out what she was going to be taught, as this topic has always been the domain of adults. I was also curious as to how they were going to handle this topic as it is all too easy to drown them in a sea of jargon or inundate them with too much information.

Every evening, I would ask #1 what had transpired and I could feel her excitement and interest fresh from the days' learning. To be honest, I have never heard her speak like that about anything she has learned in school, nor even in her polytechnic lectures. She was so animated trying to explain to me all the concepts she had gleaned.

What astounded me was not only the amount of knowledge she picked up, but that the lecturers were able to deliver such complex information in easily understandable terms by making everything relevant to the society we are living in.

I have asked her to share a brief reflection of the Wall Street Basics Holiday Camp she attended.

Day 1

We commenced by grasping Economics basics with Gerald Ng (Economics), who walked us through fundamental concepts such as Demand and Supply theory. It was very helpful as it allowed me to understand the next few subjects better.

After lunch, Connor Krone (Entrepreneurship) taught us about stocks and analytics, using Google Finance as an example. I even learnt how to decipher the figures and calculate EPS and P/E independently! Connor is a believer in fundamentals.
Wall Street Basics
Day 2

We were given a simulated portfolio of $100,000 to invest in stocks. We selected a few stocks, analysed their data, and read up on the latest news about their companies. We finalised on 4 stocks and bought some shares.

In the afternoon, we were honoured to have Parag Khanna as our guest lecturer and he spoke about the "geopolitical marketplace", a term which he coined in his book The Second World, which refers to the superpowers competing for the influence in emerging markets. Countries now all have power and everything is interconnected because of globalisation. It was indeed eye-opening and extremely inspiring.

To round off the day, Gary Tan (Geopolitics)  taught us more about geopolitical trends and how the world has changed in terms of globalisation. With modern technology, huge amounts of money are able to be transferred within a mere second. We went on to study the Asian Currency Crisis and learnt how to identify when stocks are falling and when to enter the market.
Analysing data
Day 3

Today, we learnt about the Bulls and the Bears, and about patterns and trends of prices of stocks. We discussed the Global Financial Crisis and it's causes and effects.

Gary taught us technical analysis and how to interpret volume and how to use indicators such as moving averages.

Later in the day, we visited the City Planning Centre and learnt how the government puts systemic planning into creating a city with good infrastructure for its people and the economy.

Day 4

We had another session of Economics with Gerald. He explained how governments control the country's currency by selling bonds to adjust the interest rates in local banks, which was evident in our case study of the Global Financial Crisis.

Later in the day, we reviewed our trading portfolios and the stocks I chose made some money! Connor taught us about options and calls and puts and we practiced selling calls with our stocks.
Pizza treat for our last day!
Day 5

We took a stroll to the National Library to have a go at using the Bloomberg terminal. It was an enriching experience because it holds so much information about the stock market.

There were line graphs with multiple moving averages and equities and options. It felt like I entered the world of traders! How fascinating.

We ended our week with a presentation covering what we had learnt these past 5 days.

I enjoyed the program tremendously and what I found most useful was the way the topics were structured. Before we can even learn about investing, we have to know the basic fundamentals of the world we are living in, and the markets. Our lecturers introduced it step-by-step and delivered the information systematically, so that everything linked and made sense. I am eager to delve more into the world of investing!

After hearing how animated and excited #1 is at her new found knowledge, I wish they offered a parent-teen camp.

To me, the hallmark of true education begins where the student has been taught in context, is allowed to ask questions, and delves into the material at a deeper level, in addition to having their interest ignited and curious to discover more.

They have definitely surpassed my expectations.
CSI: Murder Mystery set-up
The Keys Academy will be running 2 more sessions of Wall Street Basics
  • 23 November - 27 November 2015 or
  • 30 November - 4 December 2015
Monday to Friday, 9am - 3pm.
Lunch will be provided.
Age: 14 - 17 years old
Fee: $560 after GST

SAVE TIP: This 5-day holiday camp is value for money, taking into consideration the expertise of the lecturers, innovative methods employed and skill sets learnt. As if that is not attractive enough, I have more good news! Simply quote "Mummy Wee" and my readers get a further 15% discount!

For younger kids, they have something just as exciting (or more!) lined up. The various Holiday Camps run on the same schedule and fees as Wall Street Basics (schedule as above).

CSI: Murder Mystery

Use Science and Mathematics to solve a murder mystery, and then learn the communication skills to present your case in front of a grand jury.

Skills Learnt: Forensics science, communication and debate.
Lecturers: Victor Wu (Science) and Justyn Olby (Communications)
Guest Lecturer: An experienced homicide detective and forensics examiner from the Miami-Dade Police division.
Field Visit: Supreme Court of Singapore

Age: 10 - 12 years old

Silicon Valley 101

Learn product design and prototyping with 3D printers and software, and then use design thinking and entrepreneurship skills to try to sell the product.

Age: 12 - 14 years old

More details for Silicon Valley 101.

Tech Star Jr.

Learn programming basics with MIT Media Lab's software Scratch and the creative writing skills to create animated stories.

Age: 8 - 10 years old

More details for Tech Star Jr.

331 North Bridge Road
Odeon Towers Level Two
Singapore 188720
Tel: 67348559

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored advertorial. All opinions are my own.

~ - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Christmas Gifts for Kids aged 1-12

I often get asked for suggestions on Christmas gift ideas for kids, so I've compiled a list of the things my 6 kids have enjoyed over the years.

Included are some bigger budget items for the super doting aunt or grandpa with only 1 or 2 little ones to splurge on. (This is the part where my kids never fail to complain "If we were an only child, we would get extravagant Christmas presents!")

As I have 5 girls and 1 boy, the items are slightly skewed towards the girls (especially in colour), although the majority are suitable for both genders.

The ages are but a rough guide, depending on the child's maturity and current preference, so do cross over for ideas.

Those without a tag at the end can be found at departmental stores like Takashimaya, Robinsons or Isetan. Tom & Stefanie at Westmall also carries a wide range of kids merchandise. I have included the Malls where the items can be found, right at the end of the post. Hope this list helps to lighten the year-end madness!

  • Musical instruments - Plan Toys from The Better Toy Store. They also carry good educational toys for babies and toddlers.
  • Wire and Bead Maze frame - Ikea
  • Simple puzzles - Melissa & Doug Sound Puzzles from Mothercare
  • Duplo (toddler sized Lego)
  • Stacking cups
  • Pull-along toy telephone from Fisher Price
  • Cloth books
Xylophone $30
Splurge: "Snuggle Bug" Car, powered by foot from Toys "R" Us

Every toddler who comes to our house will automatically get into the little car. As they get older, they add pretend play into the mix, "driving" to the supermarket and creating stories. Buy it when they are 1+ to get more mileage out of it!

If space permits, a mini indoor slide is also a good option. My kids played with theirs every single day, and even draped an oversized cloth over it and turned it into their secret hiding place.
Snuggle Bug $190
  • 'Build-a-Snowman' Playdough Kit from Tickle your Senses (Pre-orders until 29 Nov, delivery in December to ensure freshness)
  • Collapsible Scrunch Bucket for sand/water play (great for travelling) - Mothercare, Not in the Malls (online store) 
  • Cut fruit set - Melissa & Doug Mothercare
  • Cooking set - Eco-friendly Green Toys from MothersWork.
  • Toy stroller
'Build-a-Snowman Kit' $24.90
Splurge: Balance Bike Kinderbike E Series ($109) from Tikes N Bikes. Details in my review of Kinder Bike.
Green Toys Chef Set ($27) Dish Set ($39)
  • Trucks, planes, excavators. Boys at this age love vehicles. Big ones or small ones like Hot Wheels car collection.
  • Plus-Plus puzzles are great for little hands and convenient to bring around. I put a handful into a drawstring bag and it's enough to keep Kate occupied during family meals out, from The Children's Showcase.
  • Doctor Set pretend play
  • Large Floor Puzzles from Growing Fun.
  • Vitamins for kids (amidst all the toys received, my kids love the surprise of getting gummy vitamins. They see it as healthy sweets!)
Splurge: The entire kitchen set with sink and microwave oven or Thomas the Train track set for boys. #5 played with his trains almost daily for about 2 years. Well-worth the money spent.
Plus-Plus puzzles $29
  • 'Fun-on-the-Run' Car Table Bag from Ministry of Tots. Review of this innovative portable table to keep the kids occupied during car rides. Best used with booster seat.
  • Cute lunch boxes, drinking cups or utensils. "Rice" car/heart-shaped snack boxes from Motherswork, The Children's Showcase or Not in the Malls online shop
  • 'Build-a-Bear' cuddlies where they can customise their own bears
  • Assortment of Swimming floaters from sports shops or departmental stores
  • Ride along luggage bags
Splurge: Skate scooter from White & Black Trading, Motherswork, Robinsons.

"Fun-on-the-Run" Car Table Bag $29.90
  • Sylvanian Families animal figurine sets
  • Zoobie Pet (Ultra cute Soft toy, pillow & blanket rolled into one. Great travelling companion and too cute to boot) Small $36, Large $55 from The Planet Traveller
  • Simple board games - from Growing Fun
  • Stationery/Wallets/Water bottles from Smiggle. Time to get them ready for Primary 1, and don't forget to ask their favourite colour.
Splurge: My girls were smitten by the adorable Sylvanian animals and the assortment of miniature furniture. One fine Christmas, they made a pact to request for this together so the grandparents took them to Takashimaya and they had a field day buying the entire village, complete with pool, jumping castle and lights to illuminate the house. Now, Kate has inherited everything!

For something more practical, a good quality school bag like SPI, Impact or Deuter would last them a good 6 years. Although in reality, after Primary 4 they wanted a different design, and passed down their old bag to their sibling. #5 is still using #1's SPI bag which I bought her in Primary 1, and she's now in Polytechnic! Super durable.
Zoobie Pet $55
  • Citiblocs from My First Games online store. Review of the myriad of structures which can be built by these seemingly innocuous looking flat blocks. They are having a massive 30% discount (only for Citiblocs) just key in CTBTHIRTY at checkout.
  • Luggage bags
  • Micro Chargers Cars for boys
  • Small haversack (for excursion days in school)
  • Craft kits from Spotlight 
  • Subscription to Young Scientist
Splurge: Rollerblades or trampoline to get them bouncing, from sports shops.
Citiblocs 200 pieces $89
  • Handmade Scrapbooks for journalling, doodling, crafting. Hardcover with blank pages. More details at Dottieshop Facebook page. Order via email:
  • Washi tape from craft or scrapbooking stores
  • More Lego (my son played with Lego from 2 till now, upgrading to sets for older kids. Ask if they have any preference of character themes.)
Splurge: Wrist watch for school (we gave each of our kids a Casio Baby G watch before entering Primary 2, which lasted them for years). Or splurge on a new bicycle if they have outgrown the previous one.
 Mini Scrapbook $16
  • Assortment of markers from Typo, Smiggle or The Paper Stone
  • Pretty computer accessories
  • Remote control car from Toys r Us
  • Soap making kit from Soap Ministry
  • Sporting equipment such as soccer balls / basketballs / badminton racquets 
Remote control car
  • Cheery Stationery and more from The Paper Stone
  • Plush toys from Craftholic (these cute Japanese characters come in a variety of colours and have a huge following among tweens, teens, and even young adults)
  • Dart board, chess board
  • Skylanders merchandise
Splurge: Penny Skateboard from White & Black Trading (colour can be customised)
Rabbit Type Alien from Craftholic
  • Colourful cushions to brighten up their rooms, Cupcake cushion from Candylicious
  • Large Globe from Popular bookstore
  • Cross-shoulder sachets
Splurge: Remote control drone (the gramps can't remember the name of the retailer, but you can find them in hobby shops)
Remote control drone
  • Family board games from My First Games. They have a mind-boggling array of unique games for all ages
  • Ear phones, mobile phone covers.
  • Sunglasses
  • Converse shoes
  • Hoodie jackets, preferably in solid dark colours
Splurge: Polaroid 
Ubongo Extreme family game
  • Swave Board from Toys r Us
  • Large, less childish water bottles in preparation for Secondary 1
  • Polaroid refills if you bought them a Polaroid last year
  • Christmas Starbucks card (this one needs clearance from mum, but you'll be the coolest aunt around!)
  • For girls, they are starting to be little ladies, and love pretty lip balms (from pharmacies), sling handbags or metal chain necklaces.
Splurge: A new schoolbag for Secondary school. #3 requested for this very popular Swedish backpack from her aunt, and I thought it looked rather strange initially. I discovered that it is extremely light yet durable and very practical, and the logo doubles as a reflector! See retailers below, or purchase online.
Fjallraven Kanken $129
Books are always a good idea, even though they may not be as well-received by the kids. I notice a look of disappointment when they tear open the present only to reveal books. However, it is the books they read over and over again, and take to school for morning reading sessions.

Here's a whole list of good books, sorted by age. A good set for preschool children is the Timmy & Tammy series, which is written by local author Ruth Wan, to introduce Singapore landmarks to children in a fun way.

For the older kids aged 11-16, popular series at the moment include The Hunger Games, I am Number 4 and John Green books. 

If you are still stumped for ideas for the remaining kids on your list, just ask the child what character he or she likes and you can't go far wrong. I don't encourage Character merchandise, although it is usually a losing battle. Kate is now into Sofia the First and I can see her inching into the Frozen phase (gasp).

Another option for kids with too much material things is to give them the gift of an experience or one-off classes. Why not surprise them with a Gold Class movie date (my kids have been wishing for this), or classes such as pottery, mosaic art or Christmas craft workshops.

Mummies, do share with us if you have good recommendations, especially for the older kids!

Check out the following stores and you might pick up something that the child might like.

Happy Christmas shopping!

The Better Toy Store: Tanglin Mall #01-11, Parkway Parade, #01-70, The Centrepoint #03-07

Motherswork: Great World City #02-16, Tanglin Mall #03-11, Marina Bay Sands #B1-58, 112 Katong #03-33

Not in The Malls (online store Singapore)

The Children's Showcase: Cluny Court #02-31, PasarBella #02-06

Growing Fun: Paragon #05-01, United Square #02-08, Parkway Parade #02-34, Marina Square #03-157

Ministry of Tots: Purchase via Qoo10 or PM via their Facebook page. Take $1 off by quoting "Mummy Wee blog". 

The Planet Traveller: Ion Orchard #04-19, Marina Square #03-126, Paragon #04-15, Changi Airport T3 #03-34

Smiggle: List of 20 Smiggle stores islandwide

'Build-a-Bear': Plaza Singapura #03-04, Harbourfront #02-17

Spotlight: Plaza Singapore Level 5

Typo: Wisma Atria #B1-54, Vivocity #02-39, Westgate #02-22, Anchorpoint #01-03

Soap Ministry: Liang Court #02-33

Craftholic: Bugis Plus #02-23, Plaza Singapura #03-19

Candylicious: Resorts World Sentosa, Takashimaya #B2-25, Vivocity #02-41

Fjallraven: List of retailers in Singapore - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore~

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