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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Get Well Cards for Her Grandmas

Lil Pumpkin's two grandmothers will be going for surgery soon so she made them both 2 little "Get Well" cards today. They love her so very much and I'm sure they will appreciate this little gesture for her.

She chose the pink paper herself and wanted to paint her pictures with water colour at first. However, the paper didn't hold the water colour too well and it started to smudge badly so she changed to crayons and added stickers for decorations.

My mother-in-law will be going to surgery for her cataracts and so the boy will be at the clinic manning the clinic on his own for the next few weeks while she rests at home.

She's been putting it off for a while and is finally going through with it so yay.

My own dear mother will be going to surgery for something more unfavourable. Not going into much details here but we're all praying fervently that she will pull through and recover completely. It's going to be tough the next few months as she undergoes her treatment but we'll all definitely be around to support and encourage her.

Looking on the bright side {because, how else to cope?}, it could have been even worst and maybe this was the "disaster" that we were supposed to block when my family had our little spates of bad luck at the end of last year.

As we watch our kids grow bigger, and as we get older, so do our parents. And as with most folks, age comes with its own ailments and illnesses.

It can be a bit difficult watching our parents' health fail and they become weaker... knowing that time with them is really, just so limited. Some of our friends' parents have passed away already and we are reminded of the fragility of life and to appreciate it even more.

Life is just so precious and we need to make better choices about how we spend it.

If you can, just help us to pray for the the health and well-being of these two grand dames in our lives. I dearly wish that they can both live to a ripe old age to see Lil Pumpkin grow up, get married, and have kids of her own.

Thanks a lot xox


Friday, January 30, 2015

Go Local :: Singapore Heritage Playgrounds & Win a Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 #ProjectRESGIcons

This year we've made it one of our goals to visit a playground at least once a week with Lil Pumpkin. Since the boy and I are both working full-time, this usually happens on the weekends. Sometimes we'll go searching for a particular playground, but other times we'll just go about our usual weekend activities and hopefully stumble upon a gem of a playground. I'll be jotting down all the exciting, fun and sometimes even quirky {!!} playgrounds we visit on my weekly Singapore Playgrounds series.

As parents, hubby and I always believe that play is very important in Lil Pumpkin's childhood. It's not just a luxury she can have when she's "free", but a necessity for her to learn, grow and discover the world we live in. It's where her mind and spirit comes alive, and we see how imaginative she is!

Dinosaurs Playground at Kim Keat
So in a way, having a goal of visiting at least one playground a week was our way to making sure Lil Pumpkin has more play with us outdoors, but it was also another way of encouraging us to be a tourist in our own beautiful island, and go to places that we never seem to venture much into.

Watermelon Playground at Tampines
As part of Singapore's 50th birthday this year, I was recently invited to take up the #ProjectRESGIcons challenge with my Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 to REdiscover, REimagine and REcreate something with Singapore's icons that has helped to make it what it is today.

Since I'm so interested in our playgrounds nowadays, it made the most sense that I'll be choosing that as my theme to investigate more on its history and find out more for ourselves on what makes them iconic.

Mangosteen Playground at Tampines
Out of all the playgrounds we have, the ones that touch my heart most are the old, heritage playgrounds. They remind me of my carefree childhood days and these are memories I want to share with Lil Pumpkin too.

Designed mainly by Mr Khor Ean Ghee {former in-house designer of HDB}, these were built in the 1970s and 1980s for children to play safely, and to learn about local identity so you will see many designs like dragons, sampans {wooden boats} and even mangosteen fruits that are very unique to our local culture and history.

This cultural aspect is something I find lacking in most modern playgrounds, which is a shame since that's what makes them most meaningful and original to Singapore.

Dragon Playground at Ang Mo Kio
All of them are relatively simple with not many features that you see in a typical modern playground nowadays. They may be pretty static, but at least that leaves room for the kids to be imaginative and create their own stories for play. Sometimes I feel that the newer playgrounds have too many features for the kids to play around with that they end up running around like headless chickens not know what to do first!

Dragon Playground at Toa Payoh
Heard from the grapevine that eventually, only the Dragon playground at Toa Payoh will be kept and the rest will be demolished to keep up with our country's development. Not sure how true that is but looking at the way things from my childhood days are disappearing, there's no reason to wait around and find out and hopefully, we can finish visiting all the heritage playgrounds by June this year. As of now, there are around only 11 left.

I've never used Android systems before and was pretty scared that I won't be able to manage the new Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2. I guess that's pretty common for people who are used to Apple or i-whatever products :P However, I was pretty surprised that I got the hang of it very quickly. Maybe because Apple's recent iOS design, features and usability is somewhat similar to Android's.

One amazing thing that I really, really love about the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 is its long-lasting battery life. I'm not used to this kind of "luxury" on my electronic devices! :P We brought it out to try out its video and camera functions {more on that in a bit} at the Watermelon playground for a day and it was still going strong! It can last up to 18 hours and is so good it can even help to charge our other smartphones and tablets haha.

The long-lasting battery life is also awesome because with both 4G/LTE and wifi connectivity, that means I can blog pretty much anywhere, anytime and I don't need to worry about lugging around extra cords for charging it!

Versatile kickstand allows you to hold, tilt, stand & hang the unit
People tend to hold tablets differently when they do different things. With the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2, there's a good grip due to the cylindrical batteries {which is what gives it longer battery life} and I'm able to hold it ergonomically for better angles when reading up more on the playgrounds, tilt for easier browsing, let it stand without any additional backing when my hands were tired and hang it wherever I want - even at the back of our car seats to entertain Lil Pumpkin when we were stuck in a jam!! hehe

Playing with our DIY Watermelon Playground
As part of the challenge, I decided to recreate one of the heritage playgrounds into a doll-sized playground for Lil Pumpkin to play with at home. It's such a crazy idea since hello, it's not like we can just colour on a milk carton and call it a day. But, I wanted it to be as realistic for her as possible.

Thankfully I've got hubby who helped me to find an Android app on the tablet to help us come up with a template for the Watermelon playground structures.

Colouring time!
After printing, I got Lil Pumpkin to help cut and colour...

Family effort to make our DIY Watermelon Playground
Then hubby and I got down to constructing the actual miniature playground set, with help from our darling girl of course. This was a half-day family project that was pretty tough! But I'm glad we spent time to work on it together.

I might post a tutorial on this so keep a look-out ;)

Pretty similar to the real thing, right?? :P
Ta-dah!! Not too bad, right? Had to use the tablet to keep checking back with photos of the original Watermelon Playground to see that we got the colours, angles, shape etc. right. We even made the ground base look like the actual base with watermelon prints made with origami paper haha.

So. Much. Fun. Perfect for minifigs & other small dolls.
It's not done to scale and looks kinda amateurish but Lil Pumpkin is sooooo very pleased with it and that's all that matters, really :) It reminds her of that day we went to the original Watermelon Playground and she even wants us to make her other heritage playground models to play with!! *gulp*

I think it's the perfect size for minifigs, but any small doll would do.

Have a look at this video I made with some shots from the Lenovo Yoga 2 Tablet {obviously if you see photos with it then it's taken with another camera}. If the link isn't working, check it out on my YouTube channel here.

The tablet has a powerful 8 megapixel rear camera that lets you capture and share sharper photos and videos. Pretty useful if I'm outside blogging and I want to just take good quality photos without using any additional devices. The wide aperture lens also means more light can reach the camera sensor to take better photos in places with dim lighting.

Full HD screen & Dolby Audio speakers
Lil Pumpkin likes to watch the video I made on the tablet. The full HD screen makes it look so clear, and with the 2 front-facing Dolby Audio large chamber speakers, it's almost like watching it in the movies :P 

I had so much fun using the tablet for my #ProjectRESGIcons challenge that just for my readers and friends, I've ONE Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 10" {Android} worth S$599 to giveaway! I've listed some specs above, but see the full product information on the Lenovo Singapore website.

Giveaway Method: Random Draw

1. Be a Lenovo Singapore Facbook page fan

2. Be a Sakura Haruka Facebook page fan

3. Subscribe to my upcoming newsletter. Make sure the email add you used to subscribe is working as I'll be using that to contact the winner. Remember to confirm the subscription and check your junk folder in case the confirmation email goes there.

4. Like & Share this Facebook photo and tag a friend. Make sure your post is public!

5. Leave me a blog comment telling me which Singapore icon you want to rediscover with your kids & why + FB name you used to like the pages + name you used to subscribe to the newsletter. For those unsure of how to comment, choose "Name/URL" option then add your name and comment.

Bonus entry:
1. Follow me on Instagram {@AiSakuraHaruka}
2. Repost this photo on IG & tag @AiSakuraHaruka #ASHlenovoyogagiveaway #ProjectRESGIcons {please make sure your profile is public}

ONE random winner will be chosen. Just complete all 5 simple steps + bonus entry {if you like}!

* Open to Singapore residents only.
* Ends Sunday, 15 Feb 2015 2359hrs {Singapore time} 
* Incomplete or inappropriate entries will be deemed invalid and will not be included.
* Winner will be announced by Wednesday 18 Feb 2015 on this blog post and notified via email with further instructions on how to collect prize. Winner have 2 days to reply, or the prize will be redrawn.
* Sakura Haruka is not responsible for any prizes lost, damaged or misplaced in delivery.

* Disclosure: This post is part of the Lenovo Singapore #ProjectRESGIcons campaign. Lenovo Yoga 2 10" Tablet was provided by Lenovo Singapore for giveaway. All opinions are my own.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wordless Wednesday {linky}: Singapore Playgrounds - Tampines Watermelons | Week 3

Where is this week's playground?
Block 858, Tampines Avenue 5.

FUN Factor?
8/10. Old swing is gone but the slide is pretty fast!
Extra point for unique playground design. One of the Singapore Heritage Playgrounds.

Check out our DIY Doll-sized Watermelon Playground here.

Play is important for children to her to learn, grow and discover the world we live in.
As we visit as many fun, nostalgic and even quirky playgrounds as we can this year,
I hope to inspire you to make play an even bigger part of your kids' lives and
explore much more of our beautiful Singapore!

This photo is part of the 52 Weeks Singapore Playgrounds series.


Sakura Haruka's wordless wednesday
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Letter to my girl #16: Be Present Today, To Be In Your Memories Tomorrow

Dear Lil Pumpkin,

We attended a friend's, Uncle Wills, wedding last Saturday. I knew Uncle Wills way back before you were born and because of our busy schedules,  Mummy and Uncle Wills kept in touch mainly through Facebook, although we'll bump into each other at social gatherings sometimes because we have the same circles of friends.

Mummy and Uncle Wills will always say "let's meet up soon, let's meet up soon" but we never really did. And then time passed by and it's been 5 years since we intentionally met up - at his wedding no less. Felt really happy that despite our distance and lack of communication the past few years, Uncle Wills still remembered me enough to invite me to celebrate his special day with him :)

As you and I sat at the pews waiting for the church ceremony to start, I looked back at the past 5 years and realised that time has really flown past so quickly.

The last time Uncle Wills saw you was when you were still a wee little baby, and now, you've grown into such a sweet young girl. Beautiful, precocious and extremely inquisitive. Sometimes I wonder where you get all her energy from, and when I will run out of energy to keep up with you!

Time waits for no man, no matter how much I lament how fast it goes. I can't stop it, and I can't stop you from growing older, but I can be more mindful about how I spend my time with you. Sometimes I feel really guilty that I can't be there with you throughout the day because of work. And even when I'm physically there with you, I sometimes get so caught up fervently capture your growing up moments in words or film to make up for missing some milestones, that I forget to be there emotionally or mentally. I'm sorry.

You may not remember much from the past 5 years, but I'm sure you can from this age forward. I want to be part of your memories, not just the memory maker. The person in your photos with you, not just the one taking the photos. The one dancing and singing all your crazy songs with you, not just the one filming it. The person reading the books with you, not just the one who bought them.

As you get older, I know that you'll probably not want Mummy in your life as much as you do now. That's ok, as that's what happens when kids grow up and be independent.

But in the future, as you look back in your childhood days, I want you to remember that Mummy was there by your side learning, reading, playing and living life together with you. Just like how your grandma was with me.

Love you always,

Lovely, candid shots taken by Alwyn. I Blog on Tues with Essentially Jess.