Thursday, October 11, 2018

Go Local :: Goodbye Normanton Park, My Childhood Home

Exactly 1 week ago, Normanton Park closed for good. Thurs 4 Oct 2018 was the last day for residents' to return their house keys, and to move out of one of the oldest {41 years old!} and biggest housing estate in Singapore.

Sorry for the lack of blog updates on the blog as I have been busy helping my parents to pack and move.

Due to privacy reasons, I never divulged online or shared with followers that Normanton Park was my childhood home. Even after it was sold en bloc, Jerome asked if I was going to write about growing up there but I didn't feel it was the right time as my parents still lived there... but now since they've moved out, I reckon it's ok now to share more about my experience and memories growing up in Normanton Park.

But in due time though, as my heart is still heavy and I'm still processing the fact that I will never be able to step into Normanton Park again....

I'd never play with Lil Pumpkin at the estate playground again, I'd never 拜年 to my parents' at our home there again, I'd never walk to get a late night snack from the supermarket there again, I'd never go lime-picking there again,  I'd never practise my driving there again, I'd never laze by the pool there again...

It's not just a simple house-moving.

Yes, my family have lived there for many years so have strong bonds to it, but I think what makes it even harder leaving Normanton Park is knowing that there isn't even a place for us to go back and visit in the future. There will be no more Normanton Park as we know it.

The current estate will be demolished and a new development will be built there. Maybe they might keep the name, but the community and history of the estate will definitely be different.

For those that are not aware, Normanton Park was developed by the Ministry of Defence in 1977 to provide affordable housing and build esprit de corps among Singapore Armed Forces officers.

Don't quote me on this, but I also heard that it was built so that in case of war, it was easier to protect the family of the military commanders and officers in the self-contained {we had our own supermarket, hairdresser, preschool, canteen, bookshop etc.} 623,000 sq ft gated estate so that they could go fight in peace..

At its early beginnings, if you were not a SAF personnel or had a family member who was, you could not live there.

In 1993, it was privatised and that's when a lot of residents started selling or renting out their apartments to non-SAF personnel. Because of its close proximity to NUS, NUH, and offices at Science Park, Fusionpolis etc, the demographic of Normanton Park residents changed.

There were more foreign students and nurses renting apartments there, as well as expats who worked nearby.

I remember that when we were younger, the community was really tight-knit. Our parents knew one another, and us Normanton Park kids used to go to the same preschool in one bus, then come home and play together until dinner. Sometimes even past that.

Holidays were extravagantly celebrated together and we'd have estate pool parties during festivals like New Year's, go lantern-walking during Mid-Autumn Festival, and one of my fondest memories was sitting the jolly choo-choo train that went around Normanton Park during Christmas.

This was my "kampong".

After the privatisation, a lot of the old residents moved out and the population of SAF officers dwindled. Things changed quite a bit and sadly, the community didn't seem as close...

As of last year, it was said that only one fifth of Normanton Park residents had ties to SAF.

Anyway, my parents were one of the first few residents to move in, and they stayed until the very end.

I'm really glad that Lil Pumpkin had the opportunity to know and form precious memories at Normanton Park too since she spent a considerable time there with my mum while I worked...

I had a final walk-about with her the weekend before Normanton Park was locked down on Sat 29 Sep 2018.

Took many photos and short clips of her which I've compiled in this video above. Have a look and if it's not working well, go watch it on my YouTube channel.

I also posted some memories from the last few weeks of Normanton Park and the gems I found there on my Instagram Highlights Reel. Find "Normanton #1" and "Normanton #2" folders if you'd like to check it out.

Will be sharing more later on once I've finally let it all sink it, and of course, after Lil Pumpkin's busy exam period.. so stay tuned!

Other Singapore heritage places:

Monday, September 24, 2018

KidsFest 2019 is Back!! + Win Family Tickets to Watch We're Going On A Bear Hunt

KidsFest! - the family’s favourite Festival is back! Young​ ​theatre​ ​lovers​ ​and​ ​enthusiastic fans​ ​will​​ be ​in​​ for​​ ​a dazzling​ ​adventure​ ​with​ ​4​ of the most popular children’s theatre shows.

Watch Room on the Broom, The Gruffalo, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt at KidsFest! 2019 which starts in late January next year.

At KidsFest, characters from well-loved books are brought to life and the stories presented vividly on stage. It’s a wonderful platform for family interaction and at the same time, nurtures a child’s interest in literature and language. We've missed I think the last 2 editions so I'm making sure that we make it to at least one show next year!

Which show below would you go for??

Room on the Broom:

"Join the Witch and her cat on their mission to defeat the dragon in this magical, musical adaptation of the classic picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

The Witch and her cat are travelling on their broomstick when they pick up some hitch-hikers - a friendly dog, a beautiful green bird and a crazy frog. But this broomstick’s not meant for five and - CRACK - it snaps in two... just as the hungry dragon appears!"

Show dates: Thu 24 Jan - Sun 27 Jan 2019
Number of shows: 5
Duration: Approx 60 mins, no interval
Venue: KC Arts Centre - Home of SRT
Ticket prices: S$42, S$52, S$62

The Gruffalo:

"Join Mouse on a daring adventure through the deep, dark wood in Tall Stories’ magical, musical adaptation of the classic picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

Searching for hazelnuts, Mouse meets the cunning Fox, the eccentric old Owl and the party mad Snake. Will the story of the terrifying Gruffalo save Mouse from ending up as dinner for these hungry woodland creatures? After all, there’s no such thing as a Gruffalo – is there?"

Show dates: Fri 25 Jan - Sun 25 Jan 2019
Number of shows: 6
Duration: Approx 55 mins, no interval
Venue: Victoria Theatre
Ticket prices: S$42, S$52, S$62

The Tiger Who Came to Tea:

"Join the tea-guzzling tiger in this delightful family show; packed with oodles of magic, sing-a-long songs and clumsy chaos! A stunning stage adaptation of the classic tale of teatime mayhem... expect to be surprised!"

Show dates: Fri 1 Feb - Sun 3 Feb 2019
Number of shows: 3
Duration: Approx 55 mins, no interval
Venue: Drama Centre Theatre
Ticket prices: S$42, S$52, S$62

We're Going on a Bear Hunt:

"Join our intrepid family of adventurers and their musical dog on a quest to find a bear; as they wade through the gigantic swishy swashy grass, the splishy splashy river and the thick oozy, squelchy mud! Expect catchy songs, interactive scenes, plenty of adventure and a few surprises along the way, the ending is not quite like the book!"

Show dates: Thu 17 Jan - Sun 20 Jan 2019
Number of shows: 8
Duration: Approx 55 mins, no interval
Venue: KC Arts Centre - Home of SRT
Ticket prices: S$42, S$52, S$62

Lil Pumpkin when she went to watch Erth's Dinosaur Zoo back in 2015!! My, how she has grown!!

Anyway, there are some family and package deals going on now, and you can get your tickets via SISTIC. Head over to KidsFest Singapore's website for more information about this event.

Check out the rest of our Bub & Me activities or list of kid-friendly places in Singapore too!

For my own special friends & blog readers, I've ONE "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" Family Show Tickets Package {worth S$264} to give away!!

It includes 4 x Category 1 tickets {best seats!!} to the show on Friday, 18 Jan 2019, 5pm at KC Arts Centre - Home of Singapore Repertory Theatre {SRT}. The show is recommended for kids 3 years old and up.

Giveaway Method: Random Draw

1. Be a Sakura Haruka Facebook page fan

2. 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.

3. Like & Share this Facebook photo and tag 3 friends. Make sure your post is public!

4. Leave me a blog comment telling me your best English composition study tip + FB name you used to like the page + 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 @AiSakuraHaruka on Instagram
2. Repost this photo on IG & tag @AiSakuraHaruka #ASHxKidsFest2019Giveaway + your FB name + 3 friends. Make sure your post is public!

ONE random winner will be chosen. Just complete all 4 simple steps + bonus entry {if you like}!

UPDATE: The giveaway has ended. The winner is JingRong Loh. Stay tuned for more blog giveaways on Sakura Haruka! Check out my current readers promos too. Thanks for your support!

* Open to Singapore residents only.
* Ends Sunday, 30 Sep 2018 2359hrs {Singapore time} 
* Incomplete or inappropriate entries will be deemed invalid and will not be included.
* Winner will be announced by Wednesday 3 Oct 2018 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.
* Tickets only valid for performance on Friday, 18 Jan 2019, 5pm at KC Arts Centre - Home of SRT, 20 Merbau Road, Robertson Quay Singapore 239035.
* No refunds or changes to show time or date.
* Prize tickets cannot be exchanged for cash value or resold.
* Everyone must have own ticket for admission, including infants in arms.
* Sakura Haruka is not responsible for any prizes lost, damaged or misplaced in delivery.

Don't Miss These Recent Posts:
How To Reduce Your Kid's Risk of Myopia

Thursday, September 20, 2018

How to Reduce Your Child's Risk of Myopia - W Optics Kids Myopia Control Assessment

Since most of our family members wear spectacles, we weren't that surprised that Lil Pumpkin got her first pair of glasses in May this year. After all, heredity is one of the causes of myopia.

The boy was randomly asking her to read road signs but she couldn't seem to see them clearly, so he decided to get her eyes checked.

At that time, her myopia or shortsightedness wasn't tooooo bad - just about 100 degrees. And she didn't actually have to wear one all the time but she chose to. Maybe because we all did so and she doesn't want to feel left out??

Anyway, when she started wearing specs, all of a sudden, my little girl seemed all grown up!! Aww! #wheredidmybabygo

Last month, since the boy and I were having our W Optics Comprehensive Eye Examination done, Lil Pumpkin went for their W Optics Myopia Control Assessment with one of their experienced optometrist.

Just like our comprehensive eye examination, her myopia control assessment is more than a basic eye check to determines the refractive prescription of an individual.

The assessment takes around 30mins and uses state-of-the-art equipment to identify the best vision corrective solution for the child's myopia, and also screens and diagnoses different eye conditions or eye diseases.

Parents are required to be in the room while the child takes the assessment.

The optometrist started off by asking Lil Pumpkin some of her family history, health and lifestyle like when did she start wearing spectacles, her favourite activities, her reading habits etc. 

After that, she examined Lil Pumpkin's eyes and its surrounding areas with machines. These customised tests included the following:
  • Visual Acuity Test: measures how well she can see at near and far distances
  • Subjective Refraction Test: determines, by trial and error using Lil Pumpkin’s cooperation, the combination of lenses that will provide the best corrected visual acuity
  • Vision Function Test: investigates how she uses vision for various tasks and her peripheral area of vision
  • Binocular Vision Test: checks if she can maintain visual focus on an object with both eyes to create one single image
  • Colour Vision Assessment: determines if she has colour blindness 
  • Slit-Lamp Exam: diagnoses glaucoma, detached retina, macular degeneration, cornea injuries etc. 
  • Corneal Topography: maps the curve of Lil Pumpkin's cornea to show possible problems on eye's surface like swelling or scarring
  • Retinal Tomography: gives a remarkably detailed image of the retina and all of its layers to check for conditions like age-related macular degeneration or retinal detachment

Like me, Lil Pumpkin doesn't really like people to touch her eyes so I appreciated the optometrist being so sweet and gentle with Lil Pumpkin to make her feel at ease.

She assured Lil Pumpkin if she showed any signs of discomfort and patiently answered any of Lil Pumpkin's curious questions.

I like that the optometrist took the time to explain her assessment findings in simple terms to Lil Pumpkin too, instead of just to us, her parents.

I know that when Lil Pumpkin hears something from other experts or "teachers", she tends to pay more attention and follow their advice better. She takes their words more seriously than ours! Is this the same with your kids too?? haha..

Here, the optometrist was telling Lil Pumpkin that she found tiny abrasions on her eyelids as she liked to rub her eyes so reminded her not to do so.

Thank goodness we brought Lil Pumpkin to her comprehensive eye assessment and found this out early before it got any worst!

We also found out that Lil Pumpkin's myopia condition had worsened even though she got her new specs just 2 months ago. Yikes! That's fast!

The optometrist explained that myopia can be controlled by slowing down its progression during childhood though. These treatments can induce changes in the structure and focusing of the eye to reduce stress and fatigue associated with the development and progression of shortsightedness.

Whenever possible, we should try to control myopia to keep the child from developing high levels of shortsightedness that require thick, corrective glasses and have been associated with serious eye problems later in life, such as cataracts or even a detached retina.

Spending more time outdoors {higher level of natural light is beneficial}, using less electronic devices & eating more food rich in vitamin D and lutein e.g. kiwi, spinach, squash etc. will help, as well as myopia control treatments using
  • Multi-focal optical lenses - special spectacle lenses with different power zones 
  • Multi-focal contact lenses - special contact lenses with different power zones
  • Orthokeratology {"ortho-k"} - special gas permeable contact lenses worn during sleep to reshape the cornea and be spectacle-free during the day

Based on the assessment results, the optometrist recommended that we put her on a myopia management treatment using Crizal Myopilux MAX lenses.These special multi-focal lenses slow down myopia progression.

The top part of the lenses corrects the vision and offers clear far vision, while there is additional magnification at the bottom of the lenses, reducing the effort for near vision, hence controlling myopia progression.

Kinda like a kiddy version of her daddy's progressive lenses...?? hehe

W Optics Suntec City also has a Myopia Control Centre.

It offers information on myopia causes and management, kids games & activities, as well as a full selection of over 150 children eyewear choices that come in different colour, fitting, hypoallergic material to cater to all kids.

There are even optical frames for infants, sunglasses and sports goggles!

Lil Pumpkin had fun picking out her new spectacles from Swissflex, which has a modular frame system that ensures optimum vision and best wearing comfort since it can be fitted individually.

You can pick and choose the spectacle temple attachments, end pieces, bridges, nose pads etc. It is also super light and flexible, so no worries about Lil Pumpkin over-bending and breaking her glasses!

Since there are different power zones in her lenses now, she needs to learn how to move her head so that her eyes focus in the correct zone when she is doing different tasks e.g. chin up, eyes down to use bottom half for reading, for the myopia control treatment to work properly.

It will take some time getting used to, but children adapt rather quickly... if they want to, haha. The optometrist advised us to let her wear it progressively i.e. start with half a day, then slowly increase the hours so that she'd wear it full-time.

We will need to come back in about 6 months' time to see if her degree has stabilised or not and check if the myopia control treatment is working for her. If it works, she should be on it until puberty.

Lil Pumpkin and her daddy with their new spectacles (*⌒∇⌒*)

Kids should have their eyes checked every 6 months to a year. W Optics Kids Myopia Control Assessment costs S$45 and is available for walk-ins, but I strongly suggest that you make an appointment first via W Optics' website. Weekdays are less crowded than weekends / public holidays.

Check out the above video of Lil Pumpkin's experience and I uploaded more pics/ short vids in my Instagram Stories Highlight Reel too - look for W Optics 230718 folder. 

W Optics Suntec City
3 Temasek Boulevard #01-400 Suntec City
Open daily, 10.30am - 9.30pm
Tel: 6736 1303
Instagram:  @WOptics {Hashtags: #WOptics, #WEYExperienceSG}
* Other locations: Bedok Mall, Causeway Point, Compass One, Great World City, Hougang1, JEM, Singpost Centre, Tanglin Mall, Vivocity & Wheelock Place 

* Disclosure: This is a review for W Optics. All opinions are my own.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Importance of Regular Eye Checks - W Optics Comprehensive Eye Examination Review

Last month, our whole family went for the W EYExperience eye examination at W Optics that is tailored to individual lifestyle and vision needs. Hubby and I went for the W EYExperience Comprehensive Eye Examination, while Lil Pumpkin had her W EYExperience Myopia Control Assessment done.

It was long overdue {especially for me!} and I'm so glad that I went because if not, I wouldn't have known what exactly has been causing my itchy eyes!! And it was not something that I had expected.. #yikes

I go on and on about fitness, health & wellness but isn't it funny how easy it is to miss out on one of our most important organs - our eyes - when we talk about taking care of our body or going for regular health checks?

Eyesight is one of our most important and valued senses. Without healthy vision, our quality of life will be drastically affected.

As we get older, the eye and its sensitive mechanisms become more and more susceptible to damage and disease like the rest of our body.

Being alert to changes in our vision is important in picking up eye diseases. Some, like glaucoma, have no symptoms in their early stages, so you may not know you have the problem until the disease is in its later stage! This can make treatment more difficult.. thus, it's a good idea to go for regular eye examinations for early diagnosis, treatment and management of any problems that may crop up.

The W EYExperience Comprehensive Eye Examination is more than just an ordinary eye check though, and I highly recommend it, especially if you have a higher risk factor e.g. above 40 years old, have high blood pressure, diabetes, family history of eye diseases etc.

A basic eye check, even those in full body health checks, usually just test your vision and conduct an external screening of your eyes and surrounding areas.

For the W EYExperience Comprehensive Eye Examination, they do so much more...

Other than the basic testing for the refractive prescription of an individual, it consists of the following using various machines,  
  • Objective & Subjective Refraction
  • Vision Function: checks your central and peripheral vision to diagnose, determine the severity of, and monitor glaucoma.
  • Amsler Grid: detects vision problems resulting from damage to the macula {the central part of the retina} or the optic nerve.
  • Slit Lamp Biomicroscopy: checks for any red eyes, external eye problems, cornea scratches or mild infection etc.
  • Tonometry: checks your intra-ocular eye pressure to see if you're at risk for glaucoma
  • Fundus Photography: checks the back of eye {retinal} for eye diseases, tears or detachments, mid-peripheral retina health as well as optic disc & macular health

Yup, be prepared to spend around 30 minutes for it! Customisation of eye examination to suit individual needs is available upon request.

We made an appointment on a weekday evening after work, so thankfully the shop wasn't too crowded and we didn't have to wait long for our optometrist to take the boy and I through the tests individually.

At each station, he sanitised the machines first and made sure we were comfortable before starting the tests.  Huge props to him for being really patient (´∇ノ`*)ノ

Medical or technical terms tend to fly over my head, and I usually depend on the boy to break it down into layman's terms for me, but the optometrist was very patient in making sure that I understood what each clinical equipment was testing for, and the results for each test before moving on to the next.

I'm pretty sure that I asked some silly questions along the way but at no time was he condescending or gave me a weird look hehe..

Thanks to the Comprehensive Eye Examination which checks your eyelids' health, I found out that I had a slight infection which caused Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis {GPC} in my left eye. It's an allergic reaction that occurs when one or several small round bumps {papillae} develop on the underside of the eyelid.

So that's why my left eye has been feeling itchy recently! I thought it was because my eyelashes/ eye make-up was irritating my eye or something.. never thought that it was actually my eyelid since the bumps were on the underside of my eyelid and aren't visible unless you turn them inside out, which of course, I don't. Even if I did, the small bumps aren't visible without the Slit Lamp Biomicroscopy machine.

The optometrist told me that its a common problem with contact lenses users, especially those that use soft contact lenses {I use monthly contact lenses, which are considered "soft"}. The reason for this may be because allergens are more likely to stick to soft lenses than hard lenses and irritate the eye if not cleansed properly.

Since my condition is still mild, I could lay off contact lenses to give the eye time to rest and reduce the irritation caused by the soft contacts. If I really had to, I should change to daily contact lenses instead.

Ah well... I decided to just wear specs daily instead and give it time to heal properly. Good thing I was getting a new pair that day after my check since my eyeglass prescription had changed since I made my last pair.. hmmm, 4 years ago?? haha. Also at W Optics by the way!!

For the boy, his eye health is generally good but because of his *ahem* age, he has Presbyopia aka 老花眼 which causes him to be unable to focus on near objects.

Presbyopia is an inevitable natural aging process of the eyes and usually occurs around 40 years old. The natural lens in the eye loses its elasticity and ability to change shape as the person gets older, so makes the eye less able to focus light accurately when looking at near objects.

Because of his presbyopia, the boy has to change his specs too to get a pair fitted with special spectacle progressive lenses, and had to take even further tests to make sure that they were customised properly to his needs as each wearer behaves differently while performing a near vision task.

The optometrist had to check the boy's posture in near vision e.g. the way he holds a tablet, as well as his visual behaviour e.g. the way he reads. This took maybe another additional 15-20mins.

W Optics Suntec City is Singapore's largest vision care store at 5,000 square feet and contain many store exclusives like Essilor Vision Studio, Essilor Nautilus VR Experience corner, Myopia Control Centre and a dedicated kid's corner.  

When it was time for us to choose our new spectacle frames, we were really spoilt for choice as W Optics carries over 52 eyewear brands and a few thousand eyewear designs.

We ended up choosing frames from the Stealer Eyewear collection. It's an up-and-coming Korean brand that already has an impressive following from Korean celebrities like Song Min Ho, Lee Ju Yeon, Lee Young Ae {大長今!!} and even G-dragon himself.. wahhhhhh!!  

Lightweight and minimal in thickness and style, the collection plays with thin steel and fine steel wire to create interesting designs with an industrial yet refined feel.

The usual lead time for spectacles collection is 7 working days or lesser depending on the complexity of the required lens. Our new spectacles were fitted with Crizal specialty lens according to the results from our W EYExperience Comprehensive Eye Examination.

For the boy, he's using Crizal Varilux X Series Progressive lenses that's better than standard progressive lens as it dramatically reduces head movements so that wearers do not need to move/tilt their head to find the right angle to see sharply. There's a smooth transition from distance vision through intermediate vision, to near vision {i.e. within arm's length}.

It's great for his active lifestyle as well as the lenses are tailored to his visual behaviour so that it provides clear vision whatever the distance, even in dynamic motion like when he's at the gym. 

Since I spend so much time using the computer or my smartphone daily which is tiring for my eyes, my new specs were fitted with the new Crizal Eyezen lenses that are specially optimised to relax and protect my eyes from digital screens.

It filters out harmful blue-violet light {bad for retinal cells & cause long-term damage to our eyes}, relaxes eyes in front of screens and provides sharp vision all day.

Both our new specs also have an additional Crizal Transitions coating. Whenever we can, we always get that for our glasses as we lead very active lifestyles outdoors too. It really is a must especially when you live in sunny Singapore and don't want to switch your usual specs to another pair of sunglasses!!

Crizal Transitions blocks out 100% of UV rays and adapts quickly to the perfect shade so that you see with just the right amount of light - clear indoors to fully dark in bright sunlight. Previously, they only had gray, brown or graphite green but now they have interesting new colours like amethyst, sapphire, amber {mine!} and emerald too. Woohoo!

You must be wondering.. where was Lil Pumpkin while Mummy and Daddy were taking their eye tests??

Well, our darling was busy playing at W Optics Suntec City's dedicated kids' corner while waiting for me, and had her turn while the boy was having his Comprehensive Eye Examination done.

I posted a separate entry on her W EYExperience Myopia Control Assessment and her optometrist's recommended treatment plan for her myopia control as there's too much to cover and I think myopia is a really important topic.

Did you know that Singapore has one of the highest rates of myopia in the world?? Well, I'm pretty sure you, your kid, or someone you know has myopia so check out How to Reduce Your Kid's Risk of Myopia here

Experts recommend that kids go for eye checks every 6 months to a year, while adults should have their eyes checked 1 to 1.5 years. However, for anyone who has systemic issues like diabetes, hypertension, family history of glaucoma should check yearly.

The W EYExperience Comprehensive Eye Examination costs S$80. W Optics is the first optical retail chain in Singapore to offer such a comprehensive eye examination, and it is available only at their Suntec City flagship and Great World City stores for walk-ins, but I strongly suggest that you make an appointment first via W Optics' website.

Check out this video of our visit and I uploaded more pics/ short vids in my Instagram Stories Highlight Reel too - look for W Optics 230718 folder. 

W Optics Suntec City
3 Temasek Boulevard #01-400 Suntec City
Open daily, 10.30am - 9.30pm
Tel: 6736 1303
Instagram:  @WOptics {Hashtags: #WOptics, #WEYExperienceSG}
* Other locations: Bedok Mall, Causeway Point, Compass One, Great World City, Hougang1, JEM, Singpost Centre, Tanglin Mall, Vivocity & Wheelock Place 

* Disclosure: This is a review for W Optics. All opinions are my own.