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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bub & Me: Singapore's First Garfield Run!

Singapore's first ever Garfield Run was held last Saturday and we were there for our family's second fun run this year!

Unlike the Safari Zoo Run, this run was held at The Promontory @ Marina Bay so instead of running through a natural jungle, we got to run through the concrete jungle hahaha. It was a very fun and interesting experience, and we caught glimpses of the National Day Parade rehearsal too!

The race pack was quite simple, and included a really cute Runners T-Shirt {the boy cut his into a muscle tee!!!} and draw-string haversack. The shipment for the limited edition Garfield Run plushie arrived late due to bad weather so we're only collecting it tomorrow. To make up for this, the organisers will throw in an extra Garfield Run notebook for each participant too :P 

We were quite worried that parking would be difficult but there were many available car-parks near the venue and even though we arrived just one hour before flag-off, we managed to get a lot easily at One Raffles Quay building.  

First thing I saw when I reached the venue was the Milo van *squeals in joy* so obviously I made sure that was our first stop haha. As expected, it was super crowded and the Milo van uncle already closed up one side of the van since the Milo was finished on that side. Why is the Milo from Milo vans sooooo yummy???! I really wonder what's their secret ingredient :P

After that we explored more of the Garfield Run Carnival and saw that there were tents for free ice-cream, Nestlé treats {they were one of the event sponsors}, instagram-printing etc.

This was our run route {orange colour loop}. Since we took part in the 3km Garfield Fun Run, we decided not to use a stroller for Lil Pumpkin since she could probably complete it on her own most of the way.

Which she did!! *clap clap clap* I think for the 3km, she asked us to carry her only 20% of the way.. so not that bad heh. We would still bring her stroller if it was for a 5km fun run though #justsaying

Apparently over 8,000 runners participated in Garfield Run 2014! Unlike many other running events, the it did not include the usual 10km or half marathon distances, but focused on shorter distances to encourage more fun and family bonding.

Like most of the participants in the Fun Run, we took a nice stroll along the Marina Reservoir, taking in the city skyline and enjoying the nice evening breeze. It was really good weather for the run, and thank goodness it didn't rain!!

Do you spot our giant Singapore flag in the photo above? :)

Mandatory shots with all the distance markers (^^)V

We actually started in the second wave of the run {about 6.40pm}, 10 minutes after the first wave started at 6.30pm. Someone in our wave told me that the fast runners in the first wave had already crossed the finish line when we were starting!!

I didn't time us but I think we finished our 3km in about 1 hours time haha. Our timing didn't matter to us, but I'm really proud of Lil Pumpkin for finishing her first long distance Fun Run without a stroller!! She even made a final dash through the finish line and definitely earned her Finisher's medal *grins*

Here's a short video of our Garfield Run 2014 experience. Take a look on this YouTube link if the video isn't working. I do hope that they bring back the run next year! Would love to take part in it again, and I know Lil Pumpkin would too :)

There are various categories like the 3KM Garfield Fun Run we did, 5KM Garfield & Arlene Couple Run {competitive}, 2.2km Garfield Kids Dash {competitive} and 1.5km Garfield Run for Kids {competitive}. Prices start from S$28/person. Stalk Garfield Run's website for updates if you're interested to take part next year too!

Read about the other fun activities we did with Lil Pumpkin or my list of Kid-Friendly places in Singapore.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Singapore Cheongsams :: Joli Pretty Online Shop + {Giveaway & Promo}

Ladies who like to wear cheongsams will be happy to know that there's a new kid on the block - Joli Pretty, an online boutique based in Singapore selling modern cheongsams. I'll be adding them to my list of where you can find cheongsams in Singapore :)

Joli means "pretty" in French, and they hope to provide all women with modern cheongsams that can make them pretty & fabulous for all occasions.Their first collection launched last month and I got my hands on 3 different designs - one for more glamourous events, one with an back zip, and one with an open-front.

Wonderful Night is a modern, sleeveless cheongsam made from tafetta fabric and fully-lined with silk. It comes with invisible side pockets and an open front with 2 fabric buttons.

I like the straight cut and purple hibiscus print against the shiny black, which goes all the way around the back too. I don't get dresses that only have details in the front but forget the back, and thankfully this cheongsam is not like that. Still very chic, and not overly formal or stiff. 

All the cheongsams I currently own have back-zip designs, so I found it more tedious to wear one with an open front since I have to zip the side, snap about 7 invisible fasteners, and button 2 fabric buttons. I asked the co-owner, Ann, why she wanted to have this in her designs as I reckon most women would want modern cheongsams with back zips for more convenience. She explained to me that cheongsams with open-front actually require more tailor skills, effort and time but they wanted to preserve the way that classic/traditional cheongsams are made, which are with open-fronts.

However, Joli Pretty also includes back-zip designs in their collections to fit women like me with busy lifestyles and who prefer fuss-free clothing.

Polka Dot & Such is one of their dresses with a back-zip. It is made from 100% premium cotton, and is fully lined with another layer of lightweight cotton. I like the mix of polka dot fabric with the petite leaves print, which has a very batik-feel.

Bintan has about the same weather as Singapore, and I wore this out one night when we went out of Angsana Bintan Resort to Pasar Oleh Oleh for dinner. I found it to be really comfortable, and easy to move around in thanks to the flare, pleated skirt {which also helped to hide my happy belly after eating haha}. The collar height of this collection is at 4cm, which is good for those looking for modern cheongsams for daily wear. Too high a collar might make it too stuffy and uncomfortable for the wearer, especially in our sweltering heat... and for me, it felt all right. Maybe because I have a short neck haha.

However, for more special occasion cheongsams, I think a higher collar would look nice too as it makes the wearer seem more elegant with the illusion of an elongated neck :) Ann said there would be this option for future collections.

Happy Fall is another everyday cheongsam made with premium cotton and lined with lightweight cotton. It has the traditional open-front, which after a few wears, I've come to like too as I can easily wear it by myself. Sometimes for dresses with back zips, I've to ask hubby or Lil Pumpkin to help me pull the zip up :P

Happy Fall is a very refreshing green with light fauna prints, and even though I don't particularly like most shades of green, I love love love mint green :P An excellent colour for summer! Oh this one has the cute invisible side pockets too which I adore! They are so useful and I'm very drawn to dresses with them.

Joli Pretty provides an additional pair of buttons with each dress, which I think is a good added service since most likely, you can't find the same buttons from the usual shops. The shopping website is easy to navigate with detailed photos of each dress, and Ann replies to emails promptly so if you have any queries, she'll be able to help you fast.

Customisation of fit and buttons are not available, and no fitting before purchase is available as they are sold exclusively online. So, choose your sizes properly with the size chart on the website {measure your bust and waist} as they do not accept changes or returns at the moment. For your reference, I'm wearing size M for all 3 dresses.

Promo: Quote "sakura10" for 10% off ALL Joli Pretty cheongams from their online store when you email your purchase order to info.jolipretty@gmail.com. Due to some IT complications, promo code is not valid when purchasing with the online shopping cart on the website. Valid for first-time purchases until 31 Oct 2014 only. Free shipping to Singapore addresses and overseas shipping available.

Just for my special blog readers and friends only, I have ONE Happy Fall Modern Cheongsam {worth S$139} to give away! It's available in sizes S, M and L but if your chosen size is not available, you may choose either a Wonderful Night {worth S$159} or Polka Dot & Such {worth S$139} cheongsam.

Giveaway Method: Random Draw

1. Be a Sakura Haruka Facebook page fan

2. Be a Joli Pretty Facebook page fan

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

4. Leave me a blog comment telling me where you'll wear a modern cheongsam to + FB name you used to like the pages + email add. For those unsure of how to comment, choose "Name/URL" option then add your name and comment. If you prefer to send me your email add privately, leave a comment for the other answers then contact me at sakuraharuka {at} live {dot} com.

ONE random winner will be chosen. Just complete all 4 simple steps!

Details:
* Open to Singapore residents only.
* Ends Monday, 4 Aug 2014 2359hrs {Singapore time} 
* Incomplete or inappropriate entries will be deemed invalid and will not be included.
* Winners will be announced by Sunday, 10 Aug 2014 on this blog post and notified via email. Winner have 3 days to reply, or the prize will be redrawn.
* Sakura Haruka is not responsible for any prizes lost, damaged or misplaced in the mail.     
* Chosen items are subject to stock availability.    

* Disclosure: Joli Pretty provided the cheongsams for review and giveaway. All other accessories belong to me. No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wordless Wednesday {linky}: Family Obento Ideas - Goreng Pisang & Fresh Mango | Week 30


 What's in my obento this week? 
Goreng Pisang {fried banana fritter} & Fresh Mango.

My my we are already in Week 30!
The goreng pisang is from a stall just opposite myvillage in Serangoon Gardens.
Hubby reckons it's one of the best as it's always crispy & fresh!

Obento {お弁当} is a home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine and doesn't always need to be complicated or time-consuming. I hope to inspire you to create delicious, everyday obento meals for your family with these simple ideas and tools.

These photos are part of the 52 Weeks Family Obento Ideas series.

*****

Sakura Haruka's wordless wednesday
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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Prepping for P1: Comparison of Popular Maths Enrichment Classes in Singapore

It is the Primary 1 registration period in Singapore now and I've been following the news on this topic lately since Lil Pumpkin is going to register next year. I've also started going into the Kiasuparents forum to read up more on other people's experiences on registering their child, and how they get their kids prepared for entry into our formal schooling system.

Kiasuparents is like a scabby wound. You know you're not supposed to keep picking at it {i.e keep reading the forum} since it'll cause you more stress, or even distress, but you just can't help it :P

{source}
I've been thinking of sending Lil Pumpkin to Math enrichment classes to improve her math skills. Her answers are very "creative" but frankly, I think her teachers won't appreciate it haha

I'd like to be one of those parents that come up with their own fabulous worksheets and games to home-school Lil Pumpkin as well but as a full-time working parent, that is simply not possible without me losing my sanity. It's not just that I don't have the time, it's also because I understand I don't have the skills and patience. Looking at some of the primary school maths problems nowadays, it looks very different from how we used to learn it in school. Everybody has their own limits, and I know mine.

I'm worried that Lil Pumpkin may not be able to catch up with her class in Primary 1 and feel some sort of "culture shock" and stress since currently, we don't emphasize on her doing any structured studies at home. So, we'd like to start early and build her foundation, slow and steady, then let her feel the need to rush and catch up.

That's how we felt when we enrolled her in her Chinese enrichment class too. It was a good move as now she can at least understand, and communicate simply in Chinese. She can recognise a lot of Chinese words too and best part is, Lil Pumpkin is interested to learn more!

Choosing a Chinese enrichment class was pretty easy for us. We didn't really research much into it, and chose her school because it seemed pretty reputable, we liked their curriculum plus they had a convenient location / class time for us so we enrolled her in one without much fuss early in Nursery 2.

{source}
I thought it'd be as easy for choosing a Maths enrichment class as well. My colleague's daughter is learning CMA and Kumon is a pretty popular choice. So I thought it's just between these 2. Easy peasy. And then I started to check it out in Kiasuparents and realised there's many more choices!!! Arrrgggghhh!!

I spent about 2-3 days reading through all the forum threads, researching other online sources and calling the centres. It's not so much that I want to look for the best one, because I don't think there really is one... only one that suits your child the best. What we want for Lil Pumpkin is to make Maths-learning fun for her, and to get the ball rolling on building her strong foundation and good study habits in Maths. Like how we did for her Chinese.

Admittedly, some parents start their kids on enrichment programs early because they want their kids to be the top scorers in school. However, most, like us, join these programs because they have no time to come up with the materials at home and still want their child to learn more and follow some sort of structure.

I still believe in letting her enjoy her childhood, but maybe I am a kiasu parent, after all :P

Here's what I found for my own reference, and for others who may find it useful. It's not my own personal experience so I cannot vouch for some of the comments I've featured. Details for each enrichment class are gathered from information online and from calling the various centers.

Of course there are more choices than what I've listed here, but these seem the most talked-about now. All information is correct at the time of this post, but feel free to contact me if anything needs updating.


Kumon Singapore Website: http://sg.kumonglobal.com/

Method Origin: Japan

Diagnostic test: Yes (15-20mins test + 30 mins discussion} Starting level 7A, age 3.

Method: Individualised learning method and drilling concepts through worksheets. Teachers are just facilitators, and students have to keep doing worksheets until they get the correct answers, within a certain time frame. The worksheets have been designed in a way that allows students to figure out how to solve the problems on their own. Examples and explanations are clearly provided when moving into new topic areas, encouraging students to self-learn and advance independently at all times.

Kumon methods emphasis on speed and accuracy which are achieved through repetitive practices. There is a small amount of homework everyday. Students get to keep completed booklets.

Follow MOE syllabus: No

Duration: 2x/week, 30-45mins/class

Homework: Yes {about 30mins daily, 1 day off/week}

Centres: Easily available island-wide

Class size: No maximum, depends on classroom size 

Deposit: No

Registration fee: S$40 {inclusive of GST}

Monthly fee: S$140 / subject per 8 lessons

*Note: E.nopi {currently known as Eye Level Learning} is very similar to Kumon.


MPM Singapore Website: http://sg.mpmmath.com/

Method Origin: USA?

Diagnostic test: Yes, ideal starting age 5-8

Method: A well-sequenced math program designed around the concepts of Multi-Process and Multi-Model mathematics. MPM is a self-learning system personalized for each student. Through the PSL (Personalized System of Learning) approach ie teachers are just facilitatos, MPM students optimize their learning independently, with minimal guidance from the instructor. Designed for preschoolers to P6.

A mum said "2 books to complete each week (the booklets are very colourful, compared to Kumon). You can take 1 book in a day (classes 2x/week) or 2 books in a day (classes 1x/week). Student have to complete about 9 pages in each booklet in the centre (with teacher guidence) and the next 9 pages have to be completed at home. Then submit the booklets the following week. Do not mark the booklets as the teacher will do it so that they know how are the kids performing and correction have to be done on the spot."

Do note that students cannot keep the marked books after completion. 

Follow MOE syllabus: Yes

Duration: 2x/week {1hr} or 1x/week {2hrs} i.e. total 8hrs/month {and 8 books/month}

Homework: Yes

Centres: Easily available island-wide. Some parents recommended Siglap, Parkway, Toa Payoh, Hougang but to avoid Clementi

Class size: 12:1

Deposit: S$50 {refundable upon 1 month withdrawal notice}

Registration fee: S$50 {for test and stationery set}

Trial lesson: No

Monthly fee: *first payment is by term, and subsequently there's a choice to pay by month
$440 per term of 12 weeks or $155 per month {K1 - P1}
$460 per term or $160 per month {P2 - P3}
$500 per term or $175 per month {P4 - P6}


CMA Singapore Website: http://www.cma.edu.sg/

Method Origin: Taiwan {lessons conducted in English}

Diagnostic Test: Yes {45mins - 1hr}, can start from age 3

Method: A pioneer in the Two-hand, Four-finger methodology that has upped the benefits of abacus mental arithmetic to a whole new level. Class lessons conducted with multimedia teaching, memory games, hands-on activities, songs, individual and group challenges.

A mum said "CMA's (abacus) coverage is very narrow. It is only about arithmetic but Math is more than just arithmetic. CMA does not cover Time, Money, Graphs, Mass, Volume etc.... which are topics that primary school students need to learn in school too."

Follow MOE syllabus: No

Duration: 2x/week {1.5hrs} or 1x/week {1.5hrs}

Homework: Yes. At the end of each lesson, child will take home a VCD to review and revise lesson in class. They are also given a password to watch online tutorials.

Centres: Easily available island-wide

Class size: 12:1

Deposit: S$50 {refundable}

Registration fee: S$80 {includes t-shirt, bag, materials}

Trial lesson: S$31

Monthly fee: *8% discount with a current student's referral.
S$310 per term of 10 weeks {for lessons 1x/week}
S$230 per term of 10 lessons {for lessons 2x/week}


JEI Singapore & PSLEMath Website: http://pslemath.com.sg/

Method Origin: JEI- Korea and PSLE Math- Singapore

Diagnostic test: Yes (less an hr), can start from age 4

Method: Students start with JEI until P1. JEI’s comprehensive diagnostic system will analyze each student’s test results and prescribe an individual study program. The individualized learning program is tailored to each student’s needs and abilities and creates the optimal educational environment. Each student learns at his or her own pace so that each new concept and skill is mastered thoroughly before progressing to the next level.

PSLEMath is a Singapore based programme from P2 onwards, done together with JEI. It was first developed jointly with ex-school teachers and PSLE markers. The strength of this programme lies in its systematic method of classifying complex heuristic problem sums in a manner to make learning, understanding and revision more efficient and simple. PSLEMath achieves this by organising the questions first by topics and then further by types. Math problems of the same types have similar approaches and concepts. By structuring its work books in this manner, PSLEMath's work books provide sufficient practice for children to apply their learning several times.

A mum said "looking at the materials for the JEI part, I feel they are much better than enopi or mpm as they are very intensive (looks like 15-20pgs), colorful and a few questions on each page, pictorial yet very relevant to spore syllabus. and the best part is u can bring the materials home, unlike enopi or mpm

For psle math its purely problem sums (cos the basic math is under the JEI bklet) and incorporates heuristics sums."

They also do diagnostic test regularly and can adjust the booklets according to each individual quickly.

Follow MOE syllabus: Yes

Duration: 1x/week, 2hrs

Homework: Yes {about 30mins/week}

Centres: Only at Marine Parade {recommended teacher Jason}, Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Timah, Clementi, Tampines, Bukit Batok

Class size: 6:1

Deposit: S$100 {refundable}

Registration fee: $20

Trial lesson: S$60 for 2hrs{Tampines}, Free {Ang Mo Kio}

Monthly fee:  S$410 per term of 10 weeks


Math Monkey Website: http://www.mathmonkey.com.sg/

Method Origin: India or South Asia

Diagnostic test: Yes (15-30 mins interview - skill assessments & verbal questions)

Method: Based on the philosophy that FUN is the key to learning, Vedic Math concepts are taught using carefully designed games and tools. The Math Monkey Curriculum is the culmination of more than 36 years' of research and teaching experience in Vedic Math of Professor Kenneth Williams. He has been widely regarded as the 'guru' of Vedic Math. He believes that children shouldn't have to rely on a calculator or pencil and paper for something the mind is capable of doing without them.

There are three components to the Math Monkey Programs:
- Use of games in Math Monkey classes: Children are encouraged to think on their toes in order to be able to play the games. As a result, learning occurs and math skills are greatly enhanced.
- Sharpening of concentration and memory skills: Classes are conducted primarily without the use of pencil and paper. This will build mental math ability of the children.
- Continued learning at home through weekly home assignments. These home assignments allow practice between lessons and provide teachers with feedback on the student's retention and progress.

Follow MOE syllabus: Some topics covered

Duration: 1x/week, 1hrs

Homework: Yes

Centres: Only at East Coast Road, Novena, Jurong East

Class size: 6:1

Deposit: No

Registration fee: S$45

Trial lesson: Free

Monthly fee:  S$450 per term of 12 weeks

Overall,  we'd like Lil Pumpkin to attend a class where learning is fun and interactive, and the concepts are explained to her, rather than drilled into her brain. We'd like her to understand the concepts, not just memorise them. Thus, we're leaning towards JEI/PSLE Math or Maths Monkey now.

However, we haven't not fully decided yet as it will also depend on the location and schedule of available classes. Will see how it goes and hopefully enroll her in a class by year's end.

Are your kids attending any Maths enrichment classes now? 
If yes, which one and how do you find it? 
If not, how do you practise Maths with them?

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored or paid post. All views, unless otherwise expressed, are my own.

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