Child's Play, Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] What Is Your LEGO Parenting Style? – Cherie Tseng

Everyone’s favourite childhood toy can actually reveal a lot about your personality, says Material Mom Cherie Tseng. Read more about it and find out the interesting link between how you treat LEGO and your parenting style.

For our anniversary this year, my husband bought me a VW camper van.

Well, not the real thing (I wish!), but the LEGO version of one of my favourite vehicles. That sort of opened the floodgates to my resurgent love (read: mild obsession) of my favourite childhood toy. A single piece of LEGO could be part of my pretend pasta dish, a clutch for my Barbie dolls, a collar tag for my pound puppy, or the flag to my Castle Grayskull. Oh, the versatility!

So, since our anniversary, we have expanded our LEGO stash to some 500%. My two-and-a-half year-old son no longer attempts to eat or stuff small bits up his nose so I had no qualms indulging in my pent-up LEGO cravings at home. Of course, some of that has spilled over to my work since, well, we preach work-life balance. We expanded our LEGO-based training games at my training consultancy, and now I get to actually justify some of my LEGO buying as “work”.

Part of our stable of offerings is profiling programs. Besides the usual ones, we have some less serious but still very illuminating profiling experiences, like our art-jamming based one. More recently, I’ve begun using LEGO as a tool in my pre-hiring process. After all, LEGO, in all its versatility, can reveal more than you think – including your parenting style.

The “read the LEGO instruction book prior to embarking and following steps 1-2-3!” Parent

LEGO style: This is the person who thrives on method and protocol; when she gets a new LEGO set, she has to at least skim through the instruction book, sort out the pieces by colour, type and size, and find a designated space within which to work.

Parenting style: I call this the Disciplined Parent. My homeschooling friend S, an uber mum of four kids, is a classic example. Sure, she has her slack days and it’s not like she is a stickler in the mud, but she is the queen of order and is generally always on top of things. She is the parent who would do research on whatever she needs to know to death and, while kids can sometimes throw her a curve ball, she never stops figuring out new ways to become a better mum. She believes that parenting is a journey and that there has to a system to the inevitable madness, even if she has to invent a new way of doing things by simply learning more and becoming better equipped.

Happy family playing with blocksThe “must sort out all the pieces right from the start … deep breath … let’s start!” Parent

LEGO style: This is a person whose first act after opening a LEGO set – whether it’s a themed set or a creative one – is to separate the pieces at least by colour. Sometimes she would find herself surrounded my many trays to better contain the varied pieces, and she often needs a prescribed (read: kid-free) zone to work through her LEGO because heaven forbid if she loses a piece. She is usually only concerned with the journey and less so with the finished product, often happy to dismantle and store away even a complex build.

Parenting style: This parent has a strong sense of occasion, believing that everything has its place and time. I am fairly familiar with this parent type since, well, my husband is a prime example. He adores our kids and holds them to a fairly high standard. He expects kids to sit still at dinners, stay quiet on flights, and take adult care of the things they own. Clearly, he faces a lot of, ahem, frustration but he is constant in his own behaviour, steady in his interactions with his kids and is often a steadying force for his kids. And more often than not, because he treats his kids with a lot of respect, preferring, for example, talking to rather than talking at; his kids are better for it.

The “let’s free play with the LEGO creative builder box” Parent

LEGO style: This is a person who loves making things up as she goes. Even if she starts on a LEGO set, her building process is probably marred with many starts and stops and zero planning. And if there is a missing piece? She’d just make it up as she goes along.

Parenting style: Society probably calls this the hipster parent, and my friend A is a classic example. She has some, but not many, parenting rules. She is adventurous with the kids and often does things that are not the norm, like taking her kids lindy hopping, visiting weird places, or eating at off-the-beaten-path places. She may often seem out-of-sync with modern parenting – from maybe being an anti-vaxxer to letting her kids wear androgynous clothes. She is always fun, quirky, and takes life and parenting as it comes.

legoThe “I hate LEGO” Parent

LEGO style: This is a person who simply doesn’t quite get the hoopla about LEGO and would often rather buy less fiddly toys for her kids and herself. Minimal assembly required, thanks.

Parenting style: I call this the Get to the Chase Parent. My friend H is just like that and while she had a great time at the recent LEGO exhibition, The Art of the Brick, she treated it more like a visit to a museum. You could say there is a slight inclination to some measure of Tiger Mummying with this type. Her kids would boast a pretty tight schedule and everything in their lives gleams and sheens and are often the object of some mummy envy. Birthday parties might boast a pretty fancy cake with just the right decorations, at just the right location with always-glamorous people.

The “I am not really much of a LEGO fan but I think LEGO is an awesome educational toy” Parent

LEGO style: This is a person is kind of impassive about LEGO. She finds LEGO a nice-to-have kind of toy and is most glad to buy LEGO sets for others and her own kids since she is mainly sold on the educational value of the toy.

Parenting style: My friend S is one such parent. She has a great sense of responsibility to her kids and has a tendency to always find the best array of programs for them. Her kids attend an array of classes and workshops not because she is a traditional tiger mum but simply because it’s a learning tool that would enrich her kids’ lives. New pedagogies, new water filter, new school, new holiday program, new health thing … she would have her hands in that pie – often at the expense of her own schedule.

The “whatever you make should at least make some sense” Parent

LEGO style: This is a person who is happy to free play when the occasion arises, even if she likes following LEGO instruction books better. She has a healthy mix of creative sets and instructional sets, and will usually have many how-to LEGO books to better use her free play LEGO pieces.

Parenting style: I like to call this parent the progressive parent. My BFF and fellow Material Mom Joan is a classic example. She tends to have fewer rules than the norm and is fairly liberal and open in her parenting methods. Having said that, she is a real stickler for the few rules she has and can get disproportionately upset when those rules are flouted. She treats her kids like her friends and sometimes forgets that her child needs top-down parenting but is quick to catch herself and rectify when that happens.

lego 3The “must buy all the LEGO sets in a series type but have starting and finishing issues” Parent

LEGO style: This is a person who loves collecting all the LEGO sets in a given series and might spend copious amounts of time trawling the net searching for hard-to-find sets. She is highly excited to buy or receive a LEGO gift but might find it hard to start a LEGO project or even finish one. Sometimes, when in the mood, she finds herself in a blitz LEGO-making mood. But that burns out after a while.

Parenting style: This is classically me and, as I write this, I have three hard-sourced Harry Potter LEGO sets sitting in the corner waiting for me to find time to get to them. Parents like me find themselves constantly pulled in a million and one directions at any given time and it shows in how they raise their kids. There is a schedule but it’s always fluid. There is a plan but it might and usually change. They are most definitely parents who do not have a carved-in-stone bedtime or a real parenting plan, preferring to learn and adapt as they go. After all, change is the only constant. Right?

Cherie Tseng is mum to two little boys: Quentin, four, and Evan, two. They love superheroes, pizza and going on pretend adventures with mummy and daddy to save the world. She runs a regional training consultancy, co-owns a Singapore-Myanmar business brokerage outfit and is an essential oil enthusiast. In her spare time, she crafts, makes diaper cakes and practices aerial circus arts. Cherie occasionally blogs at The Growing Tree Project

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Child's Play, Material Moms

[Material Moms] Remember To Take Your Kids Out To Play!

In this week’s Material Moms, guest writer Claudia Foo shares her personal experience on the importance of active play for her children.

Ever since I’ve been blessed with two kids – Andrea, 7, and Keivan, 4 – my whole life has since revolved around them. I make sure I see to all the details in their lives, from the clothes they wear and the food they chew to even the way they play.

Claudia Foo with her children, Keivan (left) and Andrea.

Claudia Foo with her children, Keivan (left) and Andrea.

I’ve had seven years of experience being a mother now but there are still many new things that I learn and observe every day. One thing I’ve observed over the years is the playing habits of children. Mums may agree with me on this: kids these days are tech-savvy. Most of their playing habits involve staring at the screen, which worries me. I’ve seen kids wearing glasses at a young age and some of them are so used to reading e‑books that they don’t know how to flip a real book! While I appreciate the convenience and fun that technology brings us, I am determined to bring a balance to ensure my kids get some real fun under the sun.

I strongly believe that it is important for the kids to go out and play as this is an opportunity to connect with and enjoy the nature. Also, it is known that looking at green objects such as trees and grass contributes to eyesight health.

Being working parents, my husband and I do not have the time and energy to bring the kids out during weekdays, so we started off by bringing them out to the playground on occasional Sundays, each session lasting about four hours. My husband and I would also gradually introduce new things/games to the kids, like playing bubbles, riding a bicycle, flying kites, etc. The kids had so much fun and, naturally, they looked forward to Sunday playtime. So, my husband and I decided to schedule our family bonding time every other Sunday.

Andrea, my elder daughter, is in Primary 1 now. On Wednesdays, there is 30 minutes of P.E. at the start of school, and 30 minutes after. Keivan goes to childcare from 8am till 5pm. His timetable includes physical activities such as playing in the outdoor playground, activities in the children’s gym and sometimes, water games. On average, he clocks over three hours of physical activities of various intensity in the childcare. After school and childcare, both Andrea and Keivan are babysat at my mother-in-law’s. Before dinner, and after Andrea finishes her homework, their grandma plays old-school games (remember lao ying zhua xiao ji – the eagle-and-chicks game?) with Andrea and Keivan.

Every Saturday evening, we take Andrea and Keivan to my mother’s, where they will play with their two cousins at the playground for about an hour before we take them back for dinner.

active play 2It’s been almost a year since we started our regular Sunday playtime and I do see the benefits: my children appear healthier as they are seldom sick nowadays (which, I must add, is also attributed to healthier eating habits). They are also happier as our Sunday playtime helps them relieve stress, especially for Andrea who is receiving quite a bit of pressure from homework and tuition. In fact, Andrea’s teacher commented that she is performing well and that she is a conscientious student. One thing that made us really proud was that the teacher related how Andrea consciously looks out for her classmate’s safety when they play or do class activities together. We are certain that Andrea learned this from playing with and taking care of her younger brother.

I believe outdoor play has also contributed to good eyesight for our children since they are not wearing spectacles! Active play during our family outing allows us to build closer relationship with our children, as we play together during this session. For my husband and me, we enjoy the outdoors as a respite from being cooped up in the office for five days a week.

As a working mother, I understand that this is not an easy task but once you get started, the rest will fall into place. My advice is to always start them young when they are curious and receptive to new things and ideas, and therefore can be influenced positively. Bring them out to the playground for a start and make use of the neighbourhood facilities. Listen to what the kids want and try to incorporate them into these fun times so that they will enjoy it more. For mothers with school-going kids, you can also incorporate some learning elements into the games, such as running to and naming colours they find at the playground, or hopping towards a goal using a dice to determine the number of jumps. There are just so many ways to play! Plus, there are also parenting forums for parents to exchange tips and share new acts/happenings in town suitable for kids and family.

Johnson’s Baby believes in the importance of play and advocates 60 minutes of active play a day for children. To find out more about this advocacy and how you can get your kid to start playing actively today, check out this video below:

active play 3

About The Author: Claudia married her first love and became mother to Andrea and Keivan seven years ago. She is also quite the kid herself, as she delights in collecting all the cute stickers she can find from bookstores. Outside of work, she spends all her energy on her kids, ensuring they get enough fun, food and textbooks.

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Arts & Events, Child's Play, Lifestyle, Material Moms

[Material Moms] The Sound of Music: A Review – Beverly Burgess

You watched the movie as a child. Now, why not experience the magic live with your child? By Beverly Burgess

Material Mom Beverly with her husband Chris

Material Mom Beverly with her husband Chris

“The hills are aliiiiiiiiiiivvvve with the sound of muuuuusic”

And with that refrain, you know you’re in for a wonderful musical treat. The Sound of Music has hit Singapore from now until 10 August 2014. This musical extravanganza features impressive sets (that are changed at ashtonishing speed) and a breathtaking cast of singers.

If you’re familiar with the movie, you’ll be delighted with, and probably sing along to, all the familiar hit songs. The singing is crystal clear – from the nun mother with the most incredible full soprano, to the star Maria’s diaphonous vocals, to the youngest child Gretal’s angelic lilt.

The audience there were young and old, with young toddlers that bounced in their seats and sang along (they must have have watched the movie with their parents before!), to seniors that were there on a date. I spied a few mummy-and-child dates there too, since the movie makes a great “mummy and me” activity to do together.

The energy of the cast is palpable, and you’ll be impressed with the beautiful sets. This is not a performance where you see the cast engage in drawn out character or plot development. Rather, it is a feel-good performance focusing squarely on the songs, and the casts’ amazing voices. It’s a hit with the young, and the young at heart.

The Sound of Music runs from now till August 10, 2014. Tickets are available from $65 at Sistic

BevChrisCloseupAbout the author: Having blogged for the past two decades spanning life in Australia, China and Singapore, Beverly Burgess entered an alternate universe at warp speed when she went from career-driven shopaholic and social butterfly … to juggling being a wife and a mother of two kids. All within three years. The career is now replaced with the privilege of being a full-time mum, but the urge to shop and socialize still remains (albeit with two obliging children in tow). And, she wouldn’t have it any other way. She blogs at Beverly’s Adventures.

 

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Child's Play, Material Moms

[Material Moms] Fun Stuff To Do And Try With Your Child – Denise Li

With a lineup of exciting events taking place over the next few weeks, you won’t have to scratch your week every weekend wondering what to do as a family.

Try: Planet Trekkers menu at Olive Tree, InterContinental Hotel

A Light Fettuccine Pasta

Kids menus at most restaurants tend to be overloaded with sugar or are nutritionally-deficient (think chicken nuggets and fries). The children’s menu at Olive Tree, however has been carefully planned by award-winning chef Theo Randall and child food expert Annabel Karmel. With the aim of taking children on an “educational culinary voyage around the world”, the flavours and textures of the dishes are sure to excite your bub’s tastebuds. So good, we guarantee you’ll be tempted to steal from your child’s plate.

The Planet Trekkers menu is available at all InterContinental Hotels and Resorts in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Buy: Kids’ apparel from Uniqlo

These girls’ t-shirts are so adorable, it’s kind of a pity they don’t come in adult sizes too. Best part? They’re only $14.90 each.

G's Valdrome Graphic T-shirt _087789-69_$14.90

G's Valdrome Graphic T-shirt_128230-43_$14.90

 

For a full listing of Uniqlo outlets, visit this link

Prep for: U Picnic

Past Event Image 2 - 2013

Singapore’s only annual mass picnic is back for a third year running! Over 7,500 people are expected to turn up this year, and it promises to be a fun-filled treat for the whole family. What you can expect: A laser light show, a “most creative picnic setup” competition, and “best-dressed family photo” competition. Time to round up the hubby and kids for a brainstorming session!

U Picnic takes place October 4, 2014 from 5 – 9pm at The Grand Lawn@West Coast Park. Admission fees are at $20 per family of five (for NTUC members) or $50 per family of five (public). Children under the age of 3 enjoy free admission. For more information, visit www.ufamily.org.sg/upicnic.

Watch: Hairy Maclary and Friends

HM3_800x533

The official stage adaptation of Lynley Dodd’s much-loved Hairy Maclary books, this is one for toddlers aged 2 and up. With live music, singing, and colourful costumes, your child will be entertained by familiar characters such as Hercules Morse and Bottomley Potts.

Hairy Maclary and Friends runs from October 10 – 24. Prices start from $35 and are available at Sistic.

 Log onto: Envysg.com

Homepage

Despite what its name suggests, this site doesn’t sell (envy-inducing) designer apparel. In actual fact, the word “envy” in this case is associated with the colour, and the site is an online marketplace that sells – you guessed it – natural and organic products. While it is a multi-vendor site, what sets it apart from the others out there is that all the products sold by vendors have to contain at least 90% natural or organic ingredients, falling which, the product should at least be environmentally-friendly. You’ll find a wide variety of products on the site including pet care products and snacks. What’s especially interesting for mums concerned about their baby’s wellbeing: Baby/child care products from brands such as a GAIA Natural Skincare, Argital Baby Skincare, and Babyganic.

About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys boxing, running and the occasional yoga session. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.

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Child's Play, Material Moms

An Easy Bake That Kids Can Join In – Deborah Tan

Deborah Tan understands how boring cupcakes and cookies can be after a while so here’s an interesting bake that you and your child can try! It’s also healthier than fried donuts!

It’s the long weekend and parents, you’re probably wondering how to spend some time with your kids. Tired of baking cupcakes or cookies? Well, how about donut holes? This is easy to do, cooks quickly and fun to eat! Ready? Here’s a recipe that’ll be popular with both adults and children.

Cinnamon and sugar donut holes

Cinnamon and sugar donut holes

Cinnamon Sugar Donut Holes
(Makes 24 donut holes)

Ingredients

2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup of honey
1/3 cup of plain yoghurt
2 tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil

For the coating
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup of caster sugar
1 tablespoon of cinnamon powder

Direction

1. Preheat your over to 200 degree Celsius. Lightly butter 2 cupcake trays.

2. Have your child sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda into a large bowl. Then get her to add the salt and the cinnamon powder. Using a fork, show her how to run it through the mixture to mix everything well.

3. For you, in another bowl, mix the butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla extract, honey, yoghurt and oil. Mix them up well.

4. Get your child to slowly pour half the dry ingredients into the wet mix. Use a spatula to fold the dry mix in. Halfway through, get him/her to pour the rest of the dry ingredients into the bowl. I used a handheld mixer, though.

5. Once you are satisfied that everything is mixed up well, hand your child a cookie scoop and get him/her to dole up a scoop of the mix into the cupcake trays.

6. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes.

7. While the donut holes are baking, melt the butter in a saucepan. Careful not to turn the heat on too high or the butter will turn brown.

8. Get your child to mix the sugar and cinnamon powder in a large plate.

9. Once the donuts are ready and cool (but still warm) to handle, take one, coat the top with the melted butter, and then the sugar mix. Shake it gently to remove excess sugar and set aside until you’re done with the rest.

10. Serve.

Try this recipe and let me know if it works! Happy baking!

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. Her honey cupcakes are quite awesome too. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

 

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Child's Play, Material Moms, The Mothership, Young Minds

[Material Moms] Children and Technology – Joan Leong

Are parents taking online safety for their kids to the extreme? How can you introduce your children to the Internet while ensuring they don’t fall victim to scams and other threats? Joan Leong shares her views. 

material-world-children-technology

I have seen articles floating on the Internet, expounding the argument about how children should remain anonymous online to protect their privacy. Call me ignorant, but I always crack a wry smile seeing how sensitive people are over others putting up pictures of said people’s kids, or even list their names. To each his own, I do not disagree.

This is not to say I do not understand nor care about how protected my child is on the Internet. I always feel that as long as we have the knowledge and know-how, we can take reasonable steps to being safe online and in real life. Interestingly enough, I do get messages from people, on the occasion, when they have spotted my child out with relatives or friends. If you ask me, that’s pretty good tracking for me!

However, let us talk about the measures we should be taking to ensure that our children are able to stay safe online.

Understand Technology

Cafe mothersMake time to understand the gadgets and apps of the world today. Take the time to learn how to use parental controls on the phone and computer. Keep your ears plugged in to the latest social networking thing and figure out the pros and cons of each one. You should always be in the know – latest developments in technology; the tricks that people get up to these days; and the good things that people can do online that betters the world, not worsen it.

When Foursquare first came about, I was quite obsessed over checking in to places to earn badges and be the Mayor. Each time I was ousted from being Mayor, I became more obsessed over redeeming the position again … until one day, I read an article about the safety of Foursquare – each time I checked in to a location, it was simply confirming to the world that I was not at home at the time. By checking in to Starbucks, it means I would be there for at least a while to enjoy that cup of coffee.

The occasional check-in to places on various apps, I understand. But I was literally allowing Foursquare to track my movements all day, which just serves as a guide to anyone who might be keen to either stalk me or break into my home.

When you understand the usage of these apps, you are in a better position to counsel and work through with your kids on what the acceptable boundaries are in the online world.

Which brings us to the next point.

Guidelines on Do’s and Don’ts

Do a set of guidelines on what your child should or should not be doing online. This starts with the basics of not putting every single detail online such as home addresses, our full names, passwords and other sensitive personal family data. You would not want someone to be able to easily answer that security question, “Which street did your mother grow up on?”

My personal rule is to never put up anything online that you do not want anyone to know about. You may set multiple levels of privacy on your apps, locking it to a particular audience only, always be prepared for it to be accidentally leaked (if not on purpose). If you cannot live with others finding out your deep dark secret, then do not put it online. Go out and meet your bestie for coffee or write it on a piece of paper, burn it and drink it with water after.

Educate Your Child

Discuss the pros and cons of the app du jour that the kids are into, like the ones below.

Facebook: While fantastic to keep in touch with friends, one should be mindful not to add strangers especially those who message to say they have randomly come across your profile and would like to be friends.

Instagram: While great to share cute photos of one’s pets online, one should be careful of what appears in the background of photos like bills or a parent sitting on the “throne” in the bathroom.

FaceTime: While great for video calls, one should be careful that mummy is not running around the bedroom, trying to get ready for the day.

Snapchat: If you think that the photos will disappear and be deleted after a certain time frame, think again. These things have a way to always come back like a boomerang, so even if you think you are in safe hands sending a picture of yourself flashing your small group of friends only, once that photos is out there, it IS out there.

Discuss Current Affairs

Highlight current cases of people actually getting conned on the Internet.

Someone wants to give you a million bucks? Nah, we’ll pass.

Someone tells you have won a free trip? Erm, when did we ever sign up for a lucky draw to win a holiday to Timbuktu in the first place?

Your best friend emailing you to say she is in Bangkok and that she has lost her phone and needs a few hundred bucks to tide her through the next few days? Well, is your best friend really that dense?

Stay Safe

With knowledge and know-how, you are giving your child the greatest gift in the world – in arming her with the appropriate skills to meander around the big world of bits and bytes, while still protecting herself.

Of course, this should also go hand-in-hand with other safety measures like having a system of checks in place, like the “stranger danger” rule; no swimming unsupervised; always getting to know their friends and; more importantly, staying in constant contact with the parent and keeping an open line of communication.

material-mum-joan-leongJoan Leong is a mummy, reality television producer and photographer. She watches an insane amount of dramas and comedies in her spare time. Her idea of taking a break is undisturbed time in the plane where there is no network access. She gets very excited over handbags as well as the next big gadget. Her life and photographs can be found on www.valska.com.

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Child's Play, Material Moms

[Material Moms] How To Take Share-Worthy Pictures Of Your Kids – Delphine Tan

Cute kids’ pictures are EVERYWHERE on social media. But our Material Mom Delphine Tan (@mummydelphine) took photo-sharing one notch up when she created an adorable photo series for her newborn son. 

During my confinement period, I wanted to take a picture of David beside something I could use for comparison to gauge how much he has grown, which is why the pictures are dated. It had to be something that wouldn’t change in size and wouldn’t get thrown or given away, so I used the kids’ dolls.

The picture that started it all.

The picture that started it all.

I get my inspiration mainly by just looking around the house to see what I can use. I also love the creative photos of kids on Bored Panda, which were taken by more artistic parents with better cameras. The matryoshka one was definitely inspired by one of those photos but mine’s not as beautifully executed!

Delphine's favourite!

Delphine’s favourite!

Going by the number of “likes” on Instagram, the most popular post so far is the caterpillar one, but my favourite is still the matryoshka one. I also like the one of the astronaut going to the moon.

I was planning to stop by the end of my confinement (today!) but may take photos now and then if I’m inspired. In the meantime, enjoy!

Most popular post

The famous Caterpillar post.

Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars.

Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars.

Does not like being compared to a Minion

Does not like being compared to a Minion

Attacked by dinosaurs!

Attacked by dinosaurs!

All ready to play golf with Dad!

All ready to play golf with Dad!

Star Wars, as requested Delphine's sister.

Star Wars, as requested by Delphine’s sister.

Guess who's cooking dinner tonight?

Guess who’s cooking dinner tonight?

Which photo is your favourite? Share with us in the Comments section below!

Delphine - 2About The Author: Delphine Tan still feels like a kid but is married to Adrian and mother to Anya, Adam, and David. Since she has no artistic talent and does not know how to cook, she spends her free time reading, blogging, and collecting matryoshka. Besides being addicted to caffeine, Delphine also suffers from the compulsive need to Instagram every single plate of food that she eats. 

 

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Child's Play, Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] Protecting Your Child In This Age Of Social Media

Meet Mindy McKnight, one-half of the couple who founded YouTube Channel “CuteGirlsHairstyles”, which showcases the many ways you can braid and fishtail a girl’s hair. With over 1.8 millions subscribers to their channel, Material Moms asks Mindy about the privacy issues facing parents in this age of Facebook and Instagram.

Meet Mindy McKnight and her adorable family.

Meet Mindy McKnight and her adorable family.

We’ve all heard the horror stories of how social media can betray your child’s whereabouts to criminals, no thanks to the location settings every app seems to ask you to activate whenever you launch it. As parents of 6 beautiful children, Mindy and husband Shaun face similar challenges too. They are not only doing a YouTube channel about young girls, their daughters participate as well as hair-models. So what kind of rules do they institute in order to ensure that the privacy of their children does not get compromised?

For the how-tos, you've gotta check out CuteGirlsHairstyles on YouTube!

For the how-tos, you’ve gotta check out CuteGirlsHairstyles on YouTube!

What inspired CuteGirlsHairstyles?
I wasn’t particularly adept at hairstyling when I was a teenager, but after being married and having our first four children (all daughters), it became something I needed to do every day. Not wanting to do the same hairstyle too many times, I started getting creative with the styles and people began noticing. In the early years, I kept photos of each style in a photo book in my bathroom counter. There are instances, when mums would stop us when we are out shopping, and ask me to explain how I created a specific braid design. Some would even ask that I take the hair out and recreate the style for them, right there at the store! It was then that I knew I had to place the hairstyles online where it would be easier for mums. Plus, it gave the tutorials a digital home that I could use to pass along to my daughters when they get married and have their own children.

How has YouTube changed the way your family now live your lives?
Neither Shaun nor I ever thought YouTube would become our livelihood or part of our family. To give you some perspective, every cent we earned in the first four years on the platform went to two child adoptions and the necessary expenses associated with increasing a family of six to a family of eight. YouTube and the opportunity it has provided has enabled us to essentially “complete” our family. I chuckle when we say that, because we also consider our family size to be currently 1.8 million, with all of the fans who tune in each week and love our family so much! Today, Shaun works with me full-time on our brand and business development while the girls and I continue the hair creative for CuteGirlsHairstyles. If you had told us five years ago that this is what we would be doing today, there was no way we would have believed you!

QUOTEEvery parent these days is concerned about protecting their children’s privacy online. Is that a concern of yours and how do you reconcile that need with what you do on YouTube?
This has always been a concern of ours, and you can see it in our videos. It is also the reason why we have resisted the millions of fan requests for us to start a family vlog channel. If you go back to our earliest hairstyle tutorial uploads, you will see that I did not show faces of myself or my girls. We wouldn’t allow them to speak, either. Our first challenge came after the first year when our fans were upset that we would not show how the hairstyle looked from the front. It became a dilemma—for us to do so, we would have to show their faces in the video and photos. I remember holding a family meeting, and each of us hesitantly agreed to begin showing the models’ faces. From there, the channel grew exponentially not just because viewers liked our hairstyles, but because they fell in love with our family.  We do not share our children’s names online, except for our 14-year-old twins, Brooklyn and Bailey, because their names were already online via IMDb because of a movie they were in when they were nine. Each child has a nickname, and whenever we do press interviews… our home city is never correctly identified.  We also turn off all geo-tagging for photos we submit on our social platforms. We consider ourselves a very private family, but a family with a huge talent to share. It would be a shame to hide it.

What are some ground-rules you set down for your children when it comes to the Internet?
My children can recite the rules by heart. All computers are protected by passwords set by us so that there is zero access to the Internet without our knowledge. There are also absolutely no computers allowed in any bedroom, and all Internet surfing has to be done in the main kitchen/dining area. Also, any Netflix movie has to have a G or a PG rating. They also understand that they are never to engage in any online chat, with any individual, via email or other software, without our approval. A good Internet filter helps screen offensive sites and chat rooms.

Mindy's family sans Halloween getup!

Mindy’s family sans Halloween getup!

Many parents share their children’s photos on Facebook and Instagram. What advice do you have for them to have fun without compromising on their children’s safety?  
This is a tough one, because every parent is a proud parent. Receiving positive feedback on the most recent family photos, or the addition of a child, or cute Halloween costumes, etc, helps validate us as parents among our peers. There is nothing wrong with that. My top suggestion would be to keep your social platform profiles “Private”, for only close friends or family, and definitely turn off geotagging on your photos, which tells viewers where the photo was taken. Make up a nickname to reference a child, and never take photos of them with location-identifying clothing, such as the name of an elementary school, or community football club, etc.

Do you think your children have tasted fame on the Internet too early? Why?
I don’t believe so, as that is not something we seek. There are far too many cases of child stars having major problems as they enter adulthood due to fame. I believe a child can only taste fame if they know that they are famous. We do not talk about it, and all our children recognize is that we film hairstyle videos from time to time. In fact, my twins answered this very question from a fan in 2011 in a Q&A video by stating that they do not consider themselves famous… that they are just “known people”. In the five years we have been doing this, we have only had three sponsored fan meet-ups… only one involved our four oldest children. We are not celebrities in any sense of the word… we are just a family, making family first, sharing a hairstyle talent with the world.

For parents who have attracted a following on their blogs and social media feeds because of the adorable pictures they take of their children, what is the next step they should take if they want to work with advertisers or sponsors?
I am not a professional at answering this, because we’ve never actually sought out a brand integration deal on our own. In fact, our first sponsorship did not happen until after four years, and that company approached us. What I will say is… be super careful, be very selective, and have [a lawyer] review any agreement. Also, not every paid deal is a deal you should do.  We currently turn down 90% of all brand integrations that come our way, and that is perfectly OK. These companies have a global brand, but your brand is important, too. I would also recommend building up your resume by finding press opportunities first, via your local media outlets. Doing so helps show brands that you are relevant and newsworthy. Then for sponsorships, I would say a good start would be to create an organic post or video around your content that highlights the brand/product you are interested in. Then tweet that link to the company on Twitter.

Mindy and Shaun McKnight’s YouTube Channel CuteGirlsHairStyles can be found here.

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1. [Material Moms] The Importance of Speaking Properly

2. [Material Moms] Live In The Moment!

3. Something For The Young (And The Young At Heart)

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Child's Play, Contests, Material Moms, Young Minds

Something For The Young (And The Young At Heart) – Tan Lili

Just the other day, my colleague Vanessa amused me to no end when she asked if we had media passes to KidsFest, a three-week festival of theatrical performances for, well, kids.

“What? I really enjoyed reading the Horrible Histories series when I was a kid!” came her defence. “Fine, judge all you want; I’ll ask my mum if she wants to accompany my brother and me to the play.”

Vanessa's childhood was made of this.

Vanessa’s childhood was made of this.

Not judging at all, dear Vanessa (if there were a theatrical production adapted from the Goosebumps series, you’d probably spot me among the first few rows). I reckon that’s the great thing about KidsFest – its main audience may be children, but it also appeals to adults who wish to relive the past through their favourite children’s books.

ABA Productions’ KidsFest 2014, which made its debut two years ago, will be featuring nine international theatrical productions adapted from children’s books like The GruffaloHorrible Histories Terrible TudorsHorrible Histories Awful EgyptiansWhat The Lady Bird HeardThe Boy Who Cried Wolf, and more. Apart from the increase in the number of plays this year, KidsFest 2014 has also expanded to two performing venues – DBS Arts Centre and Drama Centre Theatre – as well as introduced KidsFest+, an exclusive meet-and-greet backstage experience where you can interact and take photos with the cast.

We spoke to three lucky mums who went for a sneak preview of KidsFest2014, as they share their experiences:

The Gruffalo's Child was a big hit among the kids during the preview!

The Gruffalo’s Child was a big hit among the kids during the preview!

Edlyn Giam
“For us, the highlight of KidsFest 2014 is being able to interact with the actress who plays The Gruffalo’s child. Usually when we see a performance, we don’t get to be so up close with the actors – let alone take photos with them! I definitely recommend parents bring their children to KidsFest. It’s so different reading a book and watching it come alive in a performance. More importantly, I think the experience would help children learn about communication, broaden their imagine, and pique their interest in reading more books.”

Debora Gifford
“We loved the new KidsFest+ segment. It really makes for a special experience for the kids to be able to meet the performers up close and interact with them. My children and I have been reading many of the popular children’s books since they were young, so it was wonderful to see their favourite books like We’re Going On A Bear Hunt and The Gruffalo brought to life on stage and in songs.

Susan Koh
“Watching a performance together gives families a great chance to immerse themselves in a world of imagination filled with songs and dance. Plus, there’s something for everyone, what with shows like We’re Going On A Bear Hunt for the younger kids to Private Peaceful for the older ones.”

Tickets for KidsFest 2014 range from $35 to $62, and are available at Sistic. For more information, visit www.kidsfest.com.sg.

Win a KidsFest 2014 Family Package!

We have two KidsFest 2014 Family Packages, worth $556, to be won! Each package consists of four Category 1 tickets to Horrible Histories Terrible Tudors (February 7, 2014, 7.15pm at DBS Arts Centre) and a Nestle hamper.

Horrible Histories - Terrible Tudors, Redhill, Surrey, UK.

How to win:

1. In the Comments section, tell us the name of the new segment at KidsFest 2014 that lets you get up close and personal with some of the cast members.

2. Then Share this post with your friends on Facebook. Remember to tag “MaterialWorldSG” and “KidsFest” in your post. Set your post on Public so we can verify you have completed this step.

3. Send an email to general@materialworld.com.sg with the subject “KidsFest 2014”. Include your name, gender, NRIC number, mailing address, and age.

This contest is open only to Material World fans on Facebook. Contest ends Tuesday, January 21, 2014.

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Arts & Events, Child's Play, Lifestyle, Material Moms

[Material Moms] Review: Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends Show – Beverly Burgess

Is your kid into Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends? If so, City Square Mall is the place to be this week. My son Hunter has been a MASSIVE fan since he was a baby, so he was totally stoked to go check out the Thomas show there. Trust me, your kid will be in total awe during the show!

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The performance’s premise revolves around City Square Mall’s values – to care for the community, and to save the environment. It kicked off with the character Chad asking us to help him sort through what is recyclable and what is not. I was impressed with the kids around us; they were all spot on with their answers! There was a surprise cat that made all the kids squeal with glee (I don’t want to give too much away ;)), and a Q&A session in which the kids stand to win Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends bags with every right answer.

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Without a doubt, the little ones saved their biggest cheers for Thomas! He arrived in a puff of smoke and, boy, he was a HUGE train. You’ll see the Fat Controller there, but it was Rusty and Dusty who I felt really stole the show, thanks to their crazy antics.

There’s also a special treat for the kids at the end … a flurry of snow! My kids were so surprised with the snow that they had this shell-shocked look on their faces the whole time! To be honest, the first thing I thought was, “Oh no! This is going to get really messy!” But, oddly, the “snow” dried off and vanished, leaving zero residue or water spots on my clothes and bag. I don’t know what it’s made of, but I must say it’s pretty impressive technology!

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The Meet & Greet Session (just spend a minimum of $50 at the mall) is straight after the show and, mark my words, people are fast to get in line. The characters are hilarious and come up with countless silly poses for every group of kids that come on stage.

I was pretty shocked but glad my kids were okay with going up (the Thomas train does seem a lot bigger the closer you get to it!) and taking a photo, but they were actually really happy to do so and posed accordingly … in their Thomas tees!

And, if you spend $200 at City Square Mall, you get a free Thomas & Friends cushion and a Christmas Carnival coupon (worth $4) for a ride or game. UOB debit/credit cardmembers need only spend $180 to quality. Limited to one redemption per shopper per day.

So what did we make a beeline for afterwards?

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Yep. The Christmas Carnival in the Park! It has super cute rides for young kids. Both of mine loved them. Carter even managed to sit still for the full three minutes during the train ride.

We got an opportunity to meet the cast afterwards as well. Here are some tidbits I learned from them:

  • They get equal numbers of boys and girls to the Thomas show.
  • Dusty and Rusty, the dock station hands, are unique characters created for this Thomas show.
  • They listened to cockney accents on YouTube to perfect theirs. (They hail from Australia.)

The kids and I had a ball during the Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends show! It’s highly engaging and lively. Bonus points for their performance of the Thomas theme song – they did a hilarious beatbox version of it! For a fun-filled day with your precious ones, head over to City Square Mall with them to check out the show … and remember to go early to secure your seats! 🙂

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EVENT: Christmas with Thomas & Friends Live Show
DATES: From now to 15 Dec (daily except Mondays); Tue-Fri at 2pm & 7pm, Sat-Sun at 1pm, 4pm & 7pm
VENUE: City Square Mall, Level 1 Atrium
DETAILS: Free seating. Go early!

EVENT: Meet & Greet with Thomas & Friends
DATES: From now to 15 Dec (daily except Mondays); Tue-Fri at 2pm & 7pm, Sat-Sun at 1pm, 4pm & 7pm
VENUE: City Square Mall, Level 1 Atrium
DETAILS: Happens after the Live Show. Redeem an exclusive pass for this meet & greet session with a minimum spending of $50 (50 passes will be given out 45 mins prior to each show)

EVENT: Christmas Carnival in the Park
DATES: From now to 15 Dec (daily): 1pm-9pm
VENUE: City Square Mall, Level 1 City Green (outdoors)
DETAILS: Kid-friendly and super cute carnival rides, as well as game booths with prizes. $4 per coupon.

EVENT: Festive Light Show and Snowy Playtime
DATES: From now to 15 Dec (daily): 8pm & 9pm
VENUE: City Square Mall, Level 1 City Green (outdoors)
DETAILS: A beautiful light show with a kaleidoscope of colours …. and snow!

About the author: Having blogged for the past two decades spanning life in Australia, China and Singapore, Beverly Burgess entered an alternate universe at warp speed when she went from career-driven shopaholic and social butterfly … to juggling being a wife and a mother of two kids. All within three years. The career is now replaced with the privilege of being a full-time mum, but the urge to shop and socialize still remains (albeit with two obliging children in tow). And, she wouldn’t have it any other way. She blogs at Beverly’s Adventures.

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Child's Play, Material Moms

[Material Moms] Review: Sentosa 4D AdventureLand Happy Feet Mumble’s Wild Ride – Beverly Burgess

BevChrisCloseupAbout the author: Having blogged for the past two decades spanning life in Australia, China and Singapore, Beverly Burgess entered an alternate universe at warp speed when she went from career-driven shopaholic and social butterfly … to juggling being a wife and a mother of two kids. All within three years. The career is now replaced with the privilege of being a full-time mum, but the urge to shop and socialize still remains (albeit with two obliging children in tow). And, she wouldn’t have it any other way. She blogs at Beverly’s Adventures.

Sentosa 4D AdventureLand launched its new 4-D experience, Happy Feet Mumble’s Wild Ride! a few days ago, on 14 November 2013.

I’m such a tourist and am such a sucker for all things Sentosa-related, so I was very excited to be dragging the kids there, and with two of their friends in tow. The older kids (Hunter and his girl friend) were appropriated hyped up with promises of “lots of dancing penguins”, so they were excited!

But let me explain 4D AdventureLand first.

The four-dimensional theatre is a motion-simulated experience, where you sit in a pod (kind of like a rollercoaster ride) which wiggles and jiggles and whirls in tune with what you’re watching on screen – whilst you wear 3D glasses. To add to it, there are extra effects like water spray, swishing stuff at your feet, etc, etc. Think of it as a sort of multi-sensory theatre. I guess the future of standard cinema?!

So to watch Happy Feet Mumble’s Wild Ride! , we first huddled into a little room, which confused me. I thought we were going to sit down, not stand together in a group?? With the flashing lights and trippy sound effects, the kids got kind of freaked out, and so did I (from confusion).

Turns out, that was just the safety briefing. Whew!

The doors in front opened and we walked through to a HUUUUGE cinema room, with lots of fancy looking pod things to sit in. After settling ourselves in and buckling up, the lights dimmed and the 4D experience started.

The kids were pretty excited for the first-half of the experience, because it was all about dancing happy penguins that skipped around and slid down ice. It was rather cute!

Then…. errrrmmm…. the dreaded scary seal came. He wanted to eat Mumble!!! OH NOES!!!!!!!!!!

And so began the thrilling chase under water, with the seal snapping away at Mumble. All in 4D for us.

Guess what happened?

My kids had a heart attack. Carter promptly turned around and pressed his entire body against mine, facing backwards. Hunter’s jaw just dropped and I think he went into some sort of shock 😉

My friend’s 5-year-old girl was a little startled, but handled it all just fine. She has spent the next few days repeatedly asking questions on “Why did the seal chase the penguin, mummy?”, so she must’ve been paying attention 😉

And her 13-month-old brother was in total glee over it all, flapping his arms in excitement. Go figure why the youngest kid is the bravest one!

Sooooo.. for this reason, I would say that this ride is fine for <1-year-olds (I guess they are a bit young to realise what is going on), or for 5-year-olds and up, when they don’t get as freaked out. Or if you have brave young kids.

For BIG kids and adults? You’ll have fun!! It’s like a rollercoaster ride, but very safe and contained. It’s a fun concept, and your ticket also allows you entry into the other 4D experiences: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island’; ‘Extreme Log Ride and the interactive 4-D shoot-out game, ‘Desperados’.

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There’s a little kid station just outside the ride, where the kids are given a small kit each. Crayons are provided and there are staff there to help out. The kids can do join-the-dots, crossword puzzles, colouring etc.

Our 5-year-old enjoyed it and diligently did it all.

Carter looks like he was also doing so in the photo below, but actually he had a lot more fun throwing the crayons all around >_<

The Desperados! ride had a little photo-opportunity area outside. Hunter and his Daddy had a grand ‘ol time posing!

Sentosa 4D AdventureLand is a fun stop for the kids if you’re in Sentosa. It’s especially awesome if you’ve lucked out and it’s raining, because it’s one of the few attractions that are completely covered. Plus, with unlimited entries, you can probably kill around two hours or so there, whilst the kids go on all of the rides.

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Why Dining Out With Kids Is An Extreme Sport

Let’s Talk About Play

All You Need To Know About Car Seats

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Child's Play, Material Moms

[Material Moms] Let’s Talk About Play – Shiney Huang

shineyAbout The Author: Shiney Huang is the Founder of Learning Hands, a company that provides toy rental services with a focus on variety and cost-effectiveness. She has over ten years of experience working with children, and is passionate about her work with them although she doesn’t have kids of her own yet. When she’s not dealing with the little tikes, you can find her hard at work at boxing training, reading or listening to music. Here, she talks about an activity that’s all-too-quickly dismissed by parents: playtime.

How well can you say you know your child if you don’t really know how to define “play”?

Play is the work of children and children are born to play. Play is the essence of childhood, and play is what children naturally choose to do when they are given the freedom, time and space.

It can be a loud, happy, or imaginative time for the child, it can also be a quiet and isolated experience. It really depends on the mood and the personality of the child.

When a child plays, he'll experience a whole host of physical, cognitive and emotional benefits.

When a child plays, he’ll experience a whole host of physical, cognitive and emotional benefits.

Why is play so important for children?

Play is important to the child’s development as it contributes greatly to their cognitive, physical, social, emotional and educational development. Playtime is also a good time for parents to engage fully with their child and build a strong bond with him or her.

But, too often, play is something that’s taken for granted by parents, and we always hear them saying, “Oh, Ethan is just playing.” But they forget that Ethan is actually learning some valuable lessons and skills as he plays and, more importantly, he is learning how to learn.

What are children really learning when they play?

As I mentioned early, playing offers much potential for cognitive development; it’s how the child learns creativity, abstract thinking, how to use their imagination, problem-solving, and how to master new concepts.

Physically, they’d pick up motor skills and learn to overcome physical challenges. When they play in a group, they learn how to work with others, share and take turns, resolve conflicts and develop leadership skills.

Playing also teaches them how to manage their emotions – it’s how they learn how to relax, enjoy and have fun, release their pent-up energy, and reduce tension. At the same time, they learn new concepts and skills by exploring, experimenting, and taking risks (either on their own, or with peers and adults).

How can adults support play?

Parents should allow children to play by providing them enough time to explore an activity, develop their imaginations and interact meaningfully with others. Children can quickly become frustrated if their playtime is frequently interrupted or cut short.

Different types of play lead to different learning experiences. Parents should provide their child with a good variety of toys, rather than many of the same type.

Most of the time, children enjoy directing their own play but they do benefit and gain a lot from a parent’s involvement; such as when they’re introduced to a new game or toy, or new ways of playing.

Say “Yes” when your child asks you to play with him or her, as it is the best bonding time you could ever have with them. It can be all too easy to get caught up the stress of work and daily life, but do bear in mind that your child is growing up very quickly as well. Don’t let every moment you have with them pass you by.

What are some of the ways in which you support your child’s play? Do let us know by leaving a comment below!

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