Holiday Seasons is coming!! Bond your family together with these simple dinner games.

Fun & Games
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Games can bring a whole new sense of fun to dinner.

Whether you feel you’ve hit a dinner rut, want a break from “serious conversation,” or simply want to bring more joy to the table, games work wonders. Take a break from the stresses of work and school, and help everyone connect through laughing together. The next time you’re craving some dinner fun, give one of these activities a try:

Rose & Thorn (all ages)
Ask your kids to tell you about the rose (the best or most special part of their day), and the thorn (the most difficult part of their day). This can be a great way to get around one-word answers when you ask, “How was your day?” It helps everyone think about sharing their day in a new way.

Alphabet Game (ages 3-8)
As a group, choose a category, such as animals, countries, singers, or “people our family knows.” One family member starts the game by naming a person/thing from that category that starts with the letter “A.” Then the next person names a person/thing that starts with the letter “B,” the next person finds something for the letter “C,” and so on.

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I-Spy (ages 3-8)

Another fun, classic game. One person starts by saying, “I spy with my little eye, something…”, and adds a description of an object he’s looking at (for instance, “I spy with my little eye, something blue and fuzzy!”). Everyone at the table tries to guess what the person is looking at. You can go around the circle, letting each family member have a chance to be the “spy-er.”

List Game (ages 3-8)
Think of 5 things that “belong” to something. For example, a banana, a pair of shoes, a Harry Potter book, a pile of paperclips, and a box of flooring. Then have your family guess what these things belong to (answer: things in the trunk of my car). With little kids, you can just ask them outright for a list of things in a category (example: name three things in your bed).

Telephone (ages 3-12)
This classic game was practically made for the dinner table. Have one person think of a sentence or phrase, and have him whisper it into the next person’s ear. When the last person hears the phrase, she repeats it to the group, and the person who started the game can see how close she got!

Would You Rather (all ages)
Take turns asking “Would you rather….?” questions. You can either purchase a book of these questions, or make them up as a family. A few ideas to start:

  • Would you rather be invisible or able to fly?
  • Would you rather sweat melted cheese or always smell skunk?
  • Would you rather be able to swim like a dolphin or run as fast as a cheetah?

Create a Story (all ages)
One person starts a story with one sentence. They can use a traditional story format (“Once upon a time, there was a huge bear…”) or something completely original (“A woman carrying a large cake was walking down the street…”). Go around the table, and have each person add a sentence to the story. If the kids are old enough, pass a piece of paper around, and have everyone write their sentence down. After dinner, you can illustrate the sentences, and then post your drawings on the fridge.

Higglety Pigglety (all ages)
One person thinks of a rhyming pair of words, and then gives clues about them, using synonyms. For example, if the secret phrase was “funny bunny,” the clue might be “hilarious furry mammal.” The person can also give a clue about how many syllables the secret phrase has by shortening or lengthening the game’s title. Saying “hig pig” means that each word in the secret phrase has one syllable (like “old mold,”), whereas “higgy piggy” means words with two syllables (“chipper zipper”), and higglety pigglety means words with three (“triumphant elephant”).

Where in the World? (all ages)
Imagine everyone at the table has the gift of teleportation, but it only lasts for 24 hours. Where in the world would you go? Would you bring anyone with you? How long would you stay? What would you do there?

Two Truths and a Tall Tale (all ages)
Have each family member think of two true facts about themselves, and one made-up fact (a “tall tale”). Go around the table and share your three items. The other family members have to guess which one isn’t true!

Ask Your Kids (all ages)
Your children are also likely to know a few games, either from school or playing with friends. Ask them if they have a game they’d like to try at the dinner table!

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Buying insurance for children when they’re born, is it important?

Six-year-old Chloe and her brother Cayden with their parents Kenneth and Patricia Mah. With them are the family’s financial services consultants from AIA – Mr Tommy Tay and Ms Elaine Yeo (both on the left).ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

This will help should they be diagnosed with serious health problems later

Little Chloe Mah was just seven months old when she was diagnosed with Pompe disease, an inherited neuro-muscular disorder that is progressive, debilitating and often fatal.

It is difficult to determine the lifespan of people diagnosed with rare disorders such as hers.

And even if Chloe, now aged five, should live well into adulthood, her parents Kenneth and Patricia Mah are worried about the heavy medical expenses involved.


“People often ask us, how long can Chloe live?” Mr Mah, 45, said.

“But that’s not the question. It’s about the quality of life, not the quantity.”

And so they do whatever they can to help Chloe live as well as possible, in spite of the heavy financial cost.

Chloe requires enzyme replacement therapy at least 26 times a year, with each session costing about $9,500. She also needs various types of therapy – speech and language, occupational and physio.

Her annual medical bills total about $250,000, and other expenses amount to $30,000.

For instance, the filters for Chloe’s ventilators need to be replaced every three days, and they cost $5 each.

And her expenses will only increase as Chloe grows older and bigger, with the amount of enzyme she requires for each treatment increasing proportionately with her weight.

When Chloe was a year old, her an-nual hospitalisation bill was $117,000. Now it is a staggering $300,000.

Mr Mah used to earn between $60,000 and $80,000 annually running his own business. He is now a stay-at-home dad looking after Chloe. Mrs Mah, 40, is the head of training and competency at Finexis Advisory. The couple also have a son, two-year-old Cayden.

When Mr Mah quit his business, their annual household income halved, while Chloe’s medical bills seemed to triple, said Mrs Mah.

“It was a double whammy,” Mr Mah said.

Their annual household income is about $80,000 to $90,000. The family manages to get by with support from insurance coverage, careful financial management and donations.

Chloe has three insurance policies, all purchased in January 2010 when she was two months old and before her diagnosis. To date, the total payout has been $700,000 under a policy known as the AIA Healthshield Gold Max with Essential Plan A, covering the period from June 2010 to January 2015.

The plans cover Chloe’s hospital bills and various therapies.

The total premiums for the three policies are less than $200 a month.

The Mah family takes care to limit expenditure by driving to Johor Baru, for instance, to buy cheaper groceries and not going on expensive holidays.

Whatever donations the Mahs receive, they put in Chloe’s child development account, a special savings account for children.

“When we are old with no income, who will support her? This money in her fund will be important then,” said Mr Mah.

“We just want her to be as independent and as happy as she can.

“With whatever financial planning I can do, and based on Chloe’s own capabilities, we hope that she will be able to take care of herself and survive even when we are no longer around.”

Mr Mah emphasised the importance of having reliable financial advisers to help out when policyholders make a claim.

“I think without the AIA financial services consultant’s (FSC’s) guidance, we probably wouldn’t even have thought we could have gotten the first claim through,” he said.

The Mah family’s AIA FSCs – Ms Elaine Yeo and Mr Tommy Tay – stressed the importance of adequate financial protection for the whole family.

The parents, especially, should not be neglected, they pointed out.

Ms Yeo said: “Given that the parents are the breadwinners, they need equal protection against unforeseen circumstances to ensure their children can be taken care of.”

According to a 2012 protection gap survey commissioned by the Life Insurance Association (LIA), each working adult requires coverage of 10 times his or her annual income to be adequately insured.

“It is also best to have regular financial reviews to better address a family’s changing needs with each new milestone,” Ms Yeo added.

The two advisers strongly advised families to get insurance for their children when they are young, to safeguard against any unforeseen threats.

Financial planning for families with special needs children

The Mahs purchased insurance for Chloe when she was two months old, before she was diagnosed, but many families with children already diagnosed with rare disorders will find it difficult to buy insurance or receive financial aid.

It is more difficult and expensive to purchase coverage once the child has been diagnosed with a disease.

Families with children suffering from rare diseases face rising medical costs that will stretch on for an unknown number of years. This will impose a heavy financial burden on even middle-income families, who will need to dig into their savings and Medisave, both of which are limited.

Another concern is ensuring that the financial needs of a child will continue to be well met even after the parents or guardians pass away.

Nevertheless, families in these situations can still take action to address such concerns.

  • Take stock of all available financial assistance opportunities

Families can try to seek both financial and non-financial support from organisations such as Club Rainbow and the Rare Disorders Society. The latter was founded by Mr Mah himself.

Apart from patient support and parent support groups, the Rare Disorders Society, which is a non-profit organisation, also provides financial aid to families.

“A lot of these families often have to go through means testing to apply for financial aid. But for us, when it comes to rare diseases, it’s not about how much you earn. The most critical thing is how much are your medical expenses and needs,” Mrs Mah explained.

Mr Steven Ong, chief executive officer of Financial Planning Association of Singapore, suggested that families look into hospital funds such as the KKH Rare Diseases endowment sub-fund and NUH Kids Fund.

  • Understand the government schemes in place

There are also government schemes in place that families may be able to tap.

Families must familiarise themselves with the 3Ms – Medisave, MediShield and Medifund – and how each can help to pay for the medical expenses.

First though, be clear on the classification of your child’s disease.

For instance, if the disease was diagnosed at birth, you should check with existing medical insurers and MediShield to determine if the disease is classified as congenital or a neonatal condition that is covered by them.

Since March 2013, MediShield has been extended to cover newly diagnosed congenital and neonatal conditions with no underwriting, so long as parents do not opt their children out.

This, however, is only applicable to infants born on or after March 1, 2013 and are Singapore citizens at birth.

MediShield Life, to be introduced at the end of the year, is the “light at the end of the tunnel” for such families, Mr Ong said.

While subject to terms and conditions, it will cover all individuals automatically.

But for some serious pre-existing illnesses, individuals may need to pay 30 per cent higher premiums for 10 years. In addition, this subsidy is only for Class B2/C wards in government hospitals.

The CPF Nomination scheme, under the Special Needs Saving Scheme as administered by Special Needs Trust Co (SNTC), is an option to help manage the regular distribution of the parents’ CPF monies after they pass away, subject to specific conditions.

On top of that, the CPF Enhanced Nomination scheme will help parents transfer their CPF monies to their children’s Medi-save accounts, subject to the ceiling, to ensure the children can pay some of the medical expenses from their own Medisave accounts in future.

  • Consider insurance and its various alternatives

Parents are strongly advised to consider buying a medical insurance plan for their children as soon as practicable – and not wait until a sudden adverse diagnosis that may render the child uninsurable.

When purchasing a policy, Ms Eline See, council member of Insurance and Financial Practitioners Association of Singapore Executive Council, recommended that parents review the terms and conditions set out in the policies.

“Pay attention to benefits limits, exclusions as well as their claims requirements,” she advised.

Trying to apply for insurance after the child has been diagnosed with the disease might be difficult.

Mr Ong said: “Successful application with insurers depends on the underwriting decisions. Some insurers may limit the coverage of the policy by excluding the condition or increase the premiums due to increased risks.”

The Mah family wholeheartedly endorses the benefits of insurance even if bought after a diagnosis.

Mr Mah said: “Maybe they can’t get medical insurance, but how about life insurance? It doesn’t mean you can’t get any at all.

“Perhaps you may need to pay a bit more if your child has a disorder, and perhaps there are certain exclusions. But at least you’re covered for something with certain insurance.”

Ms See said while most insurance options are barred to those already diagnosed with medical conditions, there are still options in the market that cover existing medical conditions, albeit subject to terms and conditions and usually at a high cost.

“Insurance policies that cover long-term disability can also be considered,” she said.

Mr Aw Choon Hui, deputy chief executive officer of GYC Financial Advisory, noted that a few international health insurers offer plans that cover pre-existing conditions, subject to conditions. These plans have very high premiums compared with standard local plans.

There will also usually be a waiting period of a few years and a cap on the amount one can claim for that condition.

Alternatively, parents can consider enrolling in group insurance at their workplace.

Group insurance refers to company insurance where employees are covered and the employer owns the insurance policy.

However, such policies usually come with a waiting period before treatments for pre-existing conditions can be claimed.

Participation in such policies very much depends on the group insurance put in place by your employer, Ms See said.

  • Pay attention to rising medical expenses

To avoid being caught out, parents should keep an eye on rising medical costs.

It is important to note that some insurance plans have a lifetime limit to the total claims amount. This means that the plan will lapse once the claims exceed the lifetime limit.

And as medical expenses will rise every year, it is important to review the insurance policies regularly and take into account medical inflation and affordability of the insurance premium.

“As insurance premium often rises with age, it is important to ensure it is affordable in the long term,” Ms See advised.

Parents should also monitor their available funds against climbing medical costs over time. Just leaving your savings in a savings account or fixed deposit account might not be sufficient to beat the high cost of inflation for medical expenses, Mr Aw cautioned.

He said: “Part of that savings will need to be prudently invested to try to achieve better rates of return in the long run, otherwise it would be rapidly wiped out with rising inflation.

“One practical way is to consider creating a trust and systematically setting aside money on a regular basis to grow over the years so as to provide the financial resources needed for this child in the long term.”

Beyond consciously building a special medical fund exclusively for their child’s medical expenses, Ms Low Mei Kuen, director of the advisory unit in Providend, said one way to help grow this fund is to contribute to the child’s Medisave account, where the current interest rate is 4 per cent a year.

  • Plan for the future

While battling rising medical expenses will be the key priority for such families now, they should also consider the difficult issues that may arise should the parents die before the child.

This involves appointing an alternative and reliable guardian, planning a constant source of funding for the child, the distribution of this funding source over time and other issues related to caregiving.

Mr Ong acknowledged that there is no magic formula to correctly spread funds out over time, but said parents can consider tapping the various government schemes and creating a legal entity known as a Special Needs Trust with prior instructions on how the money should be used over time.

This trust will continue providing for the child’s expenses, as per the trust deed and any letter of wishes given by the parents.

According to Mr Aw, this is important as the parent’s assets may not be readily released if the case is embroiled in disputes or challenges from non-beneficiaries.

The trust would ensure that payment for expenses can still be disbursed without interruption as the trustee holds the legal title of the trust’s assets, although the child is the beneficiary.

Also, assets such as payouts from the parents’ life insurance policies can be injected into the trust upon the parents’ deaths so as to boost the assets of the trust.  Mr Aw noted that the parents could take on more life insurance on their own lives and assign the proceeds to the trust with the aim of boosting its available funds.

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20 Things Only Those Who Are Neither Introverts Nor Extroverts Understand

Are we like others? Do we exhibit the same traits as our peers, can we be put in a neat little box, or are we unique? Not to get too existential right at the start – but although you’ll find that all people have certain very specific traits that make them who they are, most of us can relate on some level. We all like to belong, to have a group that understands us and shares our interests. This is why you’ll see so many articles online detailing the good and the bad sides of being either an introvert or an extrovert. But what if I told you that you don’t have to identify with one or the other?

MorpheusThere are actually a lot of people out there who can exhibit some textbook introvert behavior, but at other times they seem like a true extrovert. We are often called ambiverts, but I’m not that big on names, so I just see myself as an in-betweener. It can be a bit weird when you can see eye to eye with both people who like to keep to themselves and people who are always out making friends, yet can’t truly be understood by those living either extreme. There are some things that only those who fall somewhere between an introvert and an extrovert will understand, things like…

1. We are only an extrovert as long as we need to break the monotony

BoredIf you live the life of an introvert (e.g. doing things on your own or being passive during conversations) and yet are not a true introvert, it’s easy to get into a rut. When I get into a routine I start to get nervous, and start planning fun activities with my friends and family. However, I’m only going to party for as long as I need to spend most of that extra energy, and then it’s back to the Fortress of Solitude.

2. We sometimes wish to be all by our lonesome, but still have plans for later

aloneIt’s easier than ever to just focus on yourself and have some quality alone time. Just one look at the online shopping statistics is enough to show you that a lot of people prefer sitting at their computer than driving around town and interacting with other people. While I personally enjoy having a quiet day to myself once a week – ordering food and doing my shopping online, listening to music, doing a little dance as I brew a fresh cup of coffee – I still make sure that I’ve got something interesting planed for tomorrow. I know I’ll recharge my batteries and want to have fun with others in a day or two.

3. We hear about introverts and extroverts, and realize that we can’t choose a side

something in commonDid you ever get the feeling that you might have a lot in common with a person, only to say to yourself “Nope, you lost me there buddy,” half way through the conversation? Well, that’s how I feel most of the time. I’ll be there talking to someone who seems to like some of the things I like, but then they go off the rails. Yes I might enjoy hiking – but camping out in the woods for several days with a group of people, followed by other “fun group activities” is really not my thing. At this point an introvert might chime in with “Yeah, it’s much more relaxing to go running by yourself and then read some good books”, at which point you’re just going to have to give up.

4. We are able to relate to nearly everyone, which is a double edged sword

double edged swordAnother fun thing about being able to relate to the vast majority of people (at least to some extent) is that nearly everyone you meet will want to be your friend. “Hey, you’re a really cool guy, we’ve got so much in common, let’s hang out” – they’ll all chirp happily, but the truth is you simply don’t want or need hundreds of friends. Your introvert side will start panicking and tell you to run for the hills, but your extrovert side will keep getting you into these situations because it’s fun to meet new people.

5. We don’t mind spending long hours learning something new or developing a skill

working hardWhen not out meeting new people and making friends through no fault of my own, I tend to spend a decent amount of time hiding from the friends I do enjoy being around, simply because I want to focus on a hobby. You’d be surprised at all the things you can learn if you put in the time and the effort. Chances are you’ve lied about being sick so you can spend a couple of extra hours working on a DIY project or learning French.

6. We lose focus if we become too isolated

stupid brainWhile there are times when I will happily go for a run or work on my skills instead of sitting around talking to people, if I go too long without human contact my brain tends to wonder off. I keep thinking about all the fun people are having without me, and I start to miss the long random conversations I have with my best friends over a couple of beers. At some point you can’t really get anything done, because it becomes impossible to focus on the task at hand, and you end up reaching for the phone.

7. We can sometimes spend 48 hours partying, then go back to quietly sipping coffee with friends

party hardI’ve mentioned the need for partying that you get after spending a long time on your own, but the truth is that sometimes you just feel full of life and want to do as many exciting things as you can, all at once. Now that I’m a bit more mature and happily married, a nice vacation or a fun weekend out of town with the Missus and our daughter is enough, but when I was younger I’d party for two or three days straight. People who met me during the party phase tended to be surprised at how relaxed and quiet I was when they saw me mere days later.

8. We tend to be quite intuitive and can sense how people feel, but sometimes we just don’t care

feelingsHaving spent a lot of time talking to a wide range of different people, I can tell you that being an ambivert makes it a lot easier to sense how people feel, as you can put yourself in their shoes for the most part. However, being able to understand others and being emphatic are not the same thing, and while the tendency is to make an effort to comfort people or hear them out, there are just some times where you can be focused entirely on yourself and not really care.

9. We catch ourselves sitting quietly and observing others every now and then

watching silentlyDuring those times when I feel especially introspective I often catch myself just kind of sitting there, with a bunch of friends who are chatting over a cup of coffee. It’s not as if you’re not listening to what is being said or that you’re in a bad mood, it’s just that you get contemplative and start observing the whole situation like an outsider gathering information. You can feel warm and cozy in your own head, and really not have much to say, although you actually enjoy the company.

10. We can also get excited and become the life of the party in the right circumstances

life of the partyIt always amazed me how fast I could go from quiet and somewhat distracted to chatty and witty when the mood struck. For me it was always about having the right kind of people around, and I usually needed someone to give me a push in the right direction by bringing up a topic I am passionate about. It is a wonderful transformation, but that euphoric feeling can dye down slowly if there is no-one to keep feeding the fire.

11. We sometimes spend time among people we don’t know, and we tend to get really shy

shyYou see, one of the biggest triggers that pushes most ambiverts into “fun and talkative mode” is the presence of good friends. As long as you have someone you know well with you, you can relax because you know you can switch between casually talking to a friend and telling a few interesting stories to a few people that were part of the extended group. However, once you’re among strangers, you become shy and somewhat clumsy.

12. We will still get quite talkative among good friends

talking with friendsAh, those rare moments of pure bliss when you get a little drunk with a few good friends and start blabbing about random little things, jumping from topic to topic and barely even stopping for breath. These are great opportunities for those who only know you as the quiet and mysterious one to see your other side.

13. We have clear spikes and lulls in our activity levels throughout the week

activity lulls and spikesIf my life was presented in graph form, it would probably look something like the lines on a heart monitor. Oh sure, there are strong heartbeats in there, and during those periods we are larger than life. Our phone won’t stop ringing, we keep looking for people to hang out with on social media and there is always someone at our house having a coffee or a beer. However, there is a noticeable silence in between beats, with plenty of missed calls and quiet nights in front of the TV with significant others.

14. We surprise our close friends when they see us being reserved during social occasions

reserved gentlemanBecause of all that talking that we ambiverts tend to do around close friends, they envision us as a social butterfly. They think that we are talkative and relaxed in all other occasions, because that is what they have experience with. My friends would experience shock and confusion when they saw me, the quirky chatty guy, just smiling politely and exchanging a few words here and there during big social gatherings.

15. We often find that we just want to leave a party and spend the rest of the night alone

so long farewellThis one is very difficult to explain to people – I actually like hanging out with friends and a bunch of people I don’t know, as long as I am in a good mood and the atmosphere is stimulating. I have a specific taste and there are several things that I find fun, and if none of these elements is present then I simply leave. It might have been a good party at the start, but it’s not uncommon for me to start thinking that I’d have a much better time watching a movie at home or scrolling around social media.

16. We find it’s easy to get confused about what we really want

i do not know what i wantGiven the fact that ambiverts can be all over the place when it comes to their energy levels and general mood, we often find ourselves confused about what we want. I’ve had friends get mad at me because they thought I was messing with them when I would change my mind about whether I wanted to go out about 6-7 times in 10 minutes. The switch between introvert and extrovert is not always a smooth and easy one, and it pays to have patient and understanding friends.

17. We like to talk for hours on some subjects, but small talk bores us out of our mind

small talkI’ve already mentioned that my friends tend to see me as a chatty person, and I’ve been known to be quite interesting when meeting new people if the conversation steers towards something I find interesting – however simple social interactions where people keep up the pretense that they respect and enjoy each other’s company can drive you mad. I never likedtalking about the weather or asking arbitrary questions like “How’s the wife?” or “So, what have you been up to?” just to kill the time or because I bumped into someone I haven’t seen in a while in the street.

18. We never feel truly bored, but we can get a bit lonely at times

lonelyI’ll be the first one to say that you can be your own company as long as you have a little bit of imagination, a sense of humor and a positive attitude. However, while I won’t necessarily run out of things to do on my own or with a few close friends, I can get definitely get lonely and start missing the chatter and laughter you get with a group. This is why we can’t stay passive and closed in our own heads for too long.

19. We don’t spend too much time socializing because it can drain our mental energy

Just as sitting around the house and going to the same few coffee shops with one or two close friends tends to eventually push ambiverts into a more active phase, so too does being overly friendly, going to all the big events and being around other people on a daily basis cause us to eventually go into hibernation. It’s all about a balance between being open to the world and having some privacy, and too much human contact can be rather mentally exhausting. If I’m energetic and ready to hit the town one day, and then I keep giving excuses so I can stay at home the next, it’s not because I don’t like a person very much – I just need a break from people in general every now and again.

20. We struggle to find a partner that can get used to both sides of our character

quirky characterWith all these complex emotions, mood changes and character traits from both ends of the spectrum, it can be difficult to pin an ambivert down. What I found most challenging is the fact that when I start dating someone it can be quite the challenge for them to get used to both sides of my emotional coin. Again, I’ve been lucky enough to find myself a beautiful wife who, being an ambivert herself and as emotional and stubborn as I am, learned to understand me. It can take some time before you find someone you can be yourself around, both when you feel like closing up and staying silent, and when you want to sing at the top of your lungs, act silly or go out and have fun.

As an ambivert you’ll go between wanting nothing more than to be left alone and have limited interaction with others, and being around plenty of people and having a great time. People will find it weird, some may get a bit frustrated, but on the plus side you get the best of both worlds and may even have an edge when it comes to achieving success, so just be honest to yourself about who you are and enjoy the ride.

Featured photo credit: Hipster man with a fixie bike and smartphone in a park outdoors via

Originally posted on


Bored at the Gym? Jazz Up Your Workouts With These Ideas  

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It’s easy to experience boredom when working out in the gym. Just the sight of the same machines, mirrors and muscle-pros can send you into monotony-land and leave you feeling uninspired and uninterested in working out. But take heart – your fitness regimen doesn’t have to be like this!


By implementing a few changes to your routine, you can start to enjoy every moment of your time in the gym.


Try these tips for turning your lackluster gym workout into a rewarding experience:


  1. Let music invigorate you. Put together a compilation of your favorite tracks and take your MP3 player with you every time you go to the gym. Lose yourself in your music and you’ll be done with your workout before you know it!


  • You’ll be surprised how quickly your 20-minute treadmill warm-up will pass if you listen to four of your all-time favorite songs back to back!
  • The rhythm of some songs automatically gives an adrenaline rush and pushes you to keep going.


  1. Alternate routines and workouts. You’ve probably found that after doing the same routines repetitively for a few weeks, you get pretty tired of them. Working out is just like anything else – it needs variety to be spicy and interesting!


  • For example, do a step aerobics class one week and then replace it with a spinning class the following week.
  • Memorize your routine and try to do it in the reverse the following week.
  • Perform your workouts in front of the mirrors one week and take a break the next. You’ll automatically feel challenged to do the exercises properly when you can’t see your reflection in the mirror.


  1. Find a workout partner. Company goes a long way in relieving the monotony of a gym workout. Visiting with a friend can distract you enough to keep you going without paying too much attention to the workout.


  1. Set goals and reward yourself. One strategy that can help you to look at your gym workout as beneficial and interesting is setting workout goals that come with rewards. Give yourself achievable workout targets and reward yourself once you’ve hit them.


  • For example, if you have a goal to increase your repetitions by 5, plan a reward to give you an incentive to reach this goal. Treat yourself to a new book, movie, or other inexpensive gift when you achieve the goal.
  • If you’d like to save up for something more expensive, add to your savings to reward yourself each time you meet a new goal. Set small goals you can easily achieve and add a dollar to the pot for each achievement. It’s exhilarating to see both your savings and your fitness level growing consistently just by meeting these small goals!
  • Earn a sweet (low-calorie) treat for working out all muscle groups.


There’s nothing better than a little inspiration to get you involved your gym workout! The minute you start to put more creativity into making it a worthwhile experience, you’ll start to enjoy it. Experiment and discover your own unique ways to make your workout more interesting and motivating. Even the experiments themselves will bring more fun to your workouts.


So don’t give up on the gym – it promises to help you achieve all your fitness goals as long as you stick to it. And with these techniques, you’re bound to enjoy your workouts as well!


20 Signs You’re Succeeding Even If You Feel Like You Aren’t



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We all feel like failures from time to time. While this is a normal feeling, you have to find a way to see yourself and your life from a different perspective. Sometimes we ignore the “little things.” Just because you are not a millionaire, don’t live in a mansion, and you don’t drive a fancy car, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure. In fact, it’s quite the contrary.

Here are 20 signs that you are succeeding in life:

1. Your relationships are less dramatic than they used to be.

Drama is not maturity. As we age, we should develop maturity. So maybe your relationships were drama-filled in your past, but if you have moved beyond that, then you are successful.

2. You are not afraid to ask for help and support any more.

Asking for help does not equal weakness. In fact, it is a strength. No person has ever succeeded in isolation. It takes teamwork to accomplish goals. Asking or help is a sign that you have grown as a person.

3. You have raised your standards.

You don’t tolerate bad behavior any more – from other people, or even yourself. You hold people accountable for their actions. You don’t spend time with the “energy vampires” in your life anymore.

4. You let go of things that don’t make you feel good.

No, this is not narcissistic even though it might seem like it. Self-love is success. Love yourself enough to say ‘no’ to anything that doesn’t make you happy, doesn’t serve your purpose, or drags you down.

5. You have moments where you appreciate who you see in the mirror.

Ideally, you should appreciate who you see in the mirror at every moment. But even if that doesn’t happen, if you do it more than you used to, then that is success. Love yourself. You are awesome.

6. You have learned that setbacks and failure are part of self-growth.

Not everyone can have success 100% of the time. That’s just not realistic. Life is about victories and losses. So look at your setbacks as stepping stones to something better. In reality, there really is no such thing as as setback. It’s all just part of a wondrous journey.

7. You have a support system that includes people who would do anything for you.

If you have figured out the people who “have your back” and recognized the ones who only pretend that they do, then you have succeeded. This is a painful realization, but once you learn to see the signs of betrayal, you can stay away from those people.

8. You don’t complain much.

Because you know there really is nothing to complain about. Unless you really have gone through some horrific life experience and had unimaginable losses, most of what we all experience on a day-to-day basis is just mundane. And successful people know that. And they live in a space of gratitude.

9. You can celebrate others’ successes.

Just because other people succeed, that doesn’t make you a failure. Applaud the people who rise to the top. The more positive energy you give to other people’s victories, the more you will create your own.

10. You have passions that you pursue.

You are not stagnant. You know you have something wonderful to contribute to the world. You have unique talents and gifts. Not only do you know that, you pursue it.

11. You have things to look forward to.

If you don’t have exciting things going on in your life that you are eagerly anticipating, then you are slowly dying inside. Successful people create goals that they are passionate about pursuing. They let this excitement drive their life.

12. You have goals that have come true.

Even though “failures” are a part of life, you have stuck to your goals and dreams long enough to make them come to fruition. You have  some tastes of victory. It fuels you.

13. You have empathy for others.

A person without empathy is dead inside. Empathy equals spreading love and positive energy into the world. Successful people know this. They love others as if they are family.

14. You love deeply and open yourself up to be loved by others.

Love is risky, and sometimes scary for people. It’s the one thing we all strive for, but it’s also intimately tied to the one thing we fear the most – rejection. If you open your heart enough to love and be loved, then you are successful.

15. You refuse to be be a victim.

You know that life doesn’t always happen to you. Many times, you are a co-creator of your life experiences. Successful people know this and refuse to be kept down by life experiences. The rise up and conquer anyway.

16. You don’t care what other people think.

You know you can’t please everyone. You know that the standards with which society judges people is many times unrealistic. So you just keep true to yourself and love the person you are.

17. You always look on the bright side.

Life can be full of disappointments – if you choose to see them that way. Otherwise, they are learning opportunities. No negative experience is ever wasted as long as you learn from it.

18. You accept what you can’t change.

Let’s face it – there many things you can’t change in life. All you can change is how you view what happens. If you can change your negative perspective on situations to a positive one, then you are successful.

19. You change what you can.

And let’s face it again – there are many things you can change in life. Successful people don’t sit around accepting the negatives that are changeable. They get out there and do something about it!!

20. You are happy.

To me, this is the ultimate definition of success. It doesn’t matter what the balance is in your bank account, how big your house is,  or how many fancy vacations you take. If you are happy, then you are succeeding in life.

Even if you don’t see yourself in many of these 20 things, don’t fret. It’s okay. Be happy that you see yourself in just a few. In time, the rest will come. You just need to keep moving onward and upward.

Originally posted on


10 Surprising Benefits Of Fasting


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Is it a good thing to ‘starve’ yourself each day, or a few days of the week? Well, a tonne of evidence indicates that timed periods of fasting are a good thing.

Fasting has become increasingly popular over the years, especially among the health community. Whilst most health practitioners are afraid to recommend eating less due to the stigma involved, it still doesn’t alleviate the incredible benefits of fasting when used sensibly.

In this article, we’ll explore 10 benefits of fasting that will surprise you, and how you can incorporate them into your own life.

1. Fasting Helps Weight Loss

Fasting can be a safe way to lose weight as many studies have shown that intermittent fasting – fasting that is controlled within a set number of hours – allows the body to burn through fat cells more effectively than just regular dieting.

Intermittent fasting allows the body to use fat as it’s primary source of energy instead of sugar. Many athletes now use fasting as means to hitting low body fat percentages for competitions.

2. Fasting Improves Insulin Sensitivity

Fasting has shown to have a positive effect on insulin sensitivity, allowing you to tolerate carbohydrates (sugar) better than if you didn’t fast. A study showed that after periods of fasting, insulin becomes more effective in telling cells to take up glucose from blood.

3. Fasting Speeds Up The Metabolism

Intermittent fasting gives your digestive system a rest, and this can energise your metabolism to burn through calories more efficiently. If your digestion is poor, this can effect your ability to metabolise food and burn fat. Intermittent fasts can regulate your digestion and promote healthy bowel function, thus improving your metabolic function.

4. Fasting Promotes Longevity

Believe it or not, the less you eat the longer you will live. Studies have shown how the lifespan of people in certain cultures increased due to their diets. However, we don’t need to live amongst a foreign community to reap the benefits of fasting. One of the primary effects of ageing is a slower metabolism, the younger your body is, the faster and more efficient your metabolism. The less you eat, the less toll it takes on your digestive system.

5. Fasting Improves Hunger

Just think about this, can you actually experience real hunger if you eat a meal every 3-4 hours? Of course you can’t. In fact, to experience the true nature of hunger, this would take anything from 12 to even 24 hours.

Fasting helps to regulate the hormones in your body so that you experience what true hunger is. We know that obese individuals do not receive the correct signals to let them know they are full due excessive eating patterns.

Think of fasting as a reset button: the longer you fast, the more your body can regulate itself to release the correct hormones, so that you can experience what real hunger is. Not to mention, when your hormones are working correctly, you get full quicker.

6. Fasting Improves Your Eating Patterns

Fasting can be a helpful practice for those who suffer with binge eating disorders, and for those who find it difficult to establish a correct eating pattern due to work and other priorities.

With intermittent fasting going all afternoon without a meal is okay and it can allow you to eat at a set time that fits your lifestyle. Also, for anyone who wants to prevent binge eating, you can establish a set time in where you allow yourself to eat your daily amount of calories in one sitting, and then not eat till the following day.

7. Fasting Improves Your Brain Function

Fasting has shown to improve brain function, because it boosts the production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF.)

BDNF activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, and triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health. This protein also protects your brain cells from changes associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

8. Fasting Improves Your Immune System

Intermittent fasting improves the immune system because it reduces free radical damage, regulates inflammatory conditions in the body and starves off cancer cell formation.

In nature, when animals get sick they stop eating and instead focus on resting. This is a primal instinct to reduce stress on their internal system so their body can fight off infection. We humans are the only species who look for food when we are ill, even when we do not need it.

9. Fasting Contributes To Self-Enlightenment

Fasting has helped many people feel more connected to life during the practices reading, meditation, yoga and martial arts etc. With no food in the digestive system, this makes room for more energy in the body – the digestive is one of the most energy absorbing systems in the body.

Fasting for self-enlightenment, allows us to feel better both consciously and physically. With a lighter body and a clearer mind we become more aware and grateful for the things around us.

10. Fasting Helps Clear The Skin And Prevent Acne

Fasting can help clear the skin because with the body temporarily freed from digestion, it’s able to focus its regenerative energies on other systems.

Not eating anything for just one day has shown to help the body clean up the toxins and regulate the functioning of other organs of the body like liver, kidneys and other parts.

Originally posted on


Why Chores are Important for Your Children

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If you have children, you know the deep, abiding bond that develops between parents and kids. Because you love them, you want them to be happy. A parenting conundrum that often arises in light of this is whether to assign jobs around the house to your kids.

Most child and family experts believe that requiring your children to do chores is beneficial to both of you, as long as tasks are age-appropriate and not too physically challenging.

How are chores beneficial to your kids?

Top 10 Benefits of Chores:

1. Facilitate physical development. Having chores from a young age helps to develop gross and fine motor skills and coordination.

2. Provide learning experiences. Kids learn something when they perform household tasks. Whether it’s why the chore needs to be done or how it’s carried out, knowledge will be gained and retained.

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3. Help kids feel they belong. Chores help kids feel like an important part of the family. It’s especially helpful when you and your other family members take notice and positively comment when children complete their tasks.

4. Keep kids busy and out of trouble. There’s some truth to the idea that when kids are doing a household task, you know they’re engaged in a positive behavior that could benefit them in the future.

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5. Kids contribute to the home. Doing chores provides kids with ways to contribute to the household. As children feel like they’re contributing in some way, they begin to develop and build pride. “I can dust the tables all by myself” is a powerful message for a 7-year-old.

6. Build self-esteem. Consistently giving chores to kids builds their sense of their own abilities. After all, think of all the things they’ve learned how to do over the years.

• From cleaning up after themselves to making their beds and sweeping the floors, chores assigned by parents greatly contribute to children’s positive self-esteem.

7. Demonstrate the importance of taking care of personal items and one’s home. The best way to show a child how important it is to take care of his own property and the house is to assign him chores. This way, your child observes and experiences how life is lived and discovers first-hand the necessities of doing certain chores.

8. Teach kids responsibility. When a child is solely responsible for a job getting done in the home, he learns to take responsibility for that task. As they mature, children learn that people in the home depend on them to complete their chores properly and in a timely fashion.

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9. Children discover the value of cooperation. When large chores, like raking leaves, are shared by the whole family, kids see how integral it is to cooperate with one another.

• For example, two people can rake the leaves and then help each other with bagging them. Then, a third family member can move the bags to the curb.

• Taking part in these “live-action teaching moments” impresses on your kids the value of working cheerfully with one another. Also, it instills the idea that in many instances, cooperation is vital to getting the job done.

10. Introduce children to the world of work. Assigning chores in your home will be your children’s first introduction to working.

• One of the most important things you can do for your kids is to teach them about what it’s like to have a job and have people counting on them to carry it through. Plus, children will learn how to enjoy and look forward to working.


Giving chores to your kids will teach them crucial lessons about life, cooperation, and work. Commit today to consistently assign chores to your children and watch as they reap the benefits now and later.


5 phone apps for busy women in Singapore

We love tools that free us up from the daily chores and bring things we love closer. So here are 5 Singapore apps that will make any busy woman happy.

HopHop Chef app - book a local chef to cook at your home
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1. HopHop Chef (

Do you love good food but have no time for cooking? Book a chef to cook at your home with the newly launched HopHop Chef. Choose dishes you like from the app and select chef’s time of arrival. Chef brings ingredients, cooks, serves on your plates and leaves your kitchen clean. All in 2 hours.
Price: $120 for 4 people inclusive of food and a chef.

HopHop Chef is available on Google Play and iOS App Store.

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2. Honestbee (

Hate queuing at grocery shops? Delegate grocery shopping to Honestbee.  Shop from multiple grocery stores and get the same day delivery.Price: Free delivery for the first order above $10.

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Honestbee is available on Google Play and iOS App Store.


3. Helpling ( 

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Hate cleaning? Book a cleaner with Helpling to clean your rooms, fridge, windows, oven or do the ironing.  Price: $20 per hour. Helpling is available on Google Play and iOS App Store.


4. Vanitee (

Is a visit to a beauty salon long overdue? Get your mani, pedi, massage, hair and even facial done with Vanitee. Select the service you want, specify the time you want your beauty artist to come and pay online.

Price: $20 – 1000.

Vanitee is available on Google Play and iOS App Store.

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5. HipVan (

Make your home a dream home with design goodies from HipVan. Shop for furniture and decor while sitting on your comfortable couch. Don’t have a couch? Get one from HipVan.

Price: $10 – 1000.

HipVan is available on iOS App Store.

Originally posted on


4 Reading Hacks Every Book Lover Should Know




1. When You Can’t Read… Listen!

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Audiobooks are the answer for people who always want to be reading. Amazon’s Whispersync lets you sync your ebooks with the audiobook version so you don’t have to waste frustrating minutes trying to find your place in the audiobook. Now, there’s also OverDrive, which allows you to break free of Amazon and sync ebooks and audiobooks for other platforms. So, you can read your ebook on the train and listen to the audiobook during your run, or, with bluetooth shower speakers, even in the shower!

2. Read Big Books In Tiny Pieces

If you’re intimidated by the size of Ulysses or just don’t want to strain your wrist or weigh down your backpack with you books, the DailyLit app will send you short installments of books at regular times that you choose. You pick the book, you determine how many pages you can read at a time and when you can read them, and DailyLit will get you the right amount of reading at the right time.

3. Read While You Wait
You might not always have time to set aside to get cozy and read for an hour, but everyone has several chunks of a few minutes here or there throughout the day — 10 minutes of waiting in lines, waiting for the pasta to boil, while you do laundry, waiting for the train to arrive, waiting for your (ahem) bathroom business to conduct itself. Instead of checking for new emails for the hundredth time, crack open your book. All those 10 minutes add up, and before you realize it you’ll be halfway through your bookshelf of unread classics.

4. Lock Yourself Out of Your Phone

Look, we’re living in an online world and you’re just an online girl. We alll fall victim to the evil addiction of scrolling. Even with a book in hand you may soon find yourself swiping and tapping and checking your e-mail just one more time, you know, in case there’s something life-alteringly important. You’d think getting some offline time might be as simple as turning off the phone, but we’re all weak weak creatures who can’t deny the allure of Facebook or a perfect emoji text. That’s where apps come in handy. Apps like Flipd, App Detox, or even a straight up Parental Control app let you control how much time you spend online, on certain apps, or even just lock you out of your phone automatically at certain times of the day. It’s basically like putting a Do Not Disturb sign on your little window to the Internet. Finally free of the urge to status update, you can dive into a good old-fashioned hardcover.

Originally posted on


Teaching Children to Make Mistakes



We all learn from our mistakes. Every situation is an opportunity for growth. Obviously there are certain mistakes you want to protect your kids from, such as playing on a busy road or sticking their hand on a hot burner. But in other situations, they’ll learn more if left to discover the consequences themselves.


You probably remember a time as a kid when you were corrected by an authority figure and wondered what the big deal was. After all, wouldn’t you have figured out the situation on your own? As a parent, you can learn from this and assess when to step in and when to stand back.


Consider these points to help you be more patient and accepting of your children’s mistakes:


  1. Children are children. Because of a child’s age, coordination, lack of judgment, or simplified thought processes, kids are not going to be able to perform a task the way a teen or adult can.

  2. Children are works in progress. Because children are developing, learning and growing every day, each new day provides them with opportunities for success.


  • Children grow and mature at their own speeds. One child may be able to make his own bed when he’s 5 years old, while another will struggle with this at age 7.
  • Depending on the task, a child might be unable to do a job one day, but can do it successfully the next. For this reason, a parent’s patience is required when a child is attempting to complete an assigned job.
  1. Sometimes when children err, they have a natural tendency to want to try again. Because this behavior shows perseverance and great effort, parents can reinforce these positive characteristics by simply allowing them to try the task again.


  • Showing that you recognize they want to perform goes a long way toward building your child’s sense of self. Applaud your child’s perseverance in this case and tell him he can try again later.
  1. Learning from trial and error is still learning. If you observe your child trying a task over and over again without frustration, he’s probably learning something on each try.


  • Think about your own experiences of trying to tie shoes or learning to ride a bike without training wheels. The more you did it, the better you got at it.
  1. There are other things more important than doing a job “right.” So what if, when your child is done making the bed, the bedspread is crooked? If you consider what matters most, you’ll come up with some characteristics your child demonstrates that you can be proud of.

  2. Your child’s self-esteem depends on your reactions. How you react when your child makes a misstep shows him what you think and believe about him.


  • When it comes to a child’s self-esteem, allowing him to err at something while at the same time, accepting him the way he is, sends powerful messages of unconditional acceptance and love to your child.
  1. Provide encouragement when your child struggles to perform. Since most tasks have various parts to them, look for the portion of the task that your child did well. Tell him he did a good job on that aspect. Acknowledge the task is difficult and that he’ll eventually catch on and do the whole task well.

  2. Avoid generating or expressing strong emotions related to your child’s blunder. It’s wise to remain neutral and objective when speaking to a child about his performance of a task.


  • If you find yourself feeling frustration or anger about your child’s mistakes, it’s best to give yourself a “time out.”
  • Later on, it will be helpful to examine within yourself why you’re experiencing such strong, negative feelings about your child’s actions.

Making it okay for your child to err will go a long way toward solidifying his sense of self and building his self-esteem.


If you consider and apply these ideas when parenting, you and your child will be more comfortable when they experience errors. Because of your approach, they’ll embrace life with optimism, perseverance and feelings of confidence.


Spark the joy and ideas in you!