Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ahhhh... Paradise beckons

Ahhh..... look what awaits me this Saturday !! Directly facing the Pacific Ocean, I can't wait. Our home for the next week sits on Sunshine Coast, 1.5hrs drive north of Brisbane. This is our 2nd time there - guess we couldn't get enough. Nothing fancy, just a magnificent view, morning strolls along the wide wide expanse of beach and wonderful weather :)

yes, bliss....

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Date Night

While we are very much a family focussed foursome, we decided that Saturday would be DATE night. Papa with C, and me with R. And my was it a whole load of fun!

R and I caught Singapore Lyric Opera's Reluctant Dragon & Wind in the Willows at Victoria Theater while Dad and mini went on their own escapade filled with McDonalds, Andersons Ice-cream (i believe they did have some decent food first... hang on, i better quiz him - one can't be too sure about how DADs actually think !) and visits to toy stores (note the plural used here...).

Both J and I exchanged notes and concluded it's really nice taking them one-on-one, and we intend to have this as a monthly affair, and swap kiddos each time. The whole experience i guess... dressing up, staying out at night which is a treat [okay, my girls don't usually get to see much of the night sky as they are in bed on school days by 8pm :) ] and just connecting - gives you a warm fuzzy feeling. More importantly, i think it reinforces to the kid that she/he is special to you as you are to her, and these one-on-one memories reinforce that. Often as we run after our multiple kiddos, things flash by in a blur, and we just play functional mommy / daddy roles.

On a separate note, indulge me as I rave about Children's theatre in Singapore these days. It's EXCELLENT !! And so difficult to do. Actors have to be totally at ease with themselves, with actions exaggerated 100-fold, have perfect comic timing, and love their craft, to actually illicit the spontaneous laughs from these young ones, who half the time are too busy asking 'Mommy, what's he saying" than concentrating on listening. Very hard. And i've resolved to catch all the performances for children henceforth by SRT's Little Company and Singapore Lyric Opera :)

At least after the musical with R last night, i got to touch on difficult topics like Good versus Evil and how Good (usually) triumphs in the end; and the excesses of materialism and comforts of home that were the underlying themes of Wind in the Willows.... "Cheem" stuff that at least portrayed in a hilarious way and through music, had got across the message to the kiddos pretty well in a way that i would not have been able to.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friendship in the Sun

Under hot searing heat, nine 3-4yr olds gleefully marched from the now defunct Big Splash building to the Beach. Yes, it was my younger's end of term party, and everyone was so excited, least of all the mommies who were trying to hide behind their caps and cool shades. Amazingly, the kids braving all, didn't seem to care. You can check out the action here.

This led me inevitably to wonder - why did they get so excited, why so happy ? It's not like they haven't been to the beach before. I've taken my girls umpteen times before, and i've yet to witness that same level of glee.

But I understood. Yes, my 3.5yr old has made friends. She understands what friendship means to her, what joy it can bring. There is a perceptible closeness within this group of 9 young beings, that one can only look on and smile. For instance, how can one honestly expect 3yr olds to share bubble wands? Especially since we're talking about a wonder wand that can create loads of magical translucent circles, no matter how you wave it ! Yet, i witnessed how they would take turns (ok, it was grudgingly..) even though it may have been just after 3 waves of magic, and the next in line impatiently shouts "it's MY turn !!"

Totally heartwarming, and we would miss those who would be leaving the gang. Yet, it's comforting to know they would be resilient, they would adapt to new environments and welcome new friends. And we'd always have the memories of what a fantastic group of first chums these 9 are !

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Singapore's first Disney Restaurant

Disney Naturally - Anchorpoint

Yup, it's real - for those of you who haven't uncovered this gem of a kiddo's paradise. Don't be fooled by the pix below though... this place is extremely small, doesn't take reservations and mostly runs at full capacity.

[Cutsy entrance and wash area]

We arrived at 1115am on Vesak Day, thinking we are smart enough to beat the lunch crowd, but boy were we wrong. All tables were full. We were a large group of 10, so we had to wait for 2 tables to vacate before getting a seat on those cute Mickey-ear seats (see below).

Finally, after 40mins, we gave up waiting, settled for a table for 5 - dumped kids and helpers there, and the adults trotted off (looking reluctant, but secretly rejoicing) to the Hong Kong cafe on the same level at the end of the corridor ! That was certainly the best decision of the day, cos' ALL were happy.

[Mickey-shaped Pizza]

Kids got their mickey shaped pizzas, spaghetti (which based on child-review, was really really yummy) and chicken stew with mickey shaped bread; Adults got their rojak mix of curry chicken, roast meat rice, roti with condensed milk & kaya and lots more sinful stuff.

The movies played on the big screen also helped tremendously in keeping the kids seated while they ate. During that short span, we managed to catch bits of Finding Nemo, and High School Musical. There was also game sheets to keep kids occupied. Oh, and yes, computer terminals with kiddy games too !

[Movie Screening & Gamesheets for Kiddos]

In a nutshell, food wasn't superb, service left lots to be desired, food was a little over-priced for its quality (it was $15 for the pizza and $9 for the pasta), but guess the novelty of it all seemed to make it worthwhile, for the kids at least. If you could do what we did (admittedly we did it under MUCH duress), it is actually not a bad idea having the kids with trusted minders at Disney while those with more discerning palates 'pig-out' somewhere else :)

Disney Naturally [ Halal Certified]Anchorpoint
370 Alexandra Road #01-05/06
Singapore 159953 [map](65) 6479 2823
Open: 10:30 am to 10 pm (weekdays); 10 am to 10 pm (weekends)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sights from the Singapore Flyer

If you haven't got on the Singapore Flyer, you're running out of time, cos' kids ride free only til tomorrow, Vesak Day !

The Flyer doesn't disappoint as I was happy to take in the view, although I must say the kids were excited all of 5 minutes since it was basically the same scene all around except viewed at different heights. Nonetheless, they were happy to be in the capsule, enjoying the air-con, and entertaining themselves with their own antics.

For me, being an urban planner in my last life, it was great seeing some of the plans in the pipeline then, unfolding on the ground, and at such a bird's eye perspective.

Preparations for the F1 race appeared almost completed, and it was fun imagining how the grandstand would be filled with a cheering crowd as the cars raced past.

Construction on the New Downtown, incorporating the Sands Integrated Resort site, is now just a sea of cranes. But look what's coming up in just 3 years. Then i was kicking myself for missing a clear shot of the marina barrage which would turn the Marina bay into a reservoir and haven for water sports enthusiasts yet contributing to Singapore's efforts towards sustainability in water supply. See here URA's plans for the Marina Bay area - they call it the "Bay of Celebration".
Further east, one is amazed at Singapore's speed of development as barely less than two decades ago, the golf course which stands across Costa Rhu was still sea, and Tanjong Rhu was shipyards and docks. The golf course sits as interim land use until the reclaimed land is ready to be developed for housing and other uses.

Guess, all in all, it's a fairly good ride, and a very educational one for older kids, if you do a little bit of research about the development and plans for Singapore's landscape beforehand. Otherwise, there's always Popeye restaurant, Gelatissimo, and Build-a-Bear to keep the kids happy after the ride !

Friday, May 16, 2008

Recommended Reads for Kids

My dear friends must have regretted once they asked about the books R and C read cos' I started piling loads of books on the dining table to show ! Here are some you could consider for your little ones. Most of these books are available at bookshops like MPH, Kinokuniya and Borders. Check out also http://www.thehomelibraryonline.com/, for their wonderful collection - the books Angie stocks are all fantastic. I would recommend :

For 3-4yr olds:

James Marshall - the George and Martha series. It's a really cute series about 2 hippos and all the activities they get up to. In the process, they learn what it takes to become best friends.

Arnold Lobel - you can try the Frog and Toad series, Mouse Tales and Uncle Elephant. All are excellent. They are also good beginner reader books to pick up if your little one is on his way to reading independently.

Shelley Moore Thomas's Good Night Good Knight, and Get Well Good Knight - they are hilarious and the kids would certainly love them.

Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics - this hardcover book is excellent and contains all the classic tales like Goodnight Moon, Pete's a Pizza, Caps for Sale, Leo the Late Bloomer, Head to Toe, Frances and her Baby Sister, and many more. It was through this treasury that I discovered many wonderful authors that have become the girls' staple.

Julia Donaldson - She's just excellent, and her glitter series - yes loads of glitter on the pages- would surely be a hit wth the girls. Titles to look out for incude: Sharing a Shell, The Spiffiest Giant in Town, Gruffallo, the Princess and the Wizard.
Tony Ross - his Little Princess series is hilarious, and Clarisse started on them since she was 2.

Shamini Flint - her Sasha series - we have both sets - Sasha in Singapore (which covers the Bird Park, Zoo, the museum, and the Botanic Gardens) as well as Sasha in Asia (Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Bali and Bangkok) are great in introducing young children to sights and sounds around them.

Other all time favourites include Eric Carle's A House for Hermit Crab, Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, and Martin Waddell's Owl Babies

For 5-8 yr olds

We had recently picked up the Magic School Bus series, a great beginner science series. I saw them quite a while ago, but haven't been convinced, although many of my friends had been going on and on about it. It's begun to grow on me though. I find the pages very busy, and for me, I'm not sure where to start looking. But kids somehow find them very appealing. Each story explores a particular theme - the solar system, the ocean, inside a beehive, under the earth etc. Very informative and presented in a fun and colourful manner.

I started exposing R at 6yrs to different genres and more non-fiction. I picked up Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Tree House series, and we were hooked. R to date has completed at least 10 books exploring themes like Titanic, Pompeii, the American Civil War, how the Olympics came about, the Dinasour age, Mummies in Egypt and much more. Fascinating for older kids. What's great is each story is spun around the adventures of Jack and Annie, siblings who discovered a magic tree house that could transport them to different eras. Kids thus uncover historical facts in an interesting way. The great thing about this series too is that each title is accompanied by a research guide which allows the kids to delve deeper into the facts if they wish.

Roald Dahl - ahh.. who can resist him ? I started reading to R Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when she was 5.5yrs and she was hooked. Since then she has read The Enormous Crocodile, George's Marvelous Medicine, James and the Giant Peach, re-read Charlie on her own, and has just started on BFG.

Of course, like all other P1s, she also very hungrily gobbles up all those various Princess books, which i'm not as excited as she is about. But oh well, as long as she reads :)

Hope these give you a headstart as you head out to the bookstores or libraries. Have fun browsing !

Farewell Godma, see you next year!

It was bitter sweet... after 3 years away, Rachel's Godma visited, and the kids finally got a chance to reconnect. Yet sadly, it was time to say goodbye (again).
Strange though how kids are able to remember someone and still feel close to you even in the absence of space and time. It was so heartwarming seeing the kids play together (well, almost)... The boys were lost in their own world of Thomas, and the girls with their craft, but nonetheless, a really great afternoon. We will miss you Godma, SL, SK and uncle KK !

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Swell Moms' Day 08

The gift of giving is simply so rewarding. I was commissioned to do 2 sentimental gifts for a friend's mom and mom in law for mother's day, and it turned out so very well ! Guess the best testimony of how well-received the gifts are, is when they cry buckets !! haha... And best of all, i had such fun doing them.

On the home front, hubby and kids outdid themselves - Romantic dinner on Friday night, flowers, a gift that the girls picked out, and lovely cards they made themselves, straight from their tiny hearts but which speak volumes. I am blessed, really blessed.