Astro Ryan’s Outer Space adventure at The Little Executive’s Astronaut Training Camp

During the September holidays, our little Ryan attended his first drop-off holiday camp, The Little Executive’s Astronaut Training Camp, and he had a blast!

The unique 3-day Astronaut Training Camp was run by The Little Executive. The newly set-up enrichment center has a very interesting curiculum that is geared towards equipping children with executive functioning skills such as working memory, impulse and emotional control, flexibility, planning and prioritizing, self-monitoring, and task initiation. These core skills are not something that we talk much about, yet they are very critical when it comes to building the foundation for children’s lifelong learning success.

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Over the 3 days of Astronaut Training Camp, the little aspiring astronauts honed their problem solving skills to complete Space Missions, worked together in teams and sharpened their sensory systems while exploring new territories.

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Here’s a sampling of some of the Space Missions they got up:

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On their first day, they started an Astronaut Space Log where they logged down their daily inter-galactic space adventures.

On their first day, they learnt about Space and Earth conditions, and compared and constrasted the two stark environments. They also drew a picture of their own space adventure – Ryan drew a cute little picture of himself as an astronaut (top left pic) meeting an alien with crazy arms against a backdrop of Earth, the Moon and the stars. Great activity to boost the children’s imagination, creativity and visualisation skills!

The astronaut’s next mission was drawing aliens. They had to figure out what was missing in the picture and draw/colour in the right bits. This activity required them to observe details and concentrate to see the task to completion. Ryan did a good job of filling in alien legs and eyes and body parts 🙂

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The children also did a ‘moon landing’ activity where they helped an alien get through a maze by tracing a path through the moons (circles) only. Not an easy feat for 4-year-olds but I was told Ryan did his with ease. More importantly, I was impressed the children could sit still for so long to complete the exercises!

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The final activity for their first day was making their very own glow-in-the-dark space slime.    Ryan enjoyed getting his hands dirty mixing glue, water, glitter and glow-in-the-dark paint. What a fun sensory activity! When asked to describe the slime he made, Ryan said it was ‘sticky, soft and hot’. He was very excited to bring his gooey slime home to show his brothers!

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Over the next two days, the children learnt secret handshakes to greet humans and aliens. This encourages them to work on their hand-eye coordination, working memory and social skills.

They also decoded secret alien codes, which I thought was rather complex for young children (though Ryan had no problems doing it)! The coding exercise works on the working memory and hones a child’s eye-tracking skills as well.

In addition, the children explored sensory shapes and landscapes (with and without gloves). Aside from training their fine motor skills, children also got to experience what it might feel like being an astro-engineer fixing their space shuttle.

For snack time, children got the chance to see the banana in different forms – in its original form, making a banana puree and lasting cutting them up and dehydrating them to make banana chips. How clever and ingenious, and the children got to enjoy a healthy snack to boot too!

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Saving the best for last, their biggest Space Mission of all – building their very own space shuttle rocket out of recycled materials. The children worked together in teams, planning and prioritisng and tapped on everyone’s strengths. They also made the coolest personal jet packs out of cereal boxes, plastic bottles and ribbons.

The children were very proud to show off their handmade creations at the presentation for parents on the final day. One of the teams even came up with a cute song about their spaceship. Ryan loved his cool silver jetpack and remembered to point out his little contribution to his team’s rocket – a nifty little navigational light (otherwise known as a torchlight) that could be turned on and off 🙂

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Ryan had a wonderful time at the Astronaut Training Camp. It was clear that a lot of thought and planning had gone into all the activities. The facilitators were very patient and experienced in dealing with a class of young children of varying learning abilities.

It was very interesting to hear what the facilitators had to say of Ryan. He is rather mature for his age and can focus well and do most tasks (including the complex decoding puzzles!) on his own with little guidance. He is quite reserved and cautious in groups prefering to stand back to observe than participate, so all the team and social activities did a good job of drawing him out of his shell. Kudos to all the facilitators for this out-of-this-world Astronaut Training Camp!

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The Little Executive wiIl be conducting end-of-year holiday camps for K1-P2 children in a couple of months’ time!

  • Dinosaur Camp: 29 November – 2 December 2016
  • Primary 1 intensive Prep Camp: 6 December – 9 December 2016
  • Astronaut Camp: 13 December – 16 December 2016

Besides their holiday programmes, The Little Executive also holds regular sessions that are geared towards developing essential brain-based skills and cognitive processes that children need in order to succeed both in and out of the classroom. The curriculum is organised according to the Explorer (Nursery), Creator (Kindergarten) and Executive (Primary 1) Levels. You can view the class schedules and fees here. (Sean is going through the Executive class now – I will report back on his progress soon!)

The next Little Executive Open House Free Trial is on 17 September 2016, at 11.30am or 2.00pm, for N2 to P1 children. For more details, email knockknock@thelittleexecutive.asia.

Disclaimer: Ryan was invited to attend the camp for the purpose of this review. The pleasure was all ours, and all opinions expressed here are my own.

Shopping with Agape Babies

With my busy working mum schedule, I rely on online shopping a fair bit.

In particular, I find online shopping works extremely well when it comes to shopping for children because hey the reality of being parents to babies and young children is, we hardly have time to shop yet there is a constant need for consumables like diapers or milk powder and new sippy cups, shoes or clothes. There is no real need to purchase these things from a brick-and-mortar shop at all and I really appreciate any cost savings I can get from purchasing online in bulk, not to mention the time and energy saved on lugging the bulky diaper packs and milk tins home!

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We have been shopping at Agape Babies for years now (read our review in 2014 here).

It is one of the more established online baby and children store in Singapore. I love it because it is like a mini NTUC, Guardian Pharmacy, Mothercare, Toys’ R Us and a natural health store combined! And I have checked across the board, more often than not, Agape Babies‘ pricing is the same, if not cheaper.

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This is our most recent Agape Babies purchase. Yes, diapers and more diapers for dear Jo! Agape Babies has very decent bundle diaper deals – I mean, who ever buys one pack of diapers only? You always buy more than one! The more savings, the better.

Plus, YumEarth Organic pops and Happy Baby Superfood puffs for my boys (they can finish a bottle a day!) and Healthy Times Mixed Grain Cereal and an OXO Roll-up bib for my 6mo baby nephew who is just starting solids.

We placed our order and received our delivery the very next day. Very fuss-free and convenient!

Here are some things you should know about Agape Babies:

  • They have a new and improved mobile-optimised website for a great shopping experience on the go. I was able to do a one-step checkout and one-click sign in on my phone instead of having to sit down to log into a computer. I am sure all parents will appreciate the convenience and time saved shopping on your phone!

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  • They offer an extensive range of products from 250 brands (up from 100 two years ago!), boasting some 6000 products in over 10 categories, include 3M and Jujube. Basically, you can get everything from food pouches to milk powder to diaper bags to baby toys and books and even breast pumps, car seats and strollers! Definitely better than your neighbourhood supermarket 😉
  • There are Weekly Deals every Wednesdays. First time customers can use the code ‘agape10’ to get $10 off, a free Bellamy’s Organic milk tin and next day delivery on their first purchase of $150 or more.
  • You can opt for one-click self collection from 3 convenient locations – Newton, Sengkang and Old Airport Road. Smaller parcels enjoy 72 pick up locations. More details  here.
  • VIP customers get to enjoy special price reductions and also lifestyle privileges. More details here.

If you shop at Agape Babies from now till 16 September 2016, you can get an additional 5% off with the discount code ’olimomok5%’. Kindly note that it excludes milk, diapers, wipes, Medela breast pumps, Jujube products and Sale and Clearance categories.

Happy shopping!

Disclaimer: I received store credit for the purpose of writing this review. All views and opinions are my own.

Imaginarium: Over the Ocean, Under the Sea

years now, we have been regular patrons of Singapore Art Museum’s annual children-focused exhibition, Imaginarium.

At the start of the June hols, we checked out this year’s edition, Imaginarium: Over the Ocean, Under the Sea  (yes this is an extremely late entry, heh) at SAM at 8A.

A whimsical introduction to the many stories and ideas that surround seascapes, Imaginarium: Over the Ocean, Under the Sea presents tactile and interactive works that encourage discovery through exploration and play. The exhibition aims to get young people to think about the impact we have on the natural world, and of how, through inventive and wise ideas, we can save our earth and its awe-inspiring oceans.

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Our favourite installation was Dimana Mogus? (Where is Mogus?) by Indonesian artist, Mulyana. We were gobsmacked as we walked into the elaborate colourful underwater playscape filled with the whimsical sea creatures, corals, seaweed, and schools of fish all entirely stitched from felt or crocheted from yarn.

Through this installation, Mulyana hopes to create an environment in which visitors can interact with the octopus Mogus and his underwater friends; his soft, tactile sculptures encourage play, imagination and exploration.

The installation was interactive, very beautifully executed and just plain amazing. I can’t imagine how long it took the artist to complete everything – I think I read he got the help of an entire village to help him over months!

My boys loved jumping on the giant whale cushions and pouncing on the adorable crocheted sea creatures and dragging them around the room (sorry!).

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It was hard to miss the vivid ceiling-to-floor wall murals by Yuree Kensaku as we made out way up the building. Through them, the artist explores the possibility of nature’s survival given mankind’s seemingly insatiable greed. The paintings are very graphic and interesting.

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On the second floor, there was a room with a huge map of country flags and an origami-making activity of sea creatures. I didn’t get the name of the exhibit but I think it was part of Odyssey: Navigating Nameless Seas. Not quite my boys’ cup of tea (look at Ryan’s bored face) so we didn’t stay long.

SAM6The most thought-provoking installation award has to go to Plastic Ocean by local artist Tan Zi Xi.

In essence, you will find yourself walking into the room filled with suspended trash. Very cool and disconcerting at the same time when you realize it is a stark and accurate representation of the amount of debris that floats on the surface of our oceans. Comprising approximately 26,000 pieces of non-biodegradables, this installation invites viewers to experience the sensation of floating in a sea of trash.

My boys had fun running a lot of fun weaving through the dangling ‘garbage’. It did leave a lasting impression on my boys and reinforced the message that we should reduce wastage and recycle whenever possible.

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The other exhibit my boys enjoyed was ADA by Karina Smigla-Bobinski (Poland).

Coined as an interactive art-making machine, ADA is a post-industrial ‘creature’ that glows with the bioluminescence of denizens of the deep. ADA floats freely and is the sole light source in her confined space. This installation highlights the consequences of our interaction with the sea.

Essentially, it is a giant sphere with charcoal studs affixed to its surface free-wheeling in a darkened room. The children were gleefully pushing it around the entire room. And because this takes place in semi-darkness, you won’t realize the giant ball actually leaves prominent black streaks (from the charcoal) as you come into contact with it. Sean and Ryan looked like scruffy golliwogs when they came out of the room!

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Suara Muara (The Sounds of the Estuary) by Papermoon Puppet Theatre is a mixed-media installation portraying Lasem, a tiny town on the northern part of Java island, as a lonely old man, who keeps his secrets quietly. While fishermen tend their nets and children play around little wooden boats, one can still find ancient shards of Chinese porcelain buried beneath its sandy beaches. Suara Muara brings audiences on an aural journey, where the sounds of the past still exist, in unison with the lapping of the waves.

It was not very interactive for kids but the billowing waves, bamboo sculptures of the fishing boats and melancholic-looking figures were fascinating to say the very least.

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Finally, there were Damien, I’m Famished, Bryde’s Fountain and Surrealism Spiced by Krit Ngamsom. The three kinetic sculptures are tongue-in-cheek references to iconic artworks that changed definitions and assumptions about art through their use of ready-made objects. These playful reinterpretations incorporate references to contemporary Thai culture with commentary on Western art-making practices. The three artworks, in particular, pay homage to artists Marcel Duchamp, Damien Hirst and Salvador Dali.

While the installations were interesting, I didn’t quite ‘get’ them and I thought it was an odd choice for what was meant to be a children’s exhibition.

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Oh and the boys had a tinkle at the refurbished piano (by Play It Forward) at the entrance. Such a great initiative – I love spotting the pianos around the island. Will train the boys up to dazzle the crowds one day 😉

It was an afternoon well-spent and we enjoyed ourselves. This is the last week of Imaginarium: Over the Ocean, Under the Sea at SAM at 8Q (last day is 28 Aug 2016, this Sunday) so do head down for a visit if you haven’t been there yet!

Open-ended free play with Little Llama

With three boys at home, I have gone through enough toys to learn that the best toys for my children are not necessarily the most expensive or fancy toys with all the flashing lights, bells and whistles.

Rather, the select few toys that my boys always return to are always the ones that leave room for imagination and encourage creativity and free play.

Such toys are hard to come by  and that is why I was very happy to hear about Little Llama. 

The husband-wife team behind Little Llama believe very strongly in the power of engagement and open-ended free play in early childhood development. They pride themselves in sourcing globally for the best books, games and toys and bringing them right to our doorsteps.

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Bilibo by MOLUK

My boys were delighted to receive a generous toy package from Little Llama.

The first thing that caught their eyes was the peculiarly-shaped Bilibo by award-winning Swiss toy designer MOLUK

Driven by a passion for great design, MOLUK strives to create innovative, sustainable products that don’t just entertain kids on a superficial level, but invite real interaction. In a time where everything is getting more virtual, MOLUK offers toys that are totally manual, toys that get children to move and explore, toys that stimulate their senses and minds.

Made from non-toxic and shatterproof polyethylene, there is no right or fixed way to play with the Bilibo. I gave it to my boys without telling them what it was because I wanted to see what they would do with it 🙂

Of course, the first thing they did was plonk their little bums inside for a spin. So far, they have had numerous spinning competitions to see who can spin the most number of rounds. Lots of dramatic spills and giggles guaranteed. (Alas, why is my bum not child-sized?)

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The other day, my boys decided to bring the Bilibo along to the pool. Sean donned it as a spy helmet, swimming stealthily in the water to scare his hapless mother (that would be me). Ryan used it as a giant scoop and sweet Jo used it as his soup pot and served up a decent ‘cheeken’ soup 🙂

Besides spinning and water play, the Bilibo has also doubled as a hat/helmet (it has two little holes for peering out), a tortoise shell, a chair, a cot for Jo’s doll and even a wok for their masak-masak escapades.

That’s pretty good mileage for a ‘simple’ toy with zero buttons or blinking lights. Bonus points for how hardy and easily cleanable it is too.

And isn’t it amazing that all three boys of varying ages (from 2 to 7) can come up with endless ways to play with it?

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Bilibo Game Box by MOLUK

Then there’s the Bilibo Game Box. It comes with 6 miniature Bilibos in different colours, 36 game chips and a customizable dice. The amazing thing is, it does not come with any rules or instructions. It is entirely up to the children to dream up of ways to play with it. They are limited only by their own imagination!

Jo (aged 2.5) was happily naming the colours of the mini Bilibos (boo, geen, yewo, purpur, owange and pink!). I played a little sorting and counting game with him where he sorted the game chips by colour and practiced counting the chips. You can also stack the mini Bilibos or try to balance them on top of each other (two Bilibos can fit nicely to form a ball-like shape).

Within minutes of trying the game out, the older boys Sean and Ryan invented a game where they would collect game chips and advance their mini Bilibos whenever their selected colours show up on the dice. Pretty ingenious!

So far, I have also seen them use the mini Bilibos as containers for snacks and as ‘Ninja Turtle’ puppets to fight baddies 🙂

Here are some other ways you can play with the Bilibo Game Box:

It is obvious a lot of thought and care has gone into the making of this toy set. The quality is impeccable (no sharp bits) and the chips, though thin, are rather hardy. A word of caution though: the small pieces may be a choking hazard for babies so the toy is best suited for children aged 1 and above.

Truly a toy that promotes hand-eye coordination and open-ended play and I am sure my boys will think of many other ways to play with the set in time to come.

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Look Ma, it’s raining!

Lastly, my boys loved the adorable Plui Rain Cloud. You can fill it up by submerging it in water and then, TA-DA you get rain droplets from a rain cloud!

It is actually a good way to introduce children to ArchimedesPrinciple (do you know it too?). In layman terms, it means once you stop seeing bubbles emerging from the cloud, it means the cloud is full!

The best part is, instead of whining about bath time, my boys are always more than eager to take a shower now because it means they can play the weatherman and make rain 🙂

You can check out the many cool toys that Little Llama carries at their website. They also have a good selection of children’s books (with some of our favourite titles like How to Catch A Star, Press Here and The Day The Crayons Quit) and very reasonably priced gift bundles filled with their best-selling toys and books. What’s more, you can ‘like’ them on Facebook or join their mailing list to get 15% discount code.

If you want to have a feel of the toys before purchasing, Little Llama will be at Kids World Fair 2016 (booth D21). The fair is on from 2-4 September 2016 at Suntec City.  Do go down to discover the MOLUK range through hands-on sessions, and enjoy some fair-only discounts while you are there!

Giveaway

Little Llama has kindly agreed to do a little giveaway of the Plui Rain Cloud and the Plui Rainball to two readers. Plui_RainCloud_package_258ee978-98d1-45cb-bf37-61015becfb6f_large

CTP_5587_1024x1024To participate, all you have to do is:

1) Visit and ‘like’ both the Olimomok and Little Llama Facebook pages.

Optional entries:

2) Leave me a blog post comment telling me which toy you like to win (the Plui Rain Cloud or the Plui Rainball) and why. Don’t forget to leave your name, FB name and email.

3) ‘Like’ and ‘share’ my Facebook post on Little Llama and tag 2 friends in the comments.

4) Add me (‘Olimomok’) on Instagram.

Then complete the steps in the following Little Llama raffle by 31 August (next Wednesday) end of day (Singapore time). This giveaway is open to Singapore residents only. I will be picking 2 winners – good luck!

Disclaimer: We received the toys for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions expressed are my own. The pleasure was all ours.

A Father and Son adventure to remember

Sean and Foops attended an overnight Father-Son camp back in May. It is a yearly event organized by the Parent-Teachers group (for P1-P6 children), and a very popular one at that (we had to ballot for slots)!

Bright and early, I sent the boys to school. Sean met two of his classmates (and their fathers) and they quickly banded together to form a group. Once they had settled all the admin matters and dropped off their overnight bags (they would be spending the night in school), the group set off in a bus headed to Pulau Ubin.

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(Throughout the day, I got little updates and pictures from the Whatsapp chat group the fathers had set up. These pics are from the chat.)

The group took a bumboat to Pulau Ubin. Must have been quite an experience for the boys – I know Sean was very nervous about the boat ride!

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Then they did a Running Man challenge around the island. They trekked rather long distances to get to each station where they were expected to carry out an activity as a father-son team together. They trekked through the jungle, abseiled down a cliff (!) and pulled themselves along a zipline to cross a river (Sean: Mama, my feet couldn’t touch the floor. It was very fun!), and finally they had a well-deserved chicken rice for lunch.

Definitely many firsts for our 7-year-olds – what an amazing experience it must have been!

According to Foops, they did not manage to reach most of the stations because the distance between the stops was very long!

In the evening, they returned back to school for a campfire. They had a barbecued dinner and did some father-son bonding activities (they brought a loofah back and said they used it to ‘bathe’ each other. Hmm). They only got to bed past 11pm (not surprising when fathers are in charge)!

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Next morning, they played more games including a Nerf gun challenge. They were all tired out but all smiles when I brought the younger boys to pick them up. Seemed like they had a lot of fun!

It was such a valuable bonding experience for Sean and Papa. I sure hope it won’t be their last Father-Son camp – how fun would it be for Foops to bring all 3 of them together one day (if he can be persuaded to take all of them, that is)? 🙂

PLAYtime! at The Esplanade – The Bird Who Was Afraid of Heights

Last weekend, I brought Ryan and Jo for a special little treat to watch the latest Esplanade’s PLAYtime! offering – The Bird Who Was Afraid of Heights.

I have been to previous PLAYtime! plays (Hello Paige! and A Magic Treetop) with Sean before and  enjoyed them thoroughly. So it seemed like a rite of passage of sorts watching a new PLAYtime! play with my younger boys now (Sean went Pokemon-hunting around the Esplanade while we were at the show).

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My boys were enraptured right from the start.

The lively cast got the children warmed up by teaching them some of the songs (complete with actions) from the play. My boys couldn’t stop singing the ‘Rambutan, Mango, Chiku,’ song the entire day!

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Adapted from the book by Farah Bagharib-Kaltz, the story centers around Eddie, a lovable mynah who is afraid of heights. Thought it was hilarious how he got round by hopping on the audience members’ heads 😉

When Eddie’s friend, Matt the rat, is captured by the big, black crow, Eddie has to go to his rescue. What does Eddie have to do to save his best friend? Will he have the courage to do it?

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The heartwarming story appealed greatly to the young audience with its action-packed storyline and effective use of puppetry, costumes, simple props and music (I loved the tinkling on the little toy piano!). The interactive elements of the show – like getting the children to sing and dance along, or look for chiku, rambutans and mangoes around them – also kept the children plenty entertained.

My boys couldn’t stop talking about the show all the way home. I think the tickets are very reasonably priced and I would definitely recommend it for young children aged 2 to 4.

If you are going for the show, don’t forget to check out Pip’s Playbox next door.

Show details

Show name: The Bird Who Was Afraid of Heights

Venue: Esplanade Theatre Studio

Duration: 40min

Show dates/timings: 12 to 28 Aug (Weekday timings: 9.30am & 11am; Weekend timings: 11am & 4pm; No shows on 15 & 22 Aug, Mon)

Sensory-friendly shows: 23 Aug, Tue, 11am & 2.30pm 27 Aug, Sat, 11am

Ryan’s first Sports Day

Last weekend (just before Sean’s birthday party), we attended Ryan’s school Sports Day.

In the days leading up to the event, Ryan (being Ryan) told me exactly what he would be doing with his class, right down to how he has to cheer his group on (Jia you! Jia you!) after he was done with his turn. (I remember I had zero clue what Sean (being Sean) was doing for his Sports Day until the actual day itself when he was at the same age).

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The event started around the same time as Joseph Schooling’s momentous 100m fly swim in Rio so everyone was a bit distracted when the teachers and children were marching in. (But how awesome was Schooling’s swim?!)

The children opened with three rousing songs. I hardly see Ryan in school nowadays so it was really nice to see him singing and having fun with his friends and teachers – and he did ALL the actions and sang every word. That’s my Mr Perfect for you!

His class was up first. Every child did a little circuit medley which required gymnastics moves they have been learning during gym class – egg roll down a small slope, balance on a beam, scurry through a tunnel, jumping routine, more balancing then tossing a bean bag. It looked a bit too easy for Ryan. HAHA!

There was also a parents race but I didn’t manage to get a slot 🙁
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Finally, they rounded up with 3 more songs and the children were given prizes for their participation. Yay all the children did so great! Jo’s turn next (in 2 years)!

Sean turns 7!

My dear Sean turned 7 on 15 August. I can still remember the day he was born – and now he is a dreamy, sweet boy who is all limbs and always has his nose in a book. Time really does fly 🙂

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We celebrated his birthday last weekend with a party at home. Besides family, we also invited some of his old kindergarten friends whom he hasn’t seen since starting P1. It was a nice little reunion for them (and for us mummies too).

After much deliberation, I settled on a simple enough ‘kampung’ theme for the party.

(The boys actually really like Yokai Watch now (a Japanese cartoon series that Sean really likes) but I didn’t think many of the kids would even know what it was so I promised them I would try to weave some elements of the cartoon to the party.)

I had envisioned the boys in singlets and shorts and slippers and girls in cheongsam tops and plaits but everyone took the theme literally and came dressed very, very casually, haha.

I put Jo in a cute romper I made before (all three boys have worn it). Ryan refused to wear his matching one (he claimed it was a dress!) so he wore his Japanese jinbei and Sean just wore a singlet and berms. Ah well, at least I tried!

We had glorious weather for the party. So happy because it was raining cats and dogs just the weekend before, and I had no contingency plan if it had rained (besides squeezing 30-40 people into my living room)!

My mum and helper prepared beehoon, stir-fried veggies, fish/sotong balls chin-chow drink and orange-lime juice. We also got a barbeque package (from City Satay) and waaay too much food – satay, chicken cutlet, longtong, etc. Many thanks to my brother and Foops for manning the barbeque and feeding us the whole night!

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For starters, I set up a ‘kachang puteh’ station (with pinwheels, gem biscuits, White Rabbit sweets, milk biscuits that melt in your mouth), a DIY tattoo and old-school balloon station. No craft station this time round. The kids had fun applying temporary tattoos and trying their hand at blowing balloons (you know the gooey substance that you squeeze out of a small metal tube and you blow with a small straw – good stuff). I didn’t realize most kids have never played with it!

I also put a tub of sand (from our pirate party earlier this year), with no treasure though. Throughout the party, I would always find a kid or two playing quietly with it 🙂

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We played the same old games – why change something that works, right?

First up, passing the parcel to the tune of a Yokai Watch song that Foops downloaded. The kids like this game coz it works for all ages and is not intimidating or competitive so I came up with 12 ‘forfeits’ (up from the usual 10) to make the game last longer. Simple forfeits like ‘play tic tac toe’ with your neighbour’, do 7 star jumps, sing a local song you have learnt in school, give the birthday boy a hug 🙂

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Then we had the station games. Basically the children have to complete 5 stations – zero point, tic tac toe, hopscotch (drawn with chalk on the floor), eraser game and chapteh – to get a prize (a ring sweet).

Quite fun seeing the kids attempt the games because it was the first time for most of them. Seeing chubby little Jo do the hopscotch was the cutest thing. Lots of fun!

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We did the cake-cutting next because I was afraid it would be too dark for pictures by the time we were done with all the games.

My proudest achievement this party was baking the birthday cake so let me rattle about it a bit here. The boys gave me an impossible task of making a Yokai Watch cake. Very flattered they think so highly of my unpredictable baking skills. They even helped me choose an ‘easy-looking’ Yokai to bake 😉

I stressed over the mechanics of baking and frosting the cake for days. I started baking the lemon cake the night before (using this recipe, which is very good by the way) with my Le Creuset pot to give it its domed shape and then I made the buttercream frosting (using a new recipe, so nerve-racking) and prepared the different colours for frosting the next day. I was up till 330am!

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Next day, I carved out the ears, stuck them on the cake with satay sticks and quickly started on frosting the whole cake. The buttercream held up really well in the heat (my first successful attempt) and the cake came together nicely. I was done with the cake just two hours before the party. Phew! Sean was very happy when he saw the completed Jibanyan cake he gave me a big hug. According to Sean, Jibanyan is a Yokai who makes you cross the road without looking, if you wanted to know 😉

Here are the kids singing Sean the birthday song – the candles were no match for the wind that day!

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The treasure hunt was up next.

I handed out the goodie bags. My sis drew cute little kids in sarongs on the bags and I filled them with a tube of colour pencils for the older kids and a toy boat for the younger ones.

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The kids love the treasure hunt so we went a little overboard buying things for the kids to find. Mostly small packs of snacks, Play Doh, Capri Sun drink, Kinder eggs, etc. To make it fair for the younger ones, I got my sis to draw up a treasure map so there was a specific list of things to look for. Because we had more than enough goodies to go round, the kids went another round to look for leftover ‘treasures’ and all came back with bulging bags 😉

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Lastly we had the piñata. I realize I derive more joy from the traditional balloon-shaped piñatas (as opposed with cardboard ones) so I made Whisper, a cheeky Yokai butler. Sean said I didn’t get his top and bottom quite right – it is supposed to look like icecream. Close enough!

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I tried not to make the pinata too thick – because the husband said it always took forever for them to break it open – but I forgot to take into account that the kids are bigger and stronger now. Didn’t take many rounds to bash it to smithereens, and they didn’t even need any help this time round! Pinata was filled with mini Tic-tacs, Haribo gummies, Hi-chew sweets, mini Chupa Chups and old-school balloons. I had to confiscate my kids’ loot because they are still coughing badly. Next time will definitely try to incorporate more healthy offerings and less sweets!

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And that was it for the party. It is my little labour of love for my boys because they look forward to and enjoy the parties so much. I hope everyone had fun. Thanks to everyone who came to celebrate with us!

For this party, I made a special request to our party guests for no toys because the boys really have a lot already. Instead, I asked for books or book vouchers or even angpows. I didn’t tell Sean about this beforehand. On the day itself, I explained to him and told him he could save the angpows for a new big boy bicycle. He seemed pretty happy with that. I did prepare a few toys and books for him (he is still a kid after all) which he will slowly open with his brothers over the next few days 🙂

***

Sean’s only request for his birthday was to go to Pororo Park. Which we did on Sunday. They had fun but I think they would have been just as happy going to a park or playground (think of the money I could have saved!). So I don’t think we will be returning anytime soon!

***

At 7 years old, Sean is sensitive, sweet, curious, dreamy, like doing math sums in his head, is a bit obsessed with Yokai Watch and Pokemon, loves playing soccer, has lost 2 baby teeth, likes doodling and always has his nose in a book (usually comics – I am still trying to encourage him to read proper chapter books).

Happy 7th birthday, my dear Sean. May you grow up to be wise and brave, with a heart for everyone.

Love always, Mama

PS. If you are keen to look back on our past birthday parties, click on the tag ‘party’.

8 years

We celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary recently (06Jul16) which serendipitiously happened to fall on Hari Raya public holiday.

My helper took the day off so we had no choice but to bring along our three noisy little lightbulbs along for our anniversary lunch (weekday dinners are out of the question for us).

Capella1 We settled on a lovely peaceful lunch at The Knolls at the ever-gorgeous Capella, just next door to Amara Sanctuary where we tied the knot 8 years ago (we don’t fancy their restaurants haha). [I really wanted to do a staycation at one of these hotels but Foops said it would probably be more worthwhile to fly off somewhere nearby at the same cost. True that.]

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The servers, who must have overheard us telling the kids it was our anniversary, surprised us with a molten chocolate cake. So nice of them 🙂 Foops got me an Apple watch – so that I will never miss his calls. Hmm, I should get him one too 😉

Happy 8th anniversary, my love. To many more happy years together.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ~1 Corinthians 13:4-7

SRT presents The Three Little Pigs

Are you up for an endearing tale that will huff, puff and blow you away?

This August, we are very excited to watch The Three Little Pigs, one of Singapore Repertory Theatre’s The Little Company’s most loved children’s musicals.

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Since its world-premiere in Singapore in 2012, The Three Little Pigs has gone on to be staged in numerous languages and countries, from Finland, to New York, Sydney and even various cities in China. It was a very proud moment for SRT when The Three Little Pigs opened in London’s West End last summer. Having huffed, puffed and blown its way around the world, we are thrilled to welcome Three Little Pigs home to Singapore where the journey first started.

The Three Little Pigs centers around three little superstar piglets, their devoted single-parent Mum and a misunderstood Big Bad Wolf. Embark on an adventure with the three little pigs as they battle the big bad wolf with their charming and witty ways!

An original adaptation of the classic fairy tale, The Three Little Pigs teaches little ones how success can be achieved through hard work and perseverance.

This musical is recommended for children aged 3 and above.

Here’s a little sneak peek of the play:

Quoting Anthony Drewe of the Laurence Olivier Award-winning creative team, “With The Three Little Pigs (whom we have named Cha, Siu and Bao!) most children will know the basic story, so our job was to reinvent it in a theatrical way with hummable, memorable songs and with fleshed-out characters the audience will empathise with. Writing for younger audiences is a great responsibility and one we take very seriously, since we know for some this will be their first visit to the theatre and we want to encourage and nurture audiences of the future by making sure their first experiences are wonderful.”

DATES: From 4th August 2016, Monday to Friday 10am; Saturdays 11am and 2pm

PRICES: From $25 excluding SISTIC fee. Group discounts/ Family Packages available

VENUE: KC Arts Centre – Home of SRT

TICKETING: SISTIC (or call 6348 5555)

If the quality of SRT’s past plays are anything to go by (Three Billy Goats Gruff, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Nightingale, Junior Claus), we can be sure to expect a fun-filled show with a lot of heart and packs a punch. We can’t wait! Hope to see you there!