Champagne jazz brunch (with free childcare!) at Montreux Jazz Cafe

We had a rare weekend off recently so we got all dressed up for brunch at the newly opened Montreux Jazz Café at  Pan Pacific Orchard.

I thought we scrubbed up quite nicely. Don’t the boys look spiffy? 🙂

As soon as we were settled down in the chic cozy cafe, the kids were whisked away (!!! – more on this later) granting us a luxurious hour of uninterrupted lunch.

We sipped on Moet while admiring the striking avant-garde jazz posters plastered on the cafe walls and soaking up the soothing tunes from the live jazz band.

Ahhhh, this was the life, I thought!

Riding on the wave of the increasingly popular Jazz Brunches in New York and London, Montreux Jazz Café is introducing The Jazz Brunch ($98++ per person or $78++ if you prefer for the non-alcoholic option), which includes a starter, a mains and dessert and free-flow Champagne (!), selected wines and spirits, and draft beers against the backdrop of great live jazz music.

Without further ado, we dug right into brunch.

For starters, we ordered the Corn Fritters, Pumpkin Soup and Portobello Stack. All the dishes were beautifully presented and fared very well. In particular, we liked the Portobello Stack which came as a tall tower of plump portobello slices layered with baby spinach, julienned sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, shallots with a generous drizzle of raspberry vinaigrette. Great choice for vegetarians or mushrooms lovers like me!

As for the mains, the Egg Crepe Roll (gourmet ham, asparagus spears, Roma tomato) was simple, wholesome and oh-so-delicious. I love anything with asparagus and I thought the Emmentaler cheese and aioli really brought all the flavours together.

Foops had the Steak Frites (medium rare 180g Australian, red wine and wine mushroom sauce, straight cut fries) which he said was good too! I was quite full at this point so I didn’t try his steak but I did steal his fries. Oh man, even the fries were very flavourful. I had no choice but to eat them all!

There was also a Meat Carving and Raclette Cheese Live Station. I have never seen a raclette station before so it was quite a novelty for me to have generous amounts of melted cheese doused over roasted vegetables and the tender St Louis ribs in BBQ sauce. Such a decadent treat!

And where were my three boys the whole time? They were happily holed up in the dedicated Kids’ Room having the time of their lives!

Every Sunday, children are welcomed at Montreux Jazz Café. There is a professional team of kids’ entertainers on Sundays who will help to mind and entertain the children while the adults were having lunch. Win-win!

The boys did some colouring, played a squealy round of ‘What time is it, Mr Crocodile?’ before they settled down for lunch.

I thought the Children’s Lunch set consisting of a soup, a main and dessert (icecream!) was very good value for money at $16++! The boys had chicken tenders, spaghetti bolognese and fries and said the food was ‘very yummy’. They polished off everything so I will take their word for it!

After lunch, they cozied up in front of the big screen to watch Toy Story. They didn’t make a peep or look for me the whole time! All I had to do was pop in to make sure they (especially Jo) were eating their lunch properly.

To round of our delightful brucnh, we invited the boys to join us for desserts. The boys had icecream and I had the most delicious Sticky Date Pudding which was probably my favourite thing that day! It was warm and moist with a drizzle of toffee and a side of vanilla icecream. Just the perfect mix of sweet and savoury, I loved it.

The ambience of the cafe was classy and quite lovely and the wait staff attentive and forthcoming. The dishes were all impeccably executed which was impressive for a budding new cafe.

Overall, the family had a wonderfully relaxing afternoon. It was truly a rare and welcome treat to have a nice lunch without having to worry about the children who were just nearby. We will felt quite pampered that day and will most definitely be back!

Details of Montreux Jazz Café Weekend Brunch:

Dates: Every Saturday and Sunday

Dining Timing: 11am to 3pm

Pricing: $98++ inclusive of free flow Champagne, Selected Wines and Spirits, Draft Beers, and Soft Drinks; $78++ for non-alcoholic option; $16++ for the Children Menu

Dress code: Casual

Address: Pan Pacific Orchard, 10 Claymore Road Singapore 229540 (take note it is not the Pan Pacific next to Suntec City!)

Reservation: Call +65 6733 0091 or email reservations.sg@montreuxjazzcafe.com

Fitness and Martial Arts workout for the whole family at FaMA

For a while now, I have been on the lookout for a school for my boisterous boys to learn some form of martial arts so the invite from Fitness and Martial Arts (FaMA) to try out their classes really couldn’t have come at a better time.

FaMA is the newest family-friendly fitness and martial arts centre that has just opened at Clarke Quay. It is housed in a modern studio space with a fully-equipped training area boasting a grand view of the Singapore River.

Co-founders Zoro Moreira and Bruno Amorim are passionate about using martial arts as a base to improve overall strength, coordination and flexibility, and believe in cultivating an encouraging, nurturing environment for students.

With these core beliefs in mind, Zoro and Bruno came together to develop special martial arts programs that adeptly cater to anyone from children to seniors (the youngest member is 2.5 years old, while the oldest is 70!), from amateurs to professionals, men and women alike.

We arrived bright and early on a Saturday morning, just in time for the FaMA Kids Brazilian Jiujitsu class and their signature adults FaMA Fitness classI thought it was such a good idea to have the kids’ classes coincide with the adults’ so families can work out together!

Known as the Gentle Art, FaMA Kids Brazilian Jiujitsu class (BJJ Kids) is open to children aged 4 to 12. It is taught by first degree black belt and FaMA co-founder Bruno Amorim, who has had many years of experience teaching chidren both in Singapore and the United States.

BJJ is unlike other martial arts because it doesn’t involve striking. BJJ is a great way for children to learn to respect each other, how to defend themselves, and helps with self-confidence and discipline. The program will improve students’ overall flexibility, co-ordination and functional strength.

The boys quickly got changed into their ghis – AIEEE they looked so cute 🙂

They started off with some light stretching and simple warm-up exercises. I wish I had taken a video of Jo attempting push-ups coz it was the cutest thing ever 😉

Then they quickly moved on to learning BJJ sequences of moves – such as forward and backward rolls, etc – across the length of the room.

Here’s a hilarious video of Jo trying his best to keep up with the older children and attempting a forward roll:

Finally the children paired up and learnt how to grapple and do takedowns. 

I was initially worried my boys would be overpowered by the other children as they were new but I need not have worried. The grappling drills were actually very technical and they were carried out very professionally under the watchful eyes of the coaches, all in the safe and controlled environment of the mat area. 

Once again, here’s Jo with the cutest takedown in history 🙂

The boys enjoyed the session very much. Sean was really into it. Ryan being Ryan, was a bit more cautious and he did not enjoy the 1-on-1 grappling so much. Jo was maybe a little young still but I think he had fun joining his brothers that day 🙂

The best part was, the BJJ Kids class (Little Ninjas) at FaMA run concurrently with the signature adults FaMA Fitness class, so we could get fit alongside the children too! Major win!

Perfect for anyone from kids to seniors, FaMA Fitness is an easy-to- follow fitness class using actual martial arts techniques from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai.

FaMA Fitness improves overall stamina, functional strength, balance and flexibility as students progress through various martial art techniques and movements.

Cheryl brought us through a series of warm-up exercises which involved martial arts techniques. There were lots of forward/backward/sideward rolls, squats, crunches, skipping and kicking and punching in the air. And that was just the warm-ups!

Next we embarked on an intense half-hour circuit training targeted at working out our back and triceps. Tricep dips, Commandoes, weight training, etc.

Boy, she really worked us hard that day. PHEW!!! No mercy on newcomers! I thought I was reasonably fit (with my daily short HIIT workouts at home) but I was seriously dripping with sweat at the end of the session and I was aching all over for days after!

There are full shower facilities, including a complimentary towel rental service. You can also chill out in the lounge and relaxation area offering complimentary beverages

Overall, the  boys had lots of fun at BJJ and we got a really good workout as a family. I really liked how bright and airy the place was and the no-fuss-no-muss attitude of all the instructors.

Till now, I still feel guilty for stealing away from the kids to go for a run or workout so this arrangement where the husband and I could work alongside each other whilst the kids are doing BJJ in the same space is truly unimaginable and PERFECT.

If not for the fact that the classes do not quite fit into our weekend schedule, I think I really would have signed all of us up in a heartbeat!

Do check out the Fitness and Martial Arts (FaMA) website (schedule). The BJJ Kids classes are held on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 5pm, and Saturday at 10am, and they run concurrently with the adults FaMA Fitness classes, so the whole family can work out together! (FaMA) is offering a one week free trial now – it is really great even for one-time weekend workout so GO GO GO!

Disclaimer: We were invited to FaMA for a free trial for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions are my own and the pleasure, as always, was all ours.

A very heartwarming Peter Rabbit Tale by SRT

We have been counting down excitedly to Singapore Repertory Theatre’s The Little Company A Peter Rabbit Tale, or what Jo adorably calls ‘the wabbit show’ since the start of the year.

We were delighted to watch the opening show last weekend and my boys loved it so much they are still talking non-stop about it!

Based on the beloved children’s classic by Beatrix Potter and beautifully reimagined by Sarah Brandt, A Peter Rabbit Tale centers around Peter who causes nothing but trouble at home with his constant mischief. 

But when he breaks the rules and steals from Mr. McGregor’s garden, he knows he’s gone too far.

Afraid of what his mother might say, the only option for this little fugitive is to leave his warm rabbit hole and run away into the big world – somewhere he can do whatever he wants and be free of responsibility.

Yet as Peter struggles to live with other animals, from feisty squirrels to sewing mice, he begins to realise his life at home might not have been so bad after all.

The young and fresh cast (I don’t believe I have seen any of them before!) brought a lot of energy to the stage and evidently acted their hearts out.

Joshua Gui, who played the lead role, was brilliant as the playful and oft-misunderstood Peter Rabbit. He was quite the eye candy too so I definitely hope to see more of him in future SRT plays! I loved the girls as well – Siti Maznah, Yvonne Low and Ng Yu Lin – who played a myriad of woodland critters in the story with much aplomb.

I was very impressed by the seemingly simple stage set-up and creative use of costumes to portray the animals (check out the owl!), and not forgetting the huge bicycle prop and a fully functioning swing!

Most of all, we enjoyed the heartwarming story. My boys definitely did relate to the digruntled Peter Rabbit and I really hope the ending of the story resonated with them: there is no place like home (and it is never a good idea to run away from home!)

The show ended with a cake-cutting on stage to commemorate the 15th anniversary of Singapore Repertory Theatre. I was very happy to witness the occasion as they are really doing a wonderful job (and we got free cupcakes) 🙂

Big thumbs up for A Peter Rabbit Tale – do bring your little ones to watch it before it ends!

DATES: 24 February (Fri) – 14 Apr 2017 (Fri),  Weekends & Public Holiday : 11am & 2pm
Weekdays : 10am

PRICES: From $25 – excluding SISTIC fee

Please refer to www.sistic.com.sg for more information about Group discounts/ Family Packages available.

VENUE: KC Arts Centre – Home of SRT, 20 Merbau Road

TICKETS: SISTIC at 6348 5555 or www.sistic.com.sg (PS. you can get 15% off if you kept your Charlotte’s Web ticket stub!)

Ryan and Jo’s Pokemon party

We celebrated Ryan and Jo’s 5th and 3rd birthdays with a small party at home last weekend. We chose to do it after CNY so it was a good 2-3 weeks after their actual birthdays!


They initially chose a Paw Patrol theme which would have been very age-appropriate but later, Ryan changed his mind and decided to have a Pokemon party instead (much to Sean’s delight) because that was cooler. Poor Jo had no say in it; he went along with whatever his brothers wanted! #lifeofathirdchild

I threw the entire party together in about a week, haha. Coz I am kinda an old hand at throwing last-minute parties by now, haha! I kept the theme quite simple and relatable, since I didn’t want to spend too much money and most of our little guests were not really Pokémon fans 😉

The weather has been a bit unpredictable lately so I was very relieved to see that it was nice and cool on the day of the party. I think we have been very lucky in this regard for all our parties so far!!!

I could have gotten Pokemon costumes for the boys but I really didn’t think the older boys would agree to wear them so I settled on Pokemon t-shirts (from Qoo10). I also got Pikachu rompers for Jo and my 1yo nephew – they looked super cute in them though Jo’s was a tad too small for him.

Before the party though, Ryan (who is in a very fussy stage where he only wants to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants with no pockets) decided to ditch his t-shirt and wear the new Pokemon pajamas from Yiyi. So if he ever asks me why he was in pajamas at his birthday party, I will tell him this story.

While waiting for everyone to arrive, I set up a small craft station for the children to make their own Pikachu ears. I wore mine (just stapler-ed the yellow ears to my hairband) proudly but sadly, the children were not so keen to sit down to do any craft because there were far better things to do and play with. Thank goodness I didn’t spend too much time on this!

We didn’t do a barbeque this time round (which actually made things less stressful during the party).

My mum and helper spent the entire day preparing a few dishes for the party – vegetarian beehoon, fried fish/sotong balls, oven-baked chicken wings, seaweed chicken, mashed potato, baked cheese + broccoli, a salad, bubor chacha and freshly squeezed orange juice. I think I prefer homemade fare over catered food any day!

To warm the kids up, we started with a simple game – Pin the tail on Pikachu! Lots of giggles as we blindfolded the children one by one and spun them dizzy to pin the tails. I rewarded the kids who pinned the three closest tails with small presents. (Our dear perfectionist Ryan refused to join in the game. He said he wouldn’t be able to see and he didn’t want to pin the tail out of place. Ah, this kid of mine!)

We played Pass the Parcel next. All the kids love this game because both the older and younger children can play the game and it is not competitive in any way.

Every time the music stopped, the child holding the parcel would do a Pokemon-themed forfeit. Sean helped me come up with most of them: for example, ‘Shake your bum like Ditto’, ‘Rub your tummy like Snorlax’, ‘Give a kungfu kick like Hitmonlee’ or ‘Flap your wings like Zubat’. The children were all very sporting, even the shy ones 🙂

We brought the birthday cake out as it was getting rather late and I wanted to do the cake-cutting before the sky grew dark.

Once again, the birthday cake was the most stressful part of the party preparations. I really wanted to outsource the cake for this party as I cannot handle the stress that comes with baking/frosting a big cake on top of many other things for the party but almost all the bakers that I contacted said they were full. Sigh, serves me right for being so last minute.

So I googled ‘Pokemon cake’ and came up with this lemon sponge cake with cream cheese buttercream frosting in the shape of Pikachu. I thought it turned out quite well! If you look closely, you will also notice Pikachu’s dislocated ear, haha. I fixed it in place with satay sticks later.

It was not my best cake though – I actually sliced my finger while leveling the cake and I did not realize I had forgotten to add cooking oil to the cake mix until I was almost done, argh (see how it stresses me out?!).

Thankfully, the cake still tasted alright and some of the children/grown-ups actually liked it enough to come back for seconds. After this cake though, I have firmly established that I hate working with fondant. I only used it for the eyes and the letters, and I spent a ridiculous amount of time on them – the fondant was so fiddly to work with!

But ah well, the children were in awe of the completed cake and their happy faces made all the hard work worth it!

Next, we moved on to the Pokehunt (treasure hunt)!

We gave out the goodie bags which my sis helped to draw and Sean helped to colour them in and write the name of the Pokemons. I filled them with storybooks and notebooks for the kids. 

My sis also drew a treasure hunt map to guide the kids along. Almost all our little friends have been doing this treasure hunt at our parties since they were 2 or 3 – and they are still not tired of it. I made sure to remind the children of the items they had to collect, including a special Poke-egg that looked like poop. Haha!

A little more about the curious-looking Poke-eggs: My mum helped me make them using flour, coffee powder, soil/sand and salt (you can google ‘dinosaur eggs’ for the recipe). We stuffed small Pokemon figurines into each egg and baked them in the oven at the lowest setting.

The kids had a fun time tearing through the garden searching for treasure (snacks) and looking for Poke-eggs. Lots of fun!

And finally, no party of mine is ever complete without a homemade piñata. How do you like my 10km Poke-egg? I had to make it extra thick and sturdy because the kids are so big and strong now. Still, it took them many rounds of bashing to break the piñata. Ryan was smart enough to realize that he wasn’t going to break it so he just waited next to the piñata with his goodie bag in hand ready to pounce on the candies 😉

The boys had fun – Sean said he wants the same Pokemon theme for his birthday in August so I guess the party was a success!

These birthday parties are my little labour of love for my boys – and they are really not that hard/costly to put together with a bit of planning and creativity. I hope my boys will always remember their nutty childhood parties when they are older.

If you are keen, you can check out the rest of our parties:

Sean turns 7 (with a kampung-themed party)!

Yoho, Ryan and Jo! (pirate theme)

Sean turns 6! (superhero theme) (preparations)

Happy birthday to my two little turtles! (Ninja Turtle theme)

A Mr Men and Little Miss party for a special 5 year old

Lala lala It’s Ryan’s second birthday (Elmo theme)

Robot Sean turns 4! 

Ryan turns 1! (vintage circus/funfair theme)

Sean turns 3: Dinosaur birthday bash! (preparations)

Sean turns 2!

Turning one (The Hungry Caterpillar theme)

***

Happy 5th birthday to my dear Ryan. You are, without a doubt, quite a character. You are boisterous, smart and sensitive. You are sharp as a tack. Nothing escapes you. You are quite the perfectionist and have exasperating non-negotiable preferences like choosing to wear only long-sleeved shirts and pants with no pockets. You get very frustrated when things do not go your way. We are still working on you on how to manage your explosive temper. You have many nervous habits like biting your nails (something I have been trying to stop for the longest time!) and twisting your fingers. You are very cautious by nature. You would rather stand on the side to observe an activity before joining in. You don’t like to try anything where you may not do so well or lose. I think it is good that you have your brothers so you learn how to get along with others that are different from you. In a way, you are a lot like Mama when I was young. So I understand your daily struggles even though others may not. Mama will always love and support you and walk this journey with you. We love you!

Happy 3rd birthday to my little Joey! You are the clown of the family. Everyone loves you. You still have your baby chubs which makes you very huggable. Your favourite game is Daddy and Baby, which you always play with your brothers. You also have a baby doll called Wawa whom you like to carrying in your sling. You say the funniest things. You like to say/do outrageous things (like ‘I have energy coming from buttocks!’) just to get a laugh from us. You have been pushing boundaries a lot lately. Purposely doing things like crushing biscuits and scattering them, pouring juice on the floor, destroying your brothers’ creations, etc. You are very manja when I am around. Whenever you want me to sayang you (sometimes when I am in the midst of scolding you), you will say, ‘Mama, I am Baby Boat.’ And that is my cue to give in and give you a cuddle 🙂 You are closest to Ryan now that you are going to school together. The two of you play together and also fight a lot. Sometimes your brothers like to tease you coz you are the youngest but you are learning to ignore them and become more thick-skinned. I guess that’s what third children do! You are slowly becoming more independent and starting to sleep with Sean and Ryan, instead of on Mama’s bed. I kinda miss your foot in my face sometimes. You will always be my baby. Mama loves you so very much.

Always be yourself unless you can be LEGO Batman

The eagerly awaited LEGO Batman movie opens island-wide today!

I brought the boys down to watch the premiere earlier this week, and we really enjoyed the show.

The story centers around Batman and his heroic sidekicks as they battle the villainous Joker in Gotham City. To my surprise, Batman is portrayed as a very vulnerable and relatable character in the story. The show was action-packed with many LOL and heartwarming moments. To think I never understood the relationship between Batman and Robin till now!

If you like LEGO and superheroes, you definitely will enjoy the show! (PS. I wouldn’t recommend the for younger children coz it is a 3D movie and my younger boys found the fighting scenes with the bad guys scary.)

On top of that, you can also check out the first-ever LEGO Batman Escape Room at ION Orchard B4, 12 noon to 8pm from now till 18 February:

The Joker and his sidekicks are wreaking complete havoc and young LEGO and Batman enthusiasts are called on a mission to save the city by completing a series of exhilarating role-playing, problem-solving games. Packed with exciting challenges to solve before the time runs out, the task calls for quick wit, a splash of bravery and lots of creativity.

Go check it out before it ends. Lastly, always be yourself unless you can be LEGO Batman!

A roaring good time at The Little Executive Dino Discovery Camp

Over the December school holidays, Sean and Ryan attended The Little Executive’s Dino Discovery Camp and had a roaring good time.

Some background info on The Little Executive: The newly set-up enrichment center has a very interesting curriculum 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 very critical when it comes to building the foundation for children’s lifelong learning success.

Having recently attended the Astronaut Training Camp (Ryan, Sep 2016) and the regular Little P1 Executive programme (Sean, Sep-Nov 2016), they were both very happy to return to The Little Executive for the Dino Discovery Camp and the cherry on the cake was, they were going to be mini paleontologists and learn all about their favourite dinosaurs!

The Little Executive’s Dino Discovery Camp is aimed at developing necessary 21st century skills for children. The camp spanned 4 half-days with Sean in the P1 group and Ryan the Nursery group. I really appreciated that I could drop both of them at the camp at the same time yet the learning activities were tailored to specific age groups.

Over the four days, our budding mini paleontologists embarked on many exciting adventures, every one of which has been carefully planned with precise learning objectives.

Here are some of the activities the Nursery children got up to:

Every day, the children were introduced to two new dinosaurs and were taught the distinct differences between Carnivores and Herbivores. For example, they learnt that the Tyrannosaurus Rex moved very fast to catch their prey and had sharp teeth for eating meat while the Brachiosaurus moved slowly on its four legs and had flat teeth for eating plants.

The Nursery children also did a lot of sensory play which they really enjoyed because they got to get busy and dirty with their hands. Ryan made dinosaur fossil imprints and molded a dinosaur egg complete with a baby stegosaurus inside!

They learnt about the places where dinosaurs lived and even made as an impressive dinosaur landscape of a forest and river using coloured crepe paper and plasticine.

As for the P1 children, they learned in greater detail about how dinosaurs lived through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, while learning about evolution. They also learnt the unique characteristics of each dinosaur.

The children were encouraged to imagine what life would be like if we lived with dinosaurs. A cute excerpt from Sean’s file:

“If I lived with the dinosaurs, I would hide in a cave. I would use a club and hit the tree so that the fruits would fall down. I will lie down on the floor in the cave and relax. I would eat the fish in the water but I must wash it if it is dirty. I will use the tree tops leaves to make it to a umbrella.”

There was a fair bit of creative free play as well as many opportunities for teamwork. 

Working in teams, Sean made papier mache caves for the dinosaurs and molded dinosaur bones out of clay dough. The children also reconstructed a large dinosaur skeleton (made from recycled materials) by harnessing their acute powers of observation to identify each bone and work collaboratively to put the pieces together.

Through the team activities, the kids realised that by working together, they can come up with more possible solutions than were originally considered.

The children were introduced to the concept of navigating a grid system through a game of ‘Carnivores eating Herbivores’. I can imagine it must have been a very exciting session, haha!

Then, armed with newfound visual tracking and spatial awareness skills, the children embarked on a Dino Dig. The children learnt how to use the grid system to mark out a specific location to systematically unearth ancient dinosaur fossils (or rather, ‘bones’ that they had each made out of dough the day before). The benefit of having strong spatial skills: they translate into strong arithmetic abilities in primary school.

Over the days, the children were presented with many challenging IQ-boosting games and puzzles (such as Dinosaur Sudoku) which encouraged critical and analytical thinking. My geeky Sean loved them!

Even their snack time was dinosaur-themed. I thought their fruit dinosaurs were the cutest things!

On the final day of the camp, parents were invited to watch the children present their archaeological findings.

The presentation opened with a video about what the children have been up to for the past few days complete with a rousing song ‘I am a Paleontologist!’ by the children. Such a great opportunity for the children to share about their favourite dinosaurs and recall all their fun exploits (whilst practising their public speaking skills)!

Sean and Ryan obviously had a roaring good time at the Dino Discovery Camp. The teachers were more than enthusiastic and made all the games and activities look so fun. The programme was very packed yet well-planned and engaging with clear learning objectives for every activity. I also appreciated the almost daily updates and spot-on observations of my boys.

My boys are little dinosaur experts now, all thanks to The Little Executive!

***

For the March school holidays,  The Little Executive will be running two holiday camps which will challenge, engage and entertain your little ones for the whole week and beyond! The camps will focus on the importance of teamwork, communication, creative problem solving, and critical thinking, while simultaneously being more fun than you can shake a spatula (or a dinosaur bone) at.

Little Chefs Camp (14-17th March, 9am-12pm for N2 / K1-2 / P1-2)

Feel the heat of the kitchen as your little ones hone their interpersonal and collaborative problem solving skills while working as part of a team of chefs. They will take on challenges and develop their analytical and innovative skills while planning and executing a gourmet meal!

Dino Discovery Camp (14-17th March, 2-5pm for N2 / K1-2 / P1-2)

Come for the adventure of a lifetime, where your mini-paleontologist will tool up and embark on a dino-dig, unearthing ancient dinosaur fossils and working together as a team to reconstruct a dinosaur skeleton! Learn the innate differences between carnivores and herbivores, and how to unlock the secret behind understanding fossils.

If you sign your child up with a sibling or friend, you are entitled to 10% discount. Furthermore, if you have previously attended The Little Executive weekly classes or holiday camps,  you are entitled to an exclusive 15% discount! 

Places are strictly limited and only available on a first-come, first-served basis, so don’t wait for them to become extinct, chop-chop and book today!

Disclaimer: We were invited to attend the holiday camps for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions are my own and the pleasure, as always, was all ours!

An emergency visit to the A&E

We have had quite an eventful January.

Jo earned his second visit to the A&E when Ryan got mad at him one evening and hit him on the face with a toy guitar.

Poor Jo got a deep cut above his left eyebrow which would not stop bleeding. I received a frantic call from my mum and raced home in the peak hour traffic after work to bring him to the A&E of Mt Elizabeth Novena. Thank goodness it was not crowded at all and Jo was attended to right away. The gaping wound was swollen and looked quite bad, and poor Jo had cried till his eyes were super puffy by then 🙁

(Much better after the dressing was done)

The attending doctor and nurse cheered Jo up with a toy mouse and stickers before applying glue to close the wound. No need for stitches – so amazed by the wonders of medical advancement! The wound has since healed beautifully though not without a scar.

(Taken during change of dressing two days later)

Ryan apologised to Jo and was quite sheepish about the incident, and they were back to being best buddies that night. The good thing about kids is, they never bear any hard feelings. We definitely need to work with Ryan on his anger management – still works in progress!

Some lessons from this episode: In the event of emergencies, it is good to know which is the nearest and preferably least crowded A&E nearest to you. Also, it is very important to get proper medical insurance coverage for the kids so you don’t have to worry so much about the cost.

Getting festive with Masons Decorating

新年快乐 (Happy New Year)! Hope you are having a chirpy start to your Chinese New Year celebrations and having your fill of pineapple tarts, love letters and angpows!

Today is a special day in the Chinese calendar. It is 人日 (ren ri), the seventh day of the Chinese New Year or rather, the day human beings were created according to Chinese customs.

I was pleasantly surprised to come home to a special CNY delivery from Mason’s Decorations Singapore – a beautiful pairing of fresh flowers and traditional Chinese lanterns which set the mood at home just right for Chinese New Year.

I loved the lush red roses and hydrangeas, bright pink chrysanthemums, cheery daisies and sprinkling of lavender sprigs which gave off the loveliest scent – they really lit up our home 🙂

Mason’s Decorations Singapore specialises in home decorations for festive seasons. They carry a lovely selection of CNY flower and decorations – do check out their aptly-named Hampers of Abundance, Flowers of Prosperity and Lanterns of Fortune. I think they would make great decorations for your own home or as festive gifts to family and friends. Please use the discount code ‘DEBRA10’ for 10% off your purchase, valid till 31 Dec 2017. (PSST… husbands/boyfriends: Valentine’s Day is coming up!)

Here’s wishing you warmth and abundance in the Year of the Fire Rooster! Enjoy the rest of your Chinese New Year!

SRT presents A Peter Rabbit Tale (and a giveaway!)

Ever since we watched Singapore Repertory Theatre’s The Little Company Charlotte’s Web (which my dear Jo conveniently calls the ‘pig show’) last November and chanced upon the movie poster for their next play, A Peter Rabbit Tale, Jo has been asking me non-stop when we will be watching the ‘rabbit show’. I am so happy that I can finally tell him, ‘February!’ 🙂

Based on the beloved children’s classic by Beatrix Potter and beautifully reimagined by Sarah Brandt, A Peter Rabbit Tale centers around Peter who causes nothing but trouble with his constant mischief.

But when he breaks the rules and steals from Mr. McGregor’s garden, he knows he’s gone too far. Afraid of what his mother might say, the only option for this little fugitive is to leave his warm rabbit hole and run away into the big world – somewhere he can do whatever he wants and be free of responsibility.

Yet as Peter struggles to live with other animals, from feisty squirrels to sewing mice, he begins to realise his life at home might not have been so bad after all.

Peter goes on a musical adventure of new places and new faces as he discovers the importance of family and the wonderful freedom of being yourself.

This play teaches children the importance of family and to cherish their loved ones.

This show is recommended for 2 year-olds and above.

DATES: 24 February (Fri) – 14 Apr 2017 (Fri),  Weekends & Public Holiday : 11am & 2pm
Weekdays : 10am

PRICES: From $25 – excluding SISTIC fee

Please refer to www.sistic.com.sg for more information about Group discounts/ Family Packages available.

VENUE: KC Arts Centre – Home of SRT, 20 Merbau Road

TICKETS: SISTIC at 6348 5555 or www.sistic.com.sg (PS. you can get 15% off if you kept your Charlotte’s Web ticket stub!)

Giveaway!

Good news – I have one Family Package (4 tickets) to SRT’s A Peter Rabbit Tale on 4 March 2017, Saturday, 11am up for grabs. Please make sure you can make it for the show before you join the giveaway.

To participate, all you have to do is:

1) Visit both the Olimomok and Singapore Repertory Theatre Facebook pages. (It will be good if you could ‘like’ the pages as well).

Optional entries:

2) Leave me a blog post comment telling me why you want to watch the show. Don’t forget to leave your name and email.

3) ‘Like’ my Facebook post on SRT’s A Peter Rabbit Tale, tag 3 friends and leave me a comment telling me who you would bring to the show if you win the tickets.

4) Add me (‘Olimomok’) on Instagram.

Then complete the steps in the following Peter Rabbit raffle by 27 January 2017 (Friday) end of day (Singapore time). This giveaway is open to Singapore residents only.

Sounds like a fun tale my boys would enjoy! Hope to see you there!

Busy boys at Busy Tables (and a giveaway!)

I am all for encouraging free play for my boys. Children possess a natural curiosity to explore and playing allows them to do just that.

Together with my younger sons Ryan and Jo, we dropped by Busy Tables at Rochester Mall on a weekday evening recently to play. And play, they did!

Busy Tables prides itself to be a children’s indoor educational playground.  

Yet Busy Tables was quite unlike any of the indoor playgrounds we have been to. When we got there, I was quite surprised to see that there were no ball pits, slides or crazy obstacle courses at all!

Instead, we were greeted with a serene and spacious playroom with inviting toy set-ups such as play tents and a play kitchen, a cozy reading corner as well as rows of shelves neatly stocked with educational toys and games.

My boys were besides themselves with excitement when they were unleashed inside.

On seeing my boisterous boys bounce all over the place for the first hour, Jeff (one of the co-founders of the place) just smiled and said, It’s natural for the kids to be so excited to see so many new toys. Let them explore, let them play. We are in no rush. 

Wow. That was music to this grateful mama’s ears, and that, as I came to realise that day, was exactly what Busy Tables is all about – letting the children play and explore to their little hearts’ content.

Ryan and Jo were gleefully racing cars down the wooden ramps, pretending to blast off in a rocket, spinning circles in Bilibo (from Little Llama, I believe!), playing ‘masak-masak‘ in the play kitchen and dragging tables and chairs around and setting up house in the doll house 🙂

busytable3My boys also spent an inordinate amount of time in the very cool dark room, peering at dinosaur X-rays and scattering coloured confetti discs, pegs and shapes over the glowing light tables. Truly sensory play at its best.

Busy Tables is a big proponent of what they call Table Top Play. It allows a child to sit down and focus on one activity at a time, enabling him/her to explore and discover freely.

The benefits of table top play for children is multi-fold, ranging from social and emotional development to early mathematical exposure to fine-motor skills and hand-eye coordination development.

Busy Tables has an impressive library of learning resources for table top play. They are thoughtfully curated and split into 4 broad categories: Literacy, Numeracy, Fine-motor and Problem solving. Each of these categories are further split into eight levels of difficulty, all of which are neatly arranged and labeled thus enabling parents to easily pick out a suitable activity for their children.

When the boys were more settled down, I chose a few different toys/games off the shelf for them to try out. They had lots of fun completing puzzles, fishing and poking leaves into the wooden cactus.

I really appreciated the wide and well-curated selection of quality toys and games (I spied some of our favourite toys like Magnatiles, Zoob, Plus Plus) and was very inspired to create similar learning opportunities for my boys at home.

If you would like a bit more structure and direction to your child’s table top play, there are the recently-launched Busy Cards to guide you along.

Dedicated to children below 6 years old, Busy Cards is an assortment of curated cards which give kids ‘missions’ to complete. The cards and missions are tiered to pose incremental challenges to develop creativity, discipline, literacy and more.

Ryan (aged 4.5) and Jo (aged 2.5) tried out the Stage 2 Busy Cards (meant for 3-5yo).

Each card looked something like this:

Skill Set: Problem Solving Literacy

Toy: Alphabuild Magnetised Blocks

Location: L8

Activity: Combine and create shapes and/or letters

  • Tier 1: Create 4 different shapes (ie. triangle, rectangle) 
  • Tier 2: Create 4 different letters of the alphabets (ie. A, B, C)
  • Tier 3: Build a house or structure

Ryan really enjoyed the activities, most of which he completed with ease. Besides creating shapes and letters with the Alpabuild Magnetised blocks, he also completed an Animal Tangram Puzzle and sorted different-coloured balls in a Magnetic Labyrinth.

He is used to sitting for longer periods and enjoyed the mental challenge so he probably could have gone on for more if we had the time.

Every time he completed an activity, I would reward him with a stamp. Once he accumulated six stamps, he could exchange it for a token at the counter to redeem for a small prize at the capsule machines. Such a good incentive – the boys were thrilled to have a go at the capsule machines!

Overall, it was a very well-spent 2 hours at Busy Tables. My boys could probably have stayed there all day if not for the fact that it was closing time! I appreciated that it was a safe and conducive environment for children to play and learn. The pricing is very reasonable, especially the extended play time on weekdays. We can’t wait to go back again!

Busy Tables

35 Rochester Drive, #03-22, Rochester Mall, S(138639)

Giveaway!

Good news – I have five play passes to Busy Tables up for grabs! To participate, all you have to do is:

1) ‘Like’ both the Olimomok and Busy Tables Facebook pages.

2) ‘Like’ and share my Facebook post on Busy Tables (please set the post to ‘PUBLIC’ so I can see it), then leave a comment tagging 3 friends with the message: ‘Hey X, Y and Z, let’s bring our kids to Busy Tables!’

3) Add me (‘Olimomok’) on Instagram.

Please complete all of the above steps by 15 Jan 2017 end of day (Singapore time). This giveaway is open to Singapore residents only.

Disclaimer: We received complimentary play passes for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own. As always, the pleasure was all ours 🙂