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MINDS Shop

If you are looking for somewhere to donate items that you do not need but that are still in good condition, consider donating them to the MINDS Shop.  It is a social enterprise that provides vocational training for MINDS’ intellectually disabled clients, serves as a venue for them to interact with customers, and helps to raise funds through the sale of donated items.

I stumbled upon it one day and thought that it was much more accessible than the Salvation Army thrift store as the shops are smaller and not overly cluttered.  You can actually find quite a few gems there without sneezing your head off in the process.  Because the shops are small, the turnover rate for products is also faster, so there are frequently new items on the shelves.  With the small size I also feel like the things I donate will have a higher chance of reaching somebody else who would want them since the chance of discovery is higher.

One of the shops

One of the shops

They accept everything from clothing and books to household appliances and furniture.  You can even bring down your used paper bags from shopping trips too because they use them to bag items bought by customers.

Recently I picked up some lovely vintage crystal glasses for just $3 a piece.  I love them, and think they’re great for little aperitifs or port, or whatever else you want to put in them.

My vintage crystal glasses

My ‘new’ vintage crystal glasses

I also picked up a bunch of children’s books at great value, some as low as $1!

It’s a good place to send your things if you have no more use for them, just be considerate – nothing that’s broken and spoiled!

Rising Son

I was a little uncertain what to expect from this performance as my impression of Dick Lee’s productions are that they can sometimes be a bit too over-the-top for my liking.  I was thus pleased to find that Rising Son was treated with restraint and good sense.  It was suitably sober, but sprinkled with light smatterings of humour here and there to lift the mood.

Photo taken from SRT website

Photo taken from SRT website

Starting with an audio introduction to the sounds of war coupled with headlines of the advancing Japanese forces, I was reminded that the context in which the play takes place was true and these were the sounds that some of my older relatives would have heard first hand.

The play is set during the time of the Japanese invasion and occupation between 1941 and 1945.  18 year-old Sunny (Tan Shou Chen) and his younger sister Ruby (Seong Hui Xuan) develop an unlikely and socially taboo friendship with their neighbour Hiroyuki Sato (Caleb Goh), a Japanese army judge.  Through Hiroyuki’s acts of kindness like sharing food with Sunny’s family, and giving Sunny access to his library of books, the two form an awkward bond that in better times could have flourished into a proper friendship, but in the context of the war was tentative and, especially from Sunny’s point of view, riddled with conflicting emotions.  On the one hand, he hated the Japanese soldiers for how they mistreated the people, yet here his Japanese neighbour, for all intents and purposes part of the occupying forces, was nothing like the rest.

Sunny & Hiroyuki Photo taken from SRT website

Sunny & Hiroyuki
Photo taken from SRT website

Unfortunately, the understanding of Sunny’s inner state was mostly drawn from an intellectual inference of what he should be feeling in such a situation given what he said.  The emotional struggle did not come across as strongly as it could have.  Despite delivering a competent performance, the portrayal of Sunny lacked a sense of gravity which would have lent the character more depth.  It was only during the climactic clash between Hiroyuki and Sunny did I feel the projection of the conflict within Sunny.

Still, the performances of all three actors were well delivered, and attention was given to the small but important details like poignant pauses and carefully timed sidelong glances.  Along with clever use of lighting, it was a well-paced performance and the 90 minutes passed quickly without ever getting bogged down by the issues being tackled.

The play focused on presenting the perspective of the young Sunny, but I did wonder what his parents thought of the whole situation.  To have invited Hiroyuki into their home for dinner and allow their son to frequent the house of a Japanese soldier must have been extraordinarily uncommon during the war.  I wondered how much of Sunny’s perspectives were influenced by his parents, and how much was drawn from his own reading of events.  Ruby certainly had a different take on things.  Where Sunny was cautious, Ruby threw caution to the wind.  While Ruby was supposed to be the naive one at that time, it was she who saw past the circumstances of war to see the person Hiroyuki was, someone who struggled to find humanity in circumstances beyond his control.

Certainly what takes place in the play unfolds in a bubble, and is not representative of the experiences of the vast majority of people during the war.  But it is not a story that is unheard of.  Similar stories of compassion and camaraderie between enemies have emerged before – think of Władysław Szpilman of The Pianist and the Christmas truces of World War I.  And that was the strongest impression I had as I left the theatre, that even in the midst of terrible circumstances, there are always threads of humanity that can come from the most unexpected of people.  Not everyone involved in war wants it to happen, not everyone wishes to be doing whatever it is they are ordered to do.  Sometimes war carries you on a wave of events, and there is little an individual can do to stop the whole, but there is something he can do to make sense of life by creating a bubble of humanity, however fleeting and fragile that bubble may be.

Ruby teaching Hiroyuki to dance Photo taken from SRT website

Ruby teaching Hiroyuki to dance
Photo taken from SRT website

Rising Son is the first part of a trilogy of plays inspired by Dick Lee’s family. It is staged at the DBS Arts Centre and runs until 12 April 2014.  Tickets can be bought through SISTIC.

Brought the boys to Westgate after school as we’ve been telling Asher so much about the playground since the last time we went.  They were both quite excited, and I had to bargain with them to have dinner before playing.

Asher chose to eat at Pho Street at level B2, just inside from the carpark.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover the place serves up very decent fare.  The bowls of noodles are huge, and the boys could share one portion between them.  Greedy me ate an entire bowl by myself.  Besides beef pho, they also sell other types of Vietnamese dishes.  I had the spicy pork noodles, which was very good.  I loved how there were lots of crunchy cucumbers, red and green sliced chillis, and even starfruit to give the dish that extra kick.  I would definitely have that again.  The portion of meat in each bowl of noodles was also quite generous.  In addition to the noodles, we ordered the crabcakes, which were disappointingly small in size though okay in terms of taste, and fried springrolls which were alright.  Rounded off with a lemongrass drink, the meal was very satisfying.  I was so hungry I tucked right in and polished off my food before I remembered to take any pictures, but here’re a couple of the boys :)

Big bowl of noodles for Ellery, and this is not even half of the actual serving!

Big bowl of noodles for Ellery, and this is not even half of the actual serving!

Funny boy

Funny boy

As a treat we wandered the basement level to look for dessert.  They were so attracted to the display at Milkissimo, they decided to have hokkaido gelato for dessert.  Milkissimo is located inside Isetan on level B2 and is a Japanese stall selling Italian style gelato made from premium ingredients from Hokkaido.  There are many interesting flavours, and I particularly liked Northern Hascup (a type of honeysuckle berry) for it’s tangy, sorbet like flavour.  The boys gravitated to the usual suspects like dark chocolate (so thick and gooey it’s almost like eating a soft brownie!), and white chocolate (like vanilla).  I was extremely happy with the staff’s flexibility.  The boys wanted their own flavours, but I didn’t want to get them each a cup because that would just be too much gelato for each of them.  The staff let me choose the 3 flavour option, but spread out each flavour into a separate cup.  It was possible because they measure the gelato by weight.  So we each got the flavour we wanted, without having too much of it.

Dark chocolate, white chocolate, and northern hascup

Dark chocolate, white chocolate, and northern hascup

Stuffed with dinner and dessert, we were all set for playtime in Wonderland.  We explored the toddler’s area, and surprisingly the boys enjoyed just climbing and sitting on the giant insects.  I actually had to coax them to move on!  When Asher saw the playground he was really excited, and they both proceeded to head up the treehouse together.  I was very pleased with Asher when he said he would take care of Ellery, and for me not to worry.  What a good big brother!  He encouraged Ellery, and when he was quite a bit ahead, told Ellery, “I’m here!”  Times like this, I’m just so happy to see the boys are very close brothers.

On the dragonfly

On the dragonfly

The 'hiccupping' frog they called it

The ‘hiccupping’ frog they called it

Chilling on the ladybird

Chilling on the ladybird

Orange boys

Orange boys

Playing with musical flowers

Playing with musical flowers

Climbing away

Climbing away

Up and down, here and there and everywhere.  They just played and played, until heavy rain forced them out.  Well, actually, the security guard forced them out.  They were quite happy to play in the rain haha.

So a change of clothes, and off for supper!  What a lot of treats today.  We went to Toastbox for cake and hot milo before heading home.

Wonderland indeed!

 

Chubby Cousin

Ellery has taken an interest in his baby cousin David, and has been saying things like, “He’s so cute!” and “He’s so chubby!”.  Since then ‘chubby’ has become his new favourite adjective.  He describes animals as chubby, softtoys as chubby, and anything vaguely poofy he says they are chubby :)

Anyway the other day Ellery asked to carry David, and I thought it was a good chance for him to interact with a little baby.  Del agreed, so he sat on a sofa and I put David on his lap.  David at first was a bit surprised and just looked around, but after a moment he decided he didn’t think much of Ellery’s skill in baby-carrying, and starting wailing :)

Carrying his cousin

Carrying his cousin

Baby Root Canal

After seeing the first dentist, I spoke to several friends about Ellery’s dead tooth.  I found out from one of them that their son had a dead tooth too, and he did a baby root canal when he was three years old, without any anesthesia!

I called her dentist to check whether there were any available appointment slots, but the dentist was packed until the end of April!  I was thinking of pursuing other options, or checking with a different dentist.

Then when I went for my own dental appointment, I met with the dentist who had seen the boys on their very first dental visit.  I asked him about Ellery’s tooth, and he advised that we should do the baby root canal because if the tooth got infected, there was a chance that the adult tooth inside would also get infected.  And if for some reason the dead tooth started to loosen and fall out, the other baby teeth would fill in the space posing problems for the adult tooth when it is time for it to erupt.

He said he had done baby root canals for children as young as two years old, and he seemed more confident and experienced than the other dentist.  Plus, his advice made sense to me as my friend mentioned that her dentist said something similar.  Leaving it alone is not advisable.  He said there would be no need for anesthesia as the tooth was already dead, so there would be no pain at all.

So I made an appointment for a few days later, and brought Ellery for his procedure.

Ellery was so good.  He was perfectly still throughout because he was pretending to be a stick insect!  He was supposed to trick the dentist that he was just a stick, and after the procedure reveal that he was actually an insect!  :)  Prior to the procedure Ellery whispered to me, “I’m a stick insect.”  When the dentist asked him what he said, Ellery replied, “It’s a secret!” :)

The dentist was also fantastic!  He talked to Ellery throughout, praising him for being so good, telling him what he was going to do next using easy to understand terms, and he worked so quickly and steadily throughout that before we knew it, he had already drilled a hole into the back of the tooth, taken out the decaying material inside, washed it, dried it and filled it!

20 minutes tops.

Ah.  Now I have peace of mind.

The Bakery Chef

Went to check out The Bakery Chef with Del.  The write-up in the papers sounded pretty good so we wanted to see for ourselves.

The cafe is situated at Bukit Merah Central and is quite a cosy little outfit.  Inside the counters are filled with tasty looking goodies tempting you to try them.  In the end Del and I settled on a Chocolate Guanaja cake and a Salted Caramel Surprise.

The chocolate cake was so decadent!  Made from Valrhona chocolate, it was heaven from the first bite.  Chocolaty, rich, with a light biscuit base, it was exactly what I was looking for that afternoon.  The caramel dome was done just right.  Not too sweet and cloying as some places do it, but perfectly balanced between sweet and salty.  Inside, the surprise was an oozy caramel centre.

Besides the yummy desserts, I appreciated their good service.  One of the staff noticed that we were initially sitting at a two-seater table in the middle of the room.  She suggested we transfer to the four-seater table as it would be more comfortable for us since Del was carrying David, and I looked quite heavily preggers.  She even helped us to move our things, and took our orders directly instead of having us queue for our turn.  What considerate service!

The cafe front

The cafe front

Attractive display at the counter

Attractive display at the counter

Our treats for the day!

Our treats for the day!

Mee Pok Day

We got up and headed out earlier than usual to attend Mee Pok Day at SCGS.

Oh how I love these noodles.  I ate them almost everyday from Primary 1 to Secondary 4!  And no, I have never tired of them!  There are usually two classic ways of eating it.  Either dry with lots of vinegar, or soupy with lots of chilli (my preferred way!).  There’s just something about the noodles that all SCGS girls love.

The original Mee Pok uncle passed away many years ago, but his nephew has since taken over the stall.  He has managed to keep the taste authentic, although the texture of the noodles is less chewy and starchy than it used to be, probably because of a change in suppliers.  I notice such starchy noodles are quite impossible to find in Singapore anymore.

Anyway, I was more than happy to have Jon and the boys try this noodles because I have randomly raved about it in the past.  Asher clearly enjoyed his noodles and wouldn’t stop eating even for a photo :)

We got to walk around the school too.  There have been a few additions here and there, but overall the school is just like it used to be – a nice feeling.

Groupshot, with Asher still slurping up his noodles

Groupshot, with Asher still slurping up his noodles

Mee Pok Day 1

Mee Pok Day 2

Mee Pok Day 3

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