I think I’m going to remember this year. It was a good year, but not in the way you might imagine.

I was planning to write this at the end of 2017, rather than the start of 2018, since 2018 would really represent a new beginning. But in the end I was working to meet a 31 Dec, 2359 deadline, so worked right through the countdown and made it just in time! I was wondering whether to document this at all, but I didn’t want to let the year go by just like that.

To practically everyone around me, it would seem like a regular year for me. There would be the new school routines, unexpected kid challenges, and all the areas where the usual difficulties would crop up. My second son started P1, but no that wasn’t the biggest thing for me last year. My eldest threw himself into his CCA with a surprising passion and determination, which was heartening, and extremely time-consuming, but no that wasn’t the biggest thing for me last year. My dad went through a very major operation at the start of 2017, but we had all been praying, and he was at peace with the decision to go ahead in spite of all the risks, and we were all at peace, and I knew it would turn out just as God planned whatever the outcome, so didn’t worry excessively, and so no that didn’t turn out to be the biggest thing for me last year.

To practically everyone around me, I think it really wouldn’t be possible to see how epic the year was for me unless I told you.

My year started with a great tempest. It was so, so tumultuous. In January I plunged into the deepest, darkest abyss I had ever been in. I had been in deep pits from the same cause before, but never, ever, like this. Yet you probably wouldn’t have noticed. The storm was entirely an internal struggle. Yes, it did appear as irritation and snappish-ness towards to kids at first, but then I decided this had nothing to do with them, and I really shouldn’t take it out on them. So I made a concerted effort to hold it all in. I was lost in my head, as I’m usually prone to doing, but even more so. I drifted off to strings of arguments, playing over incidents, questioning, wondering, hating, beating myself up, finger pointing, allowing myself to feel guilt, then getting angry that I should feel guilty at all, and well, I can’t even really put the whole thing into words. It will be quite impossible to capture the emotions as it’s probably the kind of thing that is best communicated in person, and even then it would be hard.

It started with my reading a movie review, and then I knew, I absolutely needed to watch that movie. Just reading the review alone triggered memories that had surfaced in fairly regular intervals for over 20 years. Each time, I thought I had dealt with the issue, forgiven and moved on. But then the next trigger would simply reveal to me the damage was still there. That movie, UNA, was not the same, but there were parts that rang true. Nothing has come close to my experience, but that the show had bits, little bits, that I could relate to, already drew me to it.

I told no one. Secretly, I went to catch the movie on my own when the kids were all at school. What followed was darkness, sadness, anger, confusion, regret, guilt, and bitterness inside. The worst of it, was that I knew I wasn’t the cause of it and it really wasn’t my fault. Yet, I had to be silent and keep it all inside. Ironically, all these years, I felt I needed to protect. So I protected. And given how things were, there was no way confrontation would ever be possible, so I felt angry, and I felt cheated of my chance to be understood by loved ones and friends. I felt it would explain so much about me. Because of it, I felt like I wasn’t known. And I wanted to feel known. But I couldn’t. And I felt angry, bitter and hopeless. I was angry that I had to bear it all these years. Why should I protect? But how could I not?

It was only weeks later that my husband asked me what was wrong. He eventually noticed something was amiss in me, said he’d noticed it for a while, but he couldn’t figure out what since it was just a slight feeling he had that something was off (I tend to get even more introverted when things are truly bad). And so that was the first time that I said anything about what was churning in my mind in all those weeks. I had been absolutely silent about it. It mostly came out, what I could get out coherently. I thought my husband had known, because I told him in brief before we were married, but I discovered he had a vastly wrong idea of the extent. That was why he didn’t understand some of me before, but now he understood better. Wasn’t his fault, I hadn’t said much about it the first and only time we talked about it. We were in a public place, and whatever little I said had already brought me to tears.

Finally, I had someone who knew a little more. Still not all, because I’ve never been able to bring myself to say it. But it was good enough for me then.

But it wasn’t, actually. Because the turmoil carried on.


Throughout this period, though I was lost in the abyss, I knew I had to hang on to a little thread of hope and not let myself fall too far beyond hope. I prayed for strength of mind to keep going, to keep going. I had to take care of the kids afterall. And there were errands to run, and groceries to get, visitations to my dad in hospital, and the business to run. If not for God, I would have been lost. But I knew he was there, so I wouldn’t get completely lost, but I was lost. I don’t fully know how to describe it. It was like I had God there, around, so that I could be safe to fall into this massive darkness. It was just something I had to go through.

And indeed that was what it was.

I don’t know how, and I don’t recall exactly when. But one day, it was crystal clear in my mind that if God had already forgiven, and already accepted, how then could I not forgive one who was already forgiven by God; one who had been forgiven just as I, a sinner too, was forgiven? It was suddenly so plain to me that I just needed to do my part to listen and obey what He tells me to do, and He will settle the rest. In this case, I needed to release true forgiveness. What I imagined was forgiveness before wasn’t, since the pain kept surfacing. No more grudging forgiveness coming on the back of self-pitying thoughts like “it’s not fair, I suffered so why should I bear the burden of forgiving.” It had to be true forgiveness. 

And there it was. It happened. And I’m not saying this lightly, afterall it took over 20 years to get to this point. The lightening in my heart was immediate. I wasn’t bitter about it anymore. And it wasn’t so important anymore that my loved ones and friends knew in order for me to be known. It would still definitely help, but it wasn’t crucial anymore. I could just be. But with that forgiveness, I also realised that I could talk about it. So I decided that if the opportunity arose, and if it felt right, I would share with friends the details. To date, I’ve only really spoken to three people about it, and those instances came about because I was sharing more about my struggles, my faith and God. I would like to think those conversations were good times of connection and blessing. So I’m not rushing it. I’m letting things come, and praying that these encounters will be times of blessing for the other person too, a time to share about God’s grace and goodness, not just a cathartic moment for me. So I’ve been letting God lead, and as the opportunities come, with his prompting, I’ll share.

This was the first quiet epic sea change that happened before the middle of last year.


I’m Back!

Yes! It’s good to be back!
There were some issues with storage and things with my site, but it’s sorted out now by the wonderful Happiness Engineers of WordPress!

I was rather detached from blogging this year, for reasons I will likely share a little more on later on (it’s 2am!). But I’m prepped to get back to blogging, and it’s good to know my blog is prepped and ready too!

Poultry Tales

The kids walked in expecting to see the set all ready and the show about to start, but they were in for a surprise. What they walked in upon was the sight of the stage in a state of undress, with boxes and other things scattered across the stage, and stage hands busy with their various tasks.

What was going on? Were we in the right theatre? Did we get the venue or time wrong?

Have we come to the right show? Catching a glimpse of the backstage action (Photo credit: iTheatre)

Turns out, it was iTheatre‘s innovative way of giving kids (and their parents) a glimpse into unseen aspects of theatre. Those stage hands? They were really the actors taking on the role of stage hands. They were actors pretending to be stage hands who were pretending to be actors. I thought that was quite an amusing twist on itself.

The twist went further when one of the backstage crew said they were in the midst of preparing for the show, Poultry Tales! What a minute, weren’t we already watching it?

I had been wondering how iTheatre would weave the three different tales into a single, coherent show. Using the premise of the backstage crew secretly trying on costumes and living out their acting dreams, iTheatre managed to tie the three tales together quite well.

Maggie, the stage manager, and her assistant take pains to train their newbie interns the rudiments of backstage work. In the process, the audience is treated to the three tales, and introduced to a whole bunch of terms that performers use for the various items found around the stage – fly bar, cyclorama, flat, legs (no, not the legs we walk on), hand prop, etc. I thought it was wonderful to introduce these terms to the kids. I especially loved how as each part of the stage was introduced, the stage set slowly came together as one normally sees it when walking into the theatre. It’s not everyday that you get to see a stage set get pieced together right before you eyes.

Maggie (in red), her assistant (in brown), and the intern. (Photo credit: iTheatre)

Anyway, the flow from pre-show segment to the actual show was so seamless that my boys weren’t quite sure that the show had actually started already! I had to whisper to them that the show had begun! I guess they were expecting the actors to don more elaborate costumes and such (the actors were wearing simple overalls in different colours). That was one of the reasons why I liked the first story – Chicken Licken – the best. It showed the kids that all you need to portray a character was just a mask. And with just a change of mask, you can change your character. The four actors played six characters! Some characters had to switch between their masks and were basically talking to themselves :)

Acting out Chicken Licken with just masks! (Photo credit: iTheatre)

More than that though, the story-telling for Chicken Licken was fast-paced and entertaining! From the time the show ended, and every day since, one of my kids will say, complete with exaggerated actions, “I saw it with my eyes, I heard it with my ears, and some of it fell on my tail!”

In the Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs, while I thought the gentleman took a little too much pleasure in thinking about how to murder the poor innocent goose, it did drive home the lesson that we should not be consumed by greed. In terms of props, the kids were tickled at how the goose spewed ribbons instead of blood, when she was killed. Though the lead up to the kill was filled with tension, the end was humourous without losing the plot.

Evil plans are a-hatching in the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg (Photo credit: iTheatre)

The final story was about The Little Red Hen. Her friends all swore to be there for her whenever she needed their help, but whenever she asked for it, they came up with one excuse or another and ran away. She did everything on her own, and enjoyed the fruits of her own labour. Her friends on the other hand, learnt that they should keep their promises all the time, and not pick and choose when to keep it. I also tend to think that for this story, the moral really is that if you want something done, you just got to do it yourself. Hopefully we have friends who are more dependable that we can count on of course!

Little Red Hen and her unreliable friends (Photo credit: iTheatre)

My three-year old may not have understood the backstage bit, but she definitely enjoyed the stories told, and had a good time laughing at the funny segments (and getting appropriately worried for the goose when it was going to get killed). The boys were better able to appreciate the backstage elements, and they certainly enjoyed the story-telling as well.

Poultry Tales in on until Sunday, 14 May. Do hurry and get your tickets from SISTIC! Enjoy a post-exam treat for all the family, or end the weekend with a Mother’s Day outing to the theatre. Good lessons taught, lots of backstage things to see and learn, and overall an enjoyable show.

Don’t miss your chance to catch iTheatre, because this might very well be their last production. They have unfortunately lost their source of funding, and will not be able to continue for the time being. iTheatre is seeking funding, and if you or others you know are able to help, please do give them your support. You can find out more about how to help iTheatre here.

iTheatre has an original new play opening next month specially for the Year of the Rooster!

From 27 April to 14 May, come and meet three famous feathered friends – the stars of three classic tales:

  • The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs, and her greedy owner;
  • The Little Red Hen, with bread to bake, but lazy friends; and
  • Chicken-Licken – with that scary acorn!

This talkative trio of feathered friends will sing, dance, show and tell you their tales. And don’t be surprised if they share some valuable wisdom and backstage secrets on the way.

A brand new, interactive, musical production presented in quite an unusual way – iTheatre will bring the audience into the world of the Theatre Stage from the inside out. The wild and wacky characters and well-known folk tales are presented in fun ways that help us to understand both the themes and morals, but along the way we also reveal valuable secrets of how a Musical is made!

Guaranteed to engage young and old alike, and filled with excitement, humour and learning points for the kids (and maybe us adults too)!

Poultry Tales
Date: 29 Apr to 14 May 2017
Timing: 10.30am and 2pm
Duration: 55 minutes musical including meet and greet
Venue: Drama Centre Theatre
100 Victoria Street
National Library Building
Singapore 188064
Tickets are available from SISTIC.


iTheatre has generously sponsored two Family Sets (4 tickets each) to two winners. Tickets will be for the 30 April (Sun), 10.30am. Please make sure you are able to attend the show on this date and time before taking part in the giveaway.

To take part, all you have to do is leave a comment below, along with your email address, telling me which of the three characters you like the best, and why. Please submit your entry by 14 April (Fri), noon.


Terms & Conditions: The winning entry will be selected at random from all qualifying entries using Random.org. Incomplete entries will be disqualified. The winner will be announced here in the comments section of this post, and will be contacted via email.  The winner will have 24 hours to respond, failing which another winner will be selected. To be fair to all giveaway participants, if it turns out that the winner is unable to make it for the performance on the stated date and time, please let me know as soon as possible so that I can pick another winner quickly. Tickets need to be collected from iTheatre’s office. 

The Ant and the Grasshopper by iTheatre is back after a sell-out run in 2014. You may be familiar with this tale, which is actually pretty short in its original form, about a hardworking ant who prepared for the winter and a lazy grasshopper who whiled away his time only to regret when winter came.

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iTheatre has put a refreshing spin on the story that at the same time doesn’t stray too far from the original.  They managed to draw out valuable lessons for children (and adults) to learn from. Lessons that are perfect for the start of the school year, as we found out when we caught the show over the weekend.

More than just a re-telling of the tale extolling the virtues of hard work and planning ahead, iTheatre’s version of The Ant and the Grasshopper was an engaging performance that brought home the lesson of how there is a time and place for everything. Most prominent was how there is a time for work, and a time for play.

Actually, at that point I thought they took all the words out of my mouth. It sounded like what I have been repeating to the boys, especially recently. Asher and I looked at each other at the same time, and it was like a moment of enlightenment. “Ooohh! It’s not just Mummy saying these things.” So spot on.  I hadn’t expected them to lay out the lessons so plainly, and it was perfect. Thank you iTheatre!

Ms Fizzbuzz, Ant, and Grasshopper (Photo credit: iTheatre)

They presented a balanced point of view though. I liked how even though Ant was so hardworking and shown to be more than prepared for winter, Ant acknowledged that she could also learn something from Grasshopper. There was value in slowing down and indulging in creative pursuits. I guess being in the arts industry, iTheatre can’t quite diss the pursuit of the arts can they?

The loggerheads

Ant and Grasshopper always at odds with each other (Photo credit: iTheatre)

Then there were the smaller lessons that were peppered throughout. The advice to listen to words of warning, rather than learning the hard way; that you can prepare for eventualities or events even if you haven’t encountered them before; that time passes more quickly than you think. The many parallels to our home life popped into my head immediately.

Nessa the caterpillar, Grasshopper, and Ant (Photo credit: iTheatre)

Nessa the caterpillar, Grasshopper, and Ant (Photo credit: iTheatre)

Most importantly, I think the message on being forgiving and compassionate came through. In the original tale, Grasshopper died lamenting his foolishness at not being better prepared for winter. The scene at the end is bleak. A grasshopper dying of hunger while watching the well-prepared ants sharing food amongst themselves. In this version of the tale, the Bees showed compassion and convinced their friend, Ant, to care for Grasshopper and not just stand by and say “I told you so”. Sure, she was right, but that didn’t mean she shouldn’t also have a heart to care for Grasshopper now that he was clearly in need. It’s a good message for the kids to be kind even to those they may not like, or who aren’t always kind to them in return. If someone is in need, we should step forward and help.

To help or not to help? (Photo credit: iTheatre)

To help or not to help? (Photo credit: iTheatre)

Besides Ant and Grasshopper, there were also two busy(body) Bees, a timid caterpillar, and one very fashion-minded ladybird. The kids loved Nessa, the caterpillar who was afraid of change. She was such an endearing character, and the lesson she learnt in the story was a good one for kids – that change can be good. Nessa was played perfectly by Safia Hanifah, who also took on the role of Ms Fizzbuzz. I loved how she gave Nessa and Ms FizzBuzz such distinct personalities and movements, to the point that a friend of mine didn’t realise the two roles were played by the same person!

Lady Coco, the over-the-top insect version of Lady Gaga, was also a hit. You will be added to her legion of fans once you meet her.

Lady Coco (Photo credit: iTheatre)

iTheatre has come up with a really good production. A wonderful set that showed the changing of the seasons, great costumes (I kept admiring the headpieces), an excellent cast, and a good storyline to boot. Those more critical may find that the morals of the show were put across too blatantly, but I thought that it was good for my kids, at least, because it caught their attention and made them remember it better.

Initially the boys were asking why we were watching the show when they already knew the story, but by the end of the show they were saying how much they enjoyed it!


Friends stick together in tough times (Photo credit: iTheatre)

The Ant and The Grasshopper is a 50 minutes musical is suitable for both young and old. Get your tickets here!

Ant and The Grasshopper
Date: 18 Feb to 19 March 2017
Venue: SOTA Drama Theatre, 1 Zubir Said Drive, Singapore 227968



iTheatre has generously offered a family packed of 4 tickets each to two readers of this blog!
The tickets are for 25 Feb, Saturday, 11am. Please make sure you are able to attend the show before taking part in this giveaway.

To take part in this giveaway please do the following by 23 Feb (today!) 2359:
1. Like iTheatre’s Facebook page
2. Leave a comment in the blog post telling me the title of your favourite Aesop’s Fable
3. BONUS: If you can tell me Lady Coco’s (the ladybird) full name, you will get an extra 2 entries. She mentions her name in the promotional video below (around 1:38).

Good luck!

Terms & Conditions: The winning entry will be selected at random from all qualifying entries and the winner will be announced here in the comments section of this post, and will be contacted via email.  The winner will have 24 hours to respond, failing which another winner will be selected. Tickets will be available for collection on the day itself at the performance venue.

This video is from the 2014 production.

Disclaimer: We were provided one family package of four tickets for the purchase of this review. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions are mine. 

Back during the September holidays, Asher had the privilege of attending a 3-day Astronaut Training Camp conducted by The Little Executive. I had let him decide if he wanted to attend the course, and upon hearing the words “astronaunt”, “space”, and “mission”, he was sold.

It was four days of space adventure and exploration for the kids. There were several missions to complete each day. Among the many missions, they had to identify and communicate with aliens, help lost aliens find each other, make astronaut food, make slime, and for the grand finale, plan, create and unveil their spaceship!

The learning goals for this camp were for the kids learn and practice communication skills, teamwork, problem solving, sharpen their sensory systems, and delve into their imagination, all while having fun!

Asher is generally the one-word-response kind of boy.

“How was your day?”


And even if I posed a more open ended questions on how his day went, his responses are usually quite brief. But at the end of each day at this camp, he would go on and on about what he did, what they were planning for the spaceship, how much fun he had, and that he couldn’t wait to come back again the next day. Definitely a score!



Each child had a Space Traveller Passport, and I liked how The Little Executive linked each day’s goals back to the theme. It made what they were doing relevant to their astronaut personas. So if one of the aims was to work on hand-eye coordination, the application was that astronauts depended heavily on such skills for repairing sensitive equipment, landing spacecraft and even seemingly simple tasks like treating wounds in a zero gravity environment. If there was an activity that worked on precision and accuracy, they linked it back to how astronauts needed to be extremely observant and make detailed, accurate reports about their missions because others depended on their reports to learn about the universe.


Asher’s Space Traveller Passport

Every passport needs a passport photo!

Every passport needs a passport photo!

One of the activities was a constellation track, which Asher really enjoyed. He had to guide his friends through a constellation of stars (the kids walked among silver cups) according to a pre-determined path, much like how mission control guides a team remotely. It’s fun for the kids, but really tests their ability to observe, translate from 2D to 3D space, and communicate their instructions clearly to others. Slime-making was a big hit too as you can imagine.

The constellation walk

The constellation walk


Slimmmyyy. Look at the expressions on the boys faces! Disgust of delight? :) (Photo credit: The Little Executive

Making astronaut food - freeze dried bananas

Making astronaut food (Photo credit: The Little Executive)

There was a special machine for freeze drying the bananas

There was a special machine for dehydrating the bananas! (Photo credit: The Little Executive)  

Exploring sensory bins with and without gloves to discover the differences in the experience (Photo credit: The Little Executive)

Exploring sensory bins with and without gloves to discover the differences 


However, the activity he talked about the most was the building of the spaceship. Asher has built things from cardboard and scrap materials at home before, but it’s usually individual work, and anything he wants, goes. For the camp spaceship building activity, I really liked hearing him say things like, “we discussed…”, “we agreed…”, “we voted…”, “we compromised…” And also, “so-and-so came up with this cool idea!”

I liked that building the spacecraft was a team activity. Every kid had his or her own ideas on what could be done, but it was clear from what Asher told me that the kids shared their ideas, and the rest of the crew (the kids) had a chance to chime in whether they thought it was good or not, and together they decided whether to adopt the idea in the end. He even told me what they would do if the decision wasn’t unanimous (which happens of course!) They also devised a way to divide the work, with each kid responsible for building a different part of the spacecraft, but with a common end-goal in mind. Kids sorting things out on their own, even if they only just met. I think that’s a great life skill to learn.

Working together

Working together to implement their ideas (Photo credit: The Little Executive)


It’s hard work building a spaceship (Photo credit: The Little Executive)

So at the unveiling of the spaceship, even though it was not a professional looking, slick kind of spacecraft, there was a lot of effort and teamwork put into it. And most importantly, if you asked the kids to tell you more, they could supply you with so many details about what each part was, what it was really made of (that’s not really cardboard, I mean, c’mon!), what it does, why they added it to the spaceship, etc. They definitely knew what they were doing when they added each and every part of the spaceship. I especially loved how they even made things that were on the inside of the spacecraft that couldn’t be seen from the outside. They did it not for show, but because it needed to be there. There was a purpose. You could also feel the kids’ sense of collective ownership. They knew who contributed ideas for which part, but it was their spaceship, because they decided on what went into it together, and worked together to build it.

Adding fuel to the engines

Adding fuel to the engines – one of the unseen details the kids included


The spaceship

To infinity and beyond! Part the of the spaceship the kids crafted.

From the activity sheets that Asher brought home at the end of the camp, I thought the activities were very novel and fun for the kids. The kids probably didn’t realise how much they were learning. It’s a case of more-than-meets-the-eye. For some of the activities, I can’t put my finger on it, on how it works, but it’s almost like it’s a process the kids have to go through in order to unlock something inside. Then something clicks, and they have it. I don’t know how. You gotta ask Michelle about it.

Doing some mission activities (Photo credit: The Little Executive)

Doing some mission activities (Photo credit: The Little Executive)

Actually, there are two Michelles at The Little Executive. Michelle Choy and Michelle Tham are co-founders of The Little Executive. Not only do they share the same first name, they share the same vision to better prepare children for life, not just school, in an arguably more uncertain future. They believe that children need three key things:

  1. Essential skills, in particular executive functioning skills which are like the “command and control” of the brain;
  2. Healthy learning habits that enable kids to think before they act
  3. A growth mindset that allows insight to emerge from failure, and resilience to be built from mistakes

These were really the reasons why I was interested to find out more about the holidays camps and courses at The Little Executive. I think it’s good for the kids to develop the three aspects of essential skills, healthy learning habits, and a growth mindset, from as early as possible. Not for any other reason than it’s just good for them. For living. For life.

In my own kids, I’ve seen how challenging things can be when there are gaps in these areas. I like how The Little Executives focuses not on imparting content knowledge, but really nurturing the process part of things. And it is a partnership with the parents, of course, as these things cannot be left to a class to solve alone.

So if you like the notion of your kids developing their essential skills and executive functioning, learning habits, and building a growth mindset, you will probably find the holiday camps at The Little Executive right up your alley. Not only is it a fun camp for the kids with many interesting activities, the camp equips them with skills that are transferable to other areas of their lives.

The Little Executives will be holding three holiday camps during the year-end holidays. One of them is an expanded version of the Astronaut Camp that Asher went for. It’s is now a 4-day camp, instead of just 3 days. Details of the three camps are listed below.

Slots are filling up fast, so if you are keen, you should sign up soon!

The Little Executives have generously offered readers of this blog a 15% discount on camp fees. Just quote “leisure15” when you sign up.


Calling all little astronauts! This December holidays, let us take your child on a mission to Outer Space. Through this unique 4-day camp, aspiring astronauts will hone their problem solving skills to complete Space Missions, enhance their teamwork and communication skills as they work together as a crew, and sharpen their sensory systems while exploring new territories.


Your mini paleontologist will embark on a dino-dig, unearthing ancient dinosaur fossils and working together as a team to reconstruct a dinosaur skeleton! They will trace how dinosaurs lived through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, while learning about evolution. The kids will need to harness their acute powers of observation to identify each bone and work collaboratively to put the pieces together. This project highlights inductive and deductive reasoning skills, sequencing and problem-solving abilities.


Get your little one all set for Primary school with our 4-day prep camp aimed at honing essential skills used daily in the classroom. Through a series of fun and engaging activities, your child will enhance his ability to listen and remember, pay attention in class, think and ask questions and communicate effectively.Join us for a P1 prep camp that will help your child grow to become an independent and confident learner!



The Little Executive also conducts regular classes using their research-based specialist-designed programme that aims to develop essential brain-based skills and cognitive processes that children need in order to succeed both in and out of the classroom. The Little Executive is running free trial classes every Saturday for their regular classes until 26 Nov 2016 for N2 to P1 kids.

Obtaining his astronaut certificate!

Obtaining his astronaut certificate!

Reach for the stars

Reach for the stars

Contact details are listed here:

The Little Executive
144 Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 229844

Disclaimer: The Little Executive sponsored the Astronaut Training Camp for my son for the purpose of a review. No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions are my own. 

Three Little Pigs Review

Three bickering siblings. Two boys and a girl. Three different sets of skills and talents. I can relate to that!

I brought my three little piglets to watch The Three Little Pigs by SRT’s The Little Company, and the story and it’s telling were just as engaging as I remembered. I had brought my eldest to watch it years ago. It was more than half of his lifetime ago, so he doesn’t remember much. But I remember loving the performance and thought it was wonderful to have the opportunity to bring all three kids to catch the production.

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Since it was first performed in 2012, The Little Company’s The Three Little Pigs has been staged all over the world! In New York, London, Sydney, Chicago, cities in Finland, and cities in China. Wow.

Having watched it previously, I can tell you that it’s still the high quality production that it was before. And like most, if not all, of The Little Company’s shows, there’s lots to love about this production.

Besides having the most adorable names (Cha, Siu and Bao! – from now on how can you eat a cha siu bao and not think of these piggies?), the characters are given memorable personalities as well. Cha the brawny one, Siu the environmentally conscious one, and Bao the bookish one. Who can forget the amusing cameos by various ‘convenient tradespersons’! So funny, because yes, really, in reading the book, isn’t it just so convenient that someone ambles along with enough material for the pigs to build a house? Especially the house of bricks! And the wolf! Who didn’t love the misunderstood wolf?  The cast dug into their roles and pulled off all their character’s quirks really well.

Bao, Siu, Mummy Pig, and Cha

The songs were great too – catchy tunes and catchy lyrics. We found ourselves humming the songs after the show and bopping as we walked. These songs will stick in your head for quite a while, I tell you. I also love, love, love how the wolf’s songs had a getai feel. It’s such a novel idea to use getai inspired music in a kid’s show. Ivan Chan gave a commendable performance as the wolf. If this is your first time watching the production, you’re definitely in for a treat. Having seen the first edition though, I do think I have a preference for Sebastian Tan’s version of the wolf, simply because he was so over-the-top flamboyant. It suited the getai-esque songs and the self-absorbed, self-pitying nature of the wolf.

The wolf who’s just a bit misunderstood

As with most of The Little Company’s children’s productions, there is a message they want the kids to learn from the story. For the Three Little Pigs, the kids went home with the knowledge that while everyone has different skills and talents, rather than let these differences divide us, we can pool our skills to accomplish shared dreams. In other words, we should work together because everyone has something to offer.

You can bet I’m going to milk this one. If one or the other says, “but s/he’s not good at [fill in the blank with some activity]”, I shall remind them of how they each bring a different perspective to things, and they each can help.

The other lesson I liked was that a “family sticks together”. Despite all the bickering, the piglets three loved and helped one another – and mum! I really hope that the kids learn to stick together through thick and thin. That at the end of the day, despite all the bickering, the kids will know that they can count on one another. That they can be themselves and still be loved for who they are. And that they can meaningfully contribute to the family using their own special gifts and talents.

Cleaning up their too-small home

Watch out wolf!

It’s still the September holidays, and with a public holiday on Monday, why not bring your kids to watch The Three Little Pigs? The show ends its run on 17 Sep, and there are still tickets available through the SISTIC website and hotline (63485555). It’s a show suitable for all the family!


Oink oink oink!


Disclaimer: We were given complimentary tickets for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own. 

Photo credit: All production pictures are from SRT.

It’s been a long time since I did an update on our food adventure! Got caught up with researching new recipes and well, eating!

Then June holidays happened.

And then Harry Potter happened (a story for another time).

And now it’s back to regular programming :)


So, moving on with our foodie journey. Just to recap, we were exploring Australian food. Having gone through a barbie and eating a traditional damper, I thought I’d have some fun and freak out the kids by suggesting we eat… Witchetty grubs! You can’t get more Australian than that!

It kind of happened by accident. I was searching around for Australian food, saw a picture of the grubs and was quite repulsed by it. But later on when I was getting something from BreadTalk, I saw some bread that really reminded me of grubs.

Does this…


…not look vaguely like this?

witchetty grub

Picture credit: CNN Travel

Or ok, maybe there’s a greater resemblance when there are more of them.


Picture credit: news.com.au

It does right? Right?

Anyway, I was so tickled by the resemblance, and more so by the thought of the kids being completely grossed out, that I had to buy some home to prank them.

I announced to them when they came back home that we were having witchetty grubs for dinner.

“What’s a grub?”

“It’s like a big fat worm or juicy caterpillar. And you eat it live.”

“WHAT? EEEWWWWW!! No I’m not eating it!!”

“But remember? We said the rule was at least two bites of everything!”

And I see the look of regret on Asher’s face. Priceless!


I showed them pictures of grubs, which elicited a whole range of sound effects from the boys. Then I uncovered the plate from afar, held it quite high so that they couldn’t quite get a good look of it, and as they leaned away in disgust, I put it on the table. There was a pause. And then, finally, they laugh with nervous relief and exclaim, “That’s just bread!”

Oh man. Moments like these remind you of how entertaining it can be to be a mummy.

The kids happily tucked into the “grubs” and joyfully declared how wonderful they were. To BreadTalk’s credit, the bread was really delicious! Even the youngest went, “Want more grubs!” It was hilarious to hear.

Apparently, the real deal is nutty-flavoured and is full of nutrients. But I’m pretty sure I’ll never quite pluck up the courage to try it for real.

Then again, never say never huh?

Loving 'grubs'!

Loving ‘grubs’!

Follow us as the adventure continues!

Nair Food Adventure

  1. The Beginning of Our Food Adventure
  2. Week 1 – Down Under: Barbie
  3. Week 1 Down Under: Damper

Romeo & Juliet

It was a first! The first time that the grandparents had all three kids over at their house for a sleepover. And it was their idea!

With the kids well taken care of, Jon and I were free to enjoy a night out at the park.

We attended SRT’s Romeo & Juliet at Fort Canning. This is SRT’s ninth production of Shakespeare in the Park, and this year’s coincides with the 400th death anniversary of William Shakespeare. 600x400 crop

Having gone for previous Shakespeare in the Park events, and being wowed by Merchant of Venice the last time, I had high expectations for this show.

The set was a modern maze of metal, and stained glass windows echoed the Catholic context in which this play takes place. There were no period costumes as everything was set in modern times.

I thought that the play had a muted start, but it got better and better, and by the end I can safely say it was a really good show. For me, these were the standouts, and the let downs.

There was definitely a whole lot of chemistry between Thomas Pang and Cheryl Tan. They seemed very natural with each other, and that made the attraction between their characters believable. This is probably the most important thing since the whole story revolves around them!

Thomas Pang, Cheryl Tan, Daniel Jenkins in SRT's Shakespeare in the Park - Romeo & Juliet

Romeo & Juliet being married. Palmer’s kiss? (Picture credit: SRT)

Mercutio was excellent. I liked how the character was played by Shane Mardjuki, and I thought it was very interesting how Mercutio was made to become an ominous symbol of foreboding. It was appropriately creepy, and brought a different element to the scenes he reappears in after his death. It was interesting to me that the Apothecary was played by the same actor too, as if Mercutio’s spirit was somehow involved in giving the poison to Romeo.

I had extremely high expectations of Remesh Panicker after his excellent! stupendous! wonderful! take on Shylock. In Romeo and Juliet, Capulet, the character he played, didn’t get as much air time at first. But when Capulet made more appearances, and more of Capulet’s personality was revealed, I was won over. Remesh Panicker is just. so. good. The sideways look, the little wave of the hand, the pause. I’m sure it’s all planned. And it was carried out to perfection.

David Gooderson, Brendon Fernandez, Remesh Panicker in SRT's Shakespeare in the Park - Romeo & Juliet

The Prince warning Capulet and Montague to stop all violence (Picture credit: SRT)

I liked the set too. The lighting could change to remind you of whether you were at the Capulet or Montague’s. It was versatile enough to show all the various scenes, including the iconic climb up the wall by Romeo :) A must! And for me, it was particularly significant seeing the same space being used as the bed where the young lovers spent the night together after their marriage, and later on as the space where they shared their love in death. Things you won’t get from the movie version.

As for what I liked less, I thought it was a strange choice of theme for the party scene. It seemed very out-of-place in the play’s entirety, and felt a bit like they were trying too hard to get the Asian thing in. I think that perhaps they were drawing on the extravagant and extremely kitsch costume party shown in Baz Luhrrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. In the movie it worked. Somehow on stage, without the whizzing camera effects and close-ups, it didn’t quite work so well.

Company in SRT's Shakespeare in the Park - Romeo & Juliet (2)

The strange Asian-mish-mash party (Picture credit: SRT)

I also felt that Juliet was a little too frivolous for my liking at first. She was just a bit too gushy, a bit too exuberant. I guess it really depends on how old you think Juliet is supposed to be. Some say that based on the text, Juliet isn’t even fourteen. In which case, I suppose a gushy, young Juliet could be accurate. I guess I’ve been conditioned to expect a certain kind of Juliet, so it’s really me who needs to break out of it I suppose. However, as the play progressed, I thought Cheryl Tan’s Juliet got better and more nuanced.

Cheryl Tan in SRT's Shakespeare in the Park - Romeo & JulietJuliet dreaming about her Romeo (Picture credit: SRT)

Overall, I loved how the old English text was brought to life in this play. I noticed the words a lot more than I did when watching the movie, and the comical parts stood out more. It was extremely impressive that the actors could remember so much text and spout old English so smoothly! Gosh. I was also reminded that this was truly the original Twilight. When I read Twilight I couldn’t believe how quickly Edward and Bella could fall in love. Well, Romeo and Juliet did it first, and they fell in love even more quickly! See, Shakespeare was wayyy ahead of his time. Romeo and Juliet is an amazing story that’s worth revisiting. When we left the park I was still playing the scenes over in my head, and thinking about the themes that were brought out in the play. I guess Shakespeare does that to you.

SRT’s Romeo & Juliet closes on 22 May, Sun. If you have no plans this weekend, I suggest you check out this performance. It will be an evening well spent!

Tickets are available at the SISTIC website.

That wasn’t the end of the barbie.

After the kids went to bed, I randomly googled a bit more about Australian food and read about damper. It’s a traditional Australian bread prepared by travellers as they went through the bush. The traditional recipe requires very few ingredients because the travellers would only have had basic rations with them on their long journeys. The basic ingredients are flour, water, and salt. As the camp fire died down, the damper was buried in the ashes of the fire and left there to cook.

I ran to check if the ashes from the barbie were still hot. They were!

Hurried to the kitchen. There was just enough flour.


My unbaked damper

Quickly mixed the ingredients together, kneaded the dough, flattened it, and with tongs in hand went back to the mini-pit. I made a small depression in the ashes and put the dough straight onto the bed of ashes in the traditional way, then covered it with more ashes and the remaining hot coals. Actually you can also use a dutch oven to cook the bread in the fire, but I thought why not do it as traditionally as we can since we’re at it.

Buried under the ashes

Buried under the ashes

It did cross my mind whether it was healthy to have ashes sticking to the dough, but I figured that this was a traditional method that has stood the test of time, plus many cultures cook food in the ground. So I crossed that thought out.

I went to shower and do other things. In fact, I almost fell asleep!

As I was nodding off I suddenly remembered my damper and ran to retrieve it from the ashes. It was cooked through, and had a hollow sound when tapped. That’s the test to know if your damper is cooked. The centre bit was burned from being cooked too long though.

Burnt in the middle!

Burnt in the middle!

I left it to cool on a rack and headed to bed, eager to tell the boys about it the next day.

The boys were so surprised to learn that you could cook bread from the hot ashes of a barbie. They gamely tried the bread and loved it! We had it with honey, jam, and butter. I loved the smokey flavour of the bread. Pity that I had left it too long and the middle part was inedible.

We agreed that this was definitely something we want to make again, and that we should try it at the next barbeque. Apparently you can even cook it on a stick like how you cook marshmallows. Some travellers got tired of waiting for the bread to cook in the ashes, so they wrapped a bit of dough around a stick and cooked it over the fire. They’d then fill the hole that was left in the bread with jam or honey and pop the whole thing into their mouths. Sounds delicious!

Ellery came home telling me how he told everybody in school about damper, how he had promised to bring some for them, and how I had to make it again. So he woke me up at 645am in the morning to make damper for his friends.

There are many modern versions of damper that use more ingredients and bake the bread in the oven. We made a damper using milk, but deliberately decided to keep it as simple as possible because we wanted it to be authentic, so left out the butter and cheese, etc. Ellery was even skeptical about using milk because he really liked the plain, traditional version.


Shaping the dough into a ball

Pressing down the dough in the pan.

Pressing down the dough in the pan.


Oven-baked damper

This modern damper was still good, and went well with butter and jam. Like a bushman’s scone I suppose! But the ash damper has an extra oomph that we all prefer.

I cut a hunk of bread for him to bring to school to share with his friends. You could see the look of satisfaction on his face at being able to share something he had baked himself :)



Traditional Damper

2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 tsp of salt
2 cups of water

Mix everything together. It will be a bit runny at first. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for a bit. Not necessary to knead for a long time (I saw one video where the lady didn’t even knead it). Shape the dough into a ball then flatten it. Make imprints all over it with your fingers. Make a clearing in the ashes, put the flattened dough straight onto it, then cover it with more hot ashes. Cook for about 40 minutes.

*The updated version we did was to substitute milk for water. There are many other versions you can find online, including adding herbs. I thought rubbing in butter would make it too much like scones though, rather than bread.

This video shows how to put the dough into the ashes.


Nair Food Adventure

  1. The Beginning of Our Food Adventure
  2. Week 1 – Down Under: Barbie