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Archive for September, 2015

I’ve been wanting to bring the kids to the DreamsWorks Animation and The Deep exhibitions at the Art Science Museum for a long time. We tried during the National Day weekend when the entrance fee was waived, but the queue was so ridiculous there was really no point. I had to humbly concede my husband was right (he was against the idea of going down during the busy weekend, but let me try anyway).

Hubby had said he wanted to go for the exibitions, so we waited for him for more than a month. But since the DreamWorks exhibition is ending on Sunday, and since he’s gone on holiday with the friends without us, we decided to go without him! Wahaha!

If you haven’t gone for the exhibition, go!

I have two good reasons for you. First, both exhibitions are so interesting and one ends this Sunday! Second, it’s a great place to hide from the haze!

Penguins from the show Madagascar

Penguins from the show Madagascar

The day we went, the PSI soared above 300. We were happily oblivious to it all since we were wandering about below the concrete lotus.

It makes sense to go for both exhibitions because the price for the DreamWorks exhibition alone is $15 (for local adults) and $10 (for local kids), while the price for both DreamWorks and The Deep is $19.50 and $13.50 respectively. If you, like us, were already planning to catch both exhibitions, this is a good deal provided you have the time to spare. It even comes with a free beverage coupon per ticket, and free tickets to the Singapore Stories exhibition.

Staring in awe at a life-sized model of Toothless

Staring in awe at a life-sized model of Toothless

When I told the boys where we were going that day, they were so excited. Catching a glimpse of Toothless from the foyer above made them literally jump for joy, and they couldn’t wait to go see the model.

By the time we got the tickets it was about 10.30am. The kids usually get hungry between 11 to 11.30am. Knowing we usually take a very long time to get through exhibitions, and having two exhibitions on the same day, I decided that even though the crowd was building up, we should go get some food to fuel the kids. That way, when people headed off for lunch, we could continue to enjoy the place. That’s probably the best tip I can give any parent handling the kids on their own while on an outing there. Bring enough food along. Sometimes it’s worth the detour and delay.

We got sandwiches, bread and bananas from Cold Storage at the basement of MBS, then went back into the museum. True enough, just as we were going to go into the exhibition, Ellery said he was hungry. Score! I felt so pleased with myself.

The Art Science Museum has these lovely big benches outside the exhibition spaces, and it’s perfect as a rest stop. Ellery ate his sandwich, Asher ate a banana, and as I was getting hungry too, I ate my sandwich as well, sharing some with Alyssa. Hungry kids are not happy kids. And happy kids make a happy mummy. So it was time well spent!

Finally all fuelled up and ready to go, we jumped into the DreamWorks Animation exhibition. We have only watched a few DreamWorks cartoons, but the ones we have watched, we love. In particular, the boys are gaga over How to Train Your Dragon. Recently I found a book called How to Train Your Dragon: Incomplete Book of Dragons by Cressida Cowell, the creator of the How to Train Your Dragon Series that served as the inspiration for the movie. The boys have been talking about all kinds different types dragons mentioned in the book and which ones they want as pets. It’s times like those that make me very glad they both enjoy reading, so they can keep up with each other and have someone to talk to about the craze of the moment. They’ve long gone past the stage where I can keep up with their books, so I’m glad they have each other.

The exhibition brings you through the broad stages of creating an animated film. From imagining the character and his traits, developing the world the character lives in and where the story takes place, to story boarding and the animation itself. It was fascinating to see what some famous characters, like Shrek, looked like in the initial stages of development.

The Shrek & Donkey we are familiar with

The Shrek & Donkey we are familiar with. Come to think of it, it would probably have been more interesting to have taken a picture of an early-stage Shrek. Didn’t think of it while I was there – you’ll just have to go see it yourself!

It was also interesting to learn that the main characters from Madagascar were created based on a different shapes.

Shapes and characters

Shapes and characters

I liked how there were videos of the creators talking about the films and their development. For How to Train Your Dragon, they adapted the story to make it more suited to a cinematic experience. They created greater tension between the villagers of Berk and the dragons by starting the movie on the context of a war between the humans and the evil dragons. In the original story, everyone has a pet dragon. I liked that the boys understood how the movies may not follow the book exactly, and later on in the car, they were telling me what they liked more from the show and what they liked from the book.

Comparing the number of story boards needed for each film

Comparing the number of story boards needed for each film

I was so excited to see the actual set/prop used for Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit. I love Wallace and Gromit!

Cheeese! *waves hands in air*

Gromit

Gromit among the veggies

There were props and scale models of the sets used in the various films, and I loved looking at how detailed everything was.

Isle of Berk

Isle of Berk

Right down to the little sheep you see appear in the show

Right down to the little sheep you see appear in the show

Far Far Away

Far Far Away

The best thing about the DreamWorks Animation exhibition is that it’s very interactive. The boys enjoyed manipulating the facial features of the Hiccup, and controlling the background lighting for The Croods. Its fascinating to see all the parameters you can choose to control the characters face. Even different parts of the eyebrow were controlled with a different set of parameters. It then dawns upon you just how much time and effort is needed to make the films that we watch. All the expressions, every single one of those quick moments was created painstakingly by someone in the studio. Much less painstaking than it must have been way back when animation first began, but with technology they take everything further and even control things like how much light from fireworks you want reflecting off the character’s skin!

Manipulating facial features

Manipulating facial features

The kids loved the ‘ride’ on Toothless’ back, and it was Ellery’s favourite activity. Sitting in front of a very wide, curved screen, you can imagine sitting on Toothless and flying over Berk. Make sure you sit nearer the screen so that the two ends of the screen are beyond your field of vision. That really helps to immerse you in the experience. Each film was only 3 minutes, and we watched it several times until the kids were satisfied :)

Riding on Toothless!

Riding on Toothless!

Asher’s favourite bit was having a go at animation. There was a room with 5 to 6 animation stations set up. You could create your very own animation from any drawing you wanted. Asher created an animation of toothless bending and flying over another giant dragon, nearly getting eaten in the process. Ellery’s animation showed dragon #1 (there was a name but it was so long I don’t remember ;) ) happily frothing up the sea water when suddenly another dragon (with a name that I also don’t remember) leapt up to eat it.

This was where our eat-before-the-exhibition tactic worked to our advantage. We got to the animation room around noon when most of the crowd had left. The boys still had to wait while others finished up their animation, but there weren’t that many people. When they got their turn they could draw more and create more images to make a longer animation sequence. Later as more and more people came, and with the stares and frowns from hovering parents, everyone had to have a shorter turn.

SONY DSC

Using the animation station

Ellery

Ellery’s dragon

We popped in to ‘ride’ on Toothless one more time before heading out to the common corridor for a quick lunch break before going to The Deep.

Toothless browsing some books

Toothless browsing some books

Lunch!

A quick lunch

Read more on our experience at The Deep soon!

 

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Sometimes we experience physical discomfort for good reason.

Yesterday night I was reminded of this. I had gone for my weekly aerial circus class (my once a week escape for some me-time), and we did so many spins that I had a splitting headache and a nauseous feeling that wouldn’t go away. Usually I do a spot of grocery shopping after class, and this week was supposed to be no different. In fact, I had a longer list than usual to fulfil. However, when I walked into NTUC, my head spun even more with the bright lights and music and general background noise. I wasn’t even very steady when I walked. My aerial instructor had suggested mints, so I stumbled over to the sweet section, struggled to make sense of the colours and words, and finally picked a pack of mints before stumbling to the cashier.

I contemplated for a moment whether to press on with the grocery shopping or not, but in the end decided I simply couldn’t do it and wanted to go back home quickly to rest.

The mints helped, and I was feeling a bit better as I walked to the car. Started the car, and turned out of the lot. As I did so, I heard an ominous noise.

GUNG GUNK!

What was that?!?! It sounded like something came loose from under the car. I decided to quickly head home anyway since the car seem to be driving fine.

5 minutes later, there suddenly flashed at me a warning sign that made me panic for an instant!

“STOP the car NOW”

At the same time I saw the needle for the engine temperature soaring up to the highest reading and beyond.

Telling myself to keep calm and not panic, I moved slowly to the side, switched off the engine and waited. Would the problem go away? I tried starting the car again. The temperature seemed ok. I moved off.

“STOP the car NOW”

Ok…Is the car going to catch fire? I better stop again.

5 minutes later I tried one last time. Maybe I could be third time lucky.

“STOP the car NOW”

Okokok. Time to call for roadside assistance. Called them, established that it was probably the radiator or one of the pipes leading to it that burst. I had to wait for the tow truck. It would come in 1 hour.

Great.

Then…I realised why I had my headache. Can you imagine if I had gone ahead with purchasing all my stuff, the dairy food, meat, fish, would all be spoiling in the heat. I’d also have a problem carting those, and some other things from the car since I had to remove some things before the car got towed away.

As I walked home, I still felt extremely tired from the class, but I realised that my headache had gone. Yes, sometimes we have discomfort and pain for a reason. I thank God for my headache.

And I also thank God that it wasn’t hazy last night.

Getting hooked up to the tow truck

Getting hooked up to the tow truck

On a funny note, I was asking the tow truck driver if my car would have caught fire had I kept on driving. He said no, it doesn’t usually happen when cars overheat. I then asked how come in the news we see the sports car catching fire. Then he said, “你的车没有这个本领!”

Evidently, my car doesn’t have the kind of engine that’s so powerful it’ll catch fire. Good to know.

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I don’t know about you, but my family loves Japanese food. Asher, especially, could eat it day after day. In fact, for his recent school show-and-tell on the topic “My Favourite Food”, he chose sushi!

The boys like picking plates off the conveyor belt, but you know how quickly that adds up right? So you can imagine my delight to find a place where all plates are $1.60. I thought to myself, even if the sushi is smaller than usual, at the rate the kids eat, it is still worth it.

2015-07-26 13.40.31

So I made plans to bring the family to Nihon Mura Express at Kallang Leisure Park.

2015-07-26 13.40.16

I’m no food expert, and I’m generally not picky with my food, but I really do think that the quality of the sushi at Nihon Mura Express was pretty good. I mean, probably not the high-end restaurant standard, but good enough for a regular meal, even a treat! I was pleasantly surprised to find that even though the amount of sushi rice per sushi was less than usual, the size of the fish on top was the standard size! That was great! We could try more flavours before getting stuffed! I suppose that is their plan too anyway, but it’s win-win.

Unlike regular conveyor belt sushi places where all the items are placed on the belt with no order whatsoever, here, the food comes in groups. What I mean is, all the appetisers will come first, then all the sashimi, then all the different types of sushi in their groups (gunkan, rolls, etc), then all the desserts. Initially I was wondering why they did that because then you’d have to wait for your group to come. But later on we realised that made things very predictable. You could eat what’s on the table first, and when the category you wanted came by you just look for the exact item you want.

I also liked how they kept the conveyor belt neat by having regular intervals of “stack me up” plates for the covers to be piled on. This probably makes it easier for them to pick up the covers for washing too.

At $1.60 a plate, the boys happily picked whatever they wanted (observing the rule that they had to finish whatever they picked), and I ordered all the sashimi I wanted. I’m sorry there are no pictures of food. We were all too engrossed with eating!

So engrossed that we ended up with 36 plates!

YUM!

YUM!

As we left, guess what I saw? A birthday offer. And oh my, what an offer. Basically, on the day of your birthday, and plus-minus one day (that’s three days in all), you only have to pay $1 per plate up to your age! My birthday wasn’t far away so I made a note to come back then.
2015-07-26 13.40.26

And we did! This time without Jon, but we still made it to 28 plates. And I paid a grand total of $28 plus tax on it!

The cashier told me of how the week before, there was a family of six that came three days in a row to celebrate their grandmother’s birthday. She had turned 82. They could only make it to 66 plates at the most, but what a deal. Three days in a row is a bit much, but hey, I guess they really love sushi. Or a really good deal.

I don’t know when the deal ends, but if you or your kids like sushi, and there’s a birthday round the corner, maybe you could consider going there.

The place isn’t that well known I think, so there aren’t any crowds to contend with. Parking is ample too. Perfect!

Nihon Mura Express
Kallang Leisure Park
5 Stadium Walk, #03-03
Tel: 6241-4260

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This is not a sponsored post. It’s just a good deal I wanted to share!

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