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Archive for the ‘craft’ Category


It’s Octoburst time!

Last year’s activities were so engaging that we went back again and again and again. The boys loved the hands on activities, the performances, and the book swop. Each time we went, we spent hours at the Esplanade, and even then I had to drag them away when it was time to go home. This year’s Octoburst promises another fun-filled, activity-packed programme to treat your kids this Children’s Day.

Held annually at the Esplanade, Octoburst provides a host of activities – free and ticketed – for children to explore a world of endless possibilities through the arts. This year there’s also a cute new, colourful mascot called PIP that will make its appearance at Octoburst.

PIP! Looks like a cuddly, colourful merlion to me (Image taken from here.)

Among the ticketed events, there’s a Sensory Walkabout where children will be guided to notice the textures around the Esplanade and use these as inspiration to create a whole new city.

Go on a sensory walkabout (Photo credit: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay)

There’s My Bright-Light Idea workshop where you and your child will transform a piece of cardboard into a brand new night-light that you can bring home.

An upcycled lamp (Photo credit: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay)

And if crafting is not your thing, join a ukelele workshop with your child and learn to play an instrument together. There are also several shows, including Casa by La Baracca Testoni Ragazzi, which tells the story of a grown-up and a child who meet, get to know each other and start to build. Building turns into play, and little by little, they build a story, a structure, a roof, a house. Sometimes the little one pretends to be the grown-up, while the grown-up pretends to be the little one.

Building with pipes (Photo credit: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay)

The one I’m definitely not missing is the Dance Appreciation Series: Introduction to Swan Lake by the Singapore Dance Theatre. I like this series of performances and think it’s great they present ballet in an accessible way to children. We’ve gone for Nutcracker, and the Introduction to Ballet Classics, but the boys’ favourite so far has got to be Romeo & Juliet! I’m hoping Swan Lake will be as good and they boys will thoroughly enjoy the show. It’ll also be Alyssa’s first ballet related show, so I really can’t wait!

Swan Lake (Photo credit: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay)

There’s actually one more show called Spot that plays with light and challenges your children to notice things they normally wouldn’t have, but’s sold out already. If you are interested in the other ticketed events, you should book your tickets quick.

Besides these, there are plenty of free activities! So many that you better take a look at the line up and plan your time if you hope to catch all the ones you are interested in! You can print out this festival guide to help you along. Some of the highlights include A Pipe-ful Play Garden by Playeum where you can grow your own little pocket garden and together with other kids, build a living and ever-growing pipe-maze! I think the kids will love this, and I’m hoping the haze will go away this weekend so we can head outdoors to try this activity.

There’s also Doodle City where the kids can add their own touches to doodles by the Band of Doolers, Book Stop where you can bring along a pre-loved children’s book to exchange for another book, Happy Stamping activity with over 200 stamps to choose from (and which kid doesn’t love stamping??), storytelling sessions, and the chance to let your kids watch an angklung performance by Sri Warisan Angklung Ensemble.

Stamps galore! (Photo credit: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay)

There’s lots going on, and there’s no better place to spend the Children’s Day weekend with your kids! See you there!

Octoburst is on from 9 to 11 Oct at Esplanade Theatres by the Bay. The activities take place at various locations around the Esplanade.

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At a Baby Bjorn event they gave out a canvas tote bag that I’ve found to be almost the perfect size. It fits all the things I need when I go out with Alyssa – diapers, changing mat, extra clothes, etc. It’s sturdy because there is no seam at the bottom. It’s made of a single piece of cloth that’s sewn together at the sides. That also makes it very light, which is great because some diaper bags feel quite heavy even before you put anything inside. The length of the straps are also just right. Long enough to slip off one strap past my elbow while the other is still on my shoulder, yet not so long that when you hold it in your hand the bag touches the floor.

But when we got caught in the rain in Malaysia I realised the one flaw of the bag was that it wasn’t waterproof. In Malaysia I had to stuff my bag into my Mum’s oil-cloth bag so that it would stay dry. I decided then and there that I would try to make a waterproof version of that tote.

Initially I was thinking of oil-cloth or vinyl-coated cotton, but Spotlight didn’t sell those. So I went for waterproof canvas that’s meant for outdoor furniture. There was a nice range of patterns and I was tempted to go for a bright red in a geometric print. In the end I decided to stick with the classic and easy-to-match black and white stripes. If it’s good enough for Coco, it’s good enough for me.

The waterproof canvas frays easily though, so instead of regular seams I sewed French seams. I love the clean finish!

I also didn’t anticipate having trouble making the gusset. I thought I could just hem up the bottom bit and everything would line up properly. Only as I was doing it did I realise the method I had planned out in my head was flawed. Thankfully I remembered seeing a pattern somewhere that had squares cut out at the bottom corners and tried that method. It worked! At first I didn’t realise they had to be squares though, and cut out a rectangle, only to discover that the seams did not line up. I then had to expand the cut-out into a larger square, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise because now the bag has a wider gusset and my things fit even more comfortably inside!

I’m so very pleased with my tote. I tried putting a couple of drops of water on the bag and they just rolled off. Perfect for the coming rainy season and for our upcoming holiday to Hong Kong. I don’t have to worry about Alyssa’s things getting soaked anymore!

Making square cut-outs at the bottom corner to make gussets

Making square cut-outs at the bottom corner to make gussets. Note that this is a single piece of cloth, folded in half before cutting out the squares.

Makes a practical, wide gusset. And I love how the stripes lined up perfectly just as I wanted!

Makes a practical, wide gusset. And I love how the stripes lined up perfectly just as I wanted!

My beautiful French seam, if I may say so myself haha! It's the first time I did it!

My beautiful French seam, if I may say so myself haha! It’s the first time I did it!

Looks neat on the outside too

Looks neat on the outside too. Except for the fraying, waterproof canvas is very easy to work with.

The finished product stuffed with all the baby things.

The finished product stuffed with all the baby things.

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My pet peeve about changing mats is that most, if not all, changing mats are folded wrong. The OCD part of me gets very grossed out by how changing mats are normally folded. It’s usually folded in thirds along the width with either:

(a) the part where baby’s head rests being folded to the middle where some poo/pee might be found, or

(b) the part that touched the butt (and the poop or pee) being folded up to the middle, and the part where the baby’s head rests being folded onto the exterior of the changing mat (which touched the changing table and picked up all the yucky yucky germs from all the hundreds of other babies!)

Why is it like that??

I’ve thought for a long time, since Asher was a baby, about making my own changing mat, and I finally got around to it. I couldn’t stand to wait any longer because I have been using this tiny changing mat that came with the diaper bag Thomson Medical Centre gives out. Not only is it folded the conventional way, Alyssa’s legs and arms are also sticking out. I cringe whenever I see her hands touching the changing table.

I spent quite a long time searching for the right materials. I was initially thinking of oil-cloth, vinyl-coated cotton, or PUL fabric but Spotlight didn’t carry those. In the end I went with waterproof canvas that’s meant for outdoor furniture for the exterior. I considered using that same fabric for the interior but decided I wanted vinyl as that would be easier to clean, but Spotlight didn’t sell that either. However, one of the staff members had a great idea to buy a cheap mattress protector and cut out what I need. To make the mat a little more cushy, I added a layer of flannel and ironed on some interfacing to give it a bit more struccture. Then I finished it off with black binding for a more polished look, and made straps with velcro to hold everything together when folded.

My raw materials

My raw materials

Voila! Here is my ‘Head-Butt’ Changing Mat. The head part folds to the head part, the butt part folds to the butt part. Never shall the twain meet. And big enough so that even if Alyssa flings her arms out, it’s still on the mat. Yeaaahhh. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

The exterior made of waterproof canvas

The exterior made of waterproof canvas

Fold lengthwise people, lengthwise!

Fold lengthwise, people, lengthwise!

Folded in half

Folded in half

Folded up!

Folded up!

Criss-cross stitching to reinforce the strap

Criss-cross stitching to reinforce the strap

It completely covers the changing table. I love it!

It completely covers the changing table. I love it!

I was going to print the words ‘Head’ and ‘Butt’ on the changing mat, but decided against it because it would look tacky if the words started to peel off. The strap side is the head side.

The perfect changing mat, in my opinion :)

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My boys really love playing dress up and role-playing. I have box full of random pieces that they regularly play with – clothes I don’t want to wear anymore, extra caps, scraps of cloth from costumes made during my schooling days, scarves, and other such things.

There are also a few pieces that I specially made for them to play out specific characters. Last year I made a Darth Vader and Yoda costume for the boys (need to go dig up those pictures!) that they still play with even today. The same cape and head piece has been used to turn them into Darth Vadar, Darth Sidious, and even Magneto.

With their new found liking for Marvel superheros, Ellery specially asked for a Captain America shield. I had some cardboard lying around so we made one! He was so happy :)

wpid-wp-1411233406145.jpeg

Waiting for the paint to dry. Mighty pleased that I painted that star free hand!

Mr Captain America

Mr Captain America

Ellery also had a bit of a How to Train Your Dragon craze and wanted dragon wings. That was quite easy so I fashioned out a pair in under 10 minutes. He loves wearing the wings with a stripey tail we bought from Australia that surprisingly became such a well-loved plaything.

Wings on!

Wings on!

Super happy dragon

Super happy dragon

Just a few days ago the boys suddenly decided to be pirates, and there they are all decked out in pirate gear. The swords they received at Jo Claire’s party, Ellery’s headscarf from another event, Asher’s headscarf an old singlet of mine, and their bling was from Jon’s university orientation performance that I’ve kept all this while that made for perfect pirate jewellery.

Arrrrggghhh

Arrrrggghhh

I wonder who they’ll decide to be next! One thing is for sure, before you throw out stuff, think about whether it’ll be a good item to add to your kid’s dress up box. It might just find a new lease of life there.

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Road to Easter

I was looking for something to do in the lead up to Easter to make the occasion memorable and meaningful for the boys.  I stumbled upon this e-book called A Sense of the Resurrection by Amanda White that provides a guide for activities leading up to Easter.  There are 12 days of activities that you can do consecutively or spread out over a longer period.  I found it almost exactly 12 days before Easter, so I started immediately and have been doing one activity everyday with the boys.

A Sense of the Resurrection

I like that the activities are short and simple, and that you end up leaving reminders around the house so that Easter and Jesus’ love and sacrifice are never far from your mind.  For example, they decorated glass bottles and filled it with essential oils.  Every time we smelled the scent we would remember how Jesus died for us.  And they made chimes from yoghurt containers.  Each time they heard the containers rattling, they’d say, “Hosanna!”

Each day there is a theme, a reading list taken from the Bible, a craft activity, and a colouring sheet which can be assembled together with colouring sheets from other days to make an Easter bunting.  For the reading list, I usually just find the equivalent story in the kid’s picture Bible so that it’s more engaging for them.

The kids have been enjoying the daily Easter activities, and I’m so happy to see that they are learning little nuggets about Easter that they didn’t know about before.  Each activity is not very deep or complex, but there is always a simple key message for the kids to remember, and they have!  Hopefully it will not just be head knowledge, but something they will learn to internalise over time.

There are still a few days to go before Easter.  You could always check out the e-book to extract parts you think are suitable for the remaining few days.

Easter 1

Easter 2

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The Party

We held the party at Temasek Club’s De Happy Ark.  We had gone there for my nephew Adam’s first birthday and thought it was a good location for a kids party.  There’s a very decent indoor playground, a party room for food, and a kids pool just outside.  Asher really enjoyed himself then and asked for his party to be held there.  It has the added convenience of being really close to our house.

Got there earlier to set up the banner and the various activity stations.  Had made Asher and Ellery take a nap before the party so that they’d not get cranky halfway.  It was a miracle that Asher napped.  He hadn’t been napping well, if at all, for the previous few weeks, and immediately after his party day he continued his poor napping habits.  It was only on that day alone that he napped on time.  I had been prepping him the whole week but was still skeptical that he would actually do it.

Banner up!

Banner up!

Craft station to make wooden and paper planes

Craft station to make wooden and paper planes

Wooden plan was Del's idea.  Cute huh?

Wooden plan was Del’s idea. Cute huh?

Anya was the only one who tried all the stations I think!

Think Anya was the only one who tried all the stations!

Jane making a plane with Kaizer

Jane making a plane with Kaizer

Dawn & Austin.  Austin does some great colouring!

Dawn & Austin. Austin does some great colouring!

I think the kids had fun running around the playground and playing with the riding toys.  After I put up the pinata, the boys were the ones who naturally gravitated towards it and knew instinctively what to do with it.  I had to stop them and tell them to wait for the actual  game in case my pinata burst before the game began!  I wasn’t sure yet how strong the pinata was.

Joanie going for a ride

Joanie going for a ride

The sign says "Please do not climb" haha

The sign says “Please do not climb” haha :)

Del & Adam

Del & Adam

Daddy corner

Daddy corner

My brother & my cousin Lincoln!

My brother & my cousin Lincoln!

Family shot!  One extra child - Josiah! :)  He was such a good boy to hold Lincoln so well though.  Ellery looks like he's been caught red-handed irritating his cousin (although in his defence, Adam was already crying :) )

Family shot! One extra child – Josiah! :) He was such a good boy to hold Lincoln so well. Ellery looks like he’s been caught red-handed irritating his cousin (although in his defence, Adam was already crying :) )

The string turned out to be the weak link.  I hadn’t tied it securely enough around the pinata before paper marche-ing over it.  Josiah had given such a powerful hit that the pinata came right off the string after the second hit!  We ended up tying it by the tail.  In the end the pinata was quite strong and Jon needed to help give it a good whack before it broke open.  I had only done 2 layers of paper marche and it felt quite thin.  Was surprised it was as strong as it was.  Starch is quite surprising.

Josiah's powerful whack!

Josiah’s powerful whack!

Asher's giving it his best shot

Asher’s giving it his best shot

It was fun to see the kids rush for the goodies.  I was particularly impressed with Kaizer because he went for the choicest pick of the toys.  He has some allergies so he knew he couldn’t eat the wafers and jellies, so he focused on the toys and got a pretty good selection of stuff :)  Most of the other kids went for the snacks.

Cheong ah!

Cheong ah!

Divvying the spoils

Divvying the spoils

Airplane hat anyone?

Airplane hat anyone?

Tearing it up after

Tearing it up after

Ellery was easily content.  He found one jelly and asked to eat it.  He then spent the next 15-20 minutes sucking on it!  He couldn’t get the bottom bit out but kept on trying anyway.  When it comes to food that boy sure is persistent.

Slurrrppp

Slurrrppp

Enjoying their treats

Enjoying their treats

Asher was mightly pleased with the cake.  Thankfully most of the guests said the cake tasted ok.  I was a little worried it wouldn’t taste good!  That’s the risk with making your own cake and trying a new recipe all at the same time!

Added the wafer bits to add some interest to the cake.  Not sure it was a good idea though.

Added the wafer bits to add some interest to the cake. Not sure it was a good idea though.

Happy Birthday to Asher!

Happy Birthday to Asher!

Happy brothers :)

Happy brothers :)

Most of the kids

Most of the kids

Eyeing Joanie's cake

Eyeing Joanie’s cake

After more playing we eventually moved outdoors for some swimming.  The weather was fine and I was glad the kids could have some outdoor time.  Most of them were very happy sliding down a slope at the pool.  But Asher and Jo Claire had their own plans.  It almost seemed as if they were on some romantic date.  They’d swim together, follow each other around.  At one point Asher asked, “shall we go to the deep end together?” Haha!  It was very cute :)

Martinna with Evan, Jonathan, and Titus who liked hanging out with the other two

Martinna with Evan, Jonathan, and Titus who liked hanging out with the other two

Titus would wait for Jonathan before sliding down

Titus would wait for Jonathan before sliding down

At first...

At first…

...then...

…then…

...and

…and then

Splashing good time

Splashing good time

Overall, a good party and Asher was one happy kid!

IMG_9110

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Oh how I love my little boy.

Still as active as he was in the belly.  Still as chatty as ever (if not more so).  Still quite emo.  Still has one of the most infectious laughs and smiles anywhere.  He’s grown so much this year, and surprisingly matured more in the last few weeks (a lot to do with his change of school too I think, more on this in another post).

But he has grown.  And he’s still my little boy :)

My big little boy who still likes to cuddle with Mummy, who likes to wrestle with Daddy and his brother, who is so curious, who can be such a home-body sometimes, who loves military things just like his Gong Gong, who very often still pretends to be a dinosaur to the amusement/annoyance of those around him, and he’s still oblivious to their opinion.  Still innocent that way.

Just four.

Yes there are many things one could say about how four-year old kids are big, grown up little people.  But for today, I’m remembering and cherishing Asher’s smallness, youngness, pureness – childness.

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The Preparation

We settled on a plane theme this year because he’s been going on and on and on and on about planes, in particular the B2 stealth bomber, ever since my father introduced it to him.  He’s also into Transformers and in recent months more into the Decepticons, who tend to be planes, rather than the Autobots.  So it was quite a no brainer.

The things we prepared this year were a B2 stealth bomber T-shirt (made from scrap black fabric and a faded Transformers T-shirt), a Starscream plane pinata to knock out of the sky, and a B2 stealth bomber cake.  There was much less work than for last year’s dinosaur themed party because I didn’t include any cookies in the goody bag, so there was much less baking involved.

Bumblebee had faded away. B2 takes over!

B2 bomber boy

Most of the preparations were done at night after everyone else had gone to sleep.  But I did try to involve Asher where I could.  I think its a little more personal, meaningful and fun when he helps out.  Then it’s not just me pottering about and gearing up for party day.  It helps build some excitement.  And I’d like to think Asher would feel good that he had a hand in things.

Mixing the water and flour

Cutting strips of newspaper (classifieds are perfect for this)

The pinata was my biggest endeavour.  And way fun!  I remember playing with a pinata when I was maybe six at a family friend’s house.  They were Mexican and the pinata was a standard at their parties.  I remember clearly that first time how much fun it was and since Asher was born was waiting for a time when he’d be old enough to play with a pinata at one of his parties.  The time had come!

We used a balloon we received from a birthday party we attended 2 weeks before as the core.  We made the paper marche glue together.  Asher attempted to stick some of the newspapers, but he found it much to sticky for his liking.  Reminded me of when he was a baby playing with some sticky dough.  In the end, to my great great great great (times infinity) surprise, Jon stepped in to help!  Shock!  I would never ever expect that he would ever help in any of our craft activities, cos…he’s Jon!  But he did!  And he said it was fun!  And he then told me about how he used to play with paper marche very often as a kid, using it to make houses and other stuff.  I. Did. Not. Know. That.  Maybe it’s hard for you to comprehend my shock.  But if you know him and what he normally does on a day to day basis, you’d be as shocked as I.

Of course I lavished him with praise.  Positive reinforcement right?

Jon amazing me with his paper marche savvy

Over the course of the next few days I worked on the frame and decoration of the pinata while watching too much rubbish TV.  I was pleased with the result though!  Kids are the perfect excuse to do all kinds of craft you wish you did when you were younger :)  It was a good example of recycling too.  Asher likes to ask to recycle all sorts of scraps, so it was nice to show him what you could do with the scraps.

Frame made with cereal boxes and a KFC brouchure :)

Asher was excited to see the pinata coming along, and eager helped with stuffing goodies into it.  Also  squeezed a spelling activity out of the banner making.  Had to help him quite a bit though.  “Happy Birthday” is quite long and not all of it easy to sound out.

Stuffing the pinata with balloons, which turned out to be impossible to blow up. Hadn’t thought of the practicality of it when I bought it, just thought it was a nice colourful addition to the loot :)

Decepticon logo for Starscream

Filled and ready to be whacked

Helping with the banner

Pleased as punch to be turning four

The last big thing was to do the cake.  This we did one day before the party.  Asher had given specific instructions several weeks ago though.  He wanted a B2 stealth bomber cake.  The inside would not be chocolate, it would be plain cake (“vanilla?”, “yes, vanilla”).  The outside would be covered in chocolate.

Thankfully the B2 is quite an easy shape to replicate.  It’s flatish, and has a simple zigzaggy pattern.

(Source: http://www.airforce-technology.com/projects/b2/b21.html)

Well, at least it looked easy.  I had baked two rectangle trays of simple vanilla sponge cake, and the general idea was that it would have to be cut in a triangularish shape, then with the scraps piece together the rest of the wing and the tops.  I spent longer than expected mulling over how to maximize the amount of cake while still making sure there was enough cut out to make the rest of the plane.  And there was no room for error cos we had to deliver that cake that night!  Thankfully in the end the dimensions were fairly passable.

Assembling the cake

After adding the ganache

There was a little piranha next to me throughout the assembly process though.  Whenever there was a little scrap I didn’t need, it would suddenly disappear in a flash.  I suppose that way I had less crumbs to clean up.

ummm yummm yummm

All that was left were the party packs.  We went old school with the stuff.  Besides some very cool (well, I think it’s cool anyway) gummies I found on Amazon.com, which had among the various designs Asher’s favourite B2, we stuffed the bags with snacks that kids’ parents would have eaten when they were kids.

Airplane gummies.  Check out the B2!

Old school party pack – colourful round wafer, coklat krim wafer, white rabbit, parachute men, airplane gliders, and the gummies

Newspaper goody bags – I always feel party bags are such a waste cos we usually just throw them away! Of course, the proper bags are much hardier and nicer looking :)

We were all set for the party!  More in the next post!

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