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Archive for the ‘local excursions’ Category

There is one perk of being in the afternoon session I suppose – morning outings.

We managed to have a quick outing to East Coast Park before lunch on Wednesday, and it was a lovely time outdoors with good weather and exercise. I read in Asher’s P1 health pamphlet that kids should be outdoors 1 hour per day. That’s tough to achieve, honestly. So at least for that morning we managed to hit the outdoor quota! These past few days it has simply been too scorching in the afternoon to go outdoors. So I was grateful for the morning we had.

Great day to be out! Alyssa looking melted

Great day to be out! Alyssa was starting to melt though :)

Home for a good lunch, hurry to change, then off to school! Morning outings still mean a mad rush to be on time for school.

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We happened to be meeting my parents for dinner, and as the rain had stopped we decided to go and check out the Gardens by the Bay Christmas Wonderland event. I had heard that there was a Christmas market and was very keen to go. I loved all the Christmas markets in Europe when we were staying in London, and hoped to relive some of that at Gardens by the Bay. And I suppose it’s as close as it gets. Because of the rain, the air was very cool, almost cold. And with all the beautiful light sculptures and market stalls, it did feel like we could be in a cold country somewhere.

Beautiful light sculptures

Beautiful light sculptures

Family photo (and my kids have laser eyes)

Family photo (and my kids have laser eyes)

2014-12-19 20.28.39 The light sculptures made it seem like there were ornate buildings completely decorated with lights. I wished there was mulled wine, because that was one of the things I completely loved when we were in Europe during Christmas time. The drink somehow makes everything feel much more Christmassy. But there were only regular wine stalls, no mulled wine. I have tried making mulled wine in Singapore before, but it’s best drunk in cool weather.

Boys were so happy to go on a train ride

Boys were so happy to go on a train ride

It was as close to ‘magical’ as you can get when there was fake snow drifting through the air at the Spalliera, a lighted sculpture that formed a ring around a grassy patch (or what was once a grassy patch – hope the grass grows back!). I loved it. The cool weather, the ‘snow’, seeing the kids so happy, Jon, my parents. What more could you wish for? (well, except maybe a glass of mulled wine!)

So happy to see the 'snow'

So happy to see the ‘snow’

Trying to reach for the 'snow'

Trying to reach for the ‘snow’

Inside the snowy ring

Inside the snowy ring

Christmas Wonderland goes on until 1st Jan 2015, but the Christmas markets have ended their run. Gardens by the Bay people, if you are reading this, next year please get someone to sell mulled wine please!!

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After we came back from Hong Kong (posts on this coming up eventually…) Ellery kept asking to play with sand. So we headed to East Coast Park one Saturday evening to make good on our promise to him. It’s been a long time since we just relaxed by the beach like that, and it was Alyssa’s first time at the beach too. A gorgeous, windy day, we had a nice time playing before joining some friends for dinner.

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After a morning with the grandparents at Botanic Gardens, the kids and I spent an entire afternoon at the Esplanade enjoying the various Octoburst offerings. There were so many things to do, and as it was, we only did a fraction of what was available.

First, Asher and I caught Something Very Far Away by Unicorn Theatre while Ellery had a nap.

As Ellery was still napping when we came out, Asher went to check out Book Stop, a book swop event. I’ve never actually been for a book swop before, so even I was excited to see what was available and what treasures we might find. In the end he settled on The Fish Who Could Wish, a funny book about a fish who can wish anything and have it come true, but he made one very bad wish that ended all that. Ellery now keeps asking to go for the book swop too so that he can exchange his book for another. So we might have to go down again…

Checking out the books at the book swop

Checking out the books at the book swop

The sticker reads "I swopped this book at Octoburst"

The sticker reads “I swopped this book at Octoburst”

We then went for Dance Appreciation Series: Introduction to Classical Ballet by SDT. I’m not kidding when I say I must have seen a hundred Elsas that day. There were even families with more than one Elsa in them! Gosh. Poor Anna. She’s the real protagonist, I think, just that her sister has the prettier dress and the headline song.

After that the boys then wrote a postcard each at Octopost to a secret someone and posted their postcards in specially designed letterboxes with birds’ heads sticking out. It was a colourful and attractive set-up, and the boys carefully looked at all the birds before deciding which to give their postcard to. I can’t wait for that secret someone to receive the postcards!

Not just pigeon holes. Ostrich, owl, peacock, toucan, flamingo, etc., holes!

Not just pigeon holes. Ostrich, owl, peacock, toucan, flamingo, etc., holes!

Ellery was going to give his postcard to Luciel (this yellow bird), but after I snapped this changed his mind and gave it to Sam

Ellery was going to give his postcard to Luciel (this yellow bird), but after I snapped this changed his mind and gave it to Sam on the right

In the concourse was also this eye-catching installation by Tiffany Singh called Revision of the Optics. I loved how the artwork captured both the sense of sight and smell. The vibrant colours were perfect for a children’s festival, and the scents that drifted past your nose, especially the smells of lavender and dried chilli, added another dimension to the work. I think there was supposed to be the element of sound from the tinkling of bells that hung from the ribbons, but as the air was still there was no tinkling.

Eye-catching installtion that filled up the space above and below

Eye-catching installtion that filled up the space above and below

Beautiful rainbow colours

Beautiful rainbow colours

The boys were getting hungry so we started to head for Gluttons Bay, but stopped by the giant Snakes and Ladders for a while. In theory the children will take turns to roll the dice and move on the board. In practice, it’s who is the most assertive that will get the dice. I suppose it’s like that everywhere though huh? Unfortunately for Ellery, he kept missing his turn and got quite upset about it. I tried to encourage him to speak up for himself, but instead he gave up playing altogether. I was quite disappointed, and I couldn’t coax him to go back into the game. Instead he wanted to move on to aMaze Me. I guess there could have been another dice perhaps. But at the same time, it’s good for children to learn to either take turns, or to speak up for themselves.

Snakes & Ladders

Snakes & Ladders

Happily, we bumped into Del and Anya there and we decided to head for dinner altogether before the kids went to play at aMaze Me. It’s always nice with the cousins, and it was a real bonus for me to bump into them. As expected, the ribbon maze was more colourful and complicated now than when we went a week ago. To the delight of the boys, they found they could sit and lie at certain parts. They couldn’t quite climb on it as they had wished for, but it was good enough for them. Ellery also specially went to check on his ant bridge and did some maintenance and improvement works. I was happy to see that it was still there at all! I had half-thought that someone might have removed it for some administrative reason or other like it’s “damaging the tree”, “not part of the exhibition space”, or something else. It was a lovely example of allowing kids to think out-of-the-box and for them to enjoy seeing the results of it.

Chilling on the ribbons

Chilling on the ribbons

Anya

Anya adding her ribbon to this maze

Ant bridge engineer doing some unscheduled maintenance

The ant bridge engineer doing some unscheduled maintenance

As we headed home I asked the boys if they had a good Children’s Day, and they gave me a resounding “Yes!”

Octoburst is on until Monday, 6 Oct, and there are plenty of free and ticketed events still on. Go check out their website for more information on the various programmes.

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Asher didn’t have school on Friday because the K2 kids were going to have a sleepover in school (how fun right?) Since Asher had been asking to go ice-skating again I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to bring him. With Ellery in school I could focus my attention on Asher and help him become more confident on the ice.

So off we went to JCube. After a warming lunch of katsu curry (he said he wanted his body to warm up so he wouldn’t feel cold on the ice), we went ice-skating, just him and me. Alyssa was with Eni.

It was really special for Asher and I. I seldom ever get the chance to be with just him, even when there were just 2 kids. With 3 it’s even tougher. This was our first time, and he was so happy.

We were pleasantly surprised to bump into his two classmates there. They had been wanting to go back after the Frozen party too. It was great! He became a lot steadier on the ice and could move a little more smoothly, though still far from what I’d call skating. Still more like walking, or shuffling. But he was not afraid. And he was happy :)

I didn’t realise that the Rink had fixed timeslots for skating and we missed about 30mins of the 2 hour slot, but I made a promise to him, so I kept it. And it was so worth it.

With his classmates on the ice

With his classmates on the ice

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aMaze Me!

We had a bit of time after visiting Sensorium 360° so we swung by the Esplanade to check out aMaze Me! by Tay Bee Aye. aMaze Me! is a live-art installation and is part of Esplanade’s Octoburst 2014 programme. It invites people of all ages (though kids are the ones most drawn to it) to help create a maze by knotting pieces of ribbon anywhere they like. The result is an ever-changing, colourful, beautiful mess that the kids love climbing through.

It reminded me somewhat of the Singapore Art Festival’s Tangled a few years back where people were given balls of coloured yarn to throw around to create a colourful maze-like space as well.

The boys had a very good time tying ribbons and going through the maze. It was great that the kids were given more than one length of ribbon as I think most kids would want to do it again, and again, and again! I was also glad to see that there were many people on hand to guide the kids and teach them how to knot the ribbons. Yes, I could do that, but it’s kinda tricky to climb in while nursing Alyssa :)

Knotty boy!

Knotty boy!

Navigating his way through the maze

Navigating his way through the maze

Having come from Sensorium 360° where the kids had to stick within the bounds of what was deemed acceptable within the designated art space, often being told not to do this, or touch that by the museum staff, I was happy that Ellery’s idea to tie a ribbon around a nearby tree trunk was not immediately dismissed, and in fact he was helped with the process. He wanted to create a bridge for the ants, and spent quite some time devising a way to make the bridge stronger.

Ant bridge engineer

Ant bridge engineer

The boys said they wished the ribbons were strong enough to climb on. That would be interesting wouldn’t it? Then the structure would be like those spider web climbing structures at playgrounds. As it was quite a windy day I thought it’d be interesting to hang chimes or little bells on some of the ribbons too. It would add another dimension to the installation and the sound of chimes tinkling harmoniously would be so beautiful!

Climbing around

Climbing around

"Look Mummy! No hands!"

“Look Mummy! No hands!”

I had thought aMaze was only on this weekend, but apparently it’s on next week too. As we’re catching next week’s Dance Appreciation Series: Introduction to Ballet Classics, we’ll probably come back to take a look at aMaze Me! again to see how it’s morphed. It’ll be more fun next week as the maze would probably have become even more complicated, and even more colourful! The day we were there most of the ribbons were yellow and orange, but they’ll be giving out more colours in the coming days.

aMaze Me! is set up at Esplanade’s Courtyard Green
27 & 28 Sep, Sat & Sun, 11am – 7pm
3 – 6 Oct, Fri – Mon, 11am – 7pm

You can go to the Octoburst website to find out more details on the other activities. Giant snakes and ladders sounds fun!

Climbing is the order of the day apparently

They just had to do this before we left. It’s one of their favourite things to do whenever we’re at the Esplanade.

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With the September school holidays now over I decided to bring the kids to check out Sensorium 360° – Contemporary Art and the Sensed World. I generally avoid going to such places during the school holidays because it’s usually extremely crowded. When we went, there was just the right amount of people to create some buzz without it feeling packed.

Sensorium 360° is an exhibition of Southeast Asian and Asian contemporary art that explores the senses and its complexities. It’s not a dedicated children’s exhibition like the Children’s Festival, but there is plenty to fascinate little ones, and quite a few interactive installations that are suitable for kids.

The first installation we went to was The Overview Installation by Eugene Soh. Using a pair of goggles with screens embedded inside, you have a third-person experience of the self. You see yourself through the eyes of a CCTV camera and try to navigate your way through a maze that, without the goggles, would have been very easy to go through. In that state of augmented reality, a simple maze is not so simple anymore. It was amusing to see people ‘walking through’ walls as they struggled to make sense of their spatial position. It’s easy to tell who has better spatial awareness, and it doesn’t appear to be gender related.

Asher trying to go through the maze

Asher trying to go through the maze

What he sees on the screen in the goggles

What he sees on the screen in the goggles

The kids had a great time playing among…breasts! Haha! In noon-nom by Pinaree Sanpitak, the room is filled with cushions shaped like breasts (or Chinese baos, I thought). The artist wanted the reassert the significance of the female breast as a natural form the symbolises nourishment and comfort, as well as signifying the potency of the sensuous and spiritual feminine body. To touch, and be touched. Despite what the cushions were supposed to be, the boys had a great time pretending they were strange creatures living in a swamp.

The only one who fully got what it meant and was happy to just chill out and lie on the warm, soft, comforting breast was the still-being-breastfed Alyssa haha!

Jumping from cushion to cushion

Wheeeee!

Alyssa chilling on a large boob

Alyssa chilling on a large boob

I was surprised by how much I liked Chicken Rice in the Border by Bui Cong Khanh. When I read about it while the boys were jumping around noon-nom I didn’t think much of it. But when we actually went to see the installation I found myself being very intrigued by this concept of food representing your mixed heritage. I wondered what would be the boy’s Hoi-An Chicken Rice – the dish that represented the artist’s Vietnamese-Chinese heritage. With their Hokkien-Teochew-Malayali-touch-of-Peranakan heritage, I’d be hard-pressed to find a dish that represents them. Maybe we can invent something!

Beautiful watercolours on this sheet describing the ingredients that go into Hoi An Chicken Rice

Beautiful watercolours on this sheet describing the ingredients that go into Hoi An Chicken Rice

There were other installations that the boys really liked like Cage (a room full of lasers à la Matrix, very cool) and Twinning Machine 4.0 (a time-delayed projection of your image and movements). I also liked There is a tree in the heart of death and how the scents reflected the music, especially for La Paloma. It would be interesting if a dance performance incorporated this element of scent with each dance having a different scent blend.

If there was one criticism I have it would be that it is not clear how interactive the exhibition seeks to be, and how welcomed or unwelcomed young children are. The museum staff, full of good intentions, kept telling the kids not to do this and not to do that, even when they hadn’t gone overboard on anything, in my view. It could be a paranoia over young kids. The boys were told not to run in The Cage when they weren’t running, yet older teenagers who were running were not stopped. The boys were told not to linger among the hanging ropes, but adults were not stopped. The boys were asked (nicely) not to be to jump around too much at noon-nom when they were mainly crawling about, but there were teenagers who were literally running all over the place, racing from one end of the room over the cushions to another in a fairly dangerous manner that were not stopped too. It was a bit of a killjoy at times. If there was one thing the boys could have done better on, it was to speak more softly – something I’ll have to work on with them.

Still, Sensorium 360° is interesting and worth a visit. It is on at the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) until 22 October 2014, and is free for Singaporeans and PRs.

The Cage

The Cage

The boys discovered their bottles would light up if they used it to interrupt the lasers

The boys discovered their bottles would light up if they used it to interrupt the lasers

Zapping Alyssa's foot

Zapping Alyssa’s foot

Ellery checking out photographs of the other exhibits. I think the artist was taking pictures, and might in time put up a photograph of people looking at pictures of pictures from the exhibit. Picture in a picture in a picture!

Ellery checking out photographs of the other exhibits in Transcendence. I think the artist was taking pictures, and might in time put up a photograph of people looking at pictures of pictures from the exhibit. Picture in a picture in a picture!

Trying to identify the different smells

Trying to identify different smells

Smelling Ocean Mist!

Smelling Ocean Mist!

Twinning Machine 4.0

Monkeying around in Twinning Machine 4.0

Me & my babies!

The kids & I

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