Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Have You Ever Wondered?

I woke up, remembering of a dream I just had.  I went to the Halloween event with Mummy at Resort World Sentosa - must be the advertisements and Facebook feeds.

Suddenly, there were thoughts.  Have you ever wondered?

How often when the kids were sick and we wished that it was us who were sick instead?  When both D and E were down with that damn stomach flu virus last year, which caused the whole family to be sick, I wished I were the one who had an extended stomach flu instead of them catching it.  I rather be the one lying on the bed, curling up with the so painful cramps (which by the way are akin to contraction pains, just maybe 10x better but longer) than let him lie around, without much strength.

Do you still take the roller-coaster rides?
I quote age as the fear for taking roller-coaster rides these days.  Being less daring, having no more guts to take roller-coaster rides anymore though I rode on them when young.  But someone told me: maybe it is the fear of a freak accident.  Especially now that I have commitment and I have kids to look after.

And then there were some I know who were terrified of travelling without the children.  For the same reason as taking the roller-coaster rides?  

Are you one of the 3 above?  

I am "guilty" of all three.  However, as I board the plane each time these days without the boys, I simply hope and pray that all will be fine.

Amidst the juggles with life, the over-scheduling of events for children and adults for some, why not sit back and think if there are enough fond memories created to date that can last the children a lifetime?  That they can grow up, remembering the times spent no matter how long or short the period we have with them.  

You see, sometimes creating fond memories are just like doing advertisements that etch in the mind forever.  Do you remember this advertisement from Mcdonalds with a baby sitting on a swing at home and each time she goes up and sees the Mcdonalds' arch, she smile.  As silly the commercial may be, but it made the impact - it gave people the idea of happiness when one sees that golden arch.

What are the silly activities you have done with your children?  It may seem silly to us now, but it matters the whole world to the kids.  And I tell myself that I want to be there comforting the boys when they hit their first setback.  Memories are not always about the happy times, sometimes there are a little sadness.

Death is a taboo to talk about, especially in the Chinese culture.  But as much as we hated to talk about it, it will happen.  Just a matter of when.

The question will then be, when that happens, do we think we have created enough fond memories with our children so that they will remember us forever?

Time for me to create more memories.

"Death ends a life, not a relationship" - Mitch Albom

Totally random early in the morning, but that is me.  One who thinks of the extreme what-ifs  and worst case scenarios at sometimes, the most inappropriate times.  :)

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Sunday, 27 September 2015

Stuffed Toys, Plush Toys, Does Your Child Has One? We Have One to Giveaway!

Someone once mentioned that the first toy you introduce to a child, he or she will have a liking for it forever.  True?  False?

Both boys have stuffed toys, also know as a plush toys, since young.  And yes, they do like stuffed toys.  But they are of course, selective.  We have nothing against stuffed toys (although I know some people go eeeeeeks for boys having stuffed toys).  In fact, we have beds full of stuffed toys!

Simply because I have read before that stuffed toys can help with the process of curing depression.  With such effects, I think they definitely have positive effects on other issues like fears, excessive crying, nightmares, trauma etc.  I believe that stuffed toys help young children cope with distress by bringing them comfort and companionship.  Do you believe in this?  Does your child has a favourite plush toy?

We were very lucky to have won a giveaway that allowed us to choose the toys we want and having watched Inside Out previously, the boys chose the Inside Out plushes.

October is approaching and it's a happy month because we have two birthdays in the house!  The boys decided to spread some Joy.  As such, we have an Inside Out plush to give-away!  Do you know who?!

To enter:

1. Like ilovedefamily on Facebook.

2. Leave a comment on the corresponding Facebook post and indicate which plush from Inside Out that we are giving away and tag 3 friends.  Sharing the post will be much appreciated!

3. Bonus!!!  Follow me on Instagram and regram the corresponding image for an extra chance!  :)

Giveaway ends 16 October 2015, 8pm.

Please note:

- Winner will be chosen at random

- Item is not exchangeable for cash  It is brand new, sealed as shown.

- The giveaway is open to Singapore residents only.

- This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

- Winner will be announced on blog, Facebook and notified by email.  Please respond within 48 hours, failing which, a new winner will be chosen.  

- Item is to be self-collected.  Location of collection will be stated in the email.

- We reserve the right to amend the terms and conditions of the giveaway without prior notice.

Good Luck! 

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Saturday, 26 September 2015

The Children's Centre for Creativity - Not Your Usual Indoor Playground!

Award-winning non-profit organisation Playeum, opens Asia's first Children's Centre for Creativity on 19 September 2015.

Working directly with practising artists, the Centre will present three themes a year and around each theme, build a series of creative open-ended artistic experiences, incorporating participative  opportunities, custom-built installations and technology.

From now till 3 April 2016, the Centre launches with The Art of Speed.

Children can explore the essence of speed through multi-sensory and open-ended environments which brings joy to the children, without restricting and constraining them.

The Dark Room - explore light and dark, image and shadow.  This is the space that D enjoyed the most.  He was so intrigued by the shadows and how light changes the way some shadows were formed.

I'm trapped in a cylinder!  And why am I so big?

The space at Playeum. With a maximum capacity of 150 people, both adults and children at one time, it is not an indoor playground with lots of space to run about.  But it is a space where children are allowed to be creative, a place for their imagination to flow.

Children are encouraged to build their own cars for their own track experience.

There is a flight of stairs to reach the ramp shown above which E tripped and fell at.  Thus, parents with younger children, please take note as children being children, they may miss their steps or accidentally knock down small children when they rush to pick up their own cars after sending them down the ramp.  The staff at Playeum were quick to offer ice pack for the bruise and a lollipop to calm E down.  E was up and playing again after a couple of minutes.

Feeling creative or have children who likes to DIY?  The Play Maker Space is the area to be at!  With a variety of material and tools to choose from, this space allows for meaningful experimentation where children and adults together can build objects related to the theme of speed and try them out in the other spaces.  Like, rolling the creation down the ramp!

A space for the littlest ones.  Cushioned floorings and toys suitable for the young ones who are not exactly ready to experiment the other spaces.

And so, The Children's Centre for Creativity is indeed suitable for children aged 1 to 12.

The boys had fun at the Centre.  Not your usual kind of playground, and neither is it an enrichment centre, you will be surprised at the kind of creations the children can come up with.  

Block 47, Malan Road
Gillman Barracks
#01-21 to #01-23
Singapore 109444

Child (ages 1 to 12): $20
Accompanying adult: Free
Additional adult: $10

Disclosure: We were invited to The Children's Centre for Creativity by Playeum.  No monetary compensation was received.  All photographs and opinions are true to my own.

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Friday, 18 September 2015

Mickey & Friends Sent D a Postcard! Really!

I just got to post this. 
Sometime ago, D learnt about letter writing in one of his class at The Language Boutique.  He made use of what he had learnt and wrote a letter to his favourite pal, his favourite character in Disney - Mickey Mouse.
About 2 months later, we received a postcard from Mickey and friends!  How cool is that! 
I was totally surprised too as I am not quite sure if they will reply.  Though it may not be customised, imagine the smiles when D saw his name on the postcard.
This is indeed the Disney Magic.  No wonder everyone adores them.

Mummies and Daddies, I am really unsure if the reply postcard is always the same but just in case it is, please refrain from showing your child(ren) this so that it will be a surprise for them when they receive one after writing to them!

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ZooMoo - A Show, An App - All About Animals! Plus a Giveaway Too!

Advocates of no television programs, no iPads, we are not.

As parents, we are always in a dilemma whether to expose the children to the television, iPads and all the gadgets.  There are tonnes of reports and analysis condemning, but there are also dozens of debates against the condemn.  So what is right, or what is wrong?

There is no right or wrong.  The answer is moderation.  And as parents, we should always exercise caution.  Caution to what the children watch, caution to what the children are exposed to.

Always on the lookout for educational shows and programs, games and iPad apps, we came across ZooMoo.  ZooMoo is the world's first preschool channel that is all about animals, all the time.

Photo Credit : ZooMoo
My boys love animals.  They love the zoo, they love shows about animals and of course, they love ZooMoo!

With a cast of fun, furry characters such as the loveable Panda, the adventurous Piglet, the wildlife photographer Flash and many others, ZooMoo helps preschoolers develop a knowledge and affection for animals, leading to a lifelong love of conservation.  The ZooMoo lineup comprises 4,000+ self-contained shows, combining spectacular wildlife footage with a range of puppetry, animations and narrative techniques to create a unique viewing and learning experience for little viewers.

"Lost", a brand new series on ZooMoo, follows Flash, ZooMoo's resident wildlife photographer, as he finds himself lost in different wildlife habitats while he tries to capture award-winning photos.  Back at the headquarters, his pals Owl and Piglet have to help Flash find his way through clues and quizzes about Flash's surroundings.

Apart from the "Lost" series that one can watch on StarHub channel 306, there is also the revolutionary ZooMoo app.  It's free!  Simply download from the popular App Store and Google Play.

So why is it revolutionary?  Simply because it is designed to work alongside the ZooMoo channel.  Ah-huh!  Isn't it cool?  And the best part?  After the initial app download, no internet connection is required and it is also totally free with no in-app purchases or advertising.  So, no worries about handing the tablet or smart phone to the children and letting them explore the ZooMoo app.

Unlike other TV channels, the App and the ZooMoo channel were developed completely in tandem.  This meant that when the ZooMoo app is turned on, the channel sends original and complimentary content to the child's tablet.  This content can be opened and explored at any time by us.

Photo Credit : ZooMoo

The ZooMoo app shows a ZooMoo island - an island sanctuary where children can interact and look after up to 150 animals.  At anytime, children can open the ZooMoo app and play with their collection of ZooMoo treasures.

D is always delighted when he receives a "present".  He will then go on feeding the animals with the collected food cards, listening to the animal sound effects and watching the different animals perform their abilities.  Now he knows a Dung Beetle (errmmm, yes there's such a beetle), a Crabeater Seal and many others.

Sometimes D watches the show, plays with the app and unlocks certain new animals on his own.  When he talks to me about the animals, I will be able to know what they are as in the ZooMoo app, there is a "Parents Area" whereby I am able to see how often each animal is played with (as in being fed with food etc.) and when the animal has been unlocked.  There are also some fun facts regarding each animal.  This portion of the app is something I really like as it provides a platform for parent-child discussions.

The very kind folks at The ZooMoo Asia Team sent us a gift pack filled with ZooMoo premiums and goodies for the boys.  The very adorable drawstring bags, activity sheets, stickers and tattoos which the boys enjoyed lots.

And they are also generously giving away one such set to our dear readers.  :)

Please join the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends 25 September 2015, 12 am (Singapore time).

Please note:

- Winner will be chosen at random.

 - Item is not exchangeable for cash.

- The giveaway is open to Singapore residents only.

- Winner will be announced on blog, Facebook and notified by email.  Please respond within 48 hours, failing which, a new winner will be chosen.

- All personal details provided will be kept confidential.

- Only particulars of the winner will be forwarded to the sponsors, for the purpose of the prize collection.

- We reserve the right to amend the terms and conditions of this giveaway without prior notice. 

Good Luck! 

Disclosure: We were sponsored with the ZooMoo Gift Pack by The ZooMoo Asia Team.  No monetary compensation was received.  Terms, digital assets and information regarding the ZooMoo Program and App are provided by them.  All opinions are true to my own.

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Monday, 14 September 2015

Strabismus, Squint and The Journey of Eye Patching

This post has been on my mind for a long while - for the past months while we try to do something about E's strabismus.  And to those who do know or who do not know about this, I hope this post clears up some of the questions you might have.  

Let me start from the beginning.  A teacher from E's childcare and another friend told us to bring him to see an eye doctor as they felt that he seems to be having lazy eyes.  Lazy eyes is a very common term used by people - but it is also a very common misused term.  Lazy eyes is not to be mixed up with strabismus, also commonly known as squint.

We first met E's paediatric eye doctor end last year and I told her of my concern and some others' concerns about him having an inward (convergent) squint or lazy eyes.  After doing some checks, she was able to tell that E does not have a convergent squint (like what you see in the below photo).  This, she says is a pseudo squint.  Many Asians babies, particularly Chinese, appear to have an convergent squint as a result of a prominent skin fold that covers the inner part of the eye.  No treatment is required.  However, layman like us will not be able to tell (definitely not me), thus it is best to seek professional help. 

Had a hard time trying to find a photo that best suits what I am trying to say.  I think this does.
Going to a professional is indeed different and I cannot stress how important it is once one feels something amiss.  Paediatric ophthalmologist or eye doctors are able to tell through visual examinations whether there could be something wrong.  As children tend to get bored easily and fidget often, it is best to leave the examinations to professionals in such fields as most often, they are able to tell you lots of information from what they gather within that few minutes frame.

Toys make children more at ease.  Hopefully it calms them down before seeing the doctor and entertains them in between the tests and checks.
Why did I say the above paragraph?  Within the 10-20 minute examinations, apart from the doctor being able to tell me that E has no inward squint, she believed she saw an outward squint and it was an intermediate outward squint.  Seriously, I do not know of such a thing till that very day.

There is always entertainment in a paediatric eye clinic
What is Strabismus or Squint?
Strabismus or squint occurs when the two eyes are not looking in the same direction, i.e. one eye looks straight and the other eye appears to look away.  This can happen at any age.  The squinting eye can turn inwards (convergent squint) or outwards (divergent squint).  A squint can also be vertical, with one eye higher than the other.  

Squints can be constant, i.e. present all the time or they can be intermittent and occur under certain circumstances.

It is important to treat a squint because if left untreated, the brain will eventually suppress or ignore the image of the weaker eye, resulting in lazy eye.  Longstanding eye misalignment may also result in decreased binocular or stereo vision.  

Photo Credit : KKH website

E went through more thorough checks.  Vision tests are a must every visit.   Akin to the vision tests we take at optical shops or even simply reading the letters or numbers on the visual charts from far, vision testing for children is performed by reading a series of letters or numbers of diminishing size on a monitor.  If the child is unable to recognise letters or numbers, a simpler matching test is used instead.  This test is to measure how well one can see in a distance.

And then there were other checks.  Finally a time when E sat on his own.  Most of the times, he sits on my lap.  Checks carried out with both near and far objects.  At a paediatric eye clinic, the objects are often toys and kids' movies to attract their attention.

Dilating eyedrops are sometimes used in children to obtain accurate refraction.  These eyedrops also dilate the pupils in order to allow the doctors to perform a full eye examination.  

The eyedrops are administered at two or three intervals depending on the degree the pupil dilated.  The child's vision may be blurred for up to a day after the dilation and the effects are only temporary.  It is very important to remember to always hold the child and not let him run around as accidents may happen with a blurred vision.

Of course, it is uncomfortable.  Stickers will be given, I will bring snacks and offer bribes.  Because of the time intervals, we will walk around the area, not in the sun as he becomes very sensitive to bright lights.

The past few visits and tests confirm his intermediate outward squint.  It is an outward deviation of an eye that happens some of the time.  For E, his eye tends to turn outwards when he is focusing far, such as watching a show from a distance.  That is why none of us noticed it.  It is not easy to catch.  And I am glad the eye doctor caught it in time for us to treat it.  It is always a good thing after each visit to hear that there is improvement or even status quo - anything that seems otherwise is unpleasant.  So if you ask me, always bring the child in for a check if you notice something not quite right.  It does not hurt to be more kiasu in this instance.

Eye patching has become a norm for E.  He has to patch his good eye for about 2 hours a day so that the weaker eye is forced to do the "seeing" work and over time, strengthen the vision in the weaker eye.  It may also at the same time help strengthen the muscle of the weaker eye and restore proper alignment.  

It was not easy when we first started eye patching.  He decided to because we told him he was like this Spyclops character from Lego's Ultra Agents.  Sometimes, we have to reward.  Sometimes, we have to use bribes.  But it gets better each time as it soon became a routine.  Till... he knew how to remove it.  And then, a new round of role-playing, rewards and bribes start and the cycle continues.

Photo Credit :

We are hoping the day E no longer needs an eye patch will come soon.  With more parents being educated and exposed to such information, we sometimes see children with eye patches going round with their normal activities.  There is no need to feel "paiseh" or embarrassed about it.  Squints are not preventable but with early intervention and timely treatment, it can be cured.

Disclosure:  I am not a medical practitioner.  What is written is from what I have learnt as a parent. 

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Saturday, 12 September 2015

The Way Back Home, The Way Back Home ~~~ I'm Going Home

Theatre productions are never easy.  Children's and family orientated theatre productions are probably just as difficult, if not worse.  Why?  The simple reasons for having to engage children and at the same time, telling the story or stories within a 50-minute or so duration.  For that, I applaud all who are involved in theatre plays.  

Earlier today, we were at Alliance Francaise Theatre for the play, The Way Back Home.  Presented by Big Wooden Horse and Theatre Royal Winchester, it is an inter-galactic tale about a little boy seeking adventure.  

Photo Credit : I Theatre
The Way Back Home tells of a story of a boy whom, one day, find a plane in his cupboard.  He flies his plane higher and higher until he runs out of petrol and lands on the moon.  He is frightened, lost and alone until a passing Martian lands there too!  Who is the strange alien?  Can they be friends?  And how will they find their way back home?

While the play was ongoing, I knew E will like it.  Why?  He is one who loves role-playing and imagining himself driving an aeroplane, a race car and such.  He loves making sounds like "vroom vroom", "eeeeeeewwwwwww" etc. etc..  This play has lots of those.  Without a need to put them into words, the actions and sound effects charmed children from 3 years old to 12 years old.  I also love the songs sang, especially the lovely "The Way Back Home" {The Way Back Home, The Way Back Home ~~~ I'm Going Home}.

Photo Credit : I Theatre

By the team behind the hit show Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus, this theatre play totally brought alive Oliver Jeffers' famous book.  There is audience interaction and I hear lots of enthusiastic children reply when the talented two-person cast asks questions. 

One of my favourite scenes, it makes me ponder and I hope it made all the older children and adults ponder too, about the friendship between the boy and alien.  What did the boy do to show his genuine friendship with the alien?  You got to watch it to know! 

Photo Credit : I Theatre
Still performing at Alliance Francaise Theatre till 20 September 2015, book your tickets at Sistic NOW!

And if you really think you may miss it, then remember to book I Theatre's next production, The Enormous Turnip which will be from 17 November 2015 to 6 December 2015.

Disclosure: We were given a pair of tickets to catch The Way Back Home.  We bought another pair of tickets out of our own pockets.  No monetary compensation was received.  All photos of the production are courtesy of I Theatre but all opinions are true to my own.

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Sunday, 6 September 2015

Penang Hawkers' Fare @ York Hotel


We went for the Penang Hawkers' Fare @ York Hotel on a Saturday and at 11.30am, there was a slight queue (the buffet starts at 12.00pm).  Sitting is on a first-come-first-serve basis and no table reservations are entertained.

The restaurant was almost full.  Not surprising as the food were pretty good.  Mostly adults and elders, I hardly see any children.  

On and off, I hear about this Penang Hawkers' Fare - authentic since 1986.  Spoke to one of them and understood that they are from Penang - so yea, Penang's authentic street food.

Queuing for the famous Char Kway Teow that is prepared on the spot.  Interestingly, each person is only allowed two portions / plates each time (this is a rule for all the different food).  Good too as it prevents people from taking everything and others had to wait.

Small portions so that one can try all the food available.  It is by default with chilli, so if you do not want any, I think it is best to inform first.

One of the items that suits children.  Kway Teow Soup with fish balls.  That is probably why we hardly see children as almost 90% of the food aren't children-friendly.  Well, unless the kid eats everything and that includes spicy food.

Haha!  He took the Nasi Lemak and tried the Nonya Chicken Kapitan that came with it.  A tad too spicy for him.  The brother was "slightly cleverer" more unadventurous to ask for no chicken, no chilli - only rice, ikan bills and egg.

Oyster omelette - crispy and nice.  A portion just nice for one person.  It is always good to just take one item at a time as it is best eaten hot.  There is no need to be kiasu as there is always enough for everyone...

Penang Prawn Mee - the redness is not the chilli.  It is not spicy.  I am not a Prawn Mee fan so I cannot say for sure if it is really good.

But this…  I like.  I love Penang Laksa.  Some call it Assam Laksa.  The soup is so good - spicy, sour and full of flavors.  But B says, ermmmm… the smell of it - pungent.  (Hey, it is supposed to be so.)  Well, lovers will love, haters will hate.  :)

If you like Hei Go aka shrimp paste, then you will like this Penang Rojak.  It is a salad of cucumber, turnip, rose apple, pineapple, starfruit.  Topped with a shrimp paste mixture and peanuts, again, it is a love or hate situation.  However, being Singaporeans, I think most of us will like this.

Okay, I have not been to Penang.  So when I read Lor Bak, I was thinking about the dark soya sauce pork with beancurd and eggs dish.  Wrong wrong wrong.  Penang's crispy Lor Bak is actually similar to our kind of Ngoh Hiang.  Beancurd, prawns, sweet potato slices, yam slices and pork rolls deep fried.  The photo below is one without chilli.  

Cuttlefish Kang Kong is a very familiar dish.  I realize that peanuts form a big part in Penang's food.  Not a fan of Kang Kong but a fan of cuttlefish - glad it's done just nice.

Desserts - two types of cold desserts - the Ice Kachang and Chendol.  The Ice Kachang has lots of attap seeds.  Sometimes I think it is good to share the desserts as it can be way too much for one after all the cooked food.  

What I am holding is the most well-received item.  The crispy Ban Chang Kueh that all of us love.  I lost count of how many pieces we ate.  We even asked for no-peanut ones!  Just sugar and butter.  

Till 20 September 2015, I would say, bring your parents and / or grandparents!  They will enjoy such buffets more than any other international buffets.  Leave the children at home or in school as they are available on weekdays too.

The kids entertained themselves while we indulge.  :P

Weekdays (Monday to Friday)
$25.80++ per adult
$18.80++ per child (below 12 years old; below 5 years old is free)

Weekends (Saturday & Sunday)
$28.80++ per adult
$20.80++ per child (below 12 years old; below 5 years old is free)

Lunch 12.00pm - 2.30pm
Dinner 6.30 pm - 10.00pm

Prices for weekends are inclusive of free flow of Bandung and Calamansi drinks.

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