A Mom’s Review: New China Opticians, Singapore

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I usually don’t review non-homeschool or kid-related product, but New China Opticians, Singapore really made a difference.  Here’s why.

As a a SAHM with 2 young children (without help), I’m unable to do things like getting a new pair of glasses, facial or visiting the dentist very often.

However, after several chewing incidents and ripping my spectacles off my face (thanks to Elijah), my frame started to give way. Unable to park the children with their grandparents, I had no choice but to lug the children to the optician.

I dread that knowing they’ll fiddle with mirrors and will want to try on shades. A salesperson will then start to “chase” them around the shop, telling them not to break anything or touch anything.  Just too much pressure on me!

After much persuasion from the hubs, I decided to try New China Opticians, having read positive online reviews for its good service and affordability.

Of course, I had to mentally prepare myself for a few unhappy salespeople if my children were to drive them nuts.

Surprisingly, the people at New China Opticians were really nice to my children!

Hannah had accidentally knocked down their box of spectacles but they were genuinely okay about it.  I mean, sometimes a person says it’s alright, and yet you sense a tinge of unhappiness in their tone?  In this case, they were really accommodating.

Then, Hannah got thirsty and the water in her water bottle was running low.  The owner of the shop (Uncle Tony) then asked her get water from their water dispenser.

Not surprisingly, she happily filled her water bottle and continued trying on sunnies.  The whole time I was looking for my spectacles, Hannah was trying on different shades and asking me if she looked good.

Because the frames were displayed around the shop (without casing), I could only remind Hannah to handle them with care and to wear/remove the frames with both hands.

The salespeople and Uncle Tony let the children try on sunglasses and chatted with them.  I was able to buy time to hunt for my glasses…phew!

Moreover, Uncle Tony recommended me a frame that was flexible; able to withstand rough handling.  He certainly understood this customer’s need. 🙂

As they made their lenses on the spot, I could collect my spectacles in 30 minutes! Awesome…

Finally, the price I paid for my glasses was certainly an icing on the cake. 🙂

The people at New China Opticians made me feel at home. I wasn’t rushed to choose a frame and get out of the shop a.s.a.p.  I had the opportunity to hear Uncle Tony’s parenting journey while getting my eyes checked.  It didn’t feel like a trip to the optician, more like a casual conversation with your neighbour.

If you need to get your spectacles done, why not try:

New China Opticians Pte Ltd
Peninsula Shopping Centre, #01-11, 3 Coleman St, Singapore 179804

 

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored blog post. I’m just grateful mother that received excellent service and found a good deal to share. No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.

 

Heritage Fest 2016

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A belated May blog post on Heritage Fest 2016, Singapore.

Running its 13th year, Singapore HeritageFest brings to the public the diverse cultural heritage of this little city. From food trails to music recitals to experiencing Singapore’s last living kampong; Pulau Ubin. There’s something for everyone.

I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s our first year participating in Heritage Fest. We managed to catch two programmes:

Aliwal Arts Centre Open House

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Through the workshops, we learned various traditional art forms, such as the Malay dance by DIAN dancers and Chinese opera by Nam Hwa Opera.

Hannah liked the pretty DIAN dancers so much that she wanted to take a picture with them.

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If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that Hannah is a big fan of Chinese opera. She was excited to watch the opera up close!

We found out how opera singers use gestures, facial expressions and their props to express the emotions of the characters portrayed.

Here’s one opera-related activity you could do with your little one. Be sure to read these two (here, here) wonderful books on Chinese opera too!

Romance, Hope and Dreams @ Velocity, Novena Square

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Like most little girls, Hannah loves weddings! Ask her about the weddings she attended, and she’ll rattle off the names of the couple, and colour of the evening gowns those brides wore.

“Romance, Hope and Dreams” was the perfect exhibition for her to learn about the meanings of traditional wedding practices and beliefs of different ethnic communities.

Every traditional wedding ceremony had been modelled with clay.  See how intricate they are? They remind me of Alexandra Bruel’s clay pop art. Amazing.

Singapore HeritageFest happens from April to May every year. Be sure to check out www.heritagefest.sg for their latest happenings.

KidZania, Kuala Lumpur Review

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February’s really about travelling for our family.  This year, we spent a week in Malaysia.  Having heard so much about KidZania from friends and relatives, we made it a “must-go” in our travel list.

If your child enjoys role-playing, this is one place he/she will come to love.  Children get to perform jobs and earn KidZos (type of currency used in KidZania).

With enough KidZos, they get to spend on products at the KidZania Departmental Store or experience jobs that require them to pay (e.g. artist at painting school or chef at cooking school).

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Step inside and you’ll find yourself transported to a kid-size city: streets with lamp posts, various establishment, and the occasional fire truck blaring its siren on the road.

Now, before you travel to your nearest KidZania for some fun, here are some tips you might want to note:

  • Don’t waste time visiting if your child is below 4 years old.

Most tasks are suitable for kids aged four and above.  So it’s best to wait for your kids to be older.

  • Your child has to perform assignments on their own.

Parents aren’t allowed inside the establishment so the children have to interact with other children or KidZania employees on their own. However, you could watch them through glass panels.  So you might want to prep your children beforehand.

To start the ball rolling, your child could try working at CIMB Security Bank Vault, The News Straits Times Press, or PosLaju Courier Service.

The tasks are simple (deliver or collect items from designated establishment) and parents can follow along.  I found this a good way to ease Hannah into the new environment.

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  • KidZania KL is closed on Mondays.

Avoid weekend, public and school holidays too.  Too much time wasted queuing.

To find out when are the public and school holidays, check KidZania KL’s Calendar under “Opening Hours”.

  • Parents, bring your entertainment and refreshments along.

Each assignment takes at least 15 minutes.  It gets really boring waiting by the glass panels.  Make sure you bring your favourite read or something to occupy your time.

There’s a lounge area for parents to relax on the upper level.  You could also purchase food and drinks in KidZania.

  • Be prepared to spend the entire day at KidZania.

Forget shopping or high-tea at The Curve Shopping Mall. Having spend over four hours at KidZania, we still couldn’t try all the jobs.  It’s best to plan with your child the jobs he/she wants to try using KidZania’s facility map online.  Jobs like fire fighter, flight attendant and pilot are popular with kids so there may be a queue.

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  • Your child can perform the same job more than once.

While they track your activity by scanning your wrist tag, your child could perform the same job more than once.  Hannah enjoyed being a dentist so much that she ran back and asked if she could work again.  (Psst…it’s the most highly paid job too!)

  • Earn at least 120 KidZos if your chid wants to redeem a gift at KidZania’s Departmental Store. 

From what we saw at the departmental store, the cheapest item cost 120 KidZos.  So your child has to work a fair bit, given that he/she starts with 50 KidZos and the highest amount that can be earned is 12 KidZos.

  • + means you earn, – means you pay.

Before your child steps into an establishment, make sure they check “Economy” on the job post (see above picture).  A plus sign (+) means they’ll receive KidZos for completing a task while a negative means they have to pay before performing a task.

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So did Hannah enjoy herself?  Well, it took her some getting used to.  She didn’t like entering an establishment alone.  This was surprising to me because Hannah has quite an independent character so I thought it wouldn’t be an issue.

Eventually, She warmed up, and was running along, saying “Kai”(means “Hi” in KidZania) to people down the street.

I hope these eight tips will come in handy when you make your way to KidZania, Kuala Lumpur!

 

 

National Gallery Singapore | Keppel Centre for Art Education

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This is a backdated entry which finally got published. Phew!

While the hype of National Gallery Singapore has somewhat fizzled, nevertheless, this is one awesome place to check out as a family.

The National Gallery Singapore, which has been in the making for 10 years, finally opened its doors to the public on 24 November 2015.  To commemorate this milestone, there was a two-week long of free events and activities.

With the festive season and “school” moving on slowly, I decided an impromptu outing to National Gallery Singapore.  Getting there (with a stroller) wasn’t a problem. It was just minutes away from City Hall MRT Station.

Once in the 64,000 sqm museum, we felt kind of lost.  On hindsight, I should have downloaded the museum’s Gallery Explorer mobile application.  It offers visitors a self-guided tour and turn-by-turn directions from one’s location to points of interest within the Gallery.

Wandering quite aimlessly, a friendly security officer approached us (our faces must have said we were lost!) and shared about Keppel Centre for Art Education.  It was a facility dedicated for children.

Not feeling so lost now…we proceeded to locate Keppel Centre for Art Education. 🙂

Moms with babies in tow, you’d be glad to know that strollers are permitted in the galleries.  However, they are not permitted in the Keppel Centre for Art Education.  You’d need to park them outside the facility.

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Inside Keppel Centre for Art Education you will find:

  • Art Corridor: explore art through tactile play
  • Art Playscape: develop imagination through active play
  • Project Gallery: learn creative process through art making
  • Children’s Museum: learn to put up exhibitions through role play

Parents, be warned: Lots of persuasion and patience is needed to get your little ones moving from one gallery to another.  And you may be paying for every kit at each gallery.

Like most children, Hannah was stuck at the Art Corridor for a while ( I really mean a long while).  Everyone was busy trying to put colourful discs into the art puzzle.

At the Project Gallery, it was no surprise that Hannah wanted to create her “boat in the sky” as the room was filled with whimsical artwork of flying buses and boats.  The activity kits could be purchased at SGD $4.

Finally, at the Children’s Museum, we took a peek into the artist, Milenko Prvacki ‘s art studio, and examine the artistic process: tools he used, techniques he created etc.  The children could decorate a postcard and send it to Milenko Prvacki himself!

There was a Pocket Sculpture Starter Kit which could be purchased at SGD $2 (see what I mean?) but we didn’t get that for Hannah.

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We didn’t manage to enter Art Playscape as Elijah was getting cranky and hungry.  But we managed to snap some photos of its fancy backdrop and layout.

What was Hannah’s highlight of the day?

It must definitely be Who’s in the Woods.  An interactive platform that features day-to-night scape of a forest.  Children get to choose and design their animals, and watch them come alive on screen. (See first image of Hannah’s tiger.)

You also get to receive a printable of your designed animal via email.  Then piece your animal and play them at home. How cool is that?

As I was saying, Elijah was getting hungry. There are several F&B outlets in the museum.  But being the frugal mom, we ended up eating sushi at City Link Mall. There are plenty of restaurants and fast food joints around the area.  You won’t go hungry. 🙂

For families thinking of visiting the National Gallery Singapore, check out these upcoming programmes.

 

 

 

Picture This: Community in Bloom (Queenstown Library)

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Maintaining a garden seemed almost impossible.  Like more than 80% of Singapore residents, we live in an HDB flat. That means limited space. It doesn’t help that our apartment receives little sunlight too. (Does it sound like I’m living in a cave?  LOL!)

When I discovered Queenstown Library’s Community in Bloom project, I quickly signed ourselves up!

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We attended a session run by a fellow homeschooling mom.  It was nice spending the morning, tending the community garden with other homeschooling families.

The session began with a short storytelling.  Then the kids went on to dig into the earth and pluck weeds.

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It was conducted in a casual manner with minimal supervision.  So if you’re a beginner gardener, this might be for you. 🙂

Useful things to bring:

1. Hat and Sunscreen: The children will be out in the sun all the time. It happened to be cloudy when these photos were taken.

2. Mosquito patch: I’m a mosquito magnet so this was my must-have.

3. Extra clothing: Children will feel more comfortable after a change especially when the dirt gets on them everywhere.

4. Watering can/trowel: Bring a watering can or trowel, if possible. There weren’t enough watering cans to go around that day.

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Join the Community in Bloom project:

Day: Alternate Saturdays, from 2 Jan 2016
Time: 11.30am to 12.30pm
Venue: Activity zone at Queenstown Library, 
              53 Margaret Drive, Singapore 149297

 

Celebrate SG50: Museum Hopping in Singapore

Did you manage to enjoy the free admission to some attractions over the Jubilee weekend?

I know thousands waited hours for the free cable-car rides, admissions to the Singapore ArtScience Museum and the Science Centre.  As for us, we spent our Jubilee Weekend at home with a sick child. Yea, tell me about it… :/

Good thing is, we can still enjoy free attractions even after the Golden Jubilee – MUSEUM HOPPING!Visit to the Singapore Philatelic Museum

Singapore Philatelic Museum

Get to know Singapore’s history through stamps!  Check out the first stamp issue when Singapore became an independent nation.

Discover the early trades in Singapore: We got to see how life were back in the early 19th century, try on red wooden clogs (a common footwear then), and smell the spices (Singapore was a prime redistribution centre for the spice trade).

Before we left, Hannah designed a postcard and mailed it to ourselves from the museum. She was excited to receive it the next day!

That evening after our trip to the Singapore Philatelic Museum, we made a cardboard mailbox.  I’m rather proud to say that it does somewhat resemble our local mailbox. 🙂

Singapore Philatelic Museum

National Museum of Singapore

We visited the National Museum of Singapore early August during Children’s Season (end May to mid August). Like our past visit to the “Masak Masak” exhibition, Hannah enjoyed herself thoroughly.  Read about our first visit here.

Singapore National Museum

Army Museum of Singapore

Besides visiting the gallery to learn about the Singapore Army, we got to see the “big boys” (tanks and trucks) up close.

We also tried our hands at the mini Standard Obstacle Course – one of the challenges a recruit will face in army.

That was really the highlight!

Army Museum of Singapore

Singapore Discovery Centre

While you’re at the Army Museum of Singapore, swing by to the Singapore Discovery Centre for more fun.

Visit the “#My Singapore – Ours to Create” exhibition to discover what makes us uniquely Singapore. Exhibition is from 27 Jun 2015 to 3 Jan 2016.

Singapore Discovery Centre

All visits to the museums are easily accessible via public transport.  They are within walking distance from the MRT stations.

Moms with strollers, fear not! 🙂

Enjoy learning Singapore’s past, present and future!

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P/s: Hannah wanted to take a photo with the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew…and so we did!

Picture This: June Has Come And Gone (…Going)

Just like that we are at our last week of June!

A quick review of June…

June holidays Singapore 2015: Dinosaurs

We managed to catch Dinosaurize Me! 2015 before the exhibition closed.  Our budding palaeontologist has been reading much about dinosaurs after the exhibition.  She’s been busy discovering new dinosaurs and naming them too! 🙂

Asian Festival of Children's Content 2015

We attended the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2015 at the National Library, Singapore. ACT 3 International together with three secondary schools put up literary adaptions based on the following books:

  • Emma’s Elephant by David Seow;
  • The Forest Fable by Gelyn Ong; and
  • Fun at the Opera by Susanna Goho Quek.

Hannah enjoyed the book Fun at the Opera very much and I thought it would be interesting to see the story come alive with dance and performance.

It was also our first time listening to a bilingual storytelling of “The Wolf Khan from the DMZ: Coward Wolf Khan” in Korean and English by Rosemarie Somaiah and Jeong Jin Lim. After the session, each child received materials ( which Jeong Jin had painstakingly prepared) to create their wolf puppet.

SEA Games 2015 Singapore

Invariably, we had to show up at the SEA Games Carnival 2015! How could we miss out on all the action and fun?!

The highlight of the day? I thought it would be trying out the sports games.  I was wrong.  It was posing with Nila, the SEA Games mascot! LOL!

June Holidays 2015 Camp

Finally, we end the month of June with our church retreat. It was Hannah’s first ride in a coach bus and Elijah’s first overseas trip. It was tiring for the parents but the children (okay, child) enjoyed herself thoroughly.  She got to stay up late, made new friends, hang out with her Sunday School friends, dance and sing to sing-a-longs. 🙂  She’s already asking about the next church retreat but I think I need a “retreat” after this retreat. 😛

Picture This: Dinosaurize Me! 2015

Picture This: Dinosaurize Me! 2015 Plaza Singapura Singapore

I love it when Science is brought to the heartlands!  From now to 14 June 2015, Dinosaurize! Me 2015 will be at Plaza Singapura, Main Atrium, Level 1.  I was excited to find this exhibition through my friend.  Hannah has recently developed a liking for these giant creatures that once roamed the earth. We’ve been watching videos, learning their impossible to pronounce names and if they were a carnivore, herbivore or omnivore.

On display (see above) is the Argentinosaurus – one of the largest dinosaur ever found. It’s definitely an eye-opener for us!

There are hands-on workshops and performances for the children to learn about dinosaurs.  A fee of $5 is required for each of the following workshop:

  1. The Geological Timeline Activity
    How did life evolve on earth over billions of years? Learn this while constructing the Geological timeline
  2. Dig up Fossils
    Fossils help scientists develop hypotheses about pre historic creatures and the way they lived and behaved.
  3. Stop Motion Animation
    Create your own story of the dinosaurs and make it into an animation.
Dinosaurize Me: Geologic Timeline Activity
The Geologic Timeline Activity: suitable for ages 6 and up.

As we visited Dinosaurize Me! on a public holiday, it was packed with children and their parents.  We chose one of the three paid workshop to attend – “Dig Up Fossils”. Here, Hannah got to create a mini “fossil” using plaster of paris and a dinosaur mould.

Dinosaurize Me: Dig Up Fossils
Dig Up Fossils: suitable for ages 4 and up.

If you have young children, they’d be happy to “dig up” some dinosaur bones in the sandbox or colour their favourite dinosaurs for free.  I know Hannah enjoyed colouring her dinosaurs!

Dinosaurize Me: Digging Up Bones

Dinosaurize Me: Colouring Dinosaurs

Overall, this exhibition surpassed my expectations.  It wasn’t merely an exhibition in a shopping mall.  Children and even adults get to learn a thing or two about dinosaurs.

What’s more, we were given a handbook that discusses how one classifies a dinosaur, what palaeontology is about, more facts about dinosaurs and fossils.  A great tool for further discussion at home with the kids!

I do hope that Singapore Science Centre could partner with other shopping malls and have more of such wonderful exhibitions soon.  I can’t wait for the next “Science in the Mall” event!

Dinosaurize Me! Plaza Singapura

Chinese New Year Activities: Enjoy, Eat, Play

Chinese New Year in Singapore: Chinatown

Enjoy: Visit to Chinatown

This week, we visited Chinatown to enjoy the sights and sounds of this Spring festival.  During this time, you would find many set-up stalls selling Chinese New Year decorations and yummy-licious food.  As we walk along the streets, we hear the traditional Chinese New Year music, hanging red lanterns and the tantalising smell of bak kwa (savoury sweet BBQ meat). Yum!

Hannah came across a paper dragon toy and wanted to have it, but it cost more than I expect.  She went home feeling disappointed and even tried to convince her father to let her buy it.  Sadly, it was also a no-no from Daddy too.

Play: Paper Dragon Craft

To cheer Hannah up, I tried to google around for a similar craft.  Thanks to the Internet, we managed to find one! You can download a template of a dragon head and tail here.  It’s fairly easy to do.  Grab a pair of chopsticks or skewers and coloured paper to make your paper dragon craft. 🙂

Chinese New Year Activities: Paper Dragon Craft

Eat: Dried Persimmons and 年糕 “Nian Gao” (Sticky Rice Cakes)

We came across dried persimmons and “nian gao” in Chinatown, and decided to get them for New Year.  Hannah isn’t adventurous when trying new food; but was game enough to try both.  Final verdict: she’s not a fan of these festive snacks.

Chinese New Year Food: Dried Persimmons and Nian Gao

And for the remaining days of Lunar New Year (15 days), we’ll be busy visiting our relatives, counting our “hong pow” (red packets) and recycling the used packets to make firecrackers.

Happy Lunar New Year!

新年快乐!

Picture This: Sandbox Play in Singapore

Sand play at Tiong Bahru Park Singapore

A reader recently asked where they could bring their kids for some sand play, besides the beaches in Singapore. As I was crafting a reply, it dawned upon me that there aren’t as many sandbox playgrounds as yesteryears.  Most of our favourite sandbox playgrounds have been refurbished with rubber mats and plastic playground structures.

Other than heading to the beaches, here are some of our favourite sand play spots:

West Coast Park

Located parallel to West Coast Highway, West Coast Park is a children’s haven to run around, do obstacle courses, fly kites and sand play!  There are several playgrounds suited for children of various age groups.  We can literally an entire day at the West Coast Park.

Location: 71 West Coast Highway.

Labrador Nature Reserve

It’s a tranquil place to stroll together as a family, watch boats and vessels at sea, and let the kids hang loose at the playground area.  Besides playing sand, Hannah enjoys the slides and the maze area.  Feeling adventurous?  Try the Labrador Nature and Coastal Walk.  There’s a DIY guide you could download from the National Parks Board website.

Location: Labrador Villa Road.

Tiong Bahru Park

Our all-time favourite!  This place has playground, sandbox and terrapins!  Tucked away among the quaint and charming old estates, Tiong Bahru Park is a hidden gem for family outings.

Location: Bounded by Henderson Rd, Tiong Bahru Road and Lower Delta Road.

Pasir Ris Park Playground

While growing up, my cousins and I would always head to Pasir Ris Park playground for some weekend fun.  I remember the spiderweb structure that we’d climb and the suspension bridge that freaked me out!

Location: Stretches from Pasir Ris Road to Jalan Loyang Besar and can be accessed through Elias Road and Pasir Ris Green.

Retro Playgrounds

Remember Singapore has a list of the retro playgrounds (some with sandboxes).  I still see the iconic mosaic tiled dragon playground in Toa Payoh with sandbox.  I’m not sure if the mosaic dove playground at Dakota Crescent still retains the sandbox.  The mosaic clock playground near Bishan Bus Interchange brings back fond memories as I remember passing that playground on my way from school every day.

Any sandbox playground or park that your family enjoys visiting?  Please share with us!