Review: Slava’s Snow Show

I’d be honest, I’m not a big clown fan. I think most of them look kinda freaky even if their funniness makes them easier to accept. Neither am I a big fan of snow and ice and all things ice related. I like living in the tropics, thank you very much. In any case, when we were invited to go catch Slava’s Snow Show when it came to town, I decided- heck, why not. But I’m packing me some warmer jackets and go with an open mind.

The show started of a little late and, truth be told we weren’t feeling too optimistic about the show seeing as the Sands Theatre was hardly even full. There were more than a few bits of paper snow on the floor from previous shows so Q was kinda bummed that it wasn’t real snow. It was a little warm, the background “music” of trains chugging along was starting to grate on me.

After a 15 minutes delay, the show finally took off and built momentum relatively slowly. We had to remind ourselves that this was not Cirque du Soleil even if the creator was with the troupe before. The clown work was funny enough, not particularly unique but more than competent and Q finally perked up with they hit the famous bubble show where thousands and thousands of bubbles floated about the stage. There wasn’t a clear flow of a story- not even sure if there was supposed to be a story back line but each individual segment was ok and the first half ended quite nicely with a screen of silk being pulled over the entire audience. Q was not impressed with this part seeing as the lead up to this was the clown cleaning “cob webs” and my 2m5yo decided it was dirty. Hahaha.

The latter half of the show was significantly better that the former with more fast paced action and funnier clown plots. There was a lot more (paper) snow being dunked on the audience so that was quite fun for the kids who were there. We were lucky to sit at a sweet spot near the front where we were spared most of the water being splashed around and we got to play with the snow but not be a washed by it as some members of the audience did. The back half had a slightly freaky segment (think rocking horse, morose clown knitting in the former, white shape walking across the stage) which I found utterly unnecessary but what do I know about the fine art of clowning, right?

The last two segments were the pinnacle of the show: a beautiful mime between a clown and “his lover” saying goodbye- beautifully executed and timed. That was followed by the legendary snowstorm which was absolutely spectacularly done. I’ve never been in a snowstorm and have no clue how accurate it was; but I liked that well enough.

If you ask Q, though, he’d tell you he liked the ending best; when they threw HUGE balls into the audience. He tried to take a ball back but we wren’t allowed to- bummer.

The show was pretty neat, all in all. A little pricy if you ask me, but quite fun overall.

the man without a hand

We were at the grocery store the other day and met a man with no arms. He was wearing long sleeves shirt and one arm was distinctively emptier than the other. When Q walked past him, he waved and said hi and my 2.5yo could only muster a whisper of a “Hello Uncle” in return. He continued staring at the armless man for a while more and said nothing for a while.

Several minutes later, he came up to me and said: “That uncle had one arm only, Mummy. Oh no!” And since he had clearly been thinking about it a lot, we spent some time talking about what it means to have only one arm, what it means to have a handicap. We talked about people in wheelchairs and people who couldn’t walk or talk. It seemed a little much to be having this conversation with a 2.5yo but, ah well, i figured, why not.

Now, Q has a swim noodle with a connector making it into a hoop and today he took it apart, I think to play horsey with the noodle with the connector as a sword. Anyway, he stuck the connector onto his arm and tired- valiantly, to hold stuff. When he got quite quiet and I asked him what he was thinking and he said wearing the swim connector kinda made him “armless”, like the uncle he saw the other day. And after a pause, he said: “Its very hard to hold things with only one arm you know.”

So, after talking about it some, I asked him then what now? And he said that maybe “we could help the uncles with only one arm cos its hard that they cannot hold things.”

As parents, sometimes life finds us opportunities to teach our kids life lessons. And sometimes, God uses these little ones to remind us of our humanity and the task we have as parents to nurture a generation better than our own.

 

Meet Robug and DoodleBug

Now that I think about it, we must have been quite nuts to decide that we should introduce Q to the world of robots. We don’t mean to show him what robots are (he already knows that), but rather, take him behind the scenes to see how robots are made.

We originally spoke to a robotics specialist friend of ours that runs Ministry of Robotics and he said that his robots can take skilled engineers up to half a day to assemble a simple version. So we canned that plan and went with our next best plan of buying a little robot kit. We found some at Toys R Us and settled on a fly-robot and a doodling robot that draws from the spectacular 4M range of science toys.

As it turns out, the bots were too hard for Q to fix though the fella had a field day playing with the bit parts, handing stuff to us and being able to handle real tools. We let him take the lead with decorating Ro-Bug and in sharing in the soda in the can we were fervently trying to empty. The kits were fairly straight forward though I would most certainly recommend reading ALL the instructions and accounting for ALL the bit parts BEFORE embarking on building either of these robots.

Come check our robots in action in these videos: our robug and doodle bug

stand up for our mothers

A friend of mine was part of a rather meaningful movement this past National Day; the Stand Up for Singapore program to encourage Singaporeans to act graciously towards mothers and the elderly.

It started with a fairly simple notion, that there has been far too many examples of people behaving badly towards the elderly and pregnant moms on public transport and that instead of (publicly) stomping on them, they wanted to focus on the nicer side to Singaporeans: the willingness to BE gracious to these two groups of people through the simple act of giving up your seat to them whilst on buses, trains and other waiting areas. They, after all, need it more than the average abled bodied person.

I cottoned on to this a little late but though it was not something I suffered whilst pregnant with both my boys, I have many friends who do take public transport daily and have feedback that people start to look through them  as if they were invisible while they are riding on the buses and trains. Sometimes, these seat hoggers (like the pigs?) pretend to be asleep so that they don’t have to give up their seats; even if they are seated in the priority seat.

So, to help them raise awareness, especially amongst the mothers, I’ve bought some of their {for mothers) t-shirts to give to my playgroup mummies and other mummy friends. You guys will be getting yours soon!

butterfly blooming

Ok, I have a confession to make: I love butterflies. I love the way they look, I love the way the fly and most off all, I love they way they bloom. I’ve always thought the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly is one of the most amazing things nature can offer.

We are lucky to live down the road from a lime plant growing neighbor who has a knack of finding young caterpillars in her garden, she was quite happy to hand them over to us so that my boys could watch the amazing process as well.

We’ve hatched several butterflies to date and the best part of the whole thing is when we set the butterfly free. So, since it has been a while since our last butterfly blooming project, we went scouting for a caterpillar to rear. She was kind enough to find us three.

Our first caterpillar was a real eater of a caterpillar and he worked his way through the leaves quick enough and got really fat fast. Next thing we knew (also, because we were quite distracted those days), he was in chrysalids mode. And in another blink of an eye, he emerged as a beautiful lime butterfly. Before we set the butterfly free, we took the chance to talk about the beauty of the butterfly, what they ate (nectar), how no two butterflies are the same and do some butterfly related crafts: in today’s case, we did butterfly fingerprinting ala Ed Emberley.

And as the sun was setting, I took my boys and we said farewell to the butterfly and wished him well. Q was very clear in telling the butterfly that if he needed to find food, he could go ask Mr. Bumble Bee cos they ate the same thing, but to be careful cos the bee might sting.

Mushroom Magic

After what felt like a mammoth undertaking with our ABC series, I decided to take it a little easier and start exploring other less structured (read: more world life fun) stuff like Solar System, life cycles, things in our past… etc. Basically, random stuff; still educational but less formal than learning about ABCs and 123s.

We recently took Q to Bollywood Veggies for lunch with some friends and I decided that it would be fun to try growing our own edible stuff. I don’t have a green thumb at all so I had to go find other ways to make this work. I came across a nice mummy (Hello Poppletots!) with an online blogshop selling these cute and fun mushroom growing kits and I bought one to show Q how sporing plants reproduced/grew. He already kinda understands how seeds work.

The mushrooms come in a stump of sawdust with online instructions that they need a warm, darkish, humid place to thrive. You are to spray water it several times a day and let nature takes its course. Q’s job was to spray the stump several times a day and the truth is, he got kinda bored of the work cos things appeared to be moving really slowly. Then, suddenly, overnight maybe about four days in, little white stuff started to sprout and we had to ban the kid from going near the stump because he kept trying to peel them out. He actually succeeded and luckily we caught the little fella quietly ensconced in the storeroom (where the mushrooms were) doing peeling work. We lost one side of our budding mushrooms actually. That is why, if you look at the photo, there’re only mushrooms on one side.

From the little white bits on, things progressed quite rapidly. We’re talking about whole mushrooms growing from 1 cm things to what appeared to be full sized in under 48 hours. We gave it another day or so and decided it was time to harvest our first batch of homegrown oyster mushrooms which we fried with garlic and japanese rice wine. The adults in the house only ended up eating a piece or two, the kid ate the rest.

Digging for Dinosaurs

We took the kids to Universal Studio Singapore for my birthday and one of the highlights of the trip there was taking Q to the Lost World where dinosaurs roamed.

Sidebar: Wun and I enjoyed some adult time with harrowing jurassic park ride where we miraculously got away dry while our fellow ride goers ended up utterly and completely wet.  It was kinda like taking a trip into Stephen Spielberg’s iconic movie franchise Jurassic Park. We only wished we knew more dinosaur names.

Anyway, we took Q on the Dino-soaring ride (again after dying from heat in the long queue) and he utterly loved the ride. We missed out on meeting Diane the animatronic dinosaur so we decided we’d have our own little dinosaur adventure right at home.

I found us a dinosaur excavation kit, complete with a little excavation chisel and brush. The whole kit cost me about S$12 and we settled to a happy afternoon of chipping (very slowly) at the block of earth hoping to unearth the first of six promised dinosaurs. After an hour (read: eternity to a kid), we finally saw the tip of what would be later revealed to be the top of a T-Rex’s head.

We did the whole process properly for about two dinosaurs before Q figured out that by smacking the block on the floor hard, more earth would fall out. So that’s what he did and lo and behold, less than fifteen minutes later- and mummy having given up trying to convince him that we had to unearth the dinosaurs slowly; the rest of our dinosaur brood emerged.

As we were washing the earth off the dinosaur figurines, I explained that paleontologists and other excavation crew would spend months and years digging up dinosaur bones and then, like a really difficult jigsaw, piece them together. And my little Q in this 2,5year old wisdom said: They should just bang on the ground, then they would find the dinosaurs before they died and became bones.

Ah. The wisdom of babes.

Alphabet Paper Crafts

Now that we have finished our ABC learning crafts, I went round digging for stuff we could do ABC wise to revise. I came across this wonderful collection of Alphabet paper crafts at Digitprop.com and thought I’d share with all of you. Its lovely ain’t it? And its just a mouse click and print away!

Bake and Go @ TOTT Store

We usually do our baking at home but once in a while- mainly for novelty sake, and cos I don’t always wish to have to clear up; we head over to TOTT Store (next door to us!) for a spot of baking at their Bake & Go section.

Its mainly for parents with kids to leave them somewhere for a stint while parents go shopping  but, still, its a great place for kids and even parents to spend sometime doing stuff together. For S$12.80 (inclusive GST) you get an apron and your own tin of cookie dough (available in chocolate, vanilla and strawberry) and a some choc chips. You can buy other additives for a small fee; Q usually goes for the rainbow sprinkles. And you’re ready to go!

The nice uncle in charge (maybe there’s an aunty too, but we’ve always only ever met uncle Cookie) ushers you to your own baking station and you bake away. They have cookie cutters for use if you prefer a slightly more structured cookies. We personally just like to flatten them out.

Once you are done, Uncle Cookie (that’s what he told Q his name was) sends them into the oven and you come back in about 20 minutes and pack your own cookies into the now empty cookie dough tin.

Viola! Cookies!

Review: Esplanade’s Play Time’s The Magic Ocean

I decided it was time to initiate Evan into the world of theatre and musicals and since I was planning to take Q to watch the well review The Magic Ocean at the Esplanade, I decided I would buy a family set of tickets and take the bub.

This was part of the Esplanade Play Time offerings.

I didn’t have high hopes for the little fella but Q was duly excited to enter a world where you could swim with the whales, make friends with crabs and dance along with the fish. Ever since he watched Finding Nemo, he’s always held a particular fondness for ocean things.

One of the things I like about this is that the audience is seated within the musical space. Meaning, the action happens all around everyone and there are many interactive portions where the audience can take part: action songs, going up to pat the faux jellyfish, shooing the bad “whale catchers away” and sticking shells and starfish (velcro toys that were lying around) onto various ocean creatures (think barnacles).

I was kinda surprised that Evan stayed awake and attentive throughout the whole show and passed out gloriously for two hours after the show (yay!). Q jabbered about the jellyfishes incessantly and tried to mimic Dory (from Finding Nemo) in speaking whale to great hilarity.

This show comes around seasonally and if it comes, you guys would definitely go watch it!

From the program website:

Come on an underwater adventure this June down below the Magic Ocean!

Swim with fish great and small, or take a walk sideways with the friendly crab and starfish! Hide in a large clam shell, or peacefully glide through the sea with turtles and ride the rolling waves up and down. Once in a while, you might have to flee from the fearsome shark!

In this theatrical experience specially designed for 2 –4 year olds, children will discover a magical world through visual stimulation, music, shadow play and interaction as the ocean comes alive before their eyes.

Come sit along the seabed among colourfuls coral and watch the wonders of the sea unfold with us in the Magic Ocean!