Friday, June 21, 2013

Kids learn from kids

We have been to playgrounds with fireman poles a few times... Nathan hasn't been keen on trying those even with daddy's help. I suppose he has always been quite cautious, and wasn't quite as confident since he can't quite see where he's going to land. He's watched the older kids do it, he's watched younger ones do it... he's tried with daddy's help... but usually after the first try, he'd not want to repeat it in that same playground session.

Last weekend, we had dinner at Marche at 313 Somerset. There is a small playground in the restaurant, and Noah loves it because it looks like a house. He keeps telling the other kids at the playground that it is his house.

And there is a fireman pole as well... As expected, Nathan wasn't all that keen on sliding down the pole. Noah observed other kids sliding down the pole, and decided to give it a go. It was his first time down the fireman pole, and I helped by holding on to him. He enjoyed it... and kept going, again and again!

Nathan watched his brother, and saw that he was having so much fun.

Nathan: Mommy, why is Noah going again and again?
Me: He likes it! I think it is a lot of fun! Want to try?
Nathan: No.

Noah continues going...

Nathan: Mommy, why is it that Noah can do it?
Me: Noah is not afraid to try. Doesn't it look like he's doing a good job?
Nathan: Yes.
Me: Want to try?

After a while, he decides to give it a go... without any persuasion from me... and he managed!

He was delighted and says he's ready to try the fireman pole at another playground we frequent.

Watching his brother actually encouraged him to try something he's always been hesitant about. I am glad that they have each other to learn from, and hope that they'll continue to learn from each other.

On another note, kids are pretty capable of sorting themselves out when there is a disagreement... often, they are fussing to get your attention. Sometimes, I pretend that I am not interested in their argument or can't hear what they are saying... and let them sort themselves out...

One morning, both of them were drinking milk in Nathan's room. I decided to take a quick shower... just as I got started, I heard Noah fussing.

Me: What's going on? Have you finished your milk?

Nathan: Noah wants Colin (one of his stuff toys).

They were fighting over a toy. More fussing...

Me: I can't hear you... *proceeds to turn on the shower*

More fussing...

Nathan: Mommy, Noah blah blah blah!

Me: I can't hear you... * continues with my shower*

More fussing...

Noah: Mommy, kor kor blah blah blah!

Me: I can't hear you... I am taking a shower.

A few moments later, silence. I am done with my shower. I came out and both of them have finished their bottles of milk and were playing nicely together. 

Me: Why was there so much noise just now.

Nathan: Noah wanted my Colin. I didn't give it to him. So he was fussing. In the end, I gave it to him, he held it for a short while, and returned it to me.

There! No intervention required.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas

We went for a 4D3N cruise with Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas and really enjoyed the time we had together as a family away from school, work and our electronic gadgets.

We share our experience here for those who are considering or have a cruise vacation planned.

Royal Carribean's Mariner of the Seas

The cruise departs from the Marina Bay Cruise Centre. If you plan to drive and leave your vehicle at the cruise centre, overnight parking is available. We decided to take a cab instead. Although the ship only departs at 5pm, we were able to check-in and board at about 11am. Buffet lunch was served at the Windjammer restaurant on board.

Going on our first cruise vacation

Things to Bring
If you decide to check-in your luggage, know that it takes a while for your luggage to arrive at your rooms due to the sheer volume of luggage there is to handle. You might not receive it until late evening of the first day, so it is a good idea to hand carry a small trolley bag with some essentials. We decided not to check in our luggage, mainly because there is so much that I need to have with me since I am travelling with two young ones.

Waiting to Board

Travelling with two kids, my list of essentials is pretty long...
They include:
1) Milk powder & bottles
2) Bolster and favourite soft toy for afternoon nap
3) Diapers
4) Change of clothes
5) Camera
6) Swimming / sports gear (in case you decide to check out the pool / sports facilities before your luggage arrives)

Other things I packed...
1) Medication (just in case)
2) Soap & shampoo (though this is available in the rooms)
3) Slippers / Sandals
4) Sunscreen

Space is premium on a cruise ship so most of the staterooms are pretty small. We stayed in a balcony class cabin with a queen bed and a sofa bed. There was a seating area at the balcony where you can laze or have breakfast in the comfort of your room. Room service breakfast is available at no additional charge! This room configuration was perfect for our family. Dean and Nathan shared the bed, while Noah and I slept in the sofa bed. No fear of kids falling off bunk beds. :) Rooms are equipped with basic necessities like an electric kettle.

Balcony Class Stateroom

There were nightly shows ranging from acrobatics/ballet to comedy and songs.

I enjoyed the first night's show the most. Titled Ballet on Shoulders, it featured a lady and a man who were able to execute amazing moves effortlessly. Nathan was so inspired, he attempted ballet on daddy's head...

Ballet on Shoulders

Noah was able to sit through all the shows with his eyes glued to the stage. I was pleasantly surprised and glad that he enjoyed the performances even though they weren't exactly kids' stuff.

In addition to the nightly shows, there was an ice-skating spectacular. We were wowed by the figure skaters' flawless execution of spins, back-flips, lifts, spirals and group sequences. At certain times of the day, the ice-skating rink is open for anyone who'd like to have a go at ice-skating. Skates are made available for loan. Dress in long pants/jeans if you'd like to try out.

Ice-skating spectacular

Room service breakfast is available thru'out the duration of our stay but we decided to dine at the restaurants instead. The breakfast crowd peaks at 9am, so do expect a short queue if you decide to dine at that time. We are early birds, so we did not encounter much problems. 

More please!

Lunch is served at selected restaurants. Expect a short queue during peak periods. The menu at the dining rooms changes everyday. In general, the food was palatable. The boys were delighted as they got to have dessert after every meal. Nathan's choice - chocolate ice-cream, Noah's choice - strawberry ice-cream WITH biscuit. A real treat!

Noah's enjoying his favourite strawberry ice-cream

Dinner is served in two seatings, 5.45pm and 8pm. The dinner seatings are pre-allocated (you make your choice when you book your cruise holiday). I like this arrangement as we did not have to waste time waiting in line. We just had to show up at our allocated table at the right time, and the waiter will be there to hand us the menus and take our orders.

Kids' Club
The kids' club offered a multitude of activities to engage kids aged 3 to 12. It is a drop of service, so parents can drop the kids off during opening hours and head off to the spa or solarium to relax. Nathan participated in a science experiment where they created a 'volcano' using baking soda and a mixture of several liquids. The kids are split into groups according to their ages, and I like how the activities are age appropriate, and group size kept rather small. 


At the kids' club

Noah was too young to join the kids club, but there was a nursery where we could drop him off. Unlike the kids' club which was free, the drop off service for kids under 3 is $8 an hour. The nursery is equipped with fisherprice toys to keep the toddlers busy. Baby cots are available for babies who need a shut eye, and a diaper changing area was also available in the same area. We did not use this service but it is nice to know that there is also a drop-off option for kids under 3. 

A wide variety of Fisher Price toys for the little ones

Baby cots & diaper changing area

Nursery for kids under 3

There are activities planned throughout the day ranging from scrap booking workshops, to health talks, to movie screenings, to dancing, to karaoke, to meet and greet session with the Dreamworks characters... These are detailed in the daily compass, a copy of which is made available in our cabin every evening (for the next day's activities).

Cruise Compass details the day's activities

Meet & Greet - King Julian

Meet & Greet - Kung Fu Panda

In addition, there are facilities such as the rock wall, in-line skating, mini golf, basketball court, swimming pool and gym which you can use at your own time.

Rock wall

Basketball Court

Mini Golf


And if you really just want to sit back and unwind, deck chairs are aplenty. We enjoyed just strolling on the top deck, hearing the crash of waves and feeling the sea breeze against our faces.

Taking a stroll on the open deck

The highlight for us on Mariner of the Seas was the Dreamworks experience. Nathan and Noah were thrilled to see many of the characters that they have seen in books/movies like Alex & gang from Madagascar, Kungfu Panda and Puss in Boots. There were meet & greet sessions scheduled throughout the duration of the cruise. On the last night, there was a Dreamworks parade were we got to see all the Dreamworks charcters moving to the music. It was scheduled at 10.30pm though, way past the kids' bedtime. They were watching the parade in their pyjamas! It'd probably be better if there were two sessions, with one held earlier for families with young kids. Nonetheless, the kids stayed up for the parade and fell asleep promptly once we returned to our stateroom.

Shrek & Princess Fiona

King Julien

Kungfu Panda

Gloria the hippo

Puss in Boots

All in all, we enjoyed our cruise vacation. It is a perfect 'getaway' when you are pressed for time. Mariner of the Seas will be sailing from Singapore this November / December 2013. Book you tickets for your cruise vacation today!

Sail-Away party on the deck

Disclaimer: We received a stateroom upgrade in exchange for this blog post. All opinions are my own.

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Monday, June 17, 2013

BBQ Under the Stars at Port of Lost Wonder

Port of Lost Wonder is extending their opening hours this June holidays (on Fri & Sat) for BBQ Under the Stars. Enjoy a free flow of starters and salads, a wide variety of yummy barbequed mains, and free flow of delectable desserts, while the children have a splashing good time at the pirate ship.

We received an invite to the event, and my boys were more than thrilled!

Both of them wasted no time in getting themselves wet. The last time we came to POLW almost one year ago, Nathan needed us to accompany him on the long windy slides. This time around, he was game to go on them all by himself. I can't help but feel a tad sad that my no.1 doesn't need me as much as he used to. :(

He also enjoyed the company of kids his age... and was glad that Dana was there to play with him.

Noah on the other hand, just enjoys splashing on the side. He is now tall enough to operate the 'water guns', and spent a considerable amount of time playing with them. 

While the kids were busy playing, Dean and I checked out the dinner spread.

For BBQed main course. I choose the beef rump, while Dean had the chicken. The kids had sausage and mashed potatoes. We ordered our food by filling in an order sheet that was handed to us at the entrance. The food was delivered to our table in under 10 minutes! 

Marinated Beef Rump
Kid's Sausage & Mash
Boneless Chicken Thigh

In addition to all these yummy food, there were other sweet treats that are well loved by adults and kids... including cotton candy!

Just as we finished dinner, the foam pool started operations. Both the boys had fun playing with BUBBLES! 

After dinner, we watched The Iron Giant that was projected on a big screen erected near the deck. Bring along a beach towel and lie in comfort while you enjoy your movie and desserts under the stars.

Perfect end to a nice day out at Sentosa!

Head on down to POLW this weekend and enjoy a BBQ under the stars!

BBQ Under the Stars
Dates: Every Friday & Saturday in June 2013 (07, 08, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28 and 29 June 2013)
Time: 6.30pm - 9.30pm
Location: Port of Lost Wonder
Pricing: $35 /Adult | $30 /Child (comes with a free drink/housepour)

Disclaimer: We were invited to BBQ Under the Stars for purposes of this blog review. All opinions are my own.