Friday, July 26, 2013

Baby's First Shoes

What did you do with your baby's first pair of shoes after he/she has outgrown them? May we suggest framing them as a memento that will be treasured by generations to come.

Little Impressions is currently having a special offer for first shoes frame.

Solid oak shadow box frame with a pair of baby's first shoes: $38
Solid oak shadow box frame with a pair of baby's first shoes & baby photo: $48
Solid oak shadow box frame with a pair of baby's first shoes & baby's foot print cast (as shown above): $280

Shoes and photographs are provided by customers. Little Impressions will provide full framing service with options to personalise the frame with baby's name.

Check out for more information.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Kidzania, Bangkok

On day 3 of our Bangkok holiday, we went to Kidzania. We reserved Kidzania for the day when Dean would be busy at work, since it is indoors and an attraction that was easy for me to manage two boys by myself. Siam Paragon is a short walk from our hotel via the Sky bridge. We spent one full day at Kidzania and Nathan had a blast! I would too if I were his age... it's totally my kind of thing! A city built just for kids with over 80 professions they can try their hand at... while at it, they get paid for the work they do (albeit with Kidzania's currency but it is as close to the adult's working world one can get at that age). The whole city setup is very realistic, just smaller. Kids don costumes and use 'actual' equipment to carry out their work. How fun!

Nathan was only 3+ years old but we bought him a ticket for kids 4 to 15 so that he can participate in almost all the activities. Noah wasn't old enough to join in but he was content just watching kor kor. And like Siam Ocean Park, discounted tickets are available here.

Kidzania watch acts as the ticket. These are scanned at every station.

A cash cheque to start you off

The best part was we hardly needed to queue at all the stations. I had heard of horribly long queues at other Kidaznia outlets and was pleasantly surprised when I realised that we hardly needed to stand in line. Most of the staff are conversant in both English and Thai so we could understand what was going on.

For a start, I got the kids to cash the cheque they received so that we had some money in hand. As parents weren't allowed into the Kidzania bank, I instructed Nathan to help Noah along. It is nice seeing how he carries out his responsibilities as a big brother.

Bringing my little brother to the bank

Nathan tried all the professions he was old enough for (most professions are suitable for kids 4 and up with just a handful that required you to be 6 and up)...

The first occupation he tried and also his favourite was to be a boeing 737 pilot. He liked it so much, he requested that we go for it again. Thankfully, we managed to squeeze in one last go just before closing time. He told me that the first flight "was a good flight" but the second one "wasn't too good cos we landed in mud"!

Captain Nathan

Next he tried his hand at being a surgeon. The thing about Kidzania is that adults are not permitted at the stations itself. We could observe from outside, or in some cases, just wait outside. If you have older kids who can navigate Kidzania by themselves, you can actually get yourself a massage at a mini spa located within Kidzania itself!

Nathan the Surgeon

Some of the roles like the paramedic and fireman actually had an actual ambulance and fire engine to take them to the site where their services are required. In the case of Nathan's assignment, a lawyer had fainted outside the court room, and his team was supposed to go and check on her. The kids arrived with stethoscopes and other medical devices and went about checking on their 'patient'. The Kidzania staff who had to play sick was a real good sport.

Nathan the Paramedic

Getting briefed by the 'senior paramedic'

Boarding the ambulance

On board the ambulance to the accident site

Job done!
Next, he tried his hand at being a dentist. He was given a brief about things dentists do and also the importance of looking after one's own teeth. I like how they interweave little lessons like these into play. This time around, he got to check the teeth of a dummy patient. I doubt any Kidzania staff would like being poked in the mouth by 100 over kids a day.

Taking his Kidzania pledge at the dental clinic

This is the way you brush your teeth

Dr Nathan at work

He also tried being a policeman. His team was supposed to track down a suspect and get his fingerprint. As noted by Nathan, there were no police cars, so the policemen actually needed to go on foot. Nathan was the smallest in his team and I was glad he could keep up with the older kids who ran ahead of him. At one point, he actually lost sight of his team-mates because they were running so fast. But he kept going and finally caught up with them.

Kidzania Police Department - getting briefed by their 'seniors'

Found the suspect

The other profession Nathan enjoyed was the fireman. What's there not to like... he was whisked off to a building that had caught fire in a fire engine. There, he had a water hose with real water that he used to put out the pretend fire. Every little boy's dream.

On board the fire engine

Nathan the Fireman

Other professions he tried...

Nathan the courier delivery man

Your friendly courier delivery man

Nathan the petrol kiosk attendant

Nathan the construction worker

The other one that I found rather interesting was when he went to 'work' in a Coca-Cola factory. Here they were taken thru the process of making a bottle of Coke, right from washing and drying the bottle, down to filling and sealing the bottle. Daddy loves drinking Coke, and Nathan made a bottle just for him.

A bottle for daddy

At the end of the day, the kids had the option to spend their money at a department store or to save it. I gave Nathan all the money he made that day, and asked him to choose something for himself and for Noah. He walked into the store all by himself, made he choice and paid for the items with his 'own' money.

Holding on to his earnings tightly

Paying for his purchases at the cashier

Holding on to his shopping bag with some money left

Although Noah was too small to participate in the role playing activities, he had fun just watching kor kor. There was a playroom meant from kids under 4, and they had all the toys that Noah enjoys. It was as if the playroom was designed for him!

All in all, Nathan got a glimpse into the working world. After a hard day at 'work', I hope he saw how money doesn't fall from the sky, but that a good amount of effort is required. If only the real working world is just as fun. Thumbs up for Kidzania! A well thought out and nicely put together edutainment facility. Highly recommended for kids four and up. We will definitely be back!

This post concludes our three part series on family friendly attractions in Bangkok. Read about our visits to Bangkok's Safari World and Siam Ocean World too!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary

For Dean, my greatest blessing...

We often talk about how blessed we are to have Nathan and Noah. What is often left unsaid, is how blessed I am to have you. Thanks for another wonderful year. For all the hard work you do, sacrifices made and more, always know that I deeply love, appreciate and honour you. You've been the greatest blessing!

We had a lovely dinner at Ocean Restaurant at Resorts World Sentosa. The boys were amazed that we got to dine with the fishes and boy did we have a good time. We got ourselves a table right next to the tank and enjoyed the magnificent underwater view.

I was recounting our celebrations one year ago... Noah had just started walking and talking then, look how he's grown! Looking forward to many more celebrations in the years to come.

Nathan's 1st Violin Concert

Nathan started violin lessons last December, 3 months after he turned 3 years old. He attends a group Suzuki violin class once a week, and we practise daily (weekdays only). A few months ago, we were told that they'd be a school concert, and Nathan will be playing a few violin pieces together with his friends. We practised hard for the concert and have been looking forward to it. Nathan said he'd give his best, and we promised to take him out to celebrate if he gave his best. On the whole, I am pleased that he did a pretty good job. In a span of 8 months, he experienced learning a new instrument, the grind of daily practise and subsequently putting up a mini performance with his friends. :)

One day before the concert, his teacher asked if I would be one of the four parents to play on stage with the kids. I was taken by surprise as I was prepared to sit back, relax and watch the performance. So I asked Nathan if he'd like me to go on stage with him. He said 'yes', so I gamely agreed.

His journey of learning a musical instrument has only just begun and as I learn alongside him, I still struggle to find the right balance between pushing him to practise hard and letting him enjoy and cruise along as he pleases. It is clear that he feels a certain sense of accomplishment when he has mastered a song, and would love to play the piece that he has mastered for daddy or his teacher. But to arrive at the point of mastery, many hours of practice is required. Some days, he tells me that he's tired and doesn't want to practise. Some days, he gives me a half hearted attempt. Of course, there are good days, when we both enjoy the music he makes. I've tried the firm approach and this has driven him to tears sometimes. I've tried the fun approach where we play our violins together on a pretend stage, to an imaginary audience and this, he enjoys. Recently, I've tried accompanying him on the piano and this is a nice change (but I do need to practise the piano more so I can actually play the pieces he's learning). So it is a delicate balance between instilling discipline and pushing him to excel, yet not killing the interest and joy one gets from learning and playing a musical instrument.

Delighted to spot his name in the list of performers

Next year, Noah turns three. I've been thinking about whether to let Noah start learning the violin like Nathan did. My plan is to expose both boys to two different instruments until they are in lower primary. And as demands picks up in school, they can then decide whether to continue pursuing both, or to pick just one instrument. Some parents I've spoken to intentionally chose different instruments for their children, just so there would be no means of comparison / competition among the kids. I don't really think that would be an issue, so it is likely that both my kids will be exposed to the same instruments. I just hope that I'd be able to balance our schedules well, so I can continue doing parent accompanied classes with them until it proves not beneficial for me to learn alongside them. I have enjoyed the journey with Nathan thus far, and I am glad he's enjoying it too.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Siam Ocean World

We spent the second day of our Bangkok vacation at Siam Ocean World. Located at Siam Paragon, it is a 15 minute walk from our hotel. We chose this attraction as daddy needed to work and I'd mostly be alone with the kids. This underground aquarium is located at the basement of a big shopping mall, and easy for me to navigate with the children. We took the sky bridge which links all the major shopping centres together, much like the underpass in Orchard Road, just that this runs above the roads. The sky bridge is stroller friendly except for a flight of about 4 steps just as we are about to enter Siam Paragon. Tickets are available at the door. But if you plan in advance, you can get tickets at close to half the price from a third party site as I found out from Princess Dana Diaries. You do need to book your tickets at least 24 hours before your visit.

Sky Bridge from our hotel to Siam Paragon

Fascinated by a fake giant crab

I liked how they had many shows scheduled throughout the day. We managed to catch all the shows and thought that they were pretty well done. The shows are conducted in dual language - English & Thai, catering to the majority of the visitors. We watched scuba divers feed sharks and were wondering why the sharks weren't really all that keen on the frozen tuna they were fed... we were later told that it was mating season, and hence, they weren't quite as keen on feeding as they normally would be. We also managed to see otters and penguins feeding. I liked being able to see them in 'action' rather than hardly moving in their enclosures. Nothing like seeing them gobble down their food enthusiastically.

Shark feeding


Otter Feeding

Penguin Feeding

The aquarium is filled with over 30,000 sea creatures from various regions around the world. In addition to seeing the creatures in their tanks and thru the tunnels, we had a behind the scenes tour in the form of a glass bottom boat ride. It is nice to have a different perspective on what goes on inside the aquarium, just to keep it going on a daily basis.

Look at the fishes!

Communicating with a scuba diver

A seahorse

Love how they are holding hands

Life jackets to be safe

Behind the scenes tour

We spot a shark beneath our glass bottom boat

We found a mini playground within the oceanarium and the boys were thrilled. They spent some time having a good run around the playground.

A special tuk-tuk

Half time - a quick nap

In addition to the above, there was fish reflexology (which we didn't try) as well as a 4D movie. I liked these fridge activities as they helped to dissipate the crowd... everyone gets to take part in different activities at various different locations within the ocean park at their own time, and we generally did not have to jostle with a crowd. All these fridge activities are included in the ticket price if you buy the package. 

The place is completely stroller friendly, and I was able to navigate the grounds with two kids in a stroller really easily. Thumbs up for a family friendly attraction. We enjoyed our visit!

This is part 2 of a series detailing our child-friendly holiday to Bangkok. Stayed tuned for part 3, where we'll tell you how much fun we had at Kidzania!