MS. ULB

a Mother in Search of the Unbearable Lightness of Being


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Cool De Sac @ Suntec City Mall

We had been to Cool De Sac, a children’s entertainment play centre at Suntec, twice for play dates in the same week, so I thought I should do a quick post on this play space.

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The first thing that captured Olive’s attention right when we enter Cool de sac grounds.

Play Area
A standard padded area with tunnels and slides.
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Treehouse 
Playground with blue foam blocks and a ball pit at the corner.

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Arts & Blocks
Area with arts and craft materials provided and a lego section for the little builders. Further in, at the ‘Tweens’ corner, there are also interactive console games for older kids, otherwise frequented by bored parents.
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Backstage
Dress up corner with face/hand-painting, and a stage for the little performers.

Window Painting
Olive’s favorite activity has got to be painting on the full length windows right next to ‘Bistro cool’, a café within Cool De Sac.

Tots
A playground catered for kids under the age of 3, with toys strewn all over a padded area and another small ball pit for the crawlers and tiny toddlers.
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All in all, a great place for play dates, especially if you have kids under 3 (given the admission fee). Another plus point is the unlimited play time per admission.

Cool De Sac
Address: 3 Temasek Boulevard, Suntec City Mall
#02-379/80, Singapore 038983
Opening hours:
Sunday – Thursday from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
Friday & Saturday from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm
Admission fee: 
Monday – Friday
Children under 6 months: FREE
Children under 3 years old: $10.70
Children from 3-12 years old: $21.40

Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays
Children under 6 months: FREE
Children under 3 years old: $13.90

Children from 3-12 years old: $27.80
* 2 accompanying adults free with every child. Subsequent accompanying adult charged at $5.50

 


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Port of Lost Wonder @ Palawan Beach

Our family has an obsession over water theme parks so when we were back in Singapore for the past few weeks, we decided to check out the Port of Lost Wonder (POLW), located on Palawan Beach in Sentosa.

We loved everything about it! It was great for kids 12 years and under and perfect for our water baby who was almost 2. We went on a weekday and it was a mere $10 admission charge for Olive and Olive only! Free for accompanying adults. The water park was spacious and clean and complete with a restaurant, Port Belly, which was actually pretty decent in terms of taste and price. And the best part? It’s right on Palawan Beach, so we could go get our dose of vitamin sea and sand whenever we felt like it.

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Olive’s face lit up the moment she entered the POLW.

The Pirate Ship
The center of the attraction.
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Hip hip hurray!

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The Play Den
Featuring blue foam blocks that are always a hit with the boys!
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Curiosity Island
We didn’t quite check out this area but there are daily activities for kids all the around vicinity.img_0114

The Deck
The obvious place of choice for us to have our lunch ordered from Port Belly restaurant.


Palawan Beach
Beach please! For the beach bums!
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Do you wanna build a sandman?


Nauti-Potty 
The shower rooms are equipped with hand held shower heads and warm water for me to shower Olive with ease! Look who came out of the bathroom fresh and happy!

POLW is definitely going to be one of our go-to places whenever we are back in Singapore.

Port of Lost World
Opening hours: 10am-6.30pm daily
Admission fee: $10/kid for weekdays, $15/kid for weekends and holidays; Accompanying adults enter for free.


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Playeum, Children’s Centre for Creativity

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Olive ‘holidaying’ with her 6th Grandaunt again.

Off we went to Gillman Barracks for a playdate at the Children’s Centre for Creativity operated by Playeum Ltd, a not-for-profit organisation that curates and facilitates art experiences designed for children aged 1-12. The exhibition changes with time and the current exhibition, which will last till 30th October 2016, is titled ‘Hideaways – Creating with Nature’.

It was our first visit there and to be honest, I was half-expecting a play space where I could just sit by the side and watch the kids do their own thing, like when we visit an indoor playground. I was, however, dead wrong with my assumption. This is a creative centre where most, if not all installations require hands-on participation directed at experiential learning through art and play. It means that the adults will have to help facilitate and ignite the children’s ideas for the various activities.

Chalkboard Wall
One of the few areas for self-directed play. Parental guidance not required. Just pick up the crayons and doodle on the wall.

Welcome to My World
By The People’s Atelier, Dr Adeline Seah & Andy Yang 
& Sounds of the Earth: Nature’s Ensemble
By Shogun Creatives
These two installations provided plenty of natural materials such as bamboo sticks, rope ties, egg cartons, leaves etc. for children to construct shelters for insects. Coconut husks, array of beans, sticks, twigs, and more dried leaves were also provided to create musical instruments. These activities were too high-level for 21-month young Olive. It was more sensory play for her where she went around touching the natural materials and moving them from one place to another.IMG_1738Not quite sure what the outdoor space was about but it seemed to me like an extension of the ‘Welcome to My World’ & ‘The Sounds of the Earth’ exhibits. Whatever it was, Olive had so much fun playing with the bamboo sticks, tapping it on the ground and striking the wooden boards dangling from the dome structure. IMG_1896

She got to water the plants and wet the floor outdoors too.

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Make-believe Hideaway
By Madhvi Subrahmanian
An installation that invites children to build imaginary habitats using clay. Both Skye and Olive enjoyed this activity. Playdoh, or its equivalent, never fails to keep children engaged. Plus, they each got a pencil to poke holes on the clay. Who doesn’t like poking at things? Even Facebook has a poking function for the serious pokers out there! Poke poke! Poke poke!

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Knock Knock! Who Lives There?
By Isabelle Desjeux & Team
This installation was really fun too! The kids got to use magnifying glasses and torchlights to check out all sorts of creepy crawlies. There was a projector to project the insect specimens on the wall, which totally piqued their interest.

Creature Cave
By Bartholomew Ting & Playeum
Olive was pretty drawn to this cave too and it was the most infant and toddler-friendly area.IMG_1974
We probably missed a couple other exhibits but we had a fulfilling morning at the Children’s Centre for Creativity, especially when there was so much to explore and learn through play.IMG_1994IMG_2003

Will definitely bring Olive there again for Playeum’s next exhibition, titled ‘Stories’.

Playeum: Children’s Centre for Creativity
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10am-6pm
Admission fee: $20 for child and free for one accompanying adult; $10 for additional adult. We got 20% off using Safra card.
Check out Playeum’s website for more details and other card/membership promotions.


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Pororo Park SG

One of Olive’s favorite cartoons is Pororo the Little Penguin from Korea, so of course we had to make a visit to Pororo Park when we were back in Singapore last month.

Rody’s Toy Store
The first thing that greeted Olive was none other than a Pororo statue, just a little taller than Olive, strategically placed at the entrance of the toy store. Luckily for me, this babe was contented enough to see and hug her favorite character and did not request for any toy. You know the overindulgent kindof mom who wants to give her kid anything and everything he/she wants (as long as he/she’s well-behaved)? Yes hi, that’s me! So I kept asking Olive if she wanted anything and even prompted her to choose something from the store but she was fine without a memento so ‘Yay’ for me again! IMG_1314

Entrance & Admission fees
We paid the Partner rates not reflected in the poster below. As at July 2016, it was $28.50 for children aged 2 and above, $20.80 for children below 2 years, free for babies below 1 year, and $3.50 for an accompanying adult for 2 hours of playtime only. Honestly, 2 hours of playtime is just miserable! Olive could stay there for at least half day, maybe even last through the full operating hours. We were there on a Wednesday and judging from the weekday crowd, I reckon that Pororo Park should just allow for unlimited playtime on weekdays at a flat rate, and impose the $5 per block of 30 minutes (or part thereof) additional playtime only on weekends, even for non-members.IMG_1319

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Lockers for rent.

Petty’s Supermarket
Olive’s first stop and already she refused to leave this area. I had to carry her out and entice her with the other attractions.

Shark Ball Pool
One of the biggest ball pit we have come across so far. Olive is a huge fan of ball pits but there was something else that drew her attention nearby so she went in and headed out straightaway to the next attraction.IMG_1532

Pororo House
This is it! Olive’s favorite play area. Every time she went missing, we knew just where to find her. She was either sleeping on Pororo’s bed or sitting in his bathtub.

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Giving Pororo a kiss before she entered his house.

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Pororo Express
Be sure to check the train operating schedule because when we got to it, the ride was due for a break. This rail ride runs for 30min each time, with 30min breaks in between. Olive didn’t quite warm up to this ride. Guess we will have to try it on our next visit.IMG_1431

Poby’s Play Gym
One of the smallest 2-storey gyms we have come across so far. Fun enough for toddlers who love to climb and slide. Not sure if it’s engaging enough for older kids though.IMG_1667

Tong Tong’s Little Theatre
No musicals or sing-along when we were there, just screening of Pororo cartoon. Check out their Edutainment Programs daily schedule if you want to catch the mascots in action.

Loopy’s Dance
We managed to catch Loopy and Petty dancing for a mere 10-15 min though. Wished the mascots danced a little more or hung around for a bit because they were in such a hurry to leave. The kids, including Olive, were chasing after them for more handshakes and hugs.

Room for Birthday Parties, Workshops and Activities
Not a bad idea to have a birthday celebration here in Pororo Park, especially if your kids are fans of Pororo. Definitely a place I will consider for Olive’s future birthday parties and the party packages seem quite reasonable too?!

Cars and such
Another nice little area with transportation toys and tracks.

For Babies & Toddlers
A cosy corner for crawlers and small toddlers.
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Look who joined us for the play date? Managed to catch the beautiful hurricane Skyler for a wefie before she escaped and ran off again.

Loopy’s Café
We didn’t really try the food here simply because Marina Square shopping mall has plenty of food options. Besides, with a limited 2-hour play time, not once did I think of going to the café for a break and for light bites. Pretty sure you get the point I’m trying to make but this 2-hour limit really irked the crap outta me.
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Nonetheless, it was yet another fun mama-date for me and play date for Olive!IMG_1563IMG_1582IMG_1680Till next time!

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Byebye Pororo Park. Pretty sure I’ll be back again!


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Imaginarium: Over the Ocean, Under the Sea

Finally managed to bring Olive for her first Imaginarium experience at Singapore Art Museum (SAM) at 8Q where we had a play-date with mamas and bubbas Lolla and Bibi, Janne and Jojo, and Gill and Gideon whom we acquainted with, over Instagram! After all the exchanges via Instagram, it’s always nice to finally meet the people we so often “see”, in real life. And what’s even better is when the mamas we meet are so down-to-earth and so true to their online personas that it felt as though we were friends for a while now. The people observing our interactions (if any) wouldn’t have known that it was actually the first time we met.

So the group of us whisked our kids from one exhibit to another, sometimes terrorizing the museum attendants, especially those watching over exhibits where installations were fragile and cannot be touched. IMG_1133

MULYANA
(b. 1984, Indonesia)
Dimana Mogus?
(Where is Mogus?)
The child-friendliest exhibit of all, where the kids could go wild and run, jump, roll around, and touch the sea monsters and corals made from yarn, cotton, felt etc.IMG_1130

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One of these octopus monsters is Mogus.

Aside from the self-exploration, I took the opportunity to teach Olive some colors by asking her to find and touch the corals of a specific color.

There was a lot of dancing involved too, whenever Olive was happy.

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And plenty of photo opportunities for me to go trigger happy.

KARINA SMIGLA-BOBINSKI
(b. 1967, Poland)
ADA
My favorite exhibit, also Olive’s least favorite exhibit featuring a giant glowing sphere with charcoal studs affixed on its surface. The charcoal studs made marks along the walls, ceiling, and floor as we pushed the sphere around, symbolizing how we so often leave marks or damage our environment while interacting with it. Through this installation, I also discovered that my little brave-heart has grown to be afraid of the dark. I didn’t want to pick Olive up and carry her because I wanted to see if she could overcome the fear of darkness on her own, with some encouragement. But lucky for Olive, her 6th grandaunt, one of her fiercest protectors, carried her immediately and kept them both at ease. IMG_1190

KRIT NGAMSOM
(b. 1983, Thailand)
Damien, I’m Famished (After Damien Hirst);
Bryde’s Fountain (After Marcel Duchamp); and
Surrealism Spiced (After Salvador Dali)
Not much to say about this exhibit, except that it was not quite suitable for kids simply because “NO TOUCHING!” Good to note that Olive could restrain her urge to touch the installations and view them from a safe distance. Gives me confidence to bring her to more art galleries in future.

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With yiyi Dawn, part of Olive’s entourage.

TAN ZI XI
(b. 1985, Singapore)
Plastic Ocean
A no-touching/tugging exhibit full of rubbish. Olive enjoyed this garbage galore so much that she snatched my camera away from me to snap pictures of all the trash hanging around.

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Little photographer at work again.

PAPERMOON PUPPET THEATRE
(f. 2006, Indonesia)
Suara Muara (The Sounds of the Estuary)
Exhibit meant to showcase Java’s forgotten little China, a tiny town on the northern part of Java, which was once an important port for commercial and maritime affairs.
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Playing the part.

Beyond the Deep Blue: Short Films Screening
We spent some time just outside this theatre where there was a nice cosy area with sofas and childrens’ furniture and books that kept the kids occupied.
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Submaroom
An activity room where kids and adults can make origami. I don’t think any of us made any successfully though.

We were there from the time SAM opened, at 10am to about 1pm before the hunger pangs got to us and we adjourned to Food For Thought for lunch. Definitely a morning well spent with this bunch, and with my aunt and cousins too! IMG_1206

Imaginarium: Over the Ocean, Under the Sea
6th edition of SAM’s children-focused annual exhibition
Runs from 14 May 2016 – 28 August 2016
Free admission for Singaporeans and PRs
Check out SAM’s website for more details!


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Koh Samui with a Toddler

Olive’s +66 trip at 16 months small

Travel period: 18 Feb to 22 Feb 2016 (4 nights)

Weather: Tropical climate, year-round summer with temperatures averaging at 30°c.

Stay: Nikki Beach, Lipa Noi, west coast of Koh Samui.

Eat: Anything and everything since Olive has reached toddlerhood.

Moving around: We took the taxi to and from the hotel. We were total beach bums this holiday and didn’t move around much. Our main purpose for the trip was to attend a wedding so no research was done at all. Zero, zilch, nada! If we weren’t sleeping, we were either by or in the pool, or by the beach or in the sea.

Staying connected: We purchased pre-paid sim cards at the airport.

Useful Information (since I cannot provide you with much)Koh Samui with Kids: Your Ultimate Guide

Best part about not doing any research or planning for a holiday is the dolce far niente. Yes to the unbearable lightness of being and ultimate nua-ing (i.e. lazing around in Singlish)! I could do this all day, everyday. Will let the pictures do most of the talking.

Itinerary:
18.02.16 Thu Day 1: Checked in to Nikki Beach Resort. Eat. Swim. Dance. Repeat.

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Olive’s 26th flight out @ 16 months small.

19.02.16 Fri Day 2: Eat. Swim. Play. Dance. Sleep. Repeat. And of course attending our dear friend’s wedding at Ban Suriya, a 6 bedrooms villa by the beach.

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Ready to bum around all day! Hip hip hurray!

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Olive loves the sea as much as I do, maybe even more. Can’t wait to go scuba with this kid!

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Olive’s first destination wedding!

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Olive with the gorgeous flower girl and page boy.

20.02.16 Sat Day 3: Eat. Swim. Play. Dance. Sleep. Repeat. Plus a recovery BBQ party.

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Olive making friends wherever she goes.

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The little animal whisperer.

A short story: If the goodness of one’s character can be gauged by his/her love and compassion for animals, then there’s no doubt that Olive has a heart of gold. I was observing Olive play with 2 older boys and a cat. The witty boys were role-playing and named Olive Obi-Wan Kebaby, and the cat was Catlo Ren. I watched Olive interact with the Catlo Ren, whose ears were wounded, red, and raw. She tilted her head side to side, observing Catlo Ren so intently, and petted him on his back in the gentlest manner. It was as though she knew he needed a little more tender loving care. Moments like this are so special and memorable, especially so when I get that warm fuzzy feeling. I sure hope Olive will continue to love and care for animals the way she does now.

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The little coconut head enjoying her coconut.

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Shots please?

21.02.16 Sun Day 4: Eat. Swim. Play. Dance. Sleep. Repeat.

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Fambam!

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Olive just wants to eat.

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The one and only time we tried to get out of the resort for dinner at a nearby restaurant. BUT…

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this happened. Olive ran into the sea the minute we walked on the beach. We ended up in the sea, by the beach, in the pool, and had dinner by the pool instead.

Documenting a conversation with a stranger who came back to shore from a dip in the sea.
Stranger: Excuse me, do you speak English?
Oska: Yes.
Stranger: I’m drunk but my psychic ability only comes when I’m high. She (referring to Olive) is very smart and knows exactly what she wants.
Oska: Er…ok.
Stranger: Just let her do what she wants and be what she wants to be. She’s a smart one.

So the Oracle has spoken. Imagine if the stranger dished out a less than ideal prophecy instead!

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Sunset walk.

22.02.16 Mon Day 5: And we’re out! IMG_8290


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Confessions of a Shopaholic

If you have checked out Olive’s instagram account @sophie.leeze, you would know how deeply poisoned I am by instagram and the ig shopping that comes with.

Truth is, I never liked shopping. I am calculative when it comes to personal spending. I share a cupboard with the husband and his clothes outnumbers mine. I probably take up only 1/5 the space of our humble little shoe cabinet. Bags? What bags? At this point in time, I don’t even know what bags I own because the only thing I carry around is a basic black Gregory backpack which turns out to be my most trusted diaper bag. To me, the opportunity cost of buying a “lowest-tiered” Birkin bag equates to 2 holiday destinations with a minimum 2 weeks each travel plus a high-end compact camera to go with.

Not that I don’t indulge in everyday or affordable luxury but I simply do not have the heart to purchase luxury goods beyond the premium core category in Rambourg’s luxury power ranking.

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Source: “The Bling Dynasty” by Erwan Rambourg

I also do not have the guts to invest in luxury goods, even if statistics reveal that a super premium bag could be a better investment than S&P 500 or gold.

Anyway, the real point I am making is that after giving birth to Olive, something in me snapped. More accurately described by Oska, the woman in me had been unleashed and I became a shopaholic. But the crazy shopping is really just for Olive, not for me.

My family is judging me for Olive’s different daily outfits and why wouldn’t they? Even I think it is outrageous for a baby, now toddler to have more than 365 sets of clothes a year. But I am an addict. A full blown addict who is willing to spend 150USD on a teeny weeny piece of clothing that Olive would outgrow in a flash. An addict who wakes up at 3 am in the morning to score some handmade one-of-a-kind clothing. An addict who refreshes a window or multiple pages a hundred over times, 5 minutes before new products are launched from brands highly sought after by equally crazed mothers. An addict who requires interventions from friends. The interventions did help put things into perspective for me and withheld a significant amount of spending. I think my severe addiction has been reduced to a somewhat moderate level and my compulsiveness is a lot more controlled now.

But still, I don’t think I am ever going to quit shopping for Olive and dressing her up. I will however, endeavor to minimize the spending by:

  1. Setting a limit to how much I will spend on her clothes each month;
  2. Buying affordable, comfortable yet stylish clothes;
  3. Encouraging more reminders and interventions from family and friends to prevent me from backsliding. Continue to judge me if you will, especially if you are judging because you care!

On point number 2, I have decided to shop small and support local labels/businesses in both Singapore and Indonesia. The latter will be part of my ongoing conquer-Jakarta-and-beyond project. I will set up a page to feature the ig shops I shopped at for Olive without breaking the bank.