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How To Make More Hours

Was just reading my old posts on routine, and wow, life of a mother of three young kids was really horrid. How did I survive! Routine 5.0 was written more than one year ago, and my life has got so much better as the kids get older. Just a couple of weeks ago I got to sleep in till about 8am everyday!

BUT. Kor Kor is starting primary school in a month’s time. Worse, he is in the afternoon session, so it’s like he hardly get any time at home. So I decided to revamp our routine to maximize what time we have. I still really hope to include outdoor/ playground time, library visits, early bedtime, free play!

Routine for school term from Jan 2016 onwards:

630am Breakfast and wash up

730am Playground & me reading to them

9am Home, showers

930am Free play and homework if any 

1050am Lunch

1130am Get ready for school

1150am Go out 

1230pm Home with the younger two

1pm Nap/quiet time

3pm Snack

6pm Go out to fetch Kor Kor

640pm Dinner

730pm Shower

8pm Milk & bedtime reading

830pm Bedtime

I have started waking up around 6am to prepare breakfast. The boys use an alarm clock to wake up at 630am. They need some help waking up earlier mainly because recently they have been playing and talking till very late after lights out. But it’s ok, they are slowly adjusting to it – forced to wake up early means they KO faster at night and it’s getting easier for them to pop out of bed in the morning. 

We have also been doing early lunches for two weeks and trying out new menus. Instead of the previous three dishes, I am trying to cook a one-pot rice dish and a veg. This will give me more free time with the kids in the morning… since I won’t see Kor Kor the whole afternoon!!

But not rigidly following the schedule yet. Definitely more than an hour at the playground now…. Enjoy while they can! And still going out with friends and for lessons on weekdays… Lessons will be changed to the weekend from Jan onwards. Not looking forward to busy weekends!!

The biggest problem now is how do I survive the early start to the day……. Just this morning I threw away (figuratively) the alarm clock cos had to get up 5-6 times to attend to the kids last night. Plus I am really very night owl… Been reading up on this and of course gonna keep trying… 

Wish me luck!!

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Southern Islands

We went to St John’s Island today! It is an easy 30-minute ferry away, departing from Marina South Pier. Ferry departs only twice a day on weekdays, at 10am and 2pm. But if you take the afternoon ferry, you won’t have much time on the island, as the last return ferry leaves St John’s Island at 3pm. See the schedule here

 

Jetty at Marina South Pier

 
We wanted to check out the new Public Gallery for the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park. Nope, no mistake, the gallery is really on St John’s Island. Though I did have my doubts upon arriving at St. John’s Island…. because there were no signboards or directions to the gallery. 

With some help from Google (yes there’s strong 4G even at St. John’s! But only the area near the jetty and lagoon. No service as we walked further inland), we managed to find the gallery. 

At the end of the jetty where you alight, there is a map (not a very useful one). After that, you see fences going around a big area. Go in through the open doors and walk uphill along the path. 

 

About halfway to the gallery

 
Then you see a few buildings and a fork in the path. Keep left and the gallery is just a bit more further up! We walked for about 15 minutes from the jetty.

 

Finally!

 
I had expected more exhibits…. But actually the gallery is very small. I think it’s because I read about this gallery when they had their opening and there were special exhibits/events for the opening… but I thought those were permanent… Hmm, I don’t think it’s worth walking in the hot sun to get here, unless you are very very interested in marine life?

   
   

Then the fun begins!

I love that we are facing our skyline!

 

Nothing big or exciting, but the kids enjoy poking around haha

 
The beach is clean and the waves are gentle. Even Meimei has no problem playing in the water by herself. We have the beach pretty much to ourselves. 

But that’s not all! Since the return ferry makes an hour-long stop at Kusu Island on the way back to the mainland, we take a walk around.

 

Big turtles!


There are many turtles around. We saw a really huge one near the wishing well at the entrance to the temple. The kids fed the turtles some bread. No signboards prohibiting feeding, so it should be ok?? The turtles are definitely happy with the bread : )

By the way, there are cold canned drinks for sale at the temple! Ahhhhhh….. I really melting by then.

Upon arrival at the Pier, we continued our fun at the Singapore Maritime Gallery on level 2. We dropped by in the morning while waiting for our ferry, and the boys haven’t had enough!
   
    
 
The best part is the Ship Bridge Simulator!

 

Captain Kor!

 
When the boys finally have enough of the gallery, we proceed to the rooftop playground!

 

Small playground….

  

….. with gorgeous views


All in all, I think I still prefer Pulau Ubin for its rustic charm and largely untamed nature. St John’s doesn’t have much except a small nice beach and research facilities.. Kusu Island, only the temples and turtles… Still, it’s a good experience getting to know our islands better. And we had lots of fun with our friends today! 

(We were there with two other mummies and their kids, but I try not to use photos of other people especially children for their privacy :P)

 

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We Love KidsSTOP! (Part Two)

Finally we made it to faraway Science Centre again! This time we managed to cover five exhibits.

Critters

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Hmm, nothing much here – tree frog, gerbil, freshwater fish, hermit crab, chicks, incubator. There is also a short complimentary presentation at 4.30pm daily where the staff introduce the animals and the kids get to touch the chicks.

Kiddie Theatre

Alas, I don’t know how to introduce this section. Firstly, I am not familiar at all with filming equipment etc. Secondly, my kids aren’t exactly enthusiastic performers. So this section did not really catch our fancy.

Math & Tinkering

Rather disappointed with this section too. Some sensory play with green beans and a few containers… Some magnetic shapes… Two toy cars and tracks…

OK, probably I was too excited and expectations were too high. Furthermore I only found out today that the Innovation Lab and Kitchen Lab are only open to school groups. That leaves 20 exhibits for us then.

Flight & Space

Magnetic blocks with the planets’ names for the kids to match with the planets, and rubber bands to form constellations.

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Pedal or turn the handle to power the fans.

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Airport scene with flaps for the kids to open.

Pilots in action! (Actually just a few buttons to press the make the dashboard change colour :P)

The Flying Machine Factory! Our favorite stop for the day. The materials provided are very basic – balls, strips of fabric, pieces of foam, all with velcro to attach them together. Place them into the wind tunnel through a hole at the bottom, and watch them fly! The more successful machines (or the very light individual pieces) will fly right up to the top of the tunnel and drop out after they clear the top. Flying action, falling action, of course the kids were thrilled!

Built Environment – Blocks

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Nice blocks.. But from my observations of the boys and other kids, they prefer to use the long blocks as weapons. 金箍棒!

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Like this. No kidding.

Virtual Pond

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Virtual fish… step, step, step…

That leaves nine more exhibits to go!

Sadly, I noticed some ‘deterioration’ in the exhibits even though KidsSTOP is only two months old…

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Most of the tools are… gone… So are the excavators.. The crane wasn’t in use either – ‘upgrading in progress’. (See their previous glory in my earlier post.) Hopefully they will be replaced soon!

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A Week Of Fun!

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Monday we went to Labrador Nature Reserve

Tuesday Kor Kor had gym class, so the younger ones waited at the beach

Tuesday Kor Kor had gym class, so the younger ones waited at the beach

After class we went long kang fishing together

After class we went long kang fishing together

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Thursday gym class again – time for Didi to practise his pedaling!

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Beach again after that!

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Friday water playground!

We were at the library on Wednesday, where we just read and read. A fun-filled week with sun, sand, sea, exercise, fresh air, and books – all our favorite things!

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We Love KidsSTOP! (Part One)

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Since KidsSTOP opened in June 2014, we have been there twice. The first time was a couple of weeks after it opened, during the school holidays, and it was too crowded for me to take photos properly or even think about whether it was good… I was busy keeping track of the kids! As promised on my Facebook page, here is the review! : )

According to KidsSTOP official website, there are 22 exhibits (play areas / themes, in my understanding) in total. And though we have been there twice and spent about five hours, we have only seen two exhibits in passing, touch-and-go for another seven, and really spent time at five exhibits. Thus I shall only include here the areas where we spent a significant amount of time.

That said, the other exhibits which are not included here, do look quite interesting too. – Flight & Space, Human Body! And the eight which we have not laid eyes on, I am excited just by their names! Tinkering, The Innovation Lab, Kitchen Lab, anyone??

KidsSTOP is really a dream come true for me – it provides opportunies for my kids to try things which are way too large-scale for me to even try to emulate at home (and gosh, I do try very hard to do many uncommon things at home!). Bonus points as it is under the Singapore Science Centre, which means that education and promoting the young scientific minds are duly considered in the setup of the edutainment centre.

In my opinion, rather than trying to cover all the exhibits in one visit (limit of three hours on weekdays, and four hours on weekends & public holidays), it is more useful to allow the child to spend as much time as he likes (or needs!) at each station, so that his learning is optimized. (If you have been following my blog, you probably know that ‘learning’ in my definition is often not what we adults can see/test. Trust me, there is definitely learning going on in that brain – ‘hear’ the gears moving?)

Built Environment – Crane

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We spent a good amount of time here! There is only one ‘crane’ here though. (See the exhibit name? It’s singular crane ok! The three kids were jostling to play with it.. I can only imagine the queue when it’s crowded..) In the photo Kor Kor is controlling a crawl above by pressing the buttons on the panel and moving a joystick. The crawl then goes down and picks up the balls, and the crane operator moves it up and out. Then it’s the climax! Open the crawl and release the balls into one of the big tubs (like the pink one on the right of the photo).

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In addition to the crane, there are other things to captivate the kids. The activity in these two photos really requires teamwork! While Meimei collects balls and puts them into the machine, Didi operates the crank. Kor Kor arranges the various parts on the wall (with attached magnets) to ‘catch’ the balls. Many movable parts, I like!

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Also in the same area, movable gears with attached magnets. The kids were not really interested. Not yet, anyway.

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Ride-on excavators! I had high hopes for these when I saw them in photos before our visit to KidsSTOP. Unfortunately, I think they are under-utilized. There is nothing around for the kids to scoop! And there is a television screen in that small space, which means Kor Kor was staring at the screen most of the time *gloomy* Would be great if there is a ‘real’ construction site to play with the excavators.. at least some sand please?

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All three kids liked this station. Meimei was especially interested in the hammar and nails! Bang bang BANG! A great excuse for creating a din >.< It looks like the boys are interested in simple machines and maybe carpentry too. Hmmmm. Time to rack my brains to ride on their interests.

Dino Pit

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Sadly, I think this is under-utilised too. The main problem? The fossils are not movable! And since there is a constant stream of kids playing here, the fossils are exposed all the time. What fun is there for a palentologist when he doesn’t even need to dig to see the fossils??

Brushes are provided for the kids to brush the sand off their hands and feet when they are leaving the pit. But… the same brushes are used for the hands and the feet!! EEKS!

Supermarket

Look at the variety and quantity of goods! Complete with weighing scales and cash registers! And when you scan the items, you hear the familiar ‘beep, beep’ too! But it’s just a sound effect – the ‘scanning’ is not connected to the cash register and the price is not reflected on the cash register. The cash register is like an electronic calculator – the child can key in numbers and add them up. It does not open and there is no play money. But still, it’s already a very good supermarket!

Cafe

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A very well-equipped kitchen! And it’s right next to The Supermarket, so you can bring your purchases home to cook right away. How convenient! And look at that fried rice, it seems so real! I think Meimei really wanted to gobble it up.

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And that’s all the exhibits we managed to cover during our second visit. And we also caught the complimentary puppet performance. It’s funny and worth the time I think.

Honestly, admission fees aren’t cheap. But it’s comparable to indoor playgrounds, and definitely cheaper than enrichment programes…. and more fun too! KidsSTOP, we will defnitely be back soon!

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Sembawang Park

Another first for us! But I really don’t know to feel happy or not… It’s a lovely playground, with a very fun battleship playground…. but it’s so far from our home!

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The path leading to the beach

 

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The beach isn’t very big, but it’s good enough for kids to play with sand! It’s one of only two natural sand beaches in Singapore, you know??

 

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See the big ships in the background? That’s how near Sembwang Shipyard is!

 

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Very sunny at 4.30pm

 

The highlight!

The highlight!

The two boys had a blast at the battleship! Most playgrounds nowadays are plasticky and same-old-same-old… Once you have tried a few, they aren’t much challenge anymore. This one here is difficult enough to pose a challenge and sustain their excitement, yet not impossible to conquer with practice and effort. But Meimei really couldn’t play much here, there was no way for her to even go up the ship, and not for lack of trying!

I really want to go up!

I really want to go up!

 

Since Meimei can't go up to the boys, the boys come to her!

Since Meimei can’t go up to the boys, the boys come to her!

 

Another rope structure right next to the battleship

Another rope structure right next to the battleship. Meimei never gives up!

This is one playground which we will definitely return to soon!

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Our First Visit to Labrador Park

We visited Labrador Park, or more accurately, Labrador Nature Reserve recently, and as it was my first visit too, I was pleasantly surprised by the tranquility of the park. I was having a flu and headache on the way there, but miraculously recovered when I saw the beautiful view of the sea and heard the soothing sounds of the waves. I happened to come across another blog which described Labrador Park very aptly, exactly what I felt and wanted to write, so I shall share it with you here –> Singapore Playground.

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we did nothing much.. sat on the bench to admire the scenery..

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.. took a stroll along the coast..

... danced as we walked!

… danced as we walked!

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Playground seems quite new. Clean and well-maintained. And look at the lush greenness right behind!

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Three slides in all, and they are all excitingly steep! Weeee..!

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Climb climb climb : )

The sand at the playground is really soft and clean. I am definitely going to bring the kids’ sand toys along next time!

Didn’t manage to see any of the war relics today though. I didn’t plan properly and had no idea where they were. I think Labrador Nature Reserve has two main sides – the sea and the hill. Shall visit the hill side soon and update in a new post.

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Big head shot!