{Family Fun} – What to do in March?

Ys and I always have an issue with where to go, and what to do, during weekends. It’s not like we have explored every corner of Singapore but sometimes you just have some kind of mental block and nothing comes to mind.

This is when we will start trawling the blogosphere for ideas and usually we will stumble upon something interesting. This has inspired me to start a Family Fun list for each month. This list will be published a few days before the beginning of each month and will contain suggested activities. These may be activities that we ourselves have tried out or activities that we are planning to do ourselves. It could be a public event, a musical, a meal at a restaurant or a new mall to check out. I will try to feature generic activities that both adults and kids can take part in, and which are not too age group specific.

I hope you’ll find something that will interest you!

1) Go kite flying at marina barrage, take in some fresh air and enjoy the gorgeous view – A fun and free activity for the entire family!

2) Have a picnic at the Lawn at Singapore Botanic Gardens – can I just say it can be really relaxing and therapeutic and the kids have lots of space to run around. Here’s some good news for fans of Food for Thought! If you are feeling lazy and willing to splurge, you can now lease picnic baskets from Food for Thought. The food comes in a picnic basket, complete with a mat, trash bag and disposable cutlery. It’s a tad expensive I have to admit, but can be a lifesaver if you’ve got no time to prepare for the picnic.

3) Join a monumental walking tour organised by the Preservation of Monuments Board – A great opportunity to find out more about the history of Singapore’s iconic monuments. Will probably make for a great photography tour as well. We are quite keen to join one of these tours ourselves.

4) Create a terrarium at The Plant Story at Hort Park – I have not been but my colleague has one on her office desk and it is really cute! You get to choose the design of your glass jar, the plants, the little pebbles and accessories like ladybirds, butterflies etc.

5) Visit 100AM mall (the revamped Amara Shopping Mall) and have a meal at Ramen Keisuke Tori King – Not only is the ramen great, the restaurant is really child-friendly (in that the servers are really attentive towards kids). They do have high chairs even though strollers are not allowed in the restaurant due to space constraints. The 60s decor and old school toys displayed on the communal table are also bound to keep the kids excited for a while. After ramen, try the green tea dessert at Tsujiri (also in 100AM), which IMHO, serves the best green tea parfait in Singapore.

If you have an interesting March activity to share, please do leave a comment!

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New Year’s Day at Marina Barrage

We spent our new year kite flying (or rather, attempting to fly a kite) at marina barrage. It’s really a great place for a family outing for the following reasons 1) parking is free, 2) free entrance, 3) lots of open space for the kids to run about, 4) it’s really windy and 5) the view is gorgeous from the rooftop. As today was a public holiday, the place was PACKED with people who were there for a family picnic, kite flying or simply just admiring the colourful kites and superb view.

We arrived only in the evening because the weather would be much cooler (there’s no shelter on the rooftop) and headed straight to buy a kite (with an angelfish design) from a shop located on the ground floor at marina barrage. Just a tip though, it’s probably a better idea to purchase your kite before you head over. The designs of kites sold onsite are limited and prices are probably marked up. A friend recommended Passion Kites to me. The prices of the kites on this website are almost half of what we paid for our kite!

So anyway, it’s our first time flying a kite. Even my parents, who were with us, have zero experience in kite flying. So we spent about 30 minutes tugging and throwing the kite with all our might into the air, laughing at our failed attempts and basically trying to get our kite to fly. After a really really long time, we finally managed to get the kite up! I was holding onto the kite line when it happened and it was really an exciting moment for me. Somehow at that instance, I just intuitively knew when to tug and when to let go and the kite just went higher and higher and we were all super excited! Even Aly was excited and could identify HER (she’s at this stage where she claims everything belongs to her) kite in the sky. It was a pity that our kite got entangled with a few other kites and it’s time in the sky was rather short-lived. But we had a lot of fun and will most definitely return! In fact, I would say kite flying is rather therapeutic! I’m sure Aly will love it even more when she’s older.

It was also quite a sight because the sky was filled with kites in all shapes, colours and sizes. My favourite has got to be this huge purple teddy bear kite!

Here’s our day in pictures:

The colourful kites against the blue blue sky

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30 minutes of tugging and throwing…

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Success! Our kite is the pink one right in the middle of the top of the picture.

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Time for a family picture to capture the moment.

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My favourite picture of the day. Ys holding onto the kite and Aly looking on. ❤

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That’s the purple teddy bear kite!

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The gorgeous view from the rooftop.

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It’s also the perfect place to take an evening stroll.

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Look at how happy Aly was!

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Happy New Year from all of us! Hope you had a great one too!

Something for everyone in the family

We were at The Central @ Clarke quay over the weekend and decided to lunch at Ma Maison.

I’ve always loved the restaurant because of the cosy and quirky decor and mostly because I can’t find any place in Singapore that does omu rice like them. I also like that it’s a rather tiny place and houses about 10 tables max. It boasts a fantastic view of the Singapore river too, if you get one of the window seats.

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But this time, I found another reason to love the place! It’s a very family friendly restaurant! The moment we went in, we were asked if we needed a baby chair and that was promptly set up for us. Kids cutlery were also sent to the table with a mini cup and a straw. Of course Aly can’t use these yet buy I thought a mother of a toddler would definitely appreciate such attentiveness from the staff.

The best part was that there is currently an ongoing kids and family fair (err that’s what they call it). And basically everyone in the family is entitled to something! The dad gets a free mug of asahi beer, the mum gets a scoop of ice cream and the kiddo gets a free toy (basically you choose from a basket of stickers, cute pencils and mini board games). I thought it was such a great deal! I did ask them when the fair would last till and I was given to understand that it’s an ongoing event and I sure hope so!

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Ys ordered the usual omu rice and i got the hamburger steak with melted cheese this time round, which I enjoyed just as much. Prices range from about 12 to 20 plus bucks. The omu rice and hamburger steak were about 14 bucks each. My only gripe is that the portions are smallish. Well but I guess there’s always dessert, which all looked good btw, but which we didn’t get to try because we were both rather stuffed at the end of the meal.

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Will definitely return!

Ma Maison
6 Eu Tong Sen Street
#03-96
The Central @ Clarke Quay
Singapore

How to choose a stroller

The stroller is definitely one of the most important items on any parent’s mind. However, finding something that fits your budget and lifestyle may be tricky, given the numerous options in the market. Since it’s most likely going to be one of the most expensive purchases, it will be important to do sufficient research and evaluate what your needs are before buying one.

It did not cross my mind to speak to anyone about the pros and cons of their strollers, and it was difficult as well, since I did not have any closer friends who are mums. So ys and I just did our research online and watched reviews of strollers on youtube. This may not be the best idea since many reviews we read were by mums/dads who lived in european countries or the states and their concerns would obviously be very different from us, living in Singapore.

We settled on a peg perego piko p3 compact in the end and although we are generally pleased with it, we wish we had considered more factors before our purchase. Therefore, I thought it would be useful to list here, the questions that every parent should consider before making that important purchase.

1)  What is your lifestyle like?

By this, I mean what activities would you be doing with baby and where are you likely to bring baby. For example, if you intend to jog or skate with your stroller (what many caucasian dads and moms do), then it will be necessary to get a jogger stroller with air filled tires and a good suspension (yes, a jogger stroller is usually that cool 3 wheeled almost gigantic stroller which is getting increasingly popular with strollers these days). But if your weekends are spent mostly in shopping malls (like mine), then you may wish to consider getting something smaller (and I do mean a smaller width, which is measured by how far your wheels are apart) and which can manoeuvre tight corners with ease. Trust me, it can be a real pain trying to get through those narrow aisles or a crowded restaurant (and having to say sorry a million times for hitting into the chairs of other diners), and it is not funny when you cannot fit your stroller into every other crowded lift that comes along. When you shop around for a stroller, do push the stroller around the shop and test if it can fit in the aisles and whether the wheels can manoeuvre tight corners with ease.

2) Who will be handling the stroller most of the time?

This would affect the maximum weight of a stroller you would consider  as well as the height of the handlebars. The weight of the stroller, to me, is one of the most important factors to consider. My stroller weighs about 8.3kg and I honestly have a bit of trouble handling it because of its weight and size. Even the husband finds it tiring to haul the stroller in and out of the boot. Therefore, when testing the stroller, do not just lift it up momentarily to determine if you are comfortable with the weight. Haul it up like you would, when you are placing the stroller into your car boot. I personally think it’s important to get something that the wife can manage as well. You can’t always depend on the husband!

On handlebars, check if the stroller has adjustable handlebars, if the people who are handling the stroller have a great height difference. This is often overlooked but it can put quite a strain on your shoulders if you push a stroller around for hours when the handlebar is not at the right height.

3) Can the stroller fit nicely into your car boot?

This is also often overlooked (speaking from personal experience). The stroller you are looking at, when folded, should be able to fit into your boot with ease. If the shop you are buying from allows you to try putting the stroller into the boot, then go for it. If not, bear in mind the amount of space in your car boot, especially if you already carry many things in your car boot, which you cannot put away. If not, it can be quite annoying trying to arrange the things in your car boot, so you can fit the stroller in it, every time before you drive off, and having to put up with nasty looks from drivers who are waiting for your car park space. Also, do not forget that you still need to leave some space for your shopping and supermarket runs.

4) Are you likely to take public transport (including taxi) and/or go out alone?

This will affect the type of collapsibility for example, is it a one-hand fold (which allows you to open and close the stroller with one hand). Of course, even if you do not take public transport, you may want to choose something with a one-hand fold, but I’m saying it is absolutely necessary if you are taking public transport or a taxi alone. A stroller with a one-hand fold essentially allows you to carry the baby in one arm and open/close the stroller with the other. If not, you will have to look for somewhere to place the baby before opening/closing the stroller, which is generally not a problem if you drive, since you can always place the baby on the car seat, or if you will be with someone else, since you always pass the baby to the person with you. I have been out with Aly  a couple of times (since she was two months old actually), all made possible because of my Combi Well Comfort stroller, which boasts a one-hand fold. After all, you cannot always count on the taxi driver to open/close the stroller for you, although they generally would help you with the stroller in and out of the boot.

5) Do you want the stroller to be part of a travel system?

This means that your stroller allows you to fix a newborn car seat to it, so that you do not have to lift the baby out from the car seat and put him/her down in the stroller, which is especially useful if the baby is sleeping. You can then use the same stroller (with the car seat attached) for newborns and the stroller on its own once baby acquires neck control, although some brands allow you to use the stroller on its own from newborn. However, such travel systems are often bulky and heavy, especially those that require you to fix the car seat onto the stroller (as opposed to the frame, like what Quinny allows).

6) When are you going to put baby in the stroller?

Only certain strollers (those that allow full recline) are suitable for newborns. These are also usually pricier. Some parents may prefer to carry their newborns in their arms or slings or do not contemplate being out with baby until, say three months. If thats the case, you may wish to put off your purchase until after baby is delivered. You can then bring baby with you to test out the strollers. One potential problem with not putting the baby in a stroller from the start is that you run the risk of your baby not wanting to be in one when you’re finally prepared to do so, since they would obviously prefer to be carried close to the parent.

7) Other factors to consider:

  • canopy that extends all the way down? which is useful when baby needs to nap.
  • reversible handles/seats so newborns can face parent?
  • size and accessibility of storage basket?
  • ability to push stroller with one hand?
Here is a useful article from babycenter on the top 10 strollers in Singapore, to get you started.
You may be able to find a few useful reviews on youtube but bear in mind that the european models may differ slightly from the models that are imported into Singapore. I would suggest going around the different shops to try out the strollers and speaking to your friends about what they like and dislike about their strollers before making your purchase.
For great bargains, do check out:
1) Baby Hypermart/Hyperstore (for brands like Quinny, Peg Perego and Maclaren)
69, Kaki Bukit Ave 1, Shun Li Industrial Park
Singapore 417947
Ph : 6844 1123
2) Baby Kingdom (for brands like Combi, Capella)
83 Kaki Bukit Ave 1 #01-00 Shun Li industrial park
Ph: 6547 1677
3) http://www.babymeadows.com.sg (which offers a 15% discount off the published price if you sign up as a member). Do also look out for great stroller deals from time to time.



Huggies baby club

My husband diligently signed me up as a member of the Huggies baby club when I was pregnant. Membership is free and you will be sent updates/newsletters from time to time via email. One other perk is that you get to request for free samples of Huggies diapers for various stages of your baby’s growth.

Free samples were sent to me according to the estimated due date of the baby that was registered on the Huggies website. I received samples of diapers for newborns after I delivered and that was quite a pleasant surprise. Today something else came in the mail from Huggies – various types of m sized diapers (including a waterproof diaper for swims!).

I also like that the samples come in these reusable zip lock bags which I use to store an extra change of clothes or diapers so as to keep the diaper bag more organised.

A visit to the Huggies website today shows that they are currently not entertaining any requests for samples but do watch that space for further updates!

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Aly has a new friend

I have been out and about a lot more these days, as I get more comfortable with bringing Aly out on my own. It is definitely still a challenge and I especially fear aly’s cranky moods (read: incessant crying for no reason). But I have always been pretty determined to not allow baby affect my social life too much, which means I try to get out as much as possible.

Today’s the second time I brought Aly out to meet a friend with a six month old daughter and Aly was quite excited about her new friend (or so the moms insisted). I’ve always been curious about how babies would interact with each other, like do they really have a special baby language and do they actually understand each other? Truth is I think they don’t really give a damn about each other. Haha. Not until they are older anyway. Even though Aly and kyra were laughing and cooing away, I think they were more amused by their Mom’s excited faces than anything else. In fact I’m sure we were also a source of entertainment for the servers at the cafe we were at. Imagine two moms insisting their babies look at and talk to each other. Talk about weird.

In any case, it was great exchanging parenting tips and experiences and I was glad to know that I am not alone in many ways. I’m definitely looking forward to more outings like this!

Such support groups are important, I feel, especially for first time moms. The transition is definitely not easy and it helps to know that you’re not the only one who has to deal with a fussy baby or an incompetent confinement lady or breastfeeding issues. It’s a pity I didn’t manage to find or join a birth club. I only read after I delivered that the best way to start your own birth club is to approach your classmates at your pre- natal class since all of you are probably going to be due around the same time and have about at least four to six classes to get to know one another better. My session at gleneagles was more of a classroom setting rather than an interactive one, which probably explains why being the shy Singaporeans we are, I never spoke a word to the moms in my class. So if you have yet to attend your pre-natal classes, remember this piece of advice and take the step forward to start your own birth club!

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