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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Coming to the Disney Channel - The 7D!

My kids are always happy when the school holidays roll round. I mean, which kid isn't right? My kids barely spend enough time in school as it is (well, enough for me anyway), but they are always thrilled to have extra time on their hands to roll around, read and watch some TV! I still restrict their TV watching privileges so they don't get too much screen time in a week, but I guess we all loosen up a bit during the holidays, including me!

On their list is catch episodes of Disney's The 7D, a new animated series that will be coming to the Disney Channel.

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We were recently invited to the media preview of The 7D, an event we went to gladly because we are big Disney fans in this household, and also because we are fond of Eat Play Love Cafe where the event was held. The kids have always enjoyed crafting at Eat Play Love Cafe, but this time round, with The 7D onscreen, they both so enthralled, they chose to watch more episodes of the series instead of craft.

The 7D refers to the 7 dwarves featured in this series, who live in the whimsical world of Jollywood. Queen Delightful relies on The 7D -- Happy, Bashful, Sleepy, Sneezy, Dopey, Grumpy and Doc -- to keep the kingdom in order and protect its inhabitants from Grim and Hildy Gloom, the comically evil villains who plot to take over the kingdom by stealing the magical jewels in The 7D's mine. When summoned by the Bing Bong Bell, the brave little heroes rush to the Queen's side and find a way to accomplish each task, much to the chagrin of Lord Starchbottom, the Queen's loyal aide who would much rather handle any crisis on his own. With seven distinct personalities, the 7D also manage to save the day and send the Glooms running back to their evil lair.

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We got to watch a couple of episodes and I found myself chuckling along with the kids. Not surprising perhaps, since this series is executive produced by Emmy award-winning Tom Ruegger, who was also behind Animaniacs, one of my sister and my favourite cartoons of all time. I was happy to learn that It also stars voice talents from many of our childhood favourites like Jess Harnell (Wakko from Animaniacs) as Grim Gloom, Maurice LaMarche (Picky and the Brain) as Grumpy, and Bill Farmer (Goofy) as Doc.

The 7D will premiere in Singapore on the Disney Channel (Starhub Ch 312 / SingTel mioTV Ch 234) on Sunday Sept 7, 11am. Don't miss it! 

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bubble Magic by Pep Bou in Singapore this September {Giveaway}

Bubbles

There is a certain magic to bubbles that we never quite outgrow. Every once in a while, my kids love to bring their bottles of bubble solution downstairs to the playground and it never fails to add some extra fun to playground time -- and make my kids instant hits with the neighbours!

We are but bubble novices, so I can imagine the excitement that will be generated will be multiplied 10-fold when the kids encounter award-winning and world-renowned bubble whizz, Pep Bou! From 9 to 14 September 2014, Pep Bou will be bringing a brand new show to town: Bubble Magic -- Pep Bou's Wonderful World of Bubbles!

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Pep Bou has been playing with bubbles for more than three decades, delighting audiences of all ages and cultures around the world. In Bubble Magic, expect to be transported into a fantasy-land of beautiful illusions, with skilful trickery and a plethora of gags as this two-man show brings together the beauty of bubbles, clowning, ingenious lighting, music and crazy costumes. The whole family will be thrilled by fishbowl bubbles, animal bubbles, bubbles on a high wire, sliding bubbles, puppet bubbles, and even a train inside a bubbles tunnel! The show promises to be a blend of visual poetry and sheer fun in equal measure.

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Here's a sneak preview:

 

Coming direct from its Europe-wide tour, Bubble Magic will run from 10 to 14 September 2014 at the Jubilee Hall at Raffles Hotel. Shows are at 1.30pm and 3pm on Wednesday and 11am and 1.30pm on Thursday to Sunday. Tickets are priced at $85 and $70, and can be purchased from Sistic.

GIVEAWAY!

And yes, we have ONE PAIR OF TICKETS to Bubble Magic to give away to a lucky reader! The tickets will be for Wednesday 10 Sept at 3.30pm. Perfect for an afternoon treat during the school holidays! To enter this draw, you have to complete the following steps:

1. Like the Lunchbox Theatrical Productions Facebook Page

2. Like the Life is in the Small Things Facebook Page

3. Like and Comment on this Facebook photo, telling me the dates and times of the Bubble Magic show in Singapore! 

You have to complete all 3 steps to qualify so don't miss any out! Use the Rafflecopter widget below to indicate that you've done the above. You can also get additional chances by completing the rest of the steps.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway ends on Wed 3 Sept 2014, 11.59pm and is open to Singapore residents only. Winners will be contacted by e-mail and will have 48 hours to respond, failing which a new winner will be drawn. All incomplete entries will be disqualified.

P.S. If you'd like to make your own giant bubbles, this a great tutorial from ScissorsPaperStoneBlog!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Jamming at His First Piano Recital

My little man recently hit a new milestone in his musical journey when he had his first piano recital.

I realise I've never written about Noey's music lessons though it's been nearly two years since he first started. I started Noey on piano lessons when he turned four because I thought knowing music - being able to read the notes, appreciate nuances in music and just translate music that you hear into tunes on the piano - is one of life's pleasures. That said, I did approach music lessons with some trepidation, because I played for many years and I didn't always enjoy it. I frequently felt like I was spending too much of my time playing exam pieces and not being very good at them! When I was finally done with piano lessons, I didn't touch the piano for a long time. During that period, I didn't miss it.

But by and by, I started playing again, listening to tunes and translating them onto the keyboard, flipping through song books and playing for enjoyment. Believe me, there was a time when I would never have put playing with enjoyment in the same sentence! And I was grateful. That I had the skill to play to entertain myself, and spend some time in private worship. When the kids came along, I was glad I was able to entertain them too. Noey loves to sing and Mei loves to dance, and I enjoy being able to accompany them.

I decided it was worth the hard work and so when Noey turned four, I started looking around for a piano course for him to join. I had intended to enrol him at Yamaha to learn the way I was taught, but was put off by the bad class timings -- either after 7pm on weekdays or smack in the afternoon on Sat. Just as I was scratching my head about it, a friend providentially blogged about her daughter's piano classes. And when I contacted the teacher, I was told - amazingly - that she was going to start a new class that very next week. That's how Noey's come to be with MYC (Music for Young Children)

Having been at it for a while, I must say that I do like the curriculum. It's fun, rounded, fairly comprehensive as kids music classes go. Noey does enjoy class and because it is parent accompanied, I've been able to learn along with him. It's a group class and he's enjoys the company of his classmates. The mummies have become friends too!

But piano practice, well, that's another matter altogether. I know my Mum totally thinks it's karma as I struggle to get him to practice, considering how she struggled with me too. But seeing how I now do appreciate having the ability to play fuels my motivation to let Noey continue learning and make him practice. Honestly, he isn't bad. He has a certain gift for music. Over the past couple of years he has developed perfect pitch that makes listening and singing tunes in notation effortless for him. I often catch him singing along to tunes, sounding out the notes while playing with Lego, and he's almost never wrong. He also loves transposition and can play songs in a variety of keys by ear. BUT! Only when they are not on the practice list. He could certainly do with more piano practice since his playing is rather average (no beautifully curved hands and weak fingers) and his sight-reading is rather poor. It is really like staring at myself (horror of horrors!). My mother is definitely laughing!

Anyway, back to the recital.

His teacher decided to hold a recital for all her students, which was both exciting and a bit nerve-wrecking at the same time. Well, probably more nerve-wrecking for me than for Noey! Still, I thought it was a great opportunity for all the children to learn a piece that was above their level and to perform before an audience.

The children each learnt a different piece, some solos (like Noey) and some playing duets with their mums. I thought his teacher did a great job picking a variety of different pieces, which were all rather different and interesting. Noey's was Traffic Jam by Kevin Olson, which is a modern piece I initially found rather jarring, since it was supposed to sound like a traffic jam after all! But it grows on you - or me at least!  

Getting dressed up for the occasion was half the fun, though I admittedly didn't think about it and would have sent him up in t-shirt and jeans if his teacher hadn't queried about his outfit a week before the actual event. I had to scramble and send out an SOS to friends asking if anyone had a long-sleeved shirt and long pants which Noey could borrow! Fortunately I have very helpful friends (thanks Jas!) and with a new pair of shoes and a borrowed bow tie from his classmate, he was set.

MYCRecital

I felt nervous for him, but if Noey was nervous, he didn't show it. He was fairly calm and when it was his turn to go up, well, he just went up and played his piece! Two actually, since he was also asked to play his piano composition for the MYC annual composition festival. He didn't make any obvious errors and probably only I (and his teacher) could tell when certain parts were not as smooth as they could have been, but all things considered, I think he did good. We were - are - very proud of him.

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With Noey done, we could sit back to enjoy the rest of the performances, most of which were really good. Especially the senior students! The husband wondered aloud if Noey would ever be up to that standard. Well, we shall see.

Everyone took a well-deserved, ermm, Carl's Junior treat at the end of it before we called it a day. Definitely a proud parent moment for the record books -- until the next one!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Snapshot of a 3.5 year-old

Mei at 3.5 years...

… loves to sing and dance. She spies a step, and ledge, a platform, and the next minute, she'll be on it, singing and dancing, with actions to boot. Only for an imaginary audience though, for when she sees you watching, she stops. Sometimes she would continue, albeit more self consciously. She also usually refuses when you ask her to perform. But if you catch her in those moments when it when she's totally caught up in her own performance, you're in for a treat of made-up songs and made-up Chinese. Mei can't string a sentence together in Chinese at all (my fault), but it doesn't stop her from trying and making up her own Chinese-sounding words. It always makes me laugh to watch her at it!

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… is a really Miss Bossypants. She's always trying to dictate the action and tell everyone what to do! She's mostly ignored by her brother when she tries to do this but some of her classmates seem to listen to her. I followed her on a field trip and was rolling my eyes in amusement as she kept calling to her friends to come join her at the different activity, then took over the job while her friend watched.

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… is in her Princess phase. This is exemplified by wearing long skirts which she loves to hold out and swish around. And twirl, of course. This dress and 2 others from Fox Kids are among her absolute favourites for this purpose. Her "princess dresses", she calls them.

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… has been resisting her nap, but I think it'd be quite some time before she's really able to drop it. She's caught on to the fact that I sometimes head out or do other things while she's asleep and she doesn't want to miss out! So I'm being met with lots of cries of "I'm not tired!" in the afternoon, only to have her inopportunely falling asleep later.

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… LOVES fries. They are probably her favourite food, since, you know, sweets are NOT a food group. Yes, she's my second child and gets to enjoy more relaxed food privileges.
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… is starting to show an interest in reading. She now points out words on posters and asks me what it says, and I recently came upon her pointing to letters in words and trying to sound them out phonetically. I must admit I haven't done a lot to teach her though we have always have had regular reading sessions. She's not the bookworm her brother was so I'm letting her take her time about it. I recently went to attend a phonics course and reading readiness is one thing that was stressed, so I know we are on the right track, letting her set her own pace.

Mei6

… is extremely independent. She's always been really, but now she is actually able to do a lot on her own. She's always had a strong opinion about her clothes and now I can't stop her because she can take off and put on all her clothes by herself. Buttons, t-shirts, underwear, socks, shoes, she can manage them all on her own, which I think is pretty amazing. That does mean that she would randomly go into the room to change her clothes when she feels like it though and there's not much I can do about it!

Mei9

… makes the most outrageous requests. Where her brother would never dare to ask for treats (cos he knows I'll say no), she tries her luck for sweets and gummies on a regular basis. At the supermarket, she'll make a bid for treats and winsomely try with her brightest smile and most convincing manner to persuade me that she and Gorgor really need those snacks. Sometimes it's hard to say no to that cute face.
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Which brings me to the fact that she...

… is the cutest thing ever. Charming and cheeky, that's our Naomi!

Mei4Dressed by stylist Evon Chng at a recent Fox Kids styling event. Mummy here would never have thought to put these pieces together!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Playing Dress up with Zalora

I don't know about you, but I decided that it was only appropriate that I spend at least some time during this National Day weekend indulging in one of our national pastimes: SHOPPING. However, with two tikes and a husband who is extremely crowd adverse, I've increasingly taken my shopping online instead of heading to the shopping mall. And why not, when you can find a plethora of options available, sometimes at lower prices than you would find in stores?

Admittedly, some things can be easier to buy online than others. Books, stationery and clothing for the kids top my list of buys. I've also bought household items, food products, and toys, to name a few. But what I do find a bit more tricky to buy are clothes for myself. The fit and the cut of each piece and how it looks on you can be a bit hard to predict on t he basis of measurements and pictures. To be honest, there've been hits and misses. And when something doesn't fit,  I'm sometimes left with trying to give or sell it away since returning an item to an overseas seller is not always a simple (or cheap) proposition.

So I was very interested when my sister-in-law first told me about Zalora and their amazing return policy.

I'm sure you've heard of Zalora, the multi-brand online fashion retailer of apparel, accessories, shoes and beauty products for men and women. But did you know that they have a 30-day free returns policy? If you are not 100% satisfied with your purchase, as long as the item is unused, with tags and in the same condition as it was received, you can return it for a full refund within 30 days of receipt. Just pack the item with the returns slip and drop it off at any SingPost counter or SingPost POPStation. That's it! You get your confirmation at the counter and a refund processed shortly after. 

This easy process has effectively given me a dressing room in the comfort of my own home. I've ordered items I wasn't so sure of to try, and returned the ones I wasn't so fond of while retaining the ones I liked. When I wasn't sure which size to take for a dress once, I ordered two sizes, tried them both on, and then returned the one that didn't fit as well. It has been very convenient with minimal risk.

This is on top of the fact that there is free courier delivery when you purchase above $40 worth of items, and in my experience, delivery has always been quick. When I've had to contact customer service, once because of a faulty zipper on a dress, my issues were taken care of promptly with minimal fuss. I've been shopping at Zalora since the start of the year and it's honestly been a rather pleasant experience thus far. 

So much so that I've been browsing through again their website again recently in a bid to update my everyday look. Being a SAHM to two kids and being on the go in and out of the house quite a bit, T-shirts and shorts are my standard daily uniform. But I've been recently trying to snap out of my usual sloppy auntie look and I've been eyeing some casual dresses instead -- stuff that would take me smoothly from home to school-runs, and which is still presentable enough for coffee and playdates with friends.

Here are some of my picks from their range of pretty fashion dresses:

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From L-R: Ezra by Zalora Colourblocked Fit and Flare Dress ($34.90); Mango Stitched Shoulder Dress ($29 on sale); Mango Belted Printed Dress ($29 on sale); Mango Paisley Print Dress ($69) 

I've also got my eye on some maxi dress which I would like to add to my wardrobe. There's something about a long dress that instantly adds a touch of glamour to a look, which I believe will go a long way in making me look less dowdy.

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 From L-R: Ministry of Retail Summer Love Dress ($45.90); New Look Strappy Aztec Print Maxi Dress ($59.90) Glitter Glam Maxi Dress ($29); Something Borrowed Lace Pleated Maxi Dress ($22.90)

I'm inspired, and I hope you are too! Happy shopping!

* This post is sponsored by Zalora. I've been a customer of Zalora for some time and all opinions herein are my own.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Cavalia: A Breathtaking Magical Encounter

There was a tingle in the air as we made our way toward the white spires next to Marina Bay Sands to catch Cavalia on opening night. And well there should, for this is a show that is unlike any other.

Cavalia  Magical Encounter

It isn't everyday that you get to see horses in the middle of the business district, but that's what you get at Cavalia -- and more. Expect to see exciting acrobatic stunts, some amazing riding, beautiful dream-like sequences, and at the heart of it all, a showcase of that bond between humans and horses.

I went to the show expecting it to be good, but I was honestly quite blown away by the whole experience. It was action from the get go, as the performers thrilled with acts of agility and strength. With a live band supporting them from behind the scenes, there was a raw energy pulsating through that had me clapping and bouncing in my seat. Good as the performers were, the real stars of the show were undoubtedly the horses, and when they first made their appearance, an audible gasp rippled through the audience.

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Having met the horses, I can say that they are truly majestic, both on stage and off it. It was quite a sight to see them cantering around the stage, sometimes freely! The beauty of Cavalia however, really shines through that intimate relationship that the horses have with their riders and handlers. I thought this was particularly evident in three acts.

The first was the highly entertaining and thrilling Trick Riding acts. My favourite was the Roman Riding segment, where riders stood astride a pair of horses, rode them and even jumped while standing. Something you probably don't know about me is that I used to ride when in my youth. My parents unbelievably signed my sister and I up for several terms of riding lessons and those were, hands down, the coolest classes they've ever signed us up for. That also means that I have just about enough riding knowledge to know that what the riders like Fairland Ferguson attempt here is truly difficult! My heart was definitely in my mouth at certain points! It takes a great amount of trust and understanding between the horse and the rider to be able to pull it off, especially when additional teams are added. And my, did they pull it off flawlessly.

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The traditional art of Dressage is another such act. Dressage is very delicate -- horse ballet, they call it. It actually takes both horse and rider a significant amount of time working together to make it look effortless! I marvelled as we watched the horse here dance lightly on his toes, moving to the music, responding to just the smallest of cues from the rider. While not as arresting as trick riding, it again takes the horse and rider to truly know each other to move in sync.

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Finally the act that I felt really exemplified the essence of Cavalia was watching Keith Dupont talk his horses into running in unison, changing direction and even executing synchronised pirouettes with just his voice. The horse whisperer, he was. It wasn't high key but it was incredible to watch. 

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The fact that the show was such a stunning visual treat was also because of the amazing set. Featuring a single 50-metre wide stage, with a 60-metre wide screen behind it, the horses are given the space to move and run against an ever-changing digital backdrop. This, together with creative lighting and special effects, draws the audience into the action and into another world. At one point, a water screen forms on which images are projected in tandem with the performances. Even more amazingly, 120,000 litres of water are also pumped in towards the end of the show to create a lake, which the horses thunder through.

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Guess it was no wonder that when the show was brought to a close, the audience were brought to their feet spontaneously. Cavalia really is spectacular. We LOVED it. Do yourselves a favour and don't miss it!

Cavalia Ticketing and Show Information

Season: 12 August to 14 September 2014
Venue: Under the White Theatre Tent at Bayfront Avenue beside Marina Bay Sands
Performance Times: Tuesday to Friday 7.30pm; Saturday 2pm & 7.30pm; Sunday 12pm & 5.30pm (No shows on 13, 19 and 26 August)
Ticket Prices: VIP: $308, $288, $248, $208; Standard: $188, $148, $98, $88, $58. 
Booking Through Internet: www.cavalia.sg or Sistic
Booking By Phone: +65 31586735 (Cavalia) or +65 6688 8826 (Sistic)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Cavalia: Meeting the Equine Stars of the Show

If you've been around the Marina Bay area in the last couple of weeks, you would have noticed an addition in the foreground of our city skyline.

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Standing tall and proud in the heart of our financial district are tall white fairytale spires, housing the stage, setting and stables for the innovative equestrian theatrical spectacular -- Cavalia, which opened yesterday, 12 August 2014. Created by Normand Latourelle, one of the co-founders of the world-renown Cirque du Soleil, Cavalia brings together 50 horses and 46 riders, aerialists, acrobats, dancers and musicians to put on a lavish show of fantasy and fun that showcases and celebrates the relationship between humans and horses. It is this focus that make Cavalia truly one-of-a-kind.

I had the opportunity to go meet the horses and their riders last week and I can tell you everyone there that morning were extremely taken by these beautiful creatures. (I mean the horses, of course, though the riders didn't look too bad themselves!) With their glossy manes and fine form, these were some of the most good-looking and well-cared for horses I've ever encountered.

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And the bond between horse and human? It was immediately apparent in the interactions between them as we walked through the stables.

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A total of 50 horses were flown comfortably over 11,000km on board a 747 aircraft specially equipped with air stalls and settled into their 1,500 square metre stable on site. There they each have a designated box with lots of space to stretch, lie down, sprawl out, roll or relax. An interesting fact I learnt was that the horses' stalls are always lined up in the same order so that they will always have the same neighbours wherever they travel to in the world, to give them that sense of familiarity even with changes in environment.

The genuine love of the riders/trainers underscores Cavalia's training philosophy, which is rooted in patience, trust and deep-seated respect. I was told that while the horses enjoy being on stage, where they perform a choreographed routine, they are also given the latitude to express themselves. Of course, this means that there are times when things do not go according to plan! But that's just how it is when performing with animals. The riders/trainers will prompt, encourage, and maybe offer a treat or two, but if the horse does not feel like doing something, it will not be forced to do so.

At Cavalia, the horses are family. And that's what makes the difference.

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After having met the horses, I couldn't wait to catch the show. I was not disappointed -- it was truly SPECTACULAR! 

More on that coming up in my next post!

Cavalia Ticketing and Show Information

Season: 12 August to 14 September 2014
Venue: Under the White Theatre Tent at Bayfront Avenue beside Marina Bay Sands
Performance Times: Tuesday to Friday 7.30pm; Saturday 2pm & 7.30pm; Sunday 12pm & 5.30pm (No shows on 13, 19 and 26 August)
Ticket Prices: VIP: $308, $288, $248, $208; Standard: $188, $148, $98, $88, $58. 
Booking Through Internet: www.cavalia.sg or Sistic
Booking By Phone: +65 31586735 (Cavalia) or +65 6688 8826 (Sistic)

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