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Monday, September 15, 2014

Confessions of an Unlikely Tomato Farmer

As you read this post, my family is taking a bit of an extended break in Melbourne, Australia. The husband was able to take some leave and I jumped at the chance to take a bit of an extended break. After all, with Noey starting Primary 1 next year, this is just about my last chance to just take the kids out of school to travel during off-peak periods! 

Usually when we plan to go on a holiday, I get stressed about stuff like packing and sorting out our accommodation and itinerary. This year however, I had an additional thing to worry about: What would become of my cherry tomato plants?

I never intended to grow cherry tomato plants. In fact, I wasn't even the one who planted them -- it was Noey who did, as part of a homelearning lesson planned by my friend D. This wonderful mummy planned a lesson on plants and part of the hands-on portion of the activity saw the kids planting their own cherry tomato seeds. My apartment dwelling kids rarely have the opportunity to get their hands dirty this way so they really enjoyed it! 

TomatoesThe unwitting gardener.

And that's how we ended up having two pots of cherry tomato plants. I'd come back with the very vague general notion that we'd leave the seeds where they'd get plenty of sun and water them regularly and see how long they'd survive. Not having intended to grow tomatoes, I was ill equipped to take care of them. I'm sure the plants would not have survived, and indeed thrived if not for the fact that my helper was very excited about the plants. "I've grown tomatoes before. It's very easy!" she assured me. Clueless, I decided to let her take charge.

The kids were very excited about the plants at the beginning and were all too eager to douse their pots with water everyday. We also made sure to provide them with plenty of sunlight and were rewarded with the presence of spouts within a couple of days. Of course, the kids had liberally poured all the seeds in their seed packet into each of their little pots, so we ended lots of little shoots -- way too many for our little pots.

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We allowed the seedlings to grow till they put out sufficient roots and were about 10cm to 15cm high before we re-potted them. My helper salvaged two pots from the discard pile nuder my block and I bought a longish trough to transfer the rest of the plants into. We tried to save space and probably put in more plants than we ought to into the pots -- two each in the single pots and about ten in the long pot. Probably not the best idea but I know we were reluctant to throw away healthy plants. So my advice to you on this is not to plant too many seeds in the first place!

We were surprised that the cherry tomato plants grew rather tall. Much taller than tomato plants, I am told. They did get rather unruly before we decided to stake them a bit by building a box around them. My MIL had the good idea of buying canes from the market for this purpose and it worked a treat.

Tomatoes3My messy plants… before we decided to do something about it!

After a couple of months, we were rewarded with the first flowers! 

Tomatoes4Little buds that burst forth into yellow blooms.

We waited excitedly for fruits but the flowers just ran the course of their lifespan and withered and died. Boo. How disappointing. It was nearly two months later (four months after we first planted the seeds that we spied the first fruit developing! I half suspect that nearly killing them when we abandoned and did not water them for 5 days when we went for church camp stirred the plant into fruit-bearing action...

Tomatoes5Our first fruit forming!

It took another month of patient waiting before the fruits started to ripen. It was actually quite fascinating to observe the daily progress and watch the fruits push themselves out of the flowers. You can still see the remnants of the style of the flower with the stigma hanging off the base of the fruit as it develops though it does eventually drop off when the fruits are ripe.

Tomatoes6Fruits growing and ripening on the vine.

The one person who was eagerly watching the whole process with me was my little Mei, devourer of all things tomato in this household. I had to keep her busy little hands off the vines because as soon as she spots a red one, she'll be helping herself to the fruit! 

Tomatoes7(L): Little Miss Helpful helping herself: (R): Fruits from our own garden taste extra sweet!

We picked the fruit off the vine as soon as they turned red and popped them in our mouths, but found that while decently sweet, the skin was rather thick and hard. Fruit left to ripen on the vine for about a week more tasted much better, but were at risk of other hungry creatures!

Tomatoes8We found this crime scene on the balcony one morning. Likely suspect: a squirrel. My helper has spotted one prowling near the balcony and plants!

It's been quite an experience. The plants were fruiting away over the past month but it remains to be seen if they will survive this period when we are away. Maybe it'll be time for new plants when we return, though before I plant any, I'm going to have to think hard about contingency care arrangements!

If you're keen to grow your own cherry tomatoes in a pot, here are some tips, based on my own experience:

1. My cherry tomatoes were grown from seeds from Known-You-Seed Co. Ltd. The variety was lycopersicon esculentum Mill.

2. I read that these plants need plenty of sunlight and I fretted a bit as my balcony doesn't really get much (if any) direct sun. During the initial days I used to bring the plants downstairs to the courtyard for some sunning but later determined that it wasn't really necessary since the plants continued to grow well notwithstanding the lack of direct sun, bending towards the light. So if you are not able to place your plants where they get lots of direct sunlight, don't panic. They'll still grow!

3. These plants need a lot of water. At some stage we started watering the plants twice a day to keep their soil moist.

4. I didn't add fertilizer, but I did make sure to get some good quality potting soil. You might also have to top up it up and add more soil to the pot after some time. We added more when we started seeing roots on the surface.

5. These plants grow pretty tall and as they grew, we started pruning the leaves at the bottom (which started yellowing anyway). Pruning unwanted unnecessary leaves allows the nutrients to be channelled to the new growing parts, including the fruits.

6. I think the fruits benefit from ripening on the vine. As I mentioned above, I left them on the vine for about a week after they turned red and thought that the fruits were much sweeter with a thinner skin. I suppose you can also pluck them early and leave them to ripen on the counter but we've never been able to resist eating them straight away!

Have you successfully grown cherry tomatoes in a pot locally as well? Do share any tips -- I'd love to know! Or have you grown any other plants or herbs successfully? Please share easy-grow useful varieties!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Bonding With Your Child With Lego

Like most working parents, my husband doesn't get a lot of time with the children during the week. Because of his long and intense working hours, he often arrives home late, after the kids and I are done with dinner. The kids would clamour for his attention and after a hard day's work, I know that oftentimes there is nothing he would like to do better than to simply crash into bed. There are days when he would do exactly that, but more often than not, he lifts his spirits to spend some time bonding with the kids.

Bonding is something which you think would come naturally, but in reality takes time and effort. The benefits however are very real, with studies showing that a strong parent-child bond in the early years is key to a child's emotional development. Children secure in their attachment to their caregivers show a stronger ability to manage stress, form healthier relationships, get better grades in school and have a higher self-esteem. In other words, building a bond with your child has a positive impact on his or her ability to live a well-balanced and fulfilling life.

Of course, benefits aside, the reason why we choose to bond with our children is because we love them. We spend time with them because we want them to know that they matter to us. We do things with them because we think they would enjoy it. This is why we play board games, read, indulge in various sports, enjoy romps in the park, and play with Lego.

Yes, Lego. Because here's the thing. We play with the kids because it's just plain fun for us too. Nothing puts the smile on the faces of my husband and children than being able to bring out a new set, especially one that has been stashed away for them to open at just the right moment for some hours of fun.
I've thought about why Lego has such ageless appeal and I've come to the conclusion that it is the combination of the following factors:

1. It really is child's play. Adult or child, just about anyone can stack two bricks together -- no training or extra tools required. With such a low entry level of skill needed, it is easy to get into the process of building and creation. Don't like what you built? It is just as easy to take it apart and start again.

2. You are limited only by your imagination. I think most of us have had the experience of building with Lego, then after that, taking what we built apart and rebuilding other models, be they spaceships, cars, castles, or combinations of things that defied description. The husband told me that when he was little, there were days when he would grab a fistful or two of Lego, then sit down and challenge himself to use all the pieces he had grabbed to make something interesting. Naturally he ended up with fire engines with wings, houses with wheels, castles with space antennae, and the list went on. You can really build just about anything you want, as long as you have enough bricks.

3. They just keep coming up with really cool lines. While the generic blocks will always play an integral part in the Lego experience, the fact is that from Star Wars, to Super Heroes to Harry Potter to the latest princess series for girls, it is just fascinating to see familiar scenes translated and miniaturised in Lego. My husband himself had his childhood interest in Lego rekindled as an adult by the Lego Star Wars series and he still can't help but marvel at the detailed re-creations of the iconic scenes, characters and machinery.

As for my son, he's been caught up with the Legends of Chima and was recently ecstatic to get his hands on one of the newest products in the Chima line -- Laval's Fire Lion.

"I'm going to build this all by myself", he said excitedly. I had my doubts. After all, the set is intended for children between the ages of 8-14 and looked pretty complicated. And besides, did he really think that his Papa was going to let him get away with playing with new Lego all by himself?

But he was so eager to open the set, I found it hard to say no. So I ended sitting down to start work on the set with him… and fighting him to put it together. (Hah!) No, seriously, I helped where necessary, which honestly, got a little tricky at times! There are those who query the value of building Lego following instructions, but I think there is something to gain from that as well. Perseverance, for one. It took us two to three sittings in total to put Laval's Fire Lion together, including a couple of occasions where we had to go back and re-work bits that didn't seem quite right. This process also trained our eye for detail, as well as taught us to hunt down the parts, distinguish right and left, and to see how everything fits together. Let's also not forget the exercise of our fine motor skills in putting it all together!

Laval1

Which bring me to my last point about why Lego is so popular:

4. It is just a great toy. Most of the fun is in the building, but even after you've finished building a set in accordance with the instructions, there is still more you can do with it. We found Laval's Fire Lion in particular very playable. It rolls, has articulated joints, and has a cool grabbing function as its arms move to open and extend. It also has a pack over one arm that shoots missiles, much to Noey's delight. We've tried to use its arms to pick stuff up, with some success. We've also dismantled parts of it to take a look at how the joints work. It was a good lesson in mechanics. Of course, the best part was that it is something we can do together -- the building, dismantling, re-building and just having fun. It is the shared experience that, as always, makes the playing extra special.

Laval3

* This post was first published on Yahoo Parenting on 4 Aug 2014. Read the original article here.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Blessed New Arrival

Over the weekend, I finally, finally had the opportunity to make the acquaintance of a very special little man.

Meet my little nephew, Baby E.

BabyEBaby E pictured here with my own baby Mei, looking like a real giant beside her tiny new cousin.

After suffering from PPROM, my dear sister, by God's grace, spent a heroic 8 weeks (!!!) in the hospital before the onset of contractions. After weeks of uncertainty, little E was born after 33 weeks of gestation. A preemie, he was, but if he had showed us anything from his eventful stay in his mummy's womb, it is that he is a strong one. He had to stay in the NICU for 2 weeks, but he improved steadily, coming off oxygen quickly and transitioning from feeding tube to bottle to being able to nurse directly.

Thinking back on the fear and uncertainty we lived through in the days following the PPROM episode, I truly marvel how the Lord's provision can be seen every step of the way, from the milestones hit and the prayers answered. As we learnt to let go of what we could not control and lift them up to Him, He met the desires of our hearts and prepared the new parents for the task ahead. Baby E's name had been decided a long time ago, long before the new parents realised what a testimony his entry into the world would be. Elijah: The Lord Jehovah is my God. Indeed.

Only parents and grandparents are allowed in the NICU so Saturday was the first time I and my excited little daughter were able to meet our little nephew/cousin (Noey was down with a fever and I decided it was probably best that he didn't come along.) Baby E mostly slept through our visit but Mei hung around gently stroking his head and watching Kong Kong feed baby E. I'm sure she'll be an excellent Jiejie to him and equally sure that she cannot wait to boss him around.

Welcome to the family little one!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The 9-Step Guide to Enjoying the Skyline Luge Sentosa {Giveaway}

It's the school holidays! Time to get out and play!

We'll be headed out of town this term break, but if we were in Singapore, I know we would definitely be paying a visit to Sentosa. Ever since they got their first taste it earlier this year, the kids have repeatedly asked to go back to the Skyline Luge Sentosa for another turn at whizzing down the hill. So during the June holidays we did just that to satisfy their need for speed, as well as check out Skyline Luge Sentosa's newly upgraded facilities.

If you're planning your own Luge ride, here is our step-by-step guide to having an enjoyable time:

STEP 1: BUY YOUR TICKETS

Tickets please! If you find the choice of tickets at the counter slightly mind-boggling, you are not alone! We certainly felt that way when we first visited. The first thing to figure out if you're riding with children is whether they will be riding solo or in tandem with you. To do so, do keep in mind the height and age restrictions for solo riders.

SentosaLuge

Skyride:

  • Min. height 85cm to ride the Skyride with an adult
  • Min. height 135cm to ride the Skyride alone

Luge:

  • 6 years and min. height 110cm to ride Luge alone
  • Children under the age of 6 years can ride tandem with an adult

If your child is riding tandem with you, you can purchase a "child doubling" top up for an additional $3 per skyride-luge ride. This child will therefore not count to the headcount for the rides. 

There are a variety of individual and family tickets available, with the multiple ride passes being more value for money. You should plump for multi-ride passes anyway because as their slogan says, once is never enough! We certainly know this from experience.

Individual tickets start at a single $17 for a Luge and Skyride combo while family tickets (for families with children under 16 years of age) start at $39 for a four-ride family pass. Get more information on ticket prices here.

STEP 2: HOP ON TO THE SKYRIDE

SentosaLuge3

The entrance to the Skyride is just behind the ticketing counter. Join the queue and hop on to the skyride, which is a continuous non-stop ride. The friendly staff will line you up (max 4 persons) and off you go!

This being an open chair lift that rises high above the ground, it can be a bit unnerving the first time round. Doubly so if you're riding with kids! I'm also always wondering if my slippers will slip off my feet on-route, so wear shoes with straps for peace of mind! Then sit back, relax and enjoy the view, which can be pretty spectacular, especially on a clear day. It isn't everyday that you get to look out to the horizon, even if we do live on an island!

Also, don't forget to look out the photo point along the way and flash your biggest smile! This is one of the photo points along the entire ride. There's another along the luge trail, before you reach the end point. 

SentosaLuge4

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STEP 3: CHECK OUT YOUR PICTURES

After smiling for the camera, don't forget to check out how the pictures turned out. These can be viewed and selected at the photo counters conveniently situated at the top of the hill right after you get off the Skyride. These have been recently renovated to add four more counters for a quicker and better experience. If you're going on multiple rides, you can ask the counter staff to hold your pictures so that you can subsequently select the best one.

STEP 4: GET IN THE LINE FOR FIRST-TIMERS

If it is your first ride of the day, get in the correct line for 1st time Luge riders. They will be able to identify you by the fact that you do not have a Luge stamp on your hand so don't get in the wrong line! The line for first-timers is typically quite long and the wait can be about 30 mins during peak periods, but be patient. The queue takes a bit of time as the staff will take each group of riders through a quick safety briefing and check that they can manage their Luge before letting them continue down the ride. If you are loathe to wait, do try to visit during off-peak hours. If you're going on second or subsequent ride, you can join the 2nd time riders queue which is much shorter and quicker.

STEP 5: GRAB A HELMET

Don't forget those helmets! The helmets are conveniently colour coded according to size: Green (XXS), Red (XS), Yellow (S), Blue (M), Orange (L). You can pick one up in the helmet bin situated along the queue path. 

SentosaLuge6

STEP 6: SAFETY BRIEFING

Nearly there! While queuing, you would probably have noticed the instructional safety videos playing on screens overhead. These will give you an idea of what is coming up. When it's your turn, hop into a Luge and you'll be given a safety briefing and instructions on how to manoeuvre the vehicle. Simply place your feet on the foot rests and pull back hard on the handles. Release the tension on the handlebars by pushing them away from your body and you will feel the Luge start to roll forward. Pull hard to brake and turn the handlebars left and right like you would on a bicycle to turn. That's it!

Once they have ascertained that you are able to understand the basic workings of the Luge, you are allowed to roll forward to the brake test point for a final check. 

SentosaLuge7

SentosaLuge9

STEP 7: JUNGLE TRAIL OR DRAGON TRAIL?

Just one final decision: do you sped down the left and take the shorter and somewhat straighter 628m Jungle Trail, or the longer and more twisty 688m Dragon Trail? I personally prefer the Dragon Trail which I find more exciting with its many twists and turns, but Noey prefers the Jungle Trail, which allows him to go faster down the straights. I say, make sure you do both!

SentosaLuge2

STEP 8: HAVE THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE!

The moment you've been waiting for: it's time to speed down the hill! Have fun! Watch out for folks around you and don't forget to smile at the camera towards the end!

SentosaLuge8

STEP 9: DO IT AGAIN!

Inevitably, when we reach the bottom, the kids would be clamouring to do it again. Like they say, once is never enough!

SentosaLuge10

EXTRA: DAY OR NIGHT? 

If you've ridden on the Luge before, I'm guessing that you, like us, rode in the day. But did you know that you can ride the Luge at night? The Skyline Luge Sentosa opens daily from 10am to 9.30pm, and according to my friends who have done it, offers a different and more thrilling experience in the cool night air as you navigate the turns on a track specially lit with RGB LED lighting. You can read more about night luging over at Owls Well, A Juggling Mom and Princess Dana Diaries.

You can also try it yourself for we have a special GIVEAWAY! That's right, we have THREE SETS OF 4-RIDE FAMILY PASSES (worth $39 each) to give away! All family deals include the Skyride to the top of the tracks and mulitple luge rides to share are applicable for families with children below 16 years of age. Children under 6 years or shorter than the required 110cm to ride alone may ride the Luge in tandem with a full paying adult.

To join this giveaway you have to complete the following steps:

1. Like the Skyline Luge Sentosa Facebook Page.

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

3. Like and Comment on this Facebook photo, telling me what you like best about the Skyline Luge Sentosa!

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. All entries will be verified before the winners are announced. To be fair to our sponsors, please note that all fake Facebook accounts (eg. accounts set up purely to take part in contests with no or very few real friends) will also be ineligible to win.

Skyline Luge Sentosa
45 Siloso Beach Walk
Sentosa, Singapore 
Tel: +65 6274 0472 

Find out more at www.skylineluge.com or at their Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/skylinelugesentosa.

While you're at Sentosa, don't forget to check out the Sentosa Buskers Festival which is on this week from 6 to 14 Sep 2014! We had a lot of fun at the festival last year. (Click for last year's pictures!) In fact, when we saw the banners on a recent visit to Sentosa, Noey excitedly started recounting the acts he'd watched last year. Unfortunately he was a bit under the weather in the weekend so we were not able to go down and will be leaving on holiday later this week so I think we will be missing this year's edition. But if you're in town, do check it out. It is a lot of fun for the family!

* We thank Skyline Luge Sentosa for the media invitation and sponsorship of the giveaway passes. All opinions are, as always, authentically our own.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Teachers' Day 2014

I was in the process of preparing cards for the kids for Teacher's Day when Mei came by to see what I was doing. Looking over my shoulder, she pointed at the words on the card. To my enormous surprise, she read, "THANK YOU".

Her being able to read those words was one of those instances of the many things I have to thank her teachers for teaching her over this past year. Both children have been very blessed this year with good teachers who have helped nurture them, and who have seen them grow and mature in different ways. They have really enjoyed this term, which had a Lego theme that they could both relate to very well! We attended Noey's project day and saw the video that Mei came back with showing her learning activities over this term and were just bowled over by all that they had done with their teachers these past few months.

So when it came to their Teachers' Day gifts this year, I thought it was only apt that we gave them… Lego! We gave their principal this Lego calendar and customised a few minifies to go along with it. I also "dressed" the Lego kids in their kindy PE kit, which I thought she might appreciate.

TeachersDay1

The teachers got photo frames, and I slotted in a card from the kids into each of them. Noey helped me with some of the Lego building as the effort part of his gift while Mei just kept running away with my minifigs! But we got everything together in the end.

TeachersDay2

The parents were tasked to put together food and activities for the teachers for individual class celebrations in school. I think we did well with the food -- there was a veritable feast, especially for Noey's class! Some classes also put up song items which were very cute. But after all the eating, when parents were scratching their heads over what to do with all the children, it was still up to the teachers who organised games on the spot and kept the children happy and entertained. 

TeachersDay3

It takes someone with a certain gift and heart for children to be a teacher. Thank you to all the wonderful teachers out there -- thank you for loving our children. 

Happy Teachers' Day!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Disney's Planes: Fire & Rescue

I know one of the things that my husband misses badly about our days pre-Noey and Mei days is the cinema. The man is quite a movie buff but we now honestly don't have the luxury of time (nor the energy, really!) to catch movies in the cinema as regularly as we used to. These days we are resigned to waiting for the later release of films for home theatre and watching them on our own screens, if we get round to watching them at all!

So I am always really pleased when a movie that the whole family can watch together is released -- like Disney's latest movie release Planes: Fire & Rescue.

Planes Fire  Rescue

Confession: It was only when I got notice that we'd be attending the movie premiere of Planes: Fire & Rescue that we finally got round to watching the first Disney Planes movie. I rented the DVD for the kids so that we could all get up to speed on the story of how Dusty Crophopper reached beyond himself and became a racing champion. Having watched both movies however, I can safely say that there is no need for you to have watched the first movie to appreciate the second. While Planes: Fire & Rescue picks up the story where Planes left off, it introduces a new cast of characters and embarks on a new storyline.

In this movie, Dusty Crophopper is a world-famous air-racer at the peak of his career when, following an incident during a training run, he learns that his gearbox is irreparably damaged and he would never race again. When the need arises for a second fire-fighter in Dusty's hometown of Propwash Junction, Dusty steps up and enters the world of aerial firefighting. He joins forces with veteran fire-and-rescue helicopter Blade Ranger and his courageous team, including spirited air tanker Dipper, heavy-lift helicopter Windlifter, ex- military transport Cabbie and a lively bunch of brave all-terrain vehicles known as The Smokejumpers. Together, the fearless team battles a massive wildfire and Dusty learns what it takes to become a true hero.

Planes fire and rescue RGB blade rangerPlanes fire and rescue RGB dipper
Planes fire and rescue RGB windlifterPlanes fire and rescue RGB cabbie
Planes fire and rescue RGB smokejumpersPlanes fire and rescue RGB smokejumpers

The kids were tremendously excited to watch this show, and i'm glad we were not disappointed. While the storyline was rather formulaic, it was also earnest and a meaningful tribute to the work of firefighters, true heroes who risk their lives daily for people they don't know. I thought the opening tribute at the start was a nice touch. Planes: Fire & Rescue is also a movie about second-chances and pushing beyond your limits to be more than you were born (or in this case, made) to be, a lesson that would resonate with many parents and is indeed a lesson which I would want my kids to learn.

“Life doesn’t always go the way you expect it. But you came here to become a firefighter.
If you give up today, think of all the lives you won’t save tomorrow. “
~ Blade Ranger, “Planes: Fire & Rescue” 

We watched this movie in 3D and I think that works particularly well here as the audience gets to soar through the air with Dusty and gang on their twists and turns. Noey was particularly excited about the 3D effect and kept reaching out his hands to try to touch the planes flying by. Even Mei managed to keep her glasses on the whole time. We were also wowed by the amazing vistas of Piston Peak National Park. I kept nudging my husband as scenes popped up which looked reminded me strongly Yosemite National Park in California, one of the most beautiful places the husband and I have had a chance to visit. I thought the animation in this respect was incredible! Indeed, Piston Peak National Park is modelled on Yosemite and Yellowstone National Park, giving the scenery a sense of realism.

Check out the trailers for the show here:

We all agreed that it was a fun night out for the whole family.

Planes: Fire & Rescue opens in cinemas today, 4 September 2014. Definitely a treat for the kids this school holiday! for more information, do check out the Walt Disney Studios Facebook Page.

Planes Fire Rescue2

(Click here for some links to Planes: Fire & Rescue activities for the kids to enjoy!)

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Those Nanoblock Fascinators and the Singapore Blog Awards 2014

OMYSBA2014 1

It isn't everyday that you get to wear Lego on your head, but if you're going to do it, I guess it'd better be for a special occasion. In this case, it was the Singapore Blog Awards 2014!

(Ok, it wasn't really Lego but nanoblocks that made their way into my headpiece but you get the drift!)

It all started when the petite travellers received the honour of being one of the  finalists for the Best New Blog at this year's blog awards. The event had a derby theme, so we knew there were going to be hats all around. But we also wanted to incorporate our travel theme, with a look that was distinct yet cohesive amongst the few of us attending.

With that in mind, we brainstormed over many days as we considered hats with city skylines, hats with 3D cardboard structures and hats with our emblematic red suitcase on them. We even when as far as considering wearing the red suitcase as a hat! Time was ticking down and we had no workable idea. Then, just three days before the ceremony, Jas came across a 3D cardboard structure that she thought might work, except that we were not sure we were going to be able to find five more different cardboard structures. But while I was fiddling with a 3D puzzle set of Sydney Harbour Bridge to see if it could be used, an image of nanoblock landmarks suddenly came into my head, and I thought: maybe we should use nanoblocks?

As we discussed it, it sounded more and more plausible. It helped that the structures looked good and were not heavy, and best of all, were readily available. As my husband and son told me when I asked, you can buy nanoblocks "everywhere". We got some sets and settled on a fascinator style, which Jas, Corsage and Pam proceeded to test out. And when they sent us some pics, I knew: This was it. Just in the nick of time too! 

It was hard work putting the structures together -- nano bricks are so tiny! Our biggest fear was that the brick structures will coming crashing down as we wore them (and mine did, many times during construction), so GLUE was essential. Each stress point was tested then UHU-ed in place.

You would think my Lego-loving husband would have been supportive, but he just gave me incredulous looks when I told him that the Eiffel tower structure he was admiring was going to go on my head. "It's just so… impractical!" he said repeatedly.

But whaddya know, the nanoblocks held together and collectively, I thought the group of us looked great. There's nothing like doing something kooky with friends! It would have been more awesome if all nine of us could have attended!

OMYSBA2014 3The different landmarks we wore, clockwise from top left: Big Ben (London), Eiffel Tower (Paris), The Great Pyramid (Egypt), Neuschwanstein Castle (Germany), and St Basil's Cathedral (Russia).

We didn't win the Best New Blog award by the way, in case you were wondering. I personally didn't expect us to, since we were up against some strong contenders. So the award ceremony was really a time to check out the scene, put some faces to names I'd only seen online and hang out with friends. We were familiar with the mummy-blogger crowd of course, many of whom were nominees for Best Parenting Blog, and it was great to have the opportunity to catch up.

OMYSBA 4Five of us from petite travellers with the lovely mums from Growing with the Tans, PruneNurture, A Pancake Princess, MummyWee, The Gingerbread Mum, and A Juggling Mom!

I think we were all running on adrenaline because I was so tired at the end of it, and ready to crash! Didn't help that it was a standing event and the first time I was wearing closed-toe pumps in months!

The whole process of starting petite travellers, entering the Singapore Blog Awards, qualifying as a finalist, and attending the award ceremony was quite an experience, made all the better by the fact that I was doing it, and going through it all with friends. Blogging, writing, even being a Mummy can be very lonely pursuits, and it helps to have folks you can call on for support, to ask for advice, for prayers, to share in your joys, to bounce ideas off, and yes, to wear nanoblocks together. I thought I was past the age where one makes meaningful friendships but you know what? I was wrong and God has served up a blessing in these lovely ladies. And I sure am grateful for that! 

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(P.S. Click here to read the petite travellers' account of the event!)

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