Friday, April 18, 2014

Learning About Easter

It is Good Friday today. A day when we pause to consider the sacrifice made by Christ on the cross, even as we look forward with joy celebrating the triumph of His resurrection on Eater Sunday. Most of all, it is a time to be thankful, for the unmerited favour we received through God's abundant grace in the process.

I've not done as much as I would have liked to really get into the season. My days have been full, really full, mostly in a good way. But I think it's never too late to spend some time reading the word of God and being thankful. For this purpose, I've found the BSF guide to teaching your child about Easter really helpful. Aside from some practical tips on how to get kids to share in this meaningful occasion, I've found the table at the end, which sets out passages and talking points for a bible study with your children really helpful for guiding our discussion.

BSF Easter Readings

Here are some other links that you might find useful as we meditate and celebrate this season:

 Have a blessed end to the week, one and all.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day 2014

Free Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream! That certainly got my attention.

Free Cone Day has been a Ben & Jerry's tradition since 1979, a day when the ice-cream chain thanks its loyal customers for their support over the past year by dishing out free ice-cream to all! I think it's a nice gesture with the added bonus that it's great for PR! 

I've missed the event year after year, always realising at the last minute that it was D-Day. But this time! This time I had rather providentially walked past the the promotional poster at Great World City just the week before. I made a mental note of the date, then hatched a plan with our swim mates to head over for free ice-cream after our swim session on 8 April. We picked Dempsey, thinking that it's more inaccessible location might mean smaller crowds in the middle of the afternoon.

Well, the crowd wasn't small. There were loads of students! But the queue was very well managed and there was a carnival-like atmosphere around which made the whole process more palatable. Instead of holding the event at their store, Ben & Jerry's had wisely set up shop in the open carpark behind their store, so there was plenty of space for the snacking queue, and more stations for the scoopies who were busy dishing out ice-cream. There were also plenty of helpers getting folks to pose with props and being around to ensure that the queue was kept moving. Thumbs up on a well-run event! 

B JFCD1We made it to Free Cone Day!

B JFCD2That's me, the 1st year Cone Newbie. They handed out stickers to everyone, from 1st year Cone Newbies to 2nd Year Scoop Rockers, up to 6th year Moo Masters and 8th year Resident Gurus!  

B JFCD3Donation boxes were strategically placed to collect donations for Ben & Jerry's charity partner, The Children's Charities Association of Singapore. 

We stood in line for about half an hour before we got to the front of the queue. In that time, we had plenty of time to contemplate the all important question of which flavour we were going to get. I was pleasantly surprised to see that pretty much the full menu of scoop shop flavours were made available, though the the downside to going later in the day was that about half of the flavours had run out. They were out of New York Superfudge Chunk (my favourite flavour!!) and in fact, all chocolate-based flavours like Chocolate Therapy, Phish Food and Chocolate Fudge Brownie. In the end, I opted for their newest flavour Couch Potato, a vanilla ice-cream with a salty caramel swirl and chocolate covered potato chip clusters. It was surprisingly good! The kids wolfed down their English Toffee Crunch and Strawberry.

B JFCD4Friendly scoopies serving up our ice-cream

B JFCD5The little miss is well-pleased.

B JFCD6Even little B got in on the action, with a cone AND ice-cream in a cup!

It was a nice afternoon treat. Maybe I'll be back for my 2nd year next year! 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Tulipmania with Miffy at Gardens By The Bay

There will be tulips blooming in Singapore over this week and guess which little tike had a tiny part to play in that?

Tulipmania1

Following its hugely successful run last year, Tulipmania will be returning to Gardens By The Bay this year, starting tomorrow! From 14 April to 4 May 2014, the flower field in the Flower Dome will be awash with tulips and hyacinths, and it promises to be a spectacular sight. 

But before that, the flowers have to be planted, and we were really excited to be invited to be part of the gardening crew for the day. 

We were first briefed on the layout of plants on the flower field, which looks to be quite different from last year's arrangement. Instead of rows, the flowers will be grown around miniatures of Dutch canal scenes, houses and windmills in a setup inspired by Madurodam, a popular miniature park in the Netherlands.

Tulipmania2

Just as I was starting to get a little bit worried about the size of the task, we were led to the back-of-house and shown what we actually had to do: plant tulip bulbs in pairs in planter boxes. (Whew!) These planter boxes would, when completed, be installed in front of Dutch houses to bloom. The tulip bulbs, all 25,000 of them, had arrived overnight from Holland, conveniently grown in their own little individual planters. So all we had to do was pop them out and replant them in the planter boxes. I was surprised to learn that it takes 4 to 5 years to grow tulip bulbs to the size that were being used for Tulipmania. Size matters! The bigger the bulbs, the bigger and stronger the flowers they produce. 

Tulipmania3

We were given gardening tools and big bags of compost and told to get going. All the kids needed to hear were the reassuring words: "it doesn't matter if you make a mess!". With that, they were off! Naomi's favourite bit was digging in compost.

Tulipmania4

And Noey's was trying to work out the optimum height to achieve the best compost-in-planter to compost-on-table ratio.

Tulipmania5

He was pretty pleased with our handiwork when we were done! Some of the bulbs didn't quite sit straight, but another interesting thing we learnt about tulip bulbs is that they are phototropic, ie. they will always grow towards the light. So it didn't matter if the bulbs were leaning to a side as they would naturally grow up straight up to the light anyway. Very forgiving toward us amateur gardeners, I'd say!

Tulipmania7

The real highlight for the morning however, weren't so much the tulips but a certain bunny who caused quite a stir with her appearance -- Miffy! If you're wondering what Miffy has to do with tulips, the answer is that is that, like these tulips, Miffy hails from The Netherlands. (Hands up those of you who thought that Miffy was Japanese!) Miffy's original Dutch name is Nijntje, a shortening of diminutive konijnte or "little rabbit".

Tulipmania8

It was our first time meeting Miffy live and the kids were very taken by her, especially Meips. She couldn't keep away from Miffy and kept trailing Miffy around, wanting to go hold her hand and give her a hug. I had to physically remove her to prevent her from getting in the photos of others.

Tulipmania13(Photo credit: KLM's Facebook Page) 

As an added bonus, the children were give the opportunity to do some planting in the flower field under the watchful eye of Miffy. Boy, were they enthusiastic! Armed with shovels and their hyacinth bulbs, they got down to work.

Tulipmania6

Tulipmania12

The kids both enjoyed the process thoroughly and proved themselves to be pretty good gardeners, though Meips was foiled in her attempt to shower her Gor-gor with soil.

Tulipmania10

After all that work, someone really needed to rest!

Tulipmania9

We'll be back again at Tulipmania again this week to see the flowers in bloom. The tulips are expected to start blooming from tomorrow and the best time to catch them is likely to be the upcoming Good Friday long weekend (or slightly before that!). If you're excited to catch Miffy, do note that Miffy will only be making special appearances at Tulipmania at the following events:

1. Easter Egg Hunt with Miffy
Date: Sunday 20 April 2014
Egg Hunt Sessions: 11am, 1pm and 3pm.
(Each session is 1 hour long and registration opens in the Flower Dome 30 mins before each session.)
Eligibility: Chidren aged 3 to 12 years. (Children between the ages of 3 to 6 require parental supervision.)
Admission charges to the Cooled Conservatories apply.

2. Tulip Cheer
Date: Saturday 26 April 2014
Appearance Timings: 11am, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm.

Also, starting from 14 April 2014, all visitors to the Flower Dome will receive a souvenir Miffy postcard. Don't forget to collect yours as you enter the Flower Dome, while stocks last! 

For more details on ongoing activities for Tulipmania, do check out the Tulipmania page on the Gardens By the Bay website. You can also check out the KLM Facebook Page to follow Miffy's adventures in Singapore. 

Tulipmania
Flower Dome, Gardens By The Bay
14 April to 4 May 2014
9am to 9pm daily
Admission charges to the Cooled Conservatories apply.
(There is an ongoing promotion for Senior Citizens offering a 50% discount off regular Senior Citizen rates for the Flower Dome. ie. resident senior citizens only need pay $4 for entry!)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Four Cow Farm: Pohnpei Sponge and Bath Soaks {Giveaway}

Four Cow Farm is one of my favourite baby skincare brands, and one that I have used in recent years, with Meips in particular. You can read my review of their Nappy Balm and Calendula Remedy here

I like not only the fact that they made with 100% natural and organic ingredients, but also that they contain only the good stuff and none of the bad stuff. The ingredients, emulsifiers and preservatives used have all been carefully selected to bring maximum benefit to the skin while minimising irritation and avoiding items that have questionable long-term effects on our skin and general well-being. So the products have no parabens, propylene glycol, sulfates (ALS/SLS/SLES), cocamidopropyl betaine, artificial fragrances or colours, synthetic detergents, petrochemicals or petrochemical derivatives, mineral oils, lanolin, chlorinated water or phthalates. That's one mighty long list huh! And one that I appreciate.

Four Cow Farm has recently added a couple of items to their product range which we tried and liked, so I'm introducing them to you here.

FourCowFarm1

First up is the Pohnpei Sponge. I don't know about you, but I love getting a good scrub while having a bath. Definitely makes me feel a whole lot cleaner! And this sponge, it sure is luxurious. None of that synthetic stuff here. This is a natural sponge that has been hand-grown in the waters of Pohnpei Island Micronesia, then harvested and cleansed without the use of harsh chemical dyes. It feels a bit hard when you take it out the box but it softens right up once you soak it in some water. It honestly feels quite lovely on the skin, and I've been using this to scrub the kids' bodies and faces during their daily shower. It is effective yet soft enough that the kids don't kick up a fuss, which is great since I can get the job done quickly! Honestly, I'm eyeing one of these for myself too. 

FourCowFarm2

Another interesting new product they've added are the Calendula, Oat and Chickweed Soaks. This combines the itch-relieving qualities of chickweed, the moisturising and protective qualities of colloidal oats, and the calming and anti-inflammatory qualities of calendula petals. All these have been combined in a bag (much like a teabag!) that you soak in bath water. I gave the kids this spa-like treatment and allowed them to use the bath soaks in their tubs, which was such a treat for them! The soaks turned the water slightly milky and made their skin feel extra soft. How luxurious! You are also encouraged to pat the bag on skin to release it's goodness, but do be careful or you'll end up like me with oats all over the bathroom! This is recommended to soothe red, itchy and irritated skin affected by eczema, psoriasis, insects bites, hives, heat, acne, rashes, diaper rash or sunburn.

For more information, visit the Four Cow Farm website. You can also purchase their products from their online store and get free deliver within Singapore with an order of $45 or more.

GIVEAWAY!

I have THREE SETS of Four Cow Farm Products to give away! Each set contains one Pohnpei Sponge, one package of Calendula, Oat and Chickweed Bath Soaks (5 sachets), one 250ml bottle of Baby Wash and one 250ml of Baby Lotion for a combined retail value of over $90 per set!. This is a great bathtime set that will allow you to try out effectiveness of the Pohnpei Sponge and Bath Soaks for yourself. 

FourCowFarm3

To enter, simply follow use the Rafflecopter widget below. The more options you complete, the higher your chances of winning! Three winners will be selected at random. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest ends on Monday 21 April 2014, 11.59pm and is open to Singapore residents only.

* The products in this post and giveaway are sponsored by Four Cow Farm. All opinions are, as always, strictly my own.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Racing Down Slopes at Skyline Luge Sentosa

Besides lots of time at the pool during our recent staycation at W, we did take some time to get out of the hotel for a bit. 

Our first stop was the Skyline Luge Sentosa! The Luge has always been one of my favourite Sentosa attractions. There's the skyride uphill on an open chairlift that always sets my senses tingling as I try not to think about dropping my things or slippers falling off my feet. Then, the deliciously fast luge ride downhill. They got their slogan right: once was rarely enough for me! DD and I used to race each other down the slopes, way back before the kids came along. I haven't been on the Luge since.

Our weekend on Sentosa seemed as good a time as ever to introduce the ride to the kids. It took us a while to get through the mind-boggling number of ticket options before we decided on the 10-Ride Family Pass ($60), which seemed the most value-for money. Then we were told that if you have a child ride in tandem with you on the Luge (like we intended to do with Meips), you have to pay an additional "child doubling" fee of $3 per ride. So it really wasn't cheap at all! But we were there to have fun so we decided to just go for it.

Luge2First time on the skyride: Meips hangs on tight while Noey plasters himself to the chair.

Luge3Up, up, up we go. My palms got quite clammy sitting there beside two kids up in an unprotected chairlift!

Luge4Getting our helmets on!

Noey was chuffed to discover that he was tall enough to ride the Luge on his own, and wanted to have a go. He is a wee bit underaged, since he isn't quite six yet, but after ascertaining that he could do it, the Luge staff let him have a turn. He soon discovered for himself why there was a height and age limit -- it wasn't that easy! You have pull back on the handles to release the Luge and get it rolling, using your weight as a counter-balance, and he found it quite tiring to keep that tension. He was real proud of himself when he got to the end! He thereafter concluded it was way more fun to take super fast rides with Daddy down the hill.

Luge1Look, I'm tall enough!

Luge5Hitching a ride with Mummy first to get the hang of it.

Luge6Going with Mummy up for the solo ride. 

Luge7He made it!

Luge8Someone preferred to watch while eating ice-cream...

Guess we'll have to wait a bit before the kids can race us down the slope!

Skyline Luge Sentosa
45 Siloso Beach Walk
Sentosa, Singapore
Tel: +65 6274 0472
Web: www.skylineluge.com/luge-singapore/skyline-luge-sentosa/

Friday, April 04, 2014

8 Activities for the Weekend

The weekend's near! Have you got any plans yet? 

If you haven't and are looking for some ideas, I'm sharing a list of some of our favourite weekend activities on Yahoo! Parenting this week!

And here's a funny story about this list: I had jotted down some ideas for this article on a piece of paper, and when I came back to it after some time, I was very tickled to see that someone had gone through the list and indicated his approval.

YahooActivities

So you know -- this meets Noey's exacting standards! Click here to hop over if you need some inspiration and have a great weekend!

 

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Cards for Charity

I have been blessed with much. A comfortable life, a loving husband, and healthy kids. There are a couple of charities that I support regularly with cash donations, but I've always wanted to do more.

So I'm particularly excited to be part of a group of blogging (and crafting) mamas who are making and selling cards in support of the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS). MINDS is one of the oldest and largest non-governmental organisations that cater to needs of people with intellectual disabilities in Singapore, running special education schools, employment development centres, training and development centres and homes to serve this purpose. Deborah visited MINDS last December to get a glimpse of the work done by MINDS to give the intellectually disabled the means to participate as fully in society as possible and you can read more about it and the good work that MINDS does here.

If you know me, you'll know that I'm no scrapper. I'm constantly befuddled by the thousands of options and embellishments and it gives me brain freeze! But for this project, and with the advice and encouragement of some of the more seasoned scrappers around me, I've stepped out of my comfort zone and managed to put together some cards which I hope you will like! These can be used as birthday cards, general greeting cards, thank you cards or for Mother's Day, which will be coming up in just over a month.

MindsCards1(SOLD)

MindsCards2(SOLD)

MindsCards3 (SOLD)

MindsCards4(SOLD)

MindsCards5

Each card measures 6"x6" and comes with fitted envelopes (not pictured). Handmade with love, these can be purchased at the very reasonable price of only $2.50 per card! All proceeds from the sale of these cards will go directly to MINDS. Please do support this worthy cause!

If you have any queries or would like to order a card, do e-mail me at mysmallthings@gmail.com. I will be happy to customise an order (change greetings, use different colours), within reason of course, and subject to the materials I have at hand. I will be uploading pictures of more cards on my Facebook Page soon so do check back for more!

Do also drop by these other pages to see the beautiful cards other mums are selling in support of this project:

1. A Juggling Mom
2. A Pancake Princess
3. Mama Wear Papa Shirt
4. Mum In The Making
5. Owls Well

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