Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The Residence Maldives. A most memorable vacation

I have returned from paradise.

A place so spectacular in every way.

Crystal clear waters stretching as far as the eye can see.

A place of silence and tranquility to rest our weary souls and escape from the rushed reality of our lives.
Little queen Kate
Time stood still as we lazed around and soaked in the beauty of our surroundings.

We stayed at The Residence, a luxury resort on Falhumaafushi, a pristine island in the Gaafu Alifu Atoll. It is one of the largest atolls in the world.
Collecting shells
To get to this exclusive resort in the middle of nowhere, it was a four and a half hour flight to Male followed by a 45-minute domestic flight to Kooddoo airport.

We were pleasantly received at the airport by a resort staff who led us to a lounge for lunch while they handled the flight check-in. Good thing they had wifi and a shower room for Kate to freshen up and the 2 hours went by quickly enough.
Maldivian airlines
After a short stop over, we disembarked and hopped into a mini bus to get to the nearby jetty. Luckily Kate found it rather amusing to go from big plane to small plane to bus and then boat.

We were served a refreshing bottle of chilled watermelon juice on the speedboat, which signalled the start of their charming service.
10-minute boat ride
Finally, after an 8-hour journey, we stepped into the lobby of our resort and this magnificent view greeted us.

We were warmly welcomed by the staff and informed that we had a personal butler to see to all our needs.

A butler? Wow. We could surely get used to that.
The Residence Maldives
A buggy was waiting to take us to our 1-Bedroom Deluxe pool villa. We had the corner villa, with sunset view.
Can't wait to see the room
We entered the living area, and walked right out the glass doors to see this breathtaking sight.

Just look at this panoramic view.

Simply jaw-dropping.

I could sit here all day.

To read, to dream, to ponder, to just take in life.

It was at once staggering, yet humbling.
Private pool villa
Being in the middle of the Indian Ocean is an experience that cannot be described.

It is relaxing yet stirring.

I could dream up endless possibilities, yet be drawn inwards to reflect.
Our large bathroom
During the hot part of the afternoons, we opened the bathroom sliding doors and enjoyed soaking in a warm bubble bath listening to the sound of the lapping waves.
Spectacular view
Kate and her daddy spent a lot of time in the infinity pool, while I sat on the deck to read, think and relax.

Our stretch of villas was the best place to snorkel. We climbed down into the clear blue water and right below us the water was teeming with marine life.

I felt like a child once again, spotting different fishes darting in front of me.

A blue fish! Green! Bright colourful ones! Tiny ones, big ones, snake-looking ones.

A small shark! My favourite was a smart-looking school of black fishes with a white strip between their body and tail which looked like they were wearing tuxedoes!
Going snorkelling
The hubs didn't snorkel for long as he had to hang on to Kate and she was a little fearful of being in the huge ocean.

When I had enough of fish spotting, I flipped over on my back and floated around with my life jacket, gently being rocked by the waves.

That was such a surreal experience, being a small speck in the vast ocean.

You have no cares in the world, everything just fades away.
Chilling by the beach bar
We had most of our lunches at the beach bar, and became familiar with the staff.

One afternoon, we came out late and Kate asked for the same seafood pasta we had the day before. However it was past the lunch hour and they were serving tapas.

Kate looked crestfallen and the lovely lady called the kitchen to ask if they could prepare it for her. Of course, they obliged. Nothing seemed to be too much to ask at this resort.
Birthday greetings
When we returned to our room, 2 staff were just leaving and they wished me happy birthday.

Just as we were wondering how they knew it was my birthday, we saw this decoration laid out on our bed with fresh flowers!

It is the little details and the staff going the extra mile that our stay was made so memorable.

Later on, our butler came over to gift us with a bottle of chilled wine.
Sunset BBQ
In the evening, we went back to the beach bar and happened to chat with the lovely wait staff again, and lamented that we had wanted to try the BBQ seafood dinner but was informed that it was full when I tried to make a booking that morning.

She made a call and they set out an extra table for us. After our dinner, they came over with a birthday cake. Don't ask me why I was surprised.
Fresh air
2 bicycles were parked outside every villa and it was a nice change to cycle around instead of hopping into our cars.
Beachfront breakfast
Wish I could have breakfast with this view every morning.

The buffet breakfast spread was very good and made all the more enjoyable by the impeccable service.

We were the first to arrive every morning at 7am as we were still on Singapore time, which was already 10am.

The ever attentive wait staff even helped Kate to cut up her food and brought her a magna doodle magnetic board to keep her entertained after she finished her meal.
Family baking session
They have a simple Kids' Club, where Kate did some art and craft. As this resort does not receive many children, their activities were organised on an ad hoc basis.

One of the days, there were about 10 kids around, and a cookie making session was arranged in their industrial kitchen.

We all had a blast, and an 11-month old baby got into the fray and made imprints on the dough with her cute little feet!

It seems like the happiness of the guests are priority and anything is possible.

We explored the island on bicycle and took lots of pictures. I think Kate had enough of posing for her daddy.

We also took Kate out for her first kayaking experience, as guests are given complimentary usage for an hour.
Bonding time
The both of them spent long hours in the main resort pool playing, having snacks and watching the sun go down.
Sunset yoga
While they had their daddy-daughter bonding time, I escaped for yoga class.

It was the best yoga class I have ever had in my life. The spa is situated at the other end of the resort and the water was calm and quiet.

As we did our back bends and turned directions with the various poses, we were treated to the full grandeur of the setting sun.

I have never enjoyed watching a setting sun as much as this. While we faced one direction, you can see the muted hues of the beautiful sky.

As you turn to the other direction, the mesmerising reds and oranges awaits you. And with every pose, the colour changes as the sun retreated slowly.

I felt so calm yet so alive.
Maldives
When we arrived, this was the expression on our faces.
Sad to leave this paradise
And when it was time to depart, this was how we were feeling.

One day.

I'll be back.


~ www.mummyweeblog.com - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Monday, 20 June 2016

#5's puzzle creations

As usual, #5 likes to nick Kate's toys.

He came and showed me what he had built with her mini puzzle pieces.
Fighter Jet
He went on to tell me that this time, he had done something even better.

The parts were detachable!

The front could fly out and the middle section could lift off.


Wow, I was really impressed and told him so.

Encouraged by my genuine interest in his cool plane, he went away and came up with an even more elaborate plane.

He ran around searching for me and explained in detail how the parts could be ejected and what functions they played.

He fitted them all back and offered it to Kate and I to play with.


I marvel at how he is able to imagine it in his mind's eye, make it all symmetrical, and design the parts to fit and fly.

Clearly something I can never do.

All I have been coming up with when playing with Kate was some dull tables, cars and chairs. Which never really looked like tables, cars nor chairs.

#5 is really creative and I need to find more ways to encourage it and let it develop further.

Unfortunately in school, his creativity is never supported but usually dampened as he is seen as being non-conformist. There are hardly any chances for him to express it, even in art class.

Well, good thing is, his spirit is indomitable!


~ www.mummyweeblog.com - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~


Monday, 13 June 2016

What we get up to during the holidays

School holiday crazy has reached new heights. With 6 kids spanning the ages of 3 to 17, the past 2 weeks went by at breakneck speed as I juggled their schedules while preparing for the opening of my enrichment centre in July.

For the first week, I left the house at 7.30am every morning to send #2 to school and crashed into bed past midnight. Several times, I had to drop a kid and pick another up without having time to go in and check what's happening with the rest. This is definitely more exhausting than the school week.
School holiday schedule
As #2 and #4 are having their O levels and PSLE exams this year, they returned to school for the first week for supplementary classes to cover what was not taught during the term.

Besides that, they are inundated with homework to prepare for the upcoming exams. I've engaged a tutor to come over to our place and they arrange their slots with her themselves. #2 also has study sessions with her classmates and I support her by being the chauffeur if the location is inconvenient.
Robotics class
I have to send #5 for some holiday programs to keep him from watching too much TV at home and from annoying Kate no end.

It was much easier logistically when they were younger and I could bundle all 5 along for the same events. Now, with each child having 1 or 2 activities per day, I'm running around like a mad woman.

This was how Tuesday went for me:

7.30 am: Left the house to send #2 to school. Reached home, quickly made breakfast for #1 and dropped her off for a full day of school. She's having a busy week with one assignment due every 2 days.

9.30 am: Made it on time for a work meeting.

12pm: Rushed home to pick #5 and took Kate along.

12.30: Picked #4 from school and took #5 for class. Kate whined to follow gor gor and kept saying that she was a big girl and wanted to go for 'class'. Unfortunately she was not allowed in.
Did the shades herself
As we walked off in search of lunch for a starving #4, with a grumpy Kate shuffling along, we chanced upon an art school. I popped in to ask if they had ad hoc lessons for her age and lo and behold, they did! #4 and I couldn't be more delighted as we said our goodbyes.
Chicken sandwich
Having bought ourselves an hour of special mummy-daughter time, we ducked into the nearest cafe. After a charming lunch, we turned around to pick Kate from class and #4 was so amused that the young teacher was able to handle her for a whole hour and even managed to teach her to colour in gradient tones. Kate was so proud to show us her artwork.

3pm: #4 had arranged to go over to her cousin's house for a cookie baking session and I dropped her off before sending Kate home for her afternoon nap. It was time to head back and pick #5 from his class.

5pm: #3 called and said she was done with volunteering at the Home. They are required to complete 15 CIP hours this round. Mummy taxi despatched again. Luckily, the hubs called right at that moment and he went over and picked them up.

6pm: Their grandpa walked through the door and we all had dinner at home together.

8pm: Everyone was in a holiday mood and the teens suggested we go for waffles. Came back, settled Kate to bed and did some work before calling it a night.
Diggersite @ ECP
For #5, I try to get him to go out and do some physical activities to expand his energy. Lots of swimming, trampoline park and play dates with his friends.

Before I left to spend the day catching up with my old friend and her boys, I had to ensure Kate was well occupied when she awoke. I looked around to see who was home and tasked #3 to take Kate out for tea after her nap. They went to the neighbourhood cafe for a slice of cake and tete a tete.

We took the boys to try their hand at being construction workers and it was harder than it looked! Finally they managed to manoeuvre the diggers properly and could plonk the sand in the bucket and pick up the wooden logs. Only grouse of the parents was the pricey $5 per 5 minute tokens.
Les Miserables
With the older girls, the activities we bond over have changed from kiddy fun to things like watching musicals and going for fancy meals. I was so excited that Les Miserables is back after a 20-year break and I knew the girls would love it as much as I did. To prepare them, I asked them to read the book, which was the same copy I read when I was a teenager. As expected, only #2 finished the book and she had to explain the storyline to the others.

Needless to say, they enjoyed the musical thoroughly and it was well worth the money. I taught them to play the scores when they were younger and finally they had the chance to hear the songs sung live.
Influencer event
Saturday was a back-to-back day for me. Was woken up by Kate at 7am and we cycled to the playground after breakfast. Went back to shower and had a meeting in church at 9.30am. Excused myself from the last bit and rushed home to pick Kate up as we were invited for an influencer lunch with Mr Seah Kian Peng, CEO of NTUC.

The hubs was left with the other kids and they took the opportunity to go for their favourite sashimi lunch without Kate around.

Lunch done, we made a quick exit and went off to meet some old schoolmates for a lunch-extended-to-tea session.

Kate was exhausted and had a nap in the car. After her forty winks, she was all ready to go swimming with her little cousin and #5. The rest of the family waited for us to get back to have dinner.

We rested on Sunday, and I had a nice long nap with Kate. All refreshed and recharged for the week.
My very own wheels
Come Monday, we were off again with a full week. Met up with a childhood friend and the nicest thing is to see our kids playing together like we did when we were little. We decided not to try the newly opened places to avoid the crowds.

Instead, we went to Kaboodle at East Coast Park as Kate and #5 enjoyed themselves the last time and we had the whole place to ourselves the entire few hours.

As we parted with the other kids, #5 asked if they could go to Lilliput, the mini golf centre which their grandparents used to take them to. Unfortunately, it was closed on Mondays.

#5 asked for my phone to google other mini golf places. I was quite certain that there wasn't any other in Singapore and handled my phone to him.

He found out that Amazonia had a 9-hole mini golf, which glows in the dark! And they just had to go there! The 2 of them were jumping up and down with excitement and after much pleading, I relented. It was the holidays after all. Besides, I was busy the next day and the both of them were going to spend the day at home.
Amazonia at Great World
I love going out on weekdays. The indoor playground was relatively quiet and being a weekday, entry was for unlimited hours.

While they made new friends and played happily, I ordered lunch and did my work. Another handy skill I've picked up. Being able to pull out my work and delve right into it anytime, anywhere.

We had to leave at 4.30 to pick their cousin up for swimming lessons and Kate fell asleep in the car.
New found friend
When we reached home, she insisted on following us to the pool. While their cousin had lessons, #5 swam by himself and Kate made a new friend. Good for her, as I continued with my work while keeping an eye on her.
Sam @ 8Q
On Wednesday, we met up with an old friend and took the kids to Sam (Singapore Art Museum) @ 8Q. It is housed in a separate building from SAM and is situated on Queen Street.

Added bonus is the free entry for Singaporeans. We spent about 1.5 hours there, although the kids didn't quite get the environmental message. At least we tried to expose them to different forms of creativity.
Dental surgery
The school holidays are also the time when we get the extras done. #2 was getting her braces fixed but the x-ray showed that she had an embedded tooth which needed to be removed first.

We went to Orange Orthodontics at Lucky Plaza medical centre and had it done by Dr Seah, an Oral & Maxillofacial surgeon as it was a delicate surgery due to the location of the tooth. The good thing was that she did not need to do it under general anaesthetic, but could get away with IV sedation. All went well and she is staying home to recuperate.

That was a whole morning gone, and I squeezed every minute out of the 1 hour when she was sedated to zip out and get my partner to sign some documents for submission. I literally ran back to the clinic as I wanted to be there when she awoke.

As though my Thursday was not harrowing enough, while I was home and tending to #2, Kate burnt 2 fingers on the iron while looking for our helper. Thankfully I had worked in the burns department in the hospital and knew what to do.

The hardest thing was to convince my helper not to put all sorts of remedies on her, and to insist that the hubs not run her fingers under cold water but tap water. She was crying hysterically because of the pain and I gave her paracetamol and applied fresh aloe vera to the burn. When she woke up from her nap she was feeling much better.
Casting call
Even though the older ones are independent, they still need mummy to accompany them for certain things like auditions and private vocal lessons. I'm happy that the strings are slowly released and they are not overly independent at this stage.

That's how our June break has been going so far.

2 weeks down, looking forward to a more relaxing 2 weeks!


~ www.mummyweeblog.com - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~


Monday, 6 June 2016

The best compliment I've ever received

We often get complimented by our friends, family members or colleagues.

A few days ago, I received a compliment from an unexpected source.

We visited the condo where we used to live, and the security guard who had worked there for more than 10 years recognised us. Upon learning that we had moved out, he said, "Your family is very good."

I smiled at him, and he continued.

"Really. I know. I work here many, many years. You never talk bad about others, never complain. Your mum and dad are very kind."

When the kids were growing up, my dad would drop my mum over everyday to help with the kids, and on the weekends, both of them will come over.
Following in our footsteps
I thanked him and went our way.

The few words that he said, and the depth of how he said it lingered in my mind.

We had not done anything big. Perhaps it was in the smiles we gave. Perhaps it was how we asked the children to greet the cleaners and guards. Perhaps it was simply making them feel acknowledged and valued.

As young children, we grew up watching how our parents interacted with the people in our neighbourhood.

My mum was friends with many of our neighbours, and they helped one another out by minding each other's children when something cropped up.

I still have vivid memories of the garbage collector, a tanned man with long hair, always busy near a huge, smelly collection point at the corner of the carpark. My mum never steered us away from him but would stop to chat and we kids even had an endearing name for him - "Uncle in a basket". Don't ask me how that came about.

Mum was also well-acquainted with many of the bus conductors as we lived near the interchange. Some of them knew our weekend schedule so well that if we were a few minutes late, they would wait for us knowing that we had some class or other to rush off to.

When we moved and renovated our house, my mum would make an effort to go over regularly to give the workers cold drinks and snacks.

In today's mercenary world, it is so much about what we can get out of our dollar. About making every minute count.

In the rush of life, there is little space for simple human kindness, and our children lose out.

Parents are indeed the first teachers, not only by instruction but by living out values in action.


~ www.mummyweeblog.com - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~




Tuesday, 31 May 2016

A big step towards Inclusion, beginning with our young

Last month, Lien Foundation commissioned a study to find out if parents support the idea of inclusive education.

The findings showed that although 71% supported the idea of inclusive education and 69% believed in the benefits of inclusive education, only 53% said they are comfortable with their child being classmates with someone with special needs.

And interestingly, just 1 in 10 said they felt certain how to interact with children with special needs.
Photo credit: Straits Times online
Kate had a special needs child in her class when she was 2. Their class size was really small with 2 teachers to 6 students.

Her teacher was relating to me that initially, when Kate saw the boy slowly inching his way to get to a book, toy or work, she would move faster than him and get it before he did.

She would give a smug look like, "Beat you to it!"

For Kate, being the youngest of 6, that was an achievement because she always lost out to her older siblings.

Instead if chiding Kate, her teacher gently explained that her classmate is physically weaker than she is and she should be thankful for what she has, and in turn be more understanding and help him whenever she can.

The teacher was proud to say that once that was explained to her, Kate understood and never rushed for the same toy henceforth.

When they sit at the reading corner together and he gradually leans and falls onto her shoulder, she will not push him away but tries to accommodate him. She became protective of him, like a big sister.

Young children are naturally non-judgemental, compassionate and altruistic yet it needs to be nurtured.

Unfortunately at times, the adults display negative modelling out of ignorance. Only when there is understanding, can there be acceptance and inclusion.

I remember one of the first activities we had to do as occupational therapy undergrads was to sit in a wheelchair and navigate the huge and bumpy campus.

It put us in the shoes of those who are wheel-chair bound, and we were the ones who had to face the subtle looks from our peers. From that experience, we began to gain an awareness of the challenges that faced them.

It is indeed wonderful that Lien Foundation will be developing the first inclusive preschool in Singapore, together with the Asian Women's Welfare Association, and that it is already over-subscribed. I was excited to read from their press release that:

There will also be a fascinating playground with an elevated tree-house that is fully accessible by wheelchair, and a sensory garden for water and sand play which will be open to the public after school hours and during school holidays.

The preschool will be one of the iconic developments within the Integrated Community Space at Redhill. It will not only serve the special needs community, but also children and families living in the vicinity. We are creating opportunities for our children to experience for themselves and learn from young that we can build an inclusive society where we appreciate each other's abilities.

It is human nature to shun that which we can't comprehend.

For when we are able to see that we are not the same but the same, to love, regardless, our society will be a better place for all.

Kate has been privileged to have the opportunity to have her eyes and heart opened.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Friday, 27 May 2016

Brand New Grand Copthorne Waterfront - Integrated Dining Destination

We had the privilege of being invited to the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel's media event and were the first to get a sneak peek of their fabulous new space.

After a $17 million makeover which started in November 2015, the hotel is set to wow its guest with a spanking new lobby and a brand new integrated dining destination.

The vibrant and eclectic concept which embodies the best of the East and West is a feast for the senses. Oriental and Western elements are reflected through the decor, lighting, furniture and choice art pieces.
Photo credit: Grand Copthorne
The lobby area comprises four new F&B outlets including Food CapitalGrissiniTempo, and Secret Chat.

Food Capital, an all-day dining buffet restaurant is set to open its doors to the public on 2 June 2016. We had a taste of what would be offered from their interactive open kitchens and were impressed.

The kaleidoscope of tastes, wide range of cuisines and exquisite presentations made for a gastronomical dining experience.
Roasted lamb loin
Shrimp with marinated feta
Assortment of sushi
Gorgeous desserts
There was a spectacular International spread of seafood, western, Asian and Indian delights to cater to the different tastebuds of both the adults and children.

The kids were drawn to the live pasta station, sushi counter, cold-cuts corner and freshly fried tempura station, gleefully helping themselves to numerous portions.

When it came to the desserts and sweets, they were over the moon. Every morsel was elaborately crafted and some looked too pretty to be eaten.

Add to that the dazzling ambience and great music spun by the resident deejay, everyone was in a terrific mood to enjoy the rest of the evening.

Not only were the teens delighted at the Instagram-worthy buffet spread, they disappeared for a while taking selfies around the lobby.
Grand Copthorne Integrated Dining
The colourful decor and spaciousness of the restaurant easily makes this a family-friendly dining option. Kate was having such a swell time that she broke into a dance upon hearing a poplar track.
Grand Copthorne Waterfront Buffet
Photo Credit: Grand Copthorne
Situated in the centre of the spacious lobby is Tempo, a dynamic bar with a mixologist crafting adventurous concoctions such as #LOCOTEMPO 61, deconstructed chendol with pandan infused rum. Tempo will be launched on 2 June, along with Food Capital.

The young ones were not forgotten and had their share of non-alcoholic drinks in cool-looking water bottles to keep them happy.

Photo credit: Grand Copthorne
On the other side of the lobby stands Grissini, a contemporary Southern Italian restaurant focusing on premium meats and seafood along with a twist on classic favourites.

Guests can look forward to their Antipasti Bar, Premium Meats & Seafood, Wood-fired Oven Pizzas and fine wines following their launch on 11 June 2016.
Grissini Bar seating
Secret Chat, a patisserie for special moments, will be unveiled in the third quarter of the year.

We had a truly unforgettable evening and each time I mention that we are going out for dinner, Kate asks ever so hopefully, "Is it to that nice hotel?"


Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel
392 Havelock Road
Singapore 169663
Tel: 67330880



Disclaimer: We were invited to The Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel's media event. All opinions are my own.


~ www.mummyweeblog.com - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~
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