The Night Safrari

Saturday we ventured out to the Singapore Night Safrari.

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It was amazing to say the least.

Ellie wasn't so sure at first

Ellie wasn’t so sure at first

Then she decided to go for it

Then she decided to go for it

 

Sadie walked right up to it

Sadie walked right up to it

Front entrance

Front entrance

 

We started with dinner there at the park.

Mapping out the park at dinner

Mapping out the park at dinner

 

Then watched the Thumbuakar Performance which was very cool the way they spit fire into the air.

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We then checked out the Creatures of the Night show.  This introduced us to a few of the animals in the park and it was fun to see them on stage.

Then came the tram ride.  I wish I could have taken pictures but none of the pictures came out.  They ask for no flash photos because the flashes can scare or even blind the animals.  The tram was so interesting.  You got very close up and personal with many of the animals only the really dangerous – the tigers, lions, elephants had cages, fences or things to keep you away from them.  We saw Hippos and Rhinos and a whole herd of elephants.  We were lucky enough to be there when they fed the tigers.

Most of the pictures turned out like this

Most of the pictures turned out like this

After the tram we walked a few of the trails.  This I think might have been my favorite.  It was so spooky and cool to be walking around at night in the park.  It was so quiet except for the sounds of the animals at night.  Since there are so many trails and there wasn’t a lot of people so we felt like we were the only ones in the park with the animals on parts of the trails.

The girls loved it and it really was an awesome experience.  I’m sure we will be going back there again and again.

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Moon Cake Festival

Not long after we got here we started hearing about the Mid-Autumn moon cake festival.  All of the local bakeries and hotels have there own version of the moon cake and they only make them in September for this festival.  Its like a dense pastry filled with a solid paste made out of many different things like lotus flower and egg yolk.  I always expect them to be sweeter then they actually are.

The moon cake is used to help celebrate the full moon on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Chinese calendar.  This year that day feel on September 19th.  This festival is very important to the Chinese culture.  It is a time to get together and reunite with family and friends, to eat moon cakes, and  to celebrate.

There are many stories including this one about the actual moon cake:

During the Yuan dynasty (A.D.1280-1368) China was ruled by the Mongolian people. Leaders from the preceding Sung dynasty (A.D.960-1280) were unhappy at submitting to foreign rule, and set how to coordinate the rebellion without it being discovered. The leaders of the rebellion, knowing that the Moon Festival was drawing near, ordered the making of special cakes. Backed into each moon cake was a message with the outline of the attack. On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. What followed was the establishment of the Ming dynasty (A.D. 1368-1644). Today, moon cakes are eaten to commemorate this legend.

This one about that explains the importance of the moon:

The time of this story is around 2170 B.C. The earth once had ten suns circling over it, each took its turn to illuminate to the earth. But one day all ten suns appeared together, scorching the earth with their heat. The earth was saved by a strong and tyrannical archer Hou Yi. He succeeded in shooting down nine of the suns. One day, Hou Yi stole the elixir of life from a goddess. However his beautiful wife Chang Er drank the elixir of life in order to save the people from her husband’s tyrannical rule. After drinking it, she found herself floating and flew to the moon. Hou Yi loved his divinely beautiful wife so much, he didn’t shoot down the moon.

(I found these stories and to see more legends please check out this site)

Another important part of the festival is the lighting and carrying of lanterns.

To celebrate this year, both Ellie and Sadie made moon cakes and lanterns at school and discussed the traditions of the festival.  We also gathered up moon cakes and lanterns and headed out looking for the moon.  We made it as far as the 25th floor of the building next door at Kent Vale II.  Unfortunately. it was a cloudy night and we didn’t get to see the full moon but that didn’t stop us from toasting it with our moon cakes.

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Back to School

When we thought about the move here to Singapore and how it would effect our family we never thought it would be Sadie that would have the hardest time settling into life here.  After all, she is our easy going, laid back, roll with it child.  We never thought that she would miss having a yard and swings and grass and even the stairs to the second floor in “our yellow house”.

She has been sad and I think part of that is because she didn’t have her own “place”.  Ken had work, Ellie stared school a week and a half after we got here so she has school friends and everything that goes into school.  Me?  I’ve got getting everyone settled and setting up house.  Poor Sadie was just dragged along for the ride.

The original plan was to wait until January to put her in school.  We still haven’t sold our house in the States and Sadie can’t officially start Kindergarten I until January anyway.  It seemed like an excellent plan.  She would stay home and have adventures with Mommy.

It didn’t take us long to realize this might not be the best plan.  Sadie missed school and friends.  She was constantly talking about her old school and her old friends and her yellow house.  We knew we had to start building a life for her here as well and figured we would make it work.  So off  I went on the hunt for a school.

We were looking for a school that was warm and caring but also where she could learn.  It’s hard here in Singapore to find the right mix.  There are many schools that are learning focused almost to the point of the children not having fun or being kids.  There are also “western ” schools that are all about the play and the children don’t really learn anything.

After two weeks of on line searching, reading reviews, talking to people and looking at centers I think we have found the right place for our Sadie.  It is actually right beside Ellie’s school and I have figured out the buses so I take two buses (about 30 min on a good day) to take them and walk home (it’s about 3.6km or 2.3miles) on days when it isn’t raining.  Then bus back to get them and home again.  Not too bad.

The school we decided on sending her to is actually a  National Chain school called Kinderland.  They have there own learning curriculum that includes Chinese everyday, music and computer lessons every week and in January, when she starts Kindergarten I, she will be learning to read and studying phonics.  The school is  actually open 7am-7pm but we take her for 8:30 and get her at 4:30.  They serve the kids breakfast lunch and afternoon tea.  So Sadie is tasting the local fare everyday.

I liked the school for the mix of learning and fun and the fact that there was a good mix of kids.  After a week she seems to really enjoy it.  All the kids are welcoming and friendly yelling her name when she gets there and waving good bye when she leaves.  Sadie even has a P.E. uniform and a regular uniform just like Ellie.

Everyday dress

Everyday dress

P.E. uniform and her sparkling new green backpack

P.E. uniform and her sparkling new green backpack

 

All in all Sadie seems so much happier to have her own place.

We are still working on finding places with grass for her…

The grassy green at NUS Utown green

Cloud watching on the grassy green at NUS Utown green

…and I’m trying to figure out what to do with all my “free” time.

One of the two pools in our complex. Please pass the bon bons and frosty drink

One of the two pools in our complex. Please pass the bon bons and frosty drink

 

I Want To Go There – or at least that school

When we were looking at school for Ellie, one of the things we were looking for was an international school that taught with the International Baccalaureate – IB Program.  Most of the international schools here use it.  I liked the concept of teaching to learn instead of teaching so that the children can pass standard tests.

That said it has been a bit of an adjustment for all of us.  In an IB program the children drive the learning.  They do more hands on and fun things to learn and don’t really have lots of tests or homework.  This is all very different coming from the States.

Ellie has already done some interesting things.  She has studied the way the brain learns and for that unit they learned a dance, first by being told, then by being shown and then by both ways.  They discussed that different people learn different ways.  This is what it looks like when a bunch of 3rd and 4th years feel this moment and learn.

They started a unit on explorers and they dressed like pirates and went to Sentosa on their first field trip to explore, make home made compasses and lets face it play at the Port of Lost Wonder water park.

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They have also celebrated Roald Dahl Day.  Since they were reading Charlie and the Chocolate factory, they all dress up like characters from the book.  They also found out what they needed, ordered and cooked things to have a chocolate shop in their classroom.  On Friday the 13th – Roald Dahl day- they sold all of their goodies to the other classes.  Ellie decided she wanted to be Veruca Salt so I did my best to complete the outfit, the attitude was all Ellie.

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We are still adjusting to this new way of learning.  Ellie loves it and I do believe she is learning and exploring in a whole new way.  If I am truthful, I wish I could have gone to a school like this…

Get Your Sparkle On

Sometimes you just have to do it and last week that it was a show the girls really wanted to go see.   Barbie Live had it’s world premiere here in Singapore.  Ellie and Sadie had seen the commercials on tv and every time it came on they went crazy and asked to go see it.

I was going back and forth on weather to fork out for tickets or not when low and behold Groupon came out with an offer for discount tickets.  I had to do it then.

The very cool part was that it was at Marina Bay Sands downtown.  Marina Bay Sands it the hotel/ casino downtown that has the giant ship on top of it.  I hadn’t been there yet so it was very cool to wander around before the show and check it out.  The outside area had amazing views and the inside was very cool too.

IMG_0295 IMG_0297 IMG_0296 IMG_0299 IMG_0301We walked around inside and treated ourselves to yummy ice cream and cake from Au Chocolate.

IMG_0294Then it was time for the show.

IMG_0290 IMG_0303 IMG_0308 IMG_0302I must say having seen pretty much all of the Barbie movies- not by my choice- it was actually pretty cool.  There were little scenes from three of the Barbie movies woven in with a new story and lots of music that the girls and I have to admit me too, knew.

It was very fun and well done and the girls LOVED it.  The theme song from the show “Get Your Sparkle On” has been sung over and over since we went to see the show last Tuesday.

It was worth going just to see them so excited about a show.

Learning Curve

My entire life, every time I have ever moved to a new apartment or house, there has been a learning curve.  You know the weird quirky things about the new place you have to learn. The things that you always brief house guests on like, you have to jiggle the handle and watch out for that it is lose.

When you move to another country there is a whole new level of learning.  Things that are normal to them are new to you.

Here are the things I have learned about my apartment so far.

Our new elevator has a tv screen and talks to you

Our new elevator has a tv screen and talks to you

Our oven (luckily we have an oven lots of places in Singapore don't) is like a mini size version of what we have in the States

Our oven (luckily we have an oven lots of places in Singapore don’t) is like a mini size version of what we have in the States

We have to remember to turn on and then off the hot water heater to get hot water in the shower

We have to remember to turn on and then off the hot water heater to get hot water in the shower

This is the hot water heater in the shower.  Like the UK there is no where to plug something in anywhere in the bathroom because "it isn't safe" but they will put a hot water heater with electrics right inside a shower

This is the hot water heater in the shower. Like the UK there is no where to plug something in anywhere in the bathroom because “it isn’t safe” but they will put a hot water heater with electrics right inside a shower

My sink, the only way to wash dishes.  The dishwasher is me.

My sink, the only way to wash dishes. The dishwasher is me.

If I want hot water to wash dishes this is where it comes from my kettle.  There isn't a hot water heater in my kitchen.  The water in the sink facet is one temp. luke warm.

If I want hot water to wash dishes this is where it comes from my kettle. There isn’t a hot water heater in my kitchen. The water in the sink facet is one temp. luke warm.

Washer might be small but it’s mighty and because there is no hot water heater here either its all in luke warm water

Our dryer vents right on to the porch and holds maybe half of the load of the washer but at least I have one

Our dryer vents right on to the porch and holds maybe half of the load of the washer but at least I have one

This is how I dry the other half of the clothes, drying rack

This is how I dry the other half of the clothes, drying rack

Anywhere there is water there is a drain on the floor.  You can here the water actually draining and dripping.

The bathroom floor

The bathroom floor

The kitchen

The kitchen

There is even one near the washer.

I have also been reminded that tile floors show all dirt and dust so sweeping and moping is done everyday.

That’s about it so far.  I’m sure the list will grow as we are here longer.  Nothing bad really – maybe having to do the dishes with out a dishwasher- so I can’t really complain.