Mar 23, 2015

Thank you, Lee Kuan Yew

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Becoming a parent has opened my eyes to the enormous challenges when it comes to nurturing my kids and bringing them up the correct way. 

Nurturing a young nation? 

I can never ever imagine the sacrifices involved. 


Thank you, Sir for everything that you have given up for Singapore. 

Farewell, and may you Rest In Peace.


Visit the Remembering Lee Kuan Yew Tribute Website to leave your condolence messages. Information on Mr Lee's state funeral will also be available on the website.


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Mar 20, 2015

Art in your HeARTland

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Advertorial

When people mention art performances, what comes to mind? 

If you think posh, arty-farty or even chichi shows, then think again. Enjoying an enriching arts experience with the family need not be confined to theatres and most importantly, they can be readily accessible for everyone right at their heartland doorstep - and FREE at that!


Arts for all is an initiative by National Arts Council to promote self-expression, creativity and bonding through the arts by bringing it where people live, work and play. Under this initiative, the Arts in Your Neighbourhood programme features a series of free and enjoyable arts activities by established artists and arts groups, at various parts of the island right at where you stay.

Precisely because the performances are held free in open areas, with curious onlookers wandering in and out of the performing area, all of the curated performances comprise of interactive elements to pique the interests of passer-bys.

One such performance was 'A Prince’s Journey' which I brought the monkies to watch at Nee Soon East Courtyard last weekend.


Presented by Ding Yi Music Company, 'A Prince's Journey' is inspired by the Song Dynasty painting of a river during the Qing Ming Festival and narrates the exciting adventure of a young prince who escapes from the palace in search of freedom, only to be led back to the palace with a new passion for the things he has taken for granted all his life.


The unique thing about the performance was it was not just a theatre show. Instead, it was a multi-faceted one which combines the live elements of animation and theatre, coupled with stirring Chinese music.


I loved how the performance incorporated a short segment where the various Chinese Orchestra music instruments were introduced to the audience. Most kids, if not all, will not have heard of a pipa, yangqin or ruan - let alone know how they sound like. But thanks to the performance, I think the kids (even me!) have a better understanding of chinese chamber music.

Undoubtedly, the most fun part of the show was when the imperial troops were hunting for the prince which saw them running through the audience and asking the children for directions.


But like all stories, everyone lived happily ever after of course.


Before the show, I suspected that the arts element of the performances could have been dumbed down as they are made accessible to the masses but I was happy to be proven wrong.

Playing Chinese orchestral music in the heartlands may not be mainstream but the way everything was blended together was definitely refreshing. Hey, if the kids at the performance did not find it boring, I think it is testament enough.


As an added bonus, kids were allowed upstage for a brief moment to catch a glimpse of the music instruments used in the performance.


Oh and if you are down for any of the Arts In Your Neighbourhood shows, be sure to pick up your free badges and this free activity card!


Complete the activity card and submit it to any of the National Arts Council staff on-site to redeem an exclusive Arts in Your Neighbourhood collectible!

'A Prince's Journey' may have ended its run but there are plenty of other free shows to catch over the next 2 weekends. Join award-winning storyteller, Roger Jenkins as he take you and your children on a journey through a forest to a village to an ocean (with a lil' help from the magic of craft and storytelling, of course) at Siglap South Community Centre tomorrow at 4pm!

Below are some of the more family-friendly performances during the 22/23 and 28/29 March weekends:


For the full Arts In Your Neighbourhood programme line-up, visit https://artsforall.sg.

Better yet, follow Arts For All's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/artsforall.sg and instagram account (@artsforallsg) to stay updated on the latest happenings of upcoming events and shows!



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Mar 19, 2015

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Musical Tickets GIVEAWAY!

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A tale as old as time, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the award-winning smash hit Broadway musical spectacular, comes to Singapore on 21 March 2015 for the first time as part of their 20th anniversary celebrations with a first-ever international tour!


Based on the 1991 Academy-Award winning much-loved animated feature film - which coincidentally is the wifey's favourite of all time - Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is the classic story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped in a spell placed by an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. But time is running out. If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity.

The musical boasts Tony Award-winning costumes and music by Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Tangled) and lyrics by the late Howard Ashman (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin), with additional songs with music by Menken and lyrics by Tim Rice (The Lion King, Jesus Christ Superstar).

Definitely one for the entire family to enjoy, as the show has played to over 35 million people in 13 countries AND is the 8th longest running musical in Broadway history.


WINNER PICKED!

Congratulations to Vanda Kwok!

You have won FOUR tickets to the Beauty and the Beast musical on 31 March 2015, 8pm show (Cat B Reserve $145 category). Please email me at kelvin@cheekiemonkie.net by the end of 26 March 2015 for prize collection details.

Thanks to everyone who have taken part!

And now, you have the chance to win FOUR tickets* to the Beauty and the Beast musical! The tickets are worth close to $600 in total and you can have them just by following these simple steps:

1. LIKE BASE Entertainment Asia's Facebook page HERE.
2. Share this blog post on your Facebook page. Be sure to set the post setting to PUBLIC so that I will be able to verify it.
3. Leave a comment on our Cheekiemonkies' Facebook corresponding post HERE to let me know once you have completed the 2 steps above.

Important: You have to complete all three steps in order to be eligible for the draw. 

*Tickets are for 31 March 2015, 8pm show and are in the Cat B Reserve ($145) category.


WANT TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING?
Follow us on Instagram AND re-post the image I posted on Instagram to double your chances! Remember to tag us (@cheekiemonkies) and set your profile to public so that I can see the image. Thanks!

*Giveaway will end on 24 March 2015, 2359 hours.



Useful Details

Beauty and the Beast
21 March - 19 April 2015
Tue - Fri: 8pm | Sat: 2pm & 8pm| Sun: 1pm & 6pm
Grand Theatre, MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands
Tickets: $65, $85, $115, $145, $170 & $190
To book, visit HERE.


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Mar 17, 2015

With Koobits, Your Child Will Never Need A Math Assessment Book Again!

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Advertorial

I admit one of the perks of being a parenting blogger all these years is getting nifty stuffs to review. What's even better is when it is something that the monkies genuinely end up liking - even if it is related to school work!


Yes, I find it incredulous to believe my eyes at first but it is true. The boys have been genuinely motivated to tackle Math Problem Sums ever since they were exposed to this particular local online Math portal. Every single night, without me having to nag!

The 'magic' Math portal in question? ProblemSums by Koobits.


ProblemSums by KooBits is an online maths learning system for primary students and boasts the largest collection of challenging Math word problems and video lessons, featuring more than 700 mathematical skills for a child to master in the form of daily learning activities. On top of that, it personalises Math learning for each child through a set of customised daily challenges designed based on the child’s learning profile over time.

Already more than 30 primary schools in Singapore have adopted this online Math learning portal as a platform for their pupils to engage in self-directed learning. And after navigating through its website, I only have one question - why are not ALL primary schools using this brilliant portal???


Signing up is a breeze, which the boys accomplished on their own. Each child has his or her own dashboard and comes with an overview of outstanding homework and/or challenges.


The great thing about Koobits' ProblemSums is it breaks down the usual tedious Math problem-solving homework into several bite-sized challenges and enables students to tackle Math challenges as and when they are free and willing. And to top everything off, the challenges are incentive-based which allows students to earn Challenge Points (CP) in order to exchange for wonderful prizes!


And in case you are thinking that kids will be obsessed with completing challenge after challenge so as to redeem more prizes, the number of questions that they can attempt is capped on a daily basis - with the entire system locked after 10pm. Also, students will not be able to access the questions on Sundays, which is in line with the founders' philosophy of having ample play time with the family come weekends! Instead, there is only one mini challenge (10 questions) that kids can practice on Sundays.

Designed to cultivate the potential of children in the subject, ProblemSums features word problems that are organised by topics aligned to the MOE syllabus as well as a differentiated skills map to maximize the kid's level of proficiency.


As the child completes more and more challenges over time, badges and prizes are earned as a form of recognition. In this way, students can progress from a learner to a master of problem sum skills on their own.


The KooBits Math portal goes beyond the traditional MCQ and fill-in-the-blank questions as individual problem-solving process is documented, with the questions requiring students to enter workings for reflective review.


A typical question goes something like this.


There are more than 10,000 problem sums in each primary level which have been set and curated by a team of former teachers so you can be rest assured of the quality of questions. But what has got me clapping my hands in approval is the Pictorial Model function.

If you have a child in Primary School, you will know that there can be no avoiding of drawing bar model diagrams when it comes to solving problem sums.


The ProblemSums portal has an in-built model function which allows a child to draw model diagrams effortlessly!


Needless to say, the wifey and I were left thoroughly impressed. Even more so when the boys ignored our enticement of an ice cream break!


In keeping line with the rapid proliferation of technology, the portal supports login from PC, Mac, iPad, Android or other tablets, and can be accessed from anywhere with Internet connection. A good thing too, since the boys never fail to remind me that they still have uncompleted challenges for the week!

And if you are worried about having to do the marking, fret not as the portal comes with auto-marking features. Step-by-step solutions for all questions are provided using problem solving strategies, heuristics, models and diagrams.


And the underlying motivation to complete the challenges? This.


We parents know that positive reinforcement is very important in keeping a child motivated, confident and ready to achieve even better results. So much like a leaderboard in an online game, Koobits allows every child to compete for top honours by either being the Hero of the Day, Top Brain or even the Champion Primary School Class in Singapore.

How's that for motivation to not only do one's homework, but also to do well?


Friends can also form 'Best Friends Forever' cliques and challenge other buddy groups to earn Challenge Points too!


But perhaps the most important bit for parents is the ability to access their children's homework alerts and progress performance reports.


Parents will be able to keep tabs on their children's progress, weaker Math concepts and number of questions attempted on a weekly basis.


Frankly, I cannot wax lyrical enough about the online Math portal. And I am not saying this because this is an advertorial. Hand to heart, I genuinely believe that this is one portal that benefited my monkies and will continue to do so in the long term.

Already Ash who is allergic to assessment books and would rather play games - like most kids - clamours to complete the challenges daily. All because he wants to compete for top honours and see his name on the Scoreboard!


Okay, so you need another reason to be swayed. How about a FREE 6-month trial for your child to sign up and try it out for himself or herself? There are absolutely no strings attached, and no questions asked after the end of the trial period. Heck, there is even no credit card information needed to register! And should you wish to continue after the trial period, I am told that the subscription fee will cost no more than $30 per year - definitely less than the amount I spend on Math assessment books.

So one question remains: WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

With Koobit's ProblemSums portal, you will never need to hunt for boring paper-based Math assessment books again!


To sign up for the FREE 6-month trial, click HERE.
For more information on Koobits, visit http://products.koobits.com/problemsums/   


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Mar 15, 2015

Smelling Like Flowers

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Advertorial

Remember the stubborn stains inside the collar of school uniforms? Well, after doing laundry ever since my monkies came along, I can assure you the stains are not exclusive to the collars anymore - they are throughout every piece of clothing.  Even after washing, some detergents are still unable to remove the sebum and sweat stains especially those trapped deep within the fabric fibre of your clothes, and build up over time.

Can you imagine how much of that builds up for a family of five in one week's worth of laundry? I shudder at the thought of that because to be honest, I moan at the thought of doing the laundry especially when kids are in the picture.

When the monkies were much younger, they regurgitated their food and milk pretty much whenever they wanted and pooped, well, pretty much all the time too. Laundry time meant grabbing bundles of clothes, dumping them into the washing machine and popping detergent in for a spin. It was then followed by MORE washing cycles of the washed laundry simply because one washing cycle is never enough - which on its own is rather bearable. 

My only bugbear? The wifey and I usually have to do our laundry at night due to work and having to dry our clothes indoors meant a perpetual musty smell lingering on our clothes all the time. And don't even get me started on doing our laundry on rainy days. Definitely not cool at all.

So when Attack, the laundry detergent brand from Japan, sent me their latest Concentrated Liquid Detergent range which promised a lingering aromatic fresh scent on the clothes from wash to wear, I was definitely game to test it out.


The new range now comes in bigger volume with a vibrant new look and boasts three types of benefits for every family's different needs: Superb Clean, Long Lasting Fragrance and Plus Softener.

The Long Lasting Fragrance range comes with a choice of either refreshing floral or fruity scent and as its name implies, the first thing that struck us when we opened those bottles was its fragrance!

Well, it turned out that I was not the only one who was all excited to try out the new detergent range.


Ale was so smitten with both the refreshing floral and fruity scent ones that she insisted on helping out with the laundry immediately.

It was an offer I could not refuse.


The great thing about Attack Concentrated Liquid Detergent is its formula penetrates quickly and deeply into fabric fibres even on areas like collars and cuffs to get rid of sebum stains. As an added bonus - and this to me, was simply what nailed it for me - its deodorizing anti-bacterial formula kills all germs and removes unpleasant odours such as food smells and musty smells even for indoor dried clothes!


Yes, Ale was so proud in helping out with the laundry washing that she had no qualms smelling my previously-smelly-now-turned-fragrant army uniform during my reservist period.

And I have to agree - not only were the clothes clean and stain free after one wash, they really smelled heavenly, especially with the Refreshing Floral variant. Even Ayd could not resist taking a whiff of his newly-laundered sock!


You know how kids absolutely stink after one full day in school? I see lots of parents nodding their heads in unison. Somehow, that irritating perspiration smell on their school uniforms never seem to go away completely after one wash.

But after a week of using Attack's Refreshing Floral detergent, those nasty smells are a thing of the past. Apart from going to school or playing outdoors smelling like flowers, the anti-bacterial properties exterminate all germs too - which made the monkies dub the detergent as the miracle liquid.


Besides the Long Lasting Fragrance range, take your pick from either the Superb Clean or Plus Softener variants. The former is a basic detergent with impressive cleaning power and is specially formulated for all dimensional cleaning, eliminating all dirt and stains for a complete clean wash. If you hate the hassle of having to add additional softener to your laundry load, then the Attack Plus Softener, a 2-in-1 detergent is your solution. Innovatively formulated with fabric softener to keep your clothes clean, soft and smooth in just one step, it also contains Fibre Smoothing Essence which reduces wrinkles on clothes after drying to facilitate easy ironing. 

For us, we are going to stick with the Long Lasting Fragrance range, thanks to its long lasting scent of Attack Perfume from opening of the bottle, to washing, drying and wearing the clothes. To put it in the words of Ale, all of us "now smell SOOOO nice!!!"


With the advanced 3D Clean Action of the Attack Concentrated Liquid Detergent range, having fresh and clean clothes are no longer tedious affairs. And the bonus of it all? The washing is so effortless and fuss-free that the  kids are fighting over to do the laundry!

I can definitely get used to this.


Want to enjoy lingering aromatic scents on your family's clothes? 

Grab the bottles at a promotional price offer of $9.95 (U.P. $12.80) each from now until 31 March 2015! Better yet, spend $12 on Attack Laundry Detergent products and stand a chance to win Attack Hampers worth $50. There are 50 hampers to be won! Terms and Conditions apply and do visit HERE to take part and for more information.

Attack Concentrated Liquid Detergent range is available in 3.6/4kg bottles ($12.80) and 1.4kg refill packs ($4.85), and retailing at leading hypermarkets and supermarkets.


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Hobbits Have All the Fun this March School Holidays at Changi Airport

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Media Invite

If you are a fan of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, then you might just want to pay Changi Airport T3 a visit this March School Holidays! 


Yes, the magic of Middle-earth has descended upon Changi Airport as a part of the Departure Hall at Terminal 3 is transformed into the beloved Hobbiton. Not only can kids and adults step foot into the Hobbit Hole, visitors can meet Gandalf the Grey as he stands guard over the One Ring.


Seize the chance to learn more about the various scenic terrains that make up The Shire, Erebor and Hobbiton Woods through hands-on exhibits and puzzles.


Since Lord of the Rings is closely associated with New Zealand, the Naturally New Zealand exhibition also incorporates a modern facet of New Zealand, where popular sports such as rugby, golf and cycling are featured. New Zealand has gained much notable success in rugby, and the exhibition features the world-renowned All Blacks rugby team, including their autographed rugby ball. There is also a mini golf area which visitors can try their hands at the sport.


Admittedly though, the highlight has got to be the recreation of the Hobbit Hole right in the heart of the exhibition.


This set up is also the ONLY second authentic Hobbit Hole recreated by the same people who created the Hobbiton Village in the actual Lord of the Rings movie set. The first was created in London, which was for the world première of the final film in The Hobbit Trilogy.

And it really is as authentic as it can get - the monkies were amazed to see REAL cherry tomatoes and strawberries growing in the front yard of the Hobbit Hole!


Want more of an adrenaline rush, you say? Then head right to the 5D simulator ride located right beside Hobbiton.


Gear up for a thrilling 5D motion ride experience through the Waitomo Caves as one speeds along the Canyon Coaster! In case you are wondering, the 5D refers to the 3D experience, wind effects and lighting effects, as well as motion seats that simulates the experience of climbing and plunging down a coaster track.


Naturally, the kiddos loved the ride - even Ale who was initially apprehensive in going on the ride.

So you do know where to bring the little ones this school holidays, don't you?


Especially since hobbits and children are around the same height!


Naturally New Zealand @ Changi Airport
14 March - 5 April 2015
12pm - 11pm
T3 Departure Check-in Row 11, Changi Airport

5D Simulator Ride
The ride is available during March school holidays, subsequent weekends and public holiday during the event period. Dates: 14 to 22 , 28, 29 March, 3, 4 & 5 April 2015.
*Present a single same-day receipt with a minimum spend of S$40 (S$80 for supermarkets) from any Changi Airport Shop or Dine outlet to redeem 1 activity pass. Each 5D simulator ride pass admits up to 2 persons for a single ride session. Participants of the 5D simulator ride must be above 1.05m in height and at least 4 years old.

For other deals and information, visit www.changiairport.com/visitnz.


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