Thursday, November 15, 2018

Letter to my girl #22: The End of Primary 3


Dear Lil Pumpkin,

School officially ended for you last Friday, 9 November 2018.

That morning, Mummy and Daddy made special effort to get you to school early so that we could take your photos in front of school. It was your last day as a Primary 3 student, your last day as a LOWER Primary school kid.

Next year, you are going to be in Primary 4... officially one of the UPPER Primary school students and of the "jie jies" in school. Oh my!!

I can still kind of remember my transition from P3 to P4, and how funny it was that I'd never have a birthday with single digits anymore.

It was very exciting, yet scary at the same time, because it seemed like there were more responsibilities as I got older, PSLE was just a few years away, and soon enough, I would be leaving my beloved Primary school behind.

Does it seem that way to you too??

I know I often marvel to myself how much you have grown but seeing how your chubby little baby face slowly fading away, and a young, precocious little lady slowly blossoming in front of my eyes... really makes me breathless at times and fervently wishing that I could make time stand still so that my baby girl won't grow up so fast.

You really are growing up so, so fast.

This year, I've had more opportunities to see how you interact with your friends and teachers in school, and I'm so glad that even after 3 years, you still love school so much that you don't even want to miss it for a day if you could help it.

Like that last day, Mummy and Daddy thought that we could start the holidays early and have you skip school to spend more time with us since we were both off work, but you still insisted on going!!

It is very comforting to know as well that your friends and teachers in school love, treasure and take care of you too.

Even though you may not be the top in your class, that doesn't matter to us. Most important thing is that you are positive in your learning attitude, and you are not afraid to work hard to improve.

Yes, you may need some extra reminders now and then, but you never put up a fuss when it's time to study, and are responsible/independent enough to complete the tasks you're given, even if no one is minding you 24/7.

It shows in your results when you put in the hard work, and Mummy is happy that you managed to show improvement, especially in your Science, this semester.

Let's continue to strive to do our best together for the rest of your schooling years. We will always be here to support and teach you to the best of our abilities, or at least find other people who can help hahaha...


Mummy and Daddy love you so much, my dear.

Now let's enjoy this 1.5 months of year-end break and festivities, before another grueling year of school starts!!!

Love you always,
Mummy


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Great Moscow Circus 2018 @ Marina Bay, Singapore

The Great Moscow Circus is back in Singapore!! *throws confetti*

For the first time in over 10 years, The Great Moscow Circus returns to Singapore with over 45 Russian & international performers renowned world-wide for their theatrical flair and breath-taking talents. Acrobats, clowns, jugglers, daredevils... all the amazing circus stars you expect at a world-class circus are here!!

We've been to the circus a few times, but the last time we did was in 2015 for Cirque du Soleil's TOTEM.

Oh my! That was 3 years ago, so I definitely didn't want to miss the circus this time round when they came back to town.

I figured it would be a special treat for our little P3 girl who is in the midst of her end-of-year exams too. Yeah, she has 3 more papers coming up on Monday and Tuesday, but she has been working hard and really deserves this little break.

Perhaps she might even be inspired by what she experiences at the captivating circus that's a thrill for the mind, eyes and ears to do even better in her coming papers!! After all, not every lesson is learnt in the classroom or read from books..

The Great Moscow Circus takes place in a specially set up red and white Big Top Tent beside Marina Bay Sands. 

Our show started at 7.30pm but we reached the area around 7pm to find parking, grab some snacks {popcorn, candy floss etc.}, go to the restrooms, look at the merchandise and just settle in leisurely.

There were many souvenirs sold like T-shirts, headbands, fans etc. The lighted wands were a hit with the kids.

The drinks and snacks were slightly pricey, as you would expect at a performance like this. Bottled water cost S$3, juice is S$4, soft drinks is S$5 while a small container of mixed nuts is $6, popcorn and candy floss cost S$8 each.

There are no finger food like hot dogs, nachos or chips available so do have a full meal before going to The Great Moscow Circus.

We were seated in Section D, row J. It's about 4 rows from the last row.

I've been to enough performances to remember to get a booster seat for Lil Pumpkin so asked the friendly ushers to get her one. She came back with this cushion haha...

Not much of a "booster" but at least it makes the hard plastic seat much more comfortable. For really small kids, you might want to get two.

This is the seating plan inside the Big Top tent. Most of the acts faced our side, Section D, even though the performers move around. This would be considered the "front". However, most of the audience participation/ games e.g. giant rubber ball tossing, took place in Sections F, E, B and C.

Ringside is obviously right next to all the action, but those seats aren't tiered.. just 3 rows one after another, and you'd have to lift you head up to catch a lot of the acts so might not be that comfy.

It's quite a cozy one-ring circus tent, so I reckon that almost all the seats will have a good view, even in the last row, as the seats are tiered. Unless you bought a restricted view seat, of course.

Acoustics is at a comfortable level too - we could hear everything and it's not jarring on the ears, even for the last act involving motorcycles.

This is the view from our seats.

Quite a good angle and had a relaxing eye level to see all the acts. I liked that we didn't have to strain the neck too much to catch the performances that took place at greater heights.

The Great Moscow Circus blends traditional and new circus acts for an exhilarating 2.5hrs show.

Mixing clowns and acrobatic artists with daredevil motorcyclists, death-defying aerial stunts and illusion, the high-octane show is guaranteed to keep every family member on the edge of their seats.

The show, which contains no animal acts, features 16 heart-pounding acts which capture all the thrills and fun of the circus of yesteryear with all the skills of today’s circus heroes.

We expected to see every possible circus favourite including the funniest clowns, the most daring acrobats, breathtaking daredevils, aerial artists, balancers, jugglers and more – all supported by a live circus band... and yes, they delivered.

There certainly was something for everyone, from young to old! (*^▽^*)

Personally, I don't like clowns much. Maybe thanks to horror shows like 'It' or 'Clownhouse', they seem rather creepy or too weird for my taste.

Even if they fail to freak me out, their jokes usually fall flat on me #oops I don't laugh easily at clown jokes and it's a wonder if you don't find me cringing, but The Great Moscow Circus clowns, Shindrov and Vas, are certainly hilarious! Throughout the night, Shindrov & Vas popped into the ring every now and then to get a couple chuckles out of the crowd in between acts.

Even the ringmaster, Stav, was such a hoot!

By the end of the show my jaws were aching hehehe... The children, especially Lil Pumpkin, really loved The Great Moscow Circus clowns. She laughed and laughed so much!! It certainly was a joy seeing her have so much fun!

The clowns' costumes weren't over-the-top silly {you know, the big-shoes-white-painted-face-big-hair kind}, and their great interaction with the audience definitely made them more endearing to the crowd. If you're thinking of going with your kids, the clowns would definitely appeal to them. 

Acrobatic performances are my favourite at the circus ヽ( ★Ο‰★)γƒŽ

Highlights at The Great Moscow Circus include a Russian aerialist duo who spin and twist gracefully in the air without any safety net or wires as back-up, energetic "jesters" who tumbled and leaped across the ring unceasingly, and The Rubber Man contortionist who makes you wonder if there are any bones in his body...???

Hands-down, the acrobatic act involving 2 double wheels suspended in the air while 4 acrobats performed fearless acts all over them, sometimes even blindfolded {!!}, were our family favourite!

The boy said that his hands were literally sweating for them hahaha (/^▽^)/

The Globe of Death is the climactic end event where 4 motorcyclists speed around inside a giant steel ball. It is loud, fast, and reminded me of the first time I saw live motorcycle stunts at Monster Jam last year.

All of us felt such an adrenaline rush watching them and I was on the edge of my seats the whole time!

Also, I was very impressed that one of the motorcyclists was a girl!! I mean, yeah girls can do anything, but nonetheless, I really admired her courage and skills in performing so well in this traditionally male-dominated sport, especially when it's so much, much more dangerous than usual.

*SPOILER ALERT* This was the only act that I took a video of as I wanted to try and be fully present, and enjoy the whole experience with my family without holding on to a camera trying to get that perfect shot or watching it through a small screen.

If you're not able to view the video, please watch The Globe of Death motorcycle act on my Youtube channel. Don't watch it if you plan to go down and want to be thrilled by it for the very first time!

Overall, The Great Moscow Circus was programmed seamlessly. The show moved swiftly, never dull, and there certainly were many "wow! how did they do that??" moments.

The performers were amazing, but credit must really be given to the backstage crew too for diligently setting up and dismantling all the performance props like clockwork before and after each act. Because of them, the starting {7.45pm}, interval {9pm} and end time {10.30pm} were all precise.

If you've been to any Cirque Du Soleil performances or other "modern" circus performances, you might compare and think that The Great Moscow Circus is nowhere as sophisticated, artistic or technologically enhanced, but I reckon that's the beauty of it.

We like the wholesomeness of The Great Moscow Circus. We like the emphasis on the human element. We like how each performer shined through their own talents in each act. We like how they might fail some of the tricks, but they still smiled and made sure that the show went on.

This video is a sneak peek of the actual Great Moscow Circus performance. If you are captivated after watching it, imagine how it was for us seeing the show live! Οƒ(≧Ξ΅≦o)

If we could see the world through the eyes of a child, we would probably see more magic in everything but unfortunately nowadays, in our age of advancement and high technology, it takes a lot for us to be overwhelmed with amazement.

Going to The Great Moscow Circus may just make you believe in magic again as for those few hours, you're brought into a place where reality is suspended and you're witnessing extraordinary displays of the human body pushed to exhilarating limits.

So if you yearn to have a truly magical, fascinating time, make sure you don't miss this opportunity to see The Great Moscow Circus while it's here! Who know if it will take another 10 years before it returns??

Even better if you bring the kids along as they are such to make the experience even more memorable! It certainly made my heart sing with joy when I heard Lil Pumpkin's numerous fits of uninhibited laughter last night.

Tips:

  • The Big Top tent opens 1 hour before show time. Arrive at least 30 minutes before to buy snacks and find your seats. 
  • Comfortable padded kids booster cushions are available. Ask to borrow from your usher early. 
  • Bags are checked at the main entrance. 
  • The tent is air-conditioned {but seats are pretty tight} so wear comfortable, smart casual clothing.
  • Not recommended to wear heels as you'll have to walk on wooden planks. 
  • Do not bother to bring strollers/ prams inside as there's no place to store.
  • Smoking is not permitted inside the tent.
  • Photography {no flash}, video recording and audio recording is allowed.
  • Use the restrooms at MBS to avoid the crowd. Port-o-lets {handicapped persons' cubicles available} are at sides of the tent but queues can be long!
  • Light snacks and beverages are available for purchase on the outside of both sides of the tent. Eat full meals before watching. 
  • The Great Moscow Circus merchandise sold on site. Look out for the gift counters in the drinks/food containers. 
  • Try to avoid side seats as the performance is mostly designed for center audience {even though the stage is round} and you may miss parts of the performance.


The Great Moscow Circus Singapore 2018
The Mighty Big Top at Bayfront Avenue, next to Marina Bay Sands.
Event period: 25 Oct 18 - 23 Nov 18
Ticket Price {excl. booking fee}:  S$65 - S$155 {adults}, S$55 - S$135 {child}, S$55 - S$135
Time: 7.30pm {Tue - Fri}, 12pm, 4pm, 7.30pm {Sat} 11am, 3pm, 6.30pm {Sun} 12pm, 4pm {PH}
Duration: 2.5 hrs {incl. 20 minutes interval}
Website: http://www.great-moscow-circus.com/
*Kids under 3 years old may be admitted free of charge & must be seated on the lap of a parent or guardian. Kids aged 3 years and above require a ticket for admission. Wheelchair section available in the front row.

Check out the rest of our Bub & Me activities or list of kid-friendly places in Singapore too. More The Great Moscow Circus pics and vids on my Instagram Stories Highlight Reel - look for MoscowCircus SG folder.

* Disclosure: Unless otherwise stated, images belong to The Great Moscow Circus. All opinions are my own.


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Go Local :: Goodbye Normanton Park, My Childhood Home

Exactly 1 week ago, Normanton Park closed for good. Thurs 4 Oct 2018 was the last day for residents' to return their house keys, and to move out of one of the oldest {41 years old!} and biggest housing estate in Singapore.

Sorry for the lack of blog updates on the blog as I have been busy helping my parents to pack and move.

Due to privacy reasons, I never divulged online or shared with followers that Normanton Park was my childhood home. Even after it was sold en bloc, Jerome asked if I was going to write about growing up there but I didn't feel it was the right time as my parents still lived there... but now since they've moved out, I reckon it's ok now to share more about my experience and memories growing up in Normanton Park.

But in due time though, as my heart is still heavy and I'm still processing the fact that I will never be able to step into Normanton Park again....

I'd never play with Lil Pumpkin at the estate playground again, I'd never ζ‹œεΉ΄ to my parents' at our home there again, I'd never walk to get a late night snack from the supermarket there again, I'd never go lime-picking there again,  I'd never practise my driving there again, I'd never laze by the pool there again...

It's not just a simple house-moving.

Yes, my family have lived there for many years so have strong bonds to it, but I think what makes it even harder leaving Normanton Park is knowing that there isn't even a place for us to go back and visit in the future. There will be no more Normanton Park as we know it.

The current estate will be demolished and a new development will be built there. Maybe they might keep the name, but the community and history of the estate will definitely be different.

For those that are not aware, Normanton Park was developed by the Ministry of Defence in 1977 to provide affordable housing and build esprit de corps among Singapore Armed Forces officers.

Don't quote me on this, but I also heard that it was built so that in case of war, it was easier to protect the family of the military commanders and officers in the self-contained {we had our own supermarket, hairdresser, preschool, canteen, bookshop etc.} 623,000 sq ft gated estate so that they could go fight in peace..

At its early beginnings, if you were not a SAF personnel or had a family member who was, you could not live there.

In 1993, it was privatised and that's when a lot of residents started selling or renting out their apartments to non-SAF personnel. Because of its close proximity to NUS, NUH, and offices at Science Park, Fusionpolis etc, the demographic of Normanton Park residents changed.

There were more foreign students and nurses renting apartments there, as well as expats who worked nearby.

I remember that when we were younger, the community was really tight-knit. Our parents knew one another, and us Normanton Park kids used to go to the same preschool in one bus, then come home and play together until dinner. Sometimes even past that.

Holidays were extravagantly celebrated together and we'd have estate pool parties during festivals like New Year's, go lantern-walking during Mid-Autumn Festival, and one of my fondest memories was sitting the jolly choo-choo train that went around Normanton Park during Christmas.

This was my "kampong".

After the privatisation, a lot of the old residents moved out and the population of SAF officers dwindled. Things changed quite a bit and sadly, the community didn't seem as close...

As of last year, it was said that only one fifth of Normanton Park residents had ties to SAF.

Anyway, my parents were one of the first few residents to move in, and they stayed until the very end.

I'm really glad that Lil Pumpkin had the opportunity to know and form precious memories at Normanton Park too since she spent a considerable time there with my mum while I worked...

I had a final walk-about with her the weekend before Normanton Park was locked down on Sat 29 Sep 2018.

Took many photos and short clips of her which I've compiled in this video above. Have a look and if it's not working well, go watch it on my YouTube channel.

I also posted some memories from the last few weeks of Normanton Park and the gems I found there on my Instagram Highlights Reel. Find "Normanton #1" and "Normanton #2" folders if you'd like to check it out.

Will be sharing more later on once I've finally let it all sink it, and of course, after Lil Pumpkin's busy exam period.. so stay tuned!


Other Singapore heritage places:



Monday, September 24, 2018

KidsFest 2019 is Back!! + Win Family Tickets to Watch We're Going On A Bear Hunt


KidsFest! - the family’s favourite Festival is back! Young​ ​theatre​ ​lovers​ ​and​ ​enthusiastic fans​ ​will​​ be ​in​​ for​​ ​a dazzling​ ​adventure​ ​with​ ​4​ of the most popular children’s theatre shows.

Watch Room on the Broom, The Gruffalo, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt at KidsFest! 2019 which starts in late January next year.

At KidsFest, characters from well-loved books are brought to life and the stories presented vividly on stage. It’s a wonderful platform for family interaction and at the same time, nurtures a child’s interest in literature and language. We've missed I think the last 2 editions so I'm making sure that we make it to at least one show next year!

Which show below would you go for??

Room on the Broom:

"Join the Witch and her cat on their mission to defeat the dragon in this magical, musical adaptation of the classic picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

The Witch and her cat are travelling on their broomstick when they pick up some hitch-hikers - a friendly dog, a beautiful green bird and a crazy frog. But this broomstick’s not meant for five and - CRACK - it snaps in two... just as the hungry dragon appears!"

Show dates: Thu 24 Jan - Sun 27 Jan 2019
Number of shows: 5
Duration: Approx 60 mins, no interval
Venue: KC Arts Centre - Home of SRT
Ticket prices: S$42, S$52, S$62

The Gruffalo:

"Join Mouse on a daring adventure through the deep, dark wood in Tall Stories’ magical, musical adaptation of the classic picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

Searching for hazelnuts, Mouse meets the cunning Fox, the eccentric old Owl and the party mad Snake. Will the story of the terrifying Gruffalo save Mouse from ending up as dinner for these hungry woodland creatures? After all, there’s no such thing as a Gruffalo – is there?"

Show dates: Fri 25 Jan - Sun 25 Jan 2019
Number of shows: 6
Duration: Approx 55 mins, no interval
Venue: Victoria Theatre
Ticket prices: S$42, S$52, S$62

The Tiger Who Came to Tea:

"Join the tea-guzzling tiger in this delightful family show; packed with oodles of magic, sing-a-long songs and clumsy chaos! A stunning stage adaptation of the classic tale of teatime mayhem... expect to be surprised!"

Show dates: Fri 1 Feb - Sun 3 Feb 2019
Number of shows: 3
Duration: Approx 55 mins, no interval
Venue: Drama Centre Theatre
Ticket prices: S$42, S$52, S$62

We're Going on a Bear Hunt:

"Join our intrepid family of adventurers and their musical dog on a quest to find a bear; as they wade through the gigantic swishy swashy grass, the splishy splashy river and the thick oozy, squelchy mud! Expect catchy songs, interactive scenes, plenty of adventure and a few surprises along the way, the ending is not quite like the book!"

Show dates: Thu 17 Jan - Sun 20 Jan 2019
Number of shows: 8
Duration: Approx 55 mins, no interval
Venue: KC Arts Centre - Home of SRT
Ticket prices: S$42, S$52, S$62

Lil Pumpkin when she went to watch Erth's Dinosaur Zoo back in 2015!! My, how she has grown!!

Anyway, there are some family and package deals going on now, and you can get your tickets via SISTIC. Head over to KidsFest Singapore's website for more information about this event.

Check out the rest of our Bub & Me activities or list of kid-friendly places in Singapore too!


For my own special friends & blog readers, I've ONE "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" Family Show Tickets Package {worth S$264} to give away!!

It includes 4 x Category 1 tickets {best seats!!} to the show on Friday, 18 Jan 2019, 5pm at KC Arts Centre - Home of Singapore Repertory Theatre {SRT}. The show is recommended for kids 3 years old and up.

Giveaway Method: Random Draw

1. Be a Sakura Haruka Facebook page fan

2. Subscribe to my upcoming newsletter. Make sure the email add you used to subscribe is working as I'll be using that to contact the winner. Remember to confirm the subscription and check your junk folder in case the confirmation email goes there.

3. Like & Share this Facebook photo and tag 3 friends. Make sure your post is public!

4. Leave me a blog comment telling me your best English composition study tip + FB name you used to like the page + name you used to subscribe to the newsletter. For those unsure of how to comment, choose "Name/URL" option then add your name and comment.

Bonus entry:
1. Follow @AiSakuraHaruka on Instagram
2. Repost this photo on IG & tag @AiSakuraHaruka #ASHxKidsFest2019Giveaway + your FB name + 3 friends. Make sure your post is public!

ONE random winner will be chosen. Just complete all 4 simple steps + bonus entry {if you like}!

UPDATE: The giveaway has ended. The winner is JingRong Loh. Stay tuned for more blog giveaways on Sakura Haruka! Check out my current readers promos too. Thanks for your support!

Details:
* Open to Singapore residents only.
* Ends Sunday, 30 Sep 2018 2359hrs {Singapore time} 
* Incomplete or inappropriate entries will be deemed invalid and will not be included.
* Winner will be announced by Wednesday 3 Oct 2018 on this blog post and notified via email with further instructions on how to collect prize. Winner have 2 days to reply, or the prize will be redrawn.
* Tickets only valid for performance on Friday, 18 Jan 2019, 5pm at KC Arts Centre - Home of SRT, 20 Merbau Road, Robertson Quay Singapore 239035.
* No refunds or changes to show time or date.
* Prize tickets cannot be exchanged for cash value or resold.
* Everyone must have own ticket for admission, including infants in arms.
* Sakura Haruka is not responsible for any prizes lost, damaged or misplaced in delivery.



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