Bringing Outdoors Indoor (#FrisoExperience)

That thing which light up my children’s eyes: PLAYGROUND/S!

My boys will always jump up like little bunnies when they know that it is “playground time”. Normally, they get an hour or so of outdoor time daily at the playgrounds near our place.

But the current haze problem is Singapore is bad enough to keep them indoors and thus their daily energy-expending activities are confined at home.

Imagine their excitement when they saw this:

The kind folks at Friso had delivered an exclusive Friso playset when I was about to leave for work and while Xi En was not at home too. Though Eizac was really excited to see the slide, he agreed to wait for his brother to be home before we set it up.  I was really surprised by his patience to just leave those alone till Xi En came home.

The Friso playset comprises of:

a tent (more like a tepee),

a slide with a basketball hoop (this is the highlight),

2 Friso cushions,

a storage box and,

a green carpet

And when it is all set up, ta-da! How could any child resist these!:

My boys wasted no time to bounce climb up and down the slide. They probably had gazillion rounds each!

 Friso 2

Boys being boys; they decided to take their “vehicles” for a slide and using the storage box as a “garage”. 🙂

Friso 3

After all the spinning down the slides, they took breaks in the tepee and had a mini cook-out session and “selling” their fares to me and their grandmother.

It ain’t cheap, $10 for a cup of lemonade anyone? 😛

The green carpet provides a soft landing ground for the slide as well as a comfortable zone for play dates.

If you have a balcony, a porch, a spare room or a nice rectangle corner at home, the Friso playset will be an ideal play corner for your young children. But fret not if you do not have the luxury of space (like us!). Even after keeping the carpet and tepee (for play dates), the boys insisted on having the slide at a small corner for “daily thrill slides”!

Friso is an advocate of quality family time. Previously, they had a campaign – #Frisomoment – which we participated in as well. Sometimes, good family memories are created by deliberately setting aside time to spend with each other. This round, with the Friso Experiences Play Set, bringing outdoors indoor is prefect for hazy or rainy days. If you are keen to redeem the play set, simply spend $350 on Friso participating products* to redeem the play set worth $300. Promotion is valid from 1st Sept to 31st Oct 2015.

*Friso participating products are FrisGold 2/3/, Friso Gold Cereal and Frisomum. Excludes all infant formula for 0-6 months.

More details are available on Friso Facebook page .

If you will like to check out the playset in person, do pop by to the following Friso Experiences Play Zones to check out the play set. While you are there, take some photos with your children, upload on Friso Singapore Facebook Experience Galley and stand to win grand prizes such as GoPro cameras or Skoot Ride on Suitcases!

Friso Experiences Play Zones details:

Sheng Siong Woodlands 6A – 1st to 31st Oct

Sheng Siong Bedok 209 – 1st to 31st Oct

There are also roadshows at the following locations:

1st to 15th Oct

FairPrice Xtra Jurong Point

FairPrice Xtra JEM Mall

1st to 21st Oct

FairPrice Taman Jurong Shopping Centre

FairPrice Clementi A

1st to 30th Oct

FairPrice Finest Bukit Timah Plaza

FairPrice Sun Plaza

FairPrice Finest Thomson Plaza

FairPrice Xtra Ang Mo Kio Hub

FairPrice Hougang Point

FairPrice Rivervale Mall

FairPrice Finest Seletar Mall

FairPrice City Square

FairPrice Hyper Sports Hub

FairPrice Finest Marine Parade

FairPrice East Point

FairPrice Tampines Mall

12th Oct to 18th Oct

Guardian Lot

15th Oct to 30th Oct

FairPrice Xtra Nex

19th Oct to 25th Oct

Guardian Jurong Point

Don’t miss this opportunity to create bonding time with your young ones (at home)! 🙂 Have fun!

Disclaimer: We received a Friso Play Set from Friso for the purpose of this article. No further compensation was received. All photos, opinions and fun moments belong to writer’s family.

McDonald’s Happy Meals Books (from Dorling Kindersley)

I am a “bookworm” from young; probably influenced by my books-loving mother too.

When I was in primary school, I recalled calling home to ask my mum to allow my teacher to lend me money to buy books from a school book fair. I can so see Xi En doing that too! 😛

Imagine my excitement when I knew that McDonald’s is introducing Dorling Kindersley (DK) mini book series free with the purchase of every Happy Meal!

We picked up a similar book when we visited a Mcdonald’s in Melbourne last Sept and I thought it was a fabulous idea to giveaway books instead of toys. Of course, there were interesting toys such as those really cute convertibles cars/trucks! But I love books and I supposed all parents wished their child read widely too? 😀

And now, we have them in Singapore! How exciting! My boys, especially 6 years old Xi En lost no time to pore over the books.

A preview of the series of books which will be introduced in coming weeks:

HM book 1

These mini books are good quality and informative non-fictions. There are basically 2 series – “Watch Me Grow” and “WOW”. The former is a focus on animals’ stages of growth with flip out corners suitable 3 to 5 years old. The “WOW” series are a spectacular show and tell experience, going deeper into various worldwide subjects; suitable for 6 to 9 years old. They come with stickers to paste onto various pages to make learning more interactive for the younger ones.

Preview of sample pages:

Starting from 3rd Sept 2015, there will be 2 new titles introduced every Thursday at 11am. Each mini Happy Meal Book will be given free with the purchase of a  McDonald’s Happy Meal. Collect all 8 titles (whilst stocks last! and I do think they will go fast!).

If you are new to McDonald’s Happy Meals (*shocked look*), it comprise of kids-sized fares including a main, a dessert and a drink (+ a toy/book of course!).

In recent years, McDonald’s has also taken effort to include healthier options such as Corn Cup (with reduced sodium), Apple Slices and even switching to using Canola Blend oil to fry Chicken McNuggets after they are par fried in sunflower oil. This changes had reduced the level of saturated fat by approximately 30%. Calorie-per-set-meal can be as low as 351 calories if you choose a 4-piece Chicken McNuggets with Apple Slices and Magnolia Lo-Fat Hi-Cal Milk. (*source: McDonald’s PR media kit).

And so with healthier options available, there is probably little to stop you from getting a Happy Meal for your child today! In my opinion, these easy-to-read books are just too good to miss out. Look out for the titles in coming weeks:

Week 1: 3 Sep – 9 Sep

1. Watch me grow! Panda

2. WOW! Human Body

Week 2: 10 Sep – 16 Sep

3. Watch me grow! Butterfly

4. WOW! Art and Culture

Week 3: 17 Sep – 23 Sep

1. Watch me grow! Elephant

2. WOW! Ancient History

Week 4: 24 Sep –30 Sep

3. Watch me grow! Penguin

4. WOW! Space

More details can be found on Singapore McDonald’s website – https://www.mcdonalds.com.sg/our-stories/food-for-thought-with-happy-meal-books/

Happy Munching and Reading! 🙂

N.B: Thank you to MacDonald’s for sending us the whole series of DK mini books as a preview! In all true honesty, I would have feast on MacDonald’s Happy Meals for next few weeks just to get collect these mini books even if they weren’t sent to us! No further compensation were received. We are happy to share happy news with our readers! 🙂

Melbourne–Phillip Island

For this trip, we decided to omit driving along the famed Ocean Road as we were not sure if the children would enjoy the long ride to see the ocean scenes/rock formations.

Instead, we included a 2 night stay at Phillip Island which is about 2 hours drive from Melbourne city. Turned out to be a good choice except that it was raining for both evenings. We had a spacious, cosy stay at an apartment booked on Airbnb (waterfront @ Waves). It faced the sea and has an outdoor playground right in front. There are shops nearby within walking distance though we used the car mostly since we rented one.

What’s on the island? The first place we went to was the Visitor Centre in the centre of the town. It is useful to pick up brochures and check estimated time for the daily penguin parade. The volunteers/staff in these Visitor Centres are mostly very helpful and gave good advice on places to check out and shared other useful tips.

Another tip to share: It is difficult to find free wifi on the island. But the kind folks at the visitor centre directed us to the nearby public library where we asked for free access to check out our plans for the next leg. The library has a little corner for children and even some toys. We were the only (Asian) tourists in the small library and the librarians were getting ready for a reading session for the locals. Honestly, we didn’t felt too “welcomed” and thus left quickly after thanking them for the use for free wifi. Maybe on a better day or if your kids were not too rowdy (like mine), they might be more friendly.

We picked 2 key activities for the 2 days in Phillip Island:

1) Panny’s Chocolate Factory

Though it is a touristy place, the kids enjoyed this place. What’s there not to like about chocolate anyway?! 😀 It is about 30 mins drive from where we stayed. At the entrance, there is a little souvenir shop which sold different varieties of chocolates. We didn’t buy any as prices were really expensive. There are definitely far better chocolates sold in Melbourne city. But the “factory” tour is interesting enough. Some educational stuff on how chocolate is made and there are interactive displays too.

There are some displays of chocolate figurines and models of places complete with music and interactive parts (such as opening and closing of doors). It is more interesting for the adults than the children as they wished they can bite off some pieces instead. 😛

There are some amusement type of games which proved to be more fun for the adults than the children as there were too young to score anything. In the end, yours truly played at every game and yes, won all! (multiple tries though!). You can redeem for some free chocolates on the way out of the factory for winning some of these tokens.

This little mechanized penguin picks up chocolate pennies and dispense them to you. How cute! And how yummy! haaa..

You can “squirl” anything on this machine as it churns out chocolate sauce! Wait at the end of this machine for a taste of your creation! Yumz!

It is a decent place to visit if you have young children. The whole tour didn’t take too long; we finished in 1.5  hour, leaving you time to explore other parts of the island or head back to the hotel for a quick nap (which Eizac was still taking then).

More details on Panny’s website here: https://www.phillipislandchocolatefactory.com.au/

2) Penguin Parade

We had wanted to head out to see the penguins on the first night but there was a threat of heavy rain and so we spent the evening exploring the town and shopping at Coles (as usual!).

On the second evening, it was drizzling a little but we travelled so far to see the penguins and just couldn’t stay in the hotel anymore. It was still freezing cold in Sep, so we bundled up well before heading out. There is an estimated time for the penguins to arrive everyday. Do check the website or with your hotel/visitor centre for the daily timing.

Thankfully the drizzle stopped in time when we arrive at the Penguin centre.  They have a strict policy of no photo-taking after you step onto the boardwalk towards the stands to wait for the penguins, so we didn’t take any photos of the little penguins hobbling across the sand and into the various little burrows built specially for them. We have to keep really quiet during the moments the penguins arrived so they won’t be afraid to cross over. Thereafter the crowd disperse quickly as everyone started walking back to the boardwalk to catch a glimpse of the little penguins waddling to their burrows.

Travel tip: If you are going during cold weathers, do remember to pack some hot water/drinks and snacks for the children. We even cooked some porridge for Eizac in a thermal flask so he can be quiet while we waited. We purposely didn’t go in too early as we were afraid Eizac might start kicking up a fuss for waiting too long. Thankfully he was happy with the porridge. 😛

I found the entry prices a little on the higher end (AUD$24.50 per adult and AUD$12.25 per child). There are family packages available as well. Is it a worthwhile trip to see the penguins? Well, yes, if you haven’t seen any in your life and if your child is really into animals. But no, if you are not into such fleeting moments. It was dark by the time the penguins arrived and all we saw were small little dots. The boardwalk is helpful to see more of the little creatures but that’s about all this penguin trip entailed. Unless of course, you want to pay more for the ranger guide and to sit even nearer to the penguins (though I don’t think that is necessary for young children).

More details on their website: http://www.penguins.org.au/

Some of the many other activities we didn’t get to experience in Philip Island:

Koala Conservation Centre (We visited koala at Moonlit Sanctuary instead)

Churchill Island (We almost went for this but read that it is too commercialised and opt to visit another farm in Melbourne)

Nobbies – We wanted to do this, but bad weather forbid so.

Fishing, boating, cycling, walking and more.

This is the last installation of our family’s Melbourne holiday in Sep 2014. Some of the places we visited but I didn’t blog about. Not that they are not good places but I didn’t have the time to. :

Melbourne Museum – suitable for young to old. The little ones can play at the children corners while the older ones will enjoy the various exhibits.

Collingwood Children Farm – worth a visit if you don’t want to travel too far from the city. You will see pigs, horse, cows and goats. But my boys only enjoyed the free tractor ride.

Abbotsford Convent – located just next to Collingwood Children Farm. Small grounds but there happened to be some band playing music at the grass patch on the timing we went. The kids enjoyed rolling on the grass!

The rest of our Melbourne travelogue:

Flight to Melbourne, accommodations and how to survive travelling with young children

St Kilda, Melbourne city, Puffing Billy, Queen Victoria Market, South Melbourne Market

Melbourne – Phillip Island (Penguins and Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate)

Travel to Melbourne – Moonlit Sanctuary (The Mornington Peninsula)