Fun at Giggles

If you are a parent of a young child in Singapore, it is likely that you won’t be unfamiliar with indoor playgrounds. With the current hot weather and erratic afternoon showers, a safe haven will be an indoor playground!

We do enjoy going to indoor playgrounds from time to time as fun is contained within a sheltered environment (weather-proof!). These are also ideal places for Mummies’ catch ups!

We visited Giggles once last year and to be really honest, we weren’t too impressed as then, the space was sparse. However, a few weeks ago, we were kindly invited to play at Giggles and check out their newly opened Water Wonderland. This round, I was very impressed with the changes especially the new Water Wonderland!

Weini, the new sole owner, revamped the place and put in many personal touches to make the entire playground more inviting and introduced purposeful fun.

It is a shame that Giggles is not allowed to put up more prominent signage to show their location. They are actually located in the heart of Marine Parade Central; just above ANZ/Maybank (and diagonally across Macdonald’s).

Sharing some key improvements which we liked:

1) Sensory, handmade toys corner

These caught my attention. It looked handmade/D-I-Y. And they are! Weini and her staff put all these together so as to create an area for development of fine motor skills and sensorial play for the younger ones.

2) Many ride-on cars and scooters

You know the drill; all children like to have a ride. And they do end up fighting sometimes just for a vehicle! Here, there are no lack of transportation modes – P.E.A.C.E.

3) A new dress-up corner

The boys had so much fun with the costumes which they normally don’t! And why? Because they provide shoes/legs here!

Check out the wacky looks they created:

4) Small, well contained play environment

Personally, I prefer to be able to see my boys within an eye glance. There is a main activity tower with slides, boardwalks and a ball pit. The rest of the sensorial stuff, cars, pretend play, SNUG (blocks/magnetic pieces) play and SONA (interactive playground system) surround the big structure. That made it really easy for parents to watch their children as everything is within eye/ear shots. 🙂 For paranoid mummies like me, this is perfect!

There is also a cordoned zone for birthday parties. It is located just next to the main indoor playground; making it really easy for kids to run in and out to play and for parents’ watchful eyes.

5) Cozy corner

This is the corner with some stools and tables where parents can relax, read a book, chat and children can do some drawings and have a light snack. You are free to bring in your own food too. It is so convenient that there are many food options just downstairs. MacDonald’s for starters. 😛

There is a small changing table corner right at the end of the play area if you need to change diapers or nurse your baby. But note that it is just a draw-curtain and not doors. Toilets are located in the next unit but there aren’t any diaper changing facilities in there. So this little change area will come in handy.

6) The new Water Wonderland

Most indoor playgrounds do not have a water play area for obvious reasons that it can be messy and W.E.T. I am glad that Giggles decided to roll this room out. It’s an enclosed room with water play set ups, a water pool and a DIY rope structure shaped like a ship. They provide waterproof jackets or feel free to bring wet gears. Note that baby swim diapers are required if your child is not toilet trained yet. My boys enjoyed this room a lot and the only grouse is the cold water due to an air-conditioned room. The staff explained that they are exploring options to counter this; for e.g. by filling up with hot water periodically. Otherwise, water play is always a fun addition.

7) Singapore First Snoezelen Room – Multi Sensory Room

Frankly, I had to google “Snoezelen” as I never encounter this word before. Wiki said: “Snoezelen or controlled multisensory environment (MSE) is a therapy for people with autism and other developmental disabilities, dementia or brain injury. It consists of placing the person in a soothing and stimulating environment, called the “Snoezelen room”.”

Weini shared that she wants to cater to the special needs children so that they can have a safe environment to play and learn in. They won’t need to feel out-of-place in a regular playground. I thought it’s encouraging that operators have an inclusive mindset in their businesses. This special carpeted room has soft lighting, calming aroma, a projector TV with educational videos (sea creatures video was on when we were there), a variety of sensory toys mounted on the wall and more for objective and purposeful play.  We understood that this room is also available for special booking sessions for educators and parents of special needs children upon request. The entry price for Giggles do include entry to this room if it is not booked for the day.

8) Gym room

I called this a gym room as it’s fully cushioned with exercise mats, blocks and several overhanging gym bands/swings. A room for the active children indeed!

Conclusion: I really like the revamped Giggles’s ground. With a better utilization of space, they managed to include more rooms/zones and activity corners for fun to be extended to all groups of children including special needs. This is commendable in my opinion. The boys had a whole morning of fun and we were rewarded with a long afternoon nap. In unison, we knew we will be back soon. 🙂

Details of their admission rates as below. Less than 1 year old babies enter for FREE with an accompanying adult paying just $3! For discounted rates, do consider taking up their lifetime membership.

Venue: 87 Marine Parade Central #02-500C Singapore 440087

Open daily from 10am to 7pm (Indoor Playground)/ 6pm (Water Wonderland)

Website: http://www.funatgiggles.com.sg/ 

Images below are taken from Giggles website.

Special promotion for all readers

Giggles has kindly extended this promotion to all blog readers – Simply email them at info@funatgiggles.com.sg and quote “Evespiration” to enjoy discounted lifetime membership fee of $50 (usual price $60) and 10% discount off party packages.

If you are new to Giggles and will like to experience it before signing up the lifetime membership, you can enjoy a 10% discount off single admission rates by quoting this blog post too. Drop them an email at info@funatgiggles.com.sg and quote this blogpost to enjoy the discount.

For the June holidays, there are several exciting programmes lined up. Check out the banners below or click on their website for more details.

Have Fun@Giggles! 🙂

Day in a Life (DIAL)

Hopping onto this blog train initiated by a fellow mummy blogger – Justina – to share a glimpse of what goes on behind the scene of a Mummy’s daily life.

I have a mixed identity due to my flexi-work nature. While being able to arrange my work schedules around my family’s schedules, at the same time, my work also require me to revolve around my clients’ availabilities. So that brings about a really flexible work day 24/7, 7 days a week.

Day in a Life 1

Here’s sharing a typical Friday since I am due on the blog train on a Friday.

7am to 730am

On a good day, I wake up with an uninterrupted night. After migrating  Eizac out of our room, my night rest will depend on how sharp  my hearing is and how tired I am. If I am hyper-owl at night, I will still hear Eizac asking for milk at night and get out to help my mum make the bottle of milk or soothe him back to sleep. Now that both boys sleep with their grandmother, I am grateful for the more restful nights.

I am naturally an early bird but the kind husband draws the curtain every morning to let me sleep in a while longer. 🙂 Then, It’s a habit to grab the phone next to the bed, download the emails on the phone, do a quick check on FB and reply some messages which are sent in the late night. All these within 5 mins of waking up. Not the best of habits I admit; but it’s a habit as said. :S

Breakfast is a must for me. I don’t know how some can skip breakfast and still function. I am a irritable zombie if I don’t eat. Simple fare of coffee and 2 slices of wholemeal bread with spread, tuna, ham/cheese etc – I am good as long as there is food in  the tummy.

If the kids are not up at this hour, I get 30 to 45 mins to read the newspapers quietly with my breakfast. Simple luxury often taken for granted. I am a traditional sort who still read the good old, printed newspapers. Call me old-fashioned: Just like between a real book vs an e-book, I still prefer smelling the carbon print and getting my hands dirty. :p

8am to 9am

One or two of the boys will be up. Both of them normally sleep late and thus wake up later. I wish they do a regular 9/10pm in bed and 7/8am wake up. But they don’t and that is another different story on discipline to be able to achieve it…

As Xi En is in the afternoon school session, we idle the morning away by reading some story books or doing pretend play or forever getting ready for school.

10am to 1pm

These are my unofficial working hours. Xi En gets to school and my mum normally entertains Eizac at the playground so I get to work. If I am not out for appointments, I will be in my home office, replying emails, making calls, doing paperwork, checking websites, blogging and etc. The window of working is really short before Eizac comes back for lunch. We decided on having a helper about 2 years back as the household chores and meal preparations are just too time consuming for a family with young children. Either I stop working altogether or we have a helper. With much struggles, we agreed on hired help to ease the tension at home. It is not the perfect solution since both Kim and I are not comfortable with having a stranger share our home. But probably the best interim-solution till the kids grow more independent. Sometimes it is helpful to have an extra pair of hands at hand if you know what I mean.

If there is no urgent work, I like to use this window of time to drive my mum out to do some marketing. My mum is particular about buying fresh fish from her old neighbourhood in Hougang Ave 1. That market stocks the freshest fishes at good prices according to her and so I read on some food blog sites too. Eizac is at the stage of enjoying a marketing trip (more than going to the playground!); his favourite activity being to “pay money”. He is at a vocal stage now and totally enjoys blabbing non-stop on his thoughts, his findings, observations and more. We totally enjoy a gesturing and blabbing conversation with him these days.

We lunched out if we are out or if we are at home, lunch is a simple affair too.  I am a Teochew and thus is comfortable eating plain porridge with salted egg, preserved olive veg, steam tofu with salted soya beans, pork floss or just stir-fried veg with oyster sauce. Some days when I am in the mood, I make myself some cold soba, udon, salad or instant noodles with Ajitsuke Tamago (Japanese marinated soft boiled egg). Not quite your healthy options, but there are cheat and lazy days.

1pm to 3pm

Eizac watches his cartoons and then take his bath before winding down for his nap. That’s if he actually takes one. If I am home, he will insist that I nap with him. As much as I loved an afternoon nap, I try not to. That’s because I find myself lazier if I sleep in. Instead, I tasked my mum to take him for his nap! haaa.. She can rest and I continue my work! Perfect! But Eizac is quite clingy to me these days; so I try to get out of the house during this timing either for work or appointments. Last Friday afternoon, I attended an blogger’s event with AMC – a long standing brand of pots and pans. Food is another passion and I enjoyed baking that occasional cake or bread or whipping up some new dishes for the family. Anything to do with food piques my interest and I am keen to start trying out the new AMC pot which many older generations raved about.

3pm to 5pm

Xi En gets home around this time and as much as possible, I try to be the one (or his grandmother) to pick him up from the school bus. There is something about having a helper which I am yet to be comfortable with – that is to have the helper mind the children alone. Maybe it is the horror maids’ stories, maybe the children are still young, maybe I am just paranoid, maybe it is a combination of everything. As much as possible, we try to have a family member with the children instead of just the helper.

Xi En takes a second lunch/tea at home because he do better with smaller but frequent meals through the day. He is still underweight at 15.8kg for a 5-going-on-6 boy. His weight gain during his earlier years is hampered by poor appetite and made worse by constantly falling ill. The doctor recommended giving him a yearly flu vaccination due to his frequent bronchiolitis episodes and we decided that is best for him. Since his 2nd yearly vaccination, his condition had improved so much. He used to come down with the whole flu, cough, wheezing works every other month. Now, he is cleared for at least 6 months or more.

If Eizac isn’t napping or waking up from his nap, we will have 2 hyper active boys running amok around the house. Some days, we play hide-and-seek in the house. Other days, we do dough play, duplo, cars, pretend play and just about anything.

5pm to 7pm

Most weekdays, the boys get an hour or so playground time. They don’t play well together (yet). Xi En looks for familiar friends’ faces while Eizac chased after the bigger kids to try to be part of the action. We know many kids in the neighbourhood because my mum is very sociable and makes friends quickly; which is a contrast to me as I look more aloof and some say arrogant. :S

On a typical Friday, Xi En attends a Chinese enrichment class at Berries. We weren’t one who thought that enrichment programmes were necessary for preschoolers. But lo and behold, I realised that it is somewhat necessary if you don’t have the time to teach or the school teacher don’t have the time to teach or you don’t teach creatively. We ticked all those boxes. After Xi En’s first PTM in school, his teacher admittedly said that it is not easy to get much Chinese curriculum time in school given that Chinese period is only 1/2 hour to 45 mins max. Since then, I decided before he totally dislike his mother tongue, he need to learn it with a creative angle. And so that’s when Berries came into the picture.

While Xi En is at Berries, Kim and I used this time to park-tor (date!). We seldom have time alone without kids. And so either we share my favourite waffle or walk around the nearby mall together. More simple pleasures in life (after kids came along).

7pm to 8pm

If the kids are at home, after some barefoot, mad dashing around at the playground, the boys get shooed home and eat their dinner. We have a bad habit of allowing them to have dinner while watching cartoons. As much as we tried, we are torn between allowing TV so we can get them to eat more or forcing them to eat at the dinner table and get frustrated with them knocking down plates, refusing to eat, eating really little and etc. As much as we know what is right and recommended, after a day of work, we do take the easier way out so that everyone can have some peace. Do anyone have creative solutions to share here?

This is also the time when Kim and I can chat a little over dinner about the day’s event (or non-events).

8pm to 10pm

The children get their bath time and TV is switched off. We played a little or read borrowed books from the library during this time. Xi En is an avid reader though sometimes I wonder if he really understood what he read. He enjoyed mostly non-fiction books on maps, geography, space and sciences such as burps and farts and the likes! For fiction books, somehow weirdly he is hooked on mermaid books and stories lately. He just proclaimed he is getting married to a female school mate who is crazy over mermaids too. I used that opportunity to coax him to go for swimming lessons just like the mermaids he adores (he dislikes water on the face and breathing underwater).

11pm to 12am

Yes, both the boys only sleep at this witching hour. Eizac used to go to bed earlier but now that both are in the same room, they bounce around, ask for milk umpteen times, request for the last story, say that last prayer, smooch that last kisses and hugs before they eventually sleep. Night feeds are still on-going and so I prepared a tray of necessary items so that everything is at hand.

Xi En is learning to say prayers before he sleeps. A typical one goes like this:

Thank you God for the good day today. Please help Mummy recover soon (from a splinter in the finger). Keep us strong and healthy so we won’t fall sick (we pray this everyday with and for him since he is a baby). Help Eizac not to hit me (errm….). I love XX (our neighbour who has a collection of mermaid books). I like to married XX. Help Mummy to close more deals (He overheard our conversations.)Thank you Jesus for the good night rest and sweet dreams. And all God’s adults say Amen (we say All God’s little children; he improvises).”

If I didn’t fall sleep with them, I would catch up on some TV drama serials (yes, I am a drama person), Facebook, instagram, some miscellaneous work or pillow chat with the husband. Some days, my work brings me home only around this hour. But we actually do prefer such work arrangement, knowing that my boys are with their Daddy/grandmother and not left alone with the helper gives me peace at work.

12am to 1am

That’s my bed time on most days if I am not too tired out by the days’ events. I try not to work or blog at night unless I really have to meet deadlines.

And so that conclude a typical weekday for me. I am really thankful for a flexible work option which brings in some income and yet I can be around for my children, ferry them for classes, pick them up after school and spend some quality time with them all in a day. 6 years ago, I gave up a stable, salaried job and took up a fully commission-based career because I find life too short to spend in the office jus because I need to “clock the work hours”. Being my own boss isn’t a bed of roses, but I am thankful for the referrals, the support from friends, relatives and clients who get things going for me. Sometimes it sounds like I want the best of everything, but who doesn’t and try? For now, I am happy even if I don’t earn that million dollars or climb the highest corporate ladder. While the kids still want Mummy, I hope to be around to cherish every moment and celebrate every milestones.

Next up on this blog train in Edlyn (MummyEd)

Edlyn

MummyEd works from home whenever she has the chance to, but with 3 kids of ages 3 5 and 7 years old, those moments are few and far between. She blogs at http://mummyed.wordpress.com and has never been happier to leave the corporate world behind.

Homely fare at Gu Ma Jia 姑妈家

In view of the upcoming Mother’s Day, Gu Ma Jia (姑妈家) kindly invited some bloggers for a feast and review of their home-cooked dishes. I have heard positive reviews for a while and keen to check it out myself.

As the shop’s name implies, dining here is akin to dining at an Auntie’s house. The woman behind the show is affably known as Gu Ma and she honed her cooking skills while growing up in Pulau Ubin. Together with Head Chef Yap Geok Loong from Malaysia, they created homely Chinese dishes which do warm the hearts and fill the tummies.

Here are some of the highlights we tasted for the evening:

Fruity Enzyme Drink – I am quite acquainted with fruit enzyme as my mum makes them at home! It is the liquid collected after the fermentation of fruits. There is a widespread agreement that there is good probiotic bacteria in fruit enzyme. But honestly, I have yet to fully appreciate it’s slight sour taste. The jelly at the bottom does help to make it more palatable for our taste buds.

Crispy Bean Jal – Often mistaken as bacon, this is actually deep fried brinjal with four season beans. The dish see me going for seconds just because it doesn’t taste like eggplant! Coated with marmite-like sweet sauce, this is seriously addictive.

Ubin Lala Bee Hoon – the highlight is not the lala. It is the wet beehoon soaked in savoury broth! I am a fan of wet beehoon and this goes down very well with me. The beehoon is unlike some which you found at zi char stalls where they barely boil the beehoon and throw the gravy on top. This Pulau-Ubin style dish is soaked through with flavours. A must-order.

XO Prawn Noodles – the photo doesn’t do the dish justice. A classic Cantonese dish, the special home-made XO sauce (almost soup-like) made me eat more of the yellow noodles which I would have normally avoided. Fresh succulent big prawns are the highlights too! A must-try.

Gu Ma Signature Traditional Bean Curd Soup – This plain looking soup is no plain Jane. It is power boiled over 6 hours with ingredients such as salted fish head, Chinese ham, pork ribs, peanuts and bean curd. I loved the wholesome taste and Xi En had more than a bowl too. Really comforting double boiled goodness.

Homemade Yam Ring with Kyoto Pork Ribs – Lip smacking sweet ribs (no bones, yeah!) with creamy and crispy yam ring. I will order this again.

Assam Fish Head – Not too spicy and you can still taste the sweetness of the flesh amidst the spices. Gravy goes well with rice definitely; might be too small a portion for the real fish lovers though.

Salted Egg Yolk Crab – My favourite next to chilli crab. The flesh comes off the shell easily and the salted egg yolk is fingers-licking good!

Yuan Yang Kai Lan – Kai Lan done in 2 way – blanched and fried. It’s like 2-in-1 shampoo I think. If you can’t decide how to have your vegetables, how about having them 2 ways?

Shrimp paste chicken mid joint – A common dish but not all chefs get them well.  This is above average with the right amount of shrimp paste though I could have them crispier.

Desserts (Left to right/Top to Bottom)

Mango Pudding – Not on menu yet.

Gu Ma’s Dessert – $4 (hot or cold)

Black Glutinous Rice with Ice Cream – $3.80 (my favourite; pardon the melted ice-cream photo!)

Fruity Enzyme Jelly – $5.80 (this is an acquired taste. you need to appreciate enzyme in order to like the healthier dessert option).

Husband and I agreed that the dishes are homely fare cooked in a more meticulous way. It is similar to having a meal at your “Auntie’s” house except it might actually be better than hers! With no additional MSG, less oil and healthier food options (such as brown rice), you can be sure Gu Ma Jia is a Mummies-approved place. For the upcoming Mother’s Day, there is a promotion and a set menu which is available from 1st May to 17th May 2015.  Details as below. Ala carte options are available too. Do make an early reservation if you are planning for Mother’s Day. Parking are available along the roadsides but be prepared to wait a while during peak dining hours.

Details:

Website: http://gumajia.com.sg/

Address: 45 Tai Thong Crescent, Sennett Estate Singapore 347866

GMJ_motherday2015v6

N.B: We were kindly invited for a food tasting session. All opinions and photos are ours except credited. No further compensation is received.