Category Archives: parenting

LEGO Friends “Lessons of Friendship” Meme Contest Winners

LEGO Friends recently launched their new friendship campaign and partnered Alvinology.com for a giveaway.

To join the meme contest, participants just have to do the following:

  1. Watch the “Lessons of Friendship” film
  2. Do a screen capture of the video
  3. Write a nice Friendship-related statement with the screen capture as a meme and email it to alvinologist@gmail.com by 15 Nov 2013.

Here are some of the amazing entries I have received for the contest:

Grace Tan –

Robert Sim –

Carol Lim –

Henri Soh –

Megan –

Karis See –

Chan CL –

Jaime Chan –

Erlina Husada –

Farizah Rahman –

There are a total of 3 prizes to giveaway:

Top Prize
1 x Friendship Diary
1 x Heartlake Pet Salon (usual price: S$59.90)

Runner Up Prizes (x2)
1 x Friendship Diary
1 x Mia’s Magic Tricks (usual price: S$19.90)

The winners are….

Congratulations to Grace Tan for winning the top prize; Robert Sim and Farizah Rahman for wininng the runner up prizes! I will be providing your emails to the organisers and they will be contacting you on the prize collection details.

Thank you for joining this contest everyone. Do continue to support this blog. 🙂

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KidsFest 2014 – Tickets on sale now

Last weekend, I brought Asher to the KidsFest 2014 preview at the British Club where he met some of the performers, including the Gruffalo’s Child – a character which he is familiar with from the Gruffalo series of children books which Rachel reads to him:

Kids meet the Gruffalo's Child
Kids meet the Gruffalo’s Child
Asher hi-five with the gruffalo's child
Asher hi-five with the gruffalo’s child
Kids meet King Henry
Kids meet King Henry
Gruffalo story book reading time
Gruffalo story book reading time
Playing games
Playing games

KidsFest debuted in Hong Kong and Singapore in 2012 and will return from 15 Jan to 9 Feb 2014 next year with nine international theatre productions adapted from best-selling children’s books.

KidsFest 2014 muffins
KidsFest 2014 muffins

The family-friendly productions will be shown at two performing venues in 2014; at DBS Arts Centre and Drama Centre Theatre.

KidsFest 2014  also see the introduction of KidsFest+ – an exclusive backstage experience on scheduled dates for selected productions where fans can interact up close with the cast over an autograph or photo session – much like the fun preview session which I brought Asher to.

Roaaarrrrrr!
Roaaarrrrrr!

“KidsFest is an exciting festival for the whole family where compelling characters are brought to life and scenes from well-loved books are enacted vividly on stage. It is a wonderful platform for family bonding and at the same time, nurtures a child’s interest in literature and language. Our aim is for KidsFest to be a staple in Singapore’s calendar of cultural events when families can look forward to a series of world-class productions,” said Mr Matthew Gregory, Executive Producer of ABA Productions Pte Ltd.

The KidsFest 2014 organisers promise each production to be an adventure for the family; with catchy music, engaging scenes and even audience participation for some. There will also be surprises thrown in for the kids along the way.

Tickets are on sale now, with prices range from S$35 to S$62.

Book them at any SISTIC outlet, official SISTIC website or call the hotline 6348 5555. For more information, visit the official KidsFest website and the official Singapore Facebook page.

Here are some of the shows to look out for in KidsFest 2014: 

Back by popular demand is of course, the well-loved Gruffalo! This charming production adapted from the award-winning picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler showcases Mouse’s adventurous journey into the ‘deep dark wood’ and his encounter with the terrifying Gruffalo. Though the use of sheer wit, learn how the quick-thinking Mouse evades danger.

Following hot on the heels of The Gruffalo’s sell out tour comes the must-watch sequel; The Gruffalo’s Child. Find out just how brave the Gruffalo’s Child is as she ventures into the ‘deep dark wood’ to find the ‘big bad mouse’, the one thing her father, The Gruffalo is afraid of.

For the history-buff, you’re in for a treat! Indulge in the drama during the Tudors dynasty at Horrible Histories Terrible Tudors starring the monarch, Henry VIII himself. Hear the legend (and the lies!), find out about the triumphs and what is so terrible during this enthralling era.

The HORRIBLE HISTORIES team also brings a fresh take into the mysterious world of ancient Egypt as they unearth the enigmatic symbols in Horrible Histories Awful Egyptians. Learn the power of the pyramids and discover the foul facts of death and decay with the meanest mummies in town – find out why the Egyptians made their mummies and how they did it!

Some other must-watch productions includes What the Lady Bird Heard, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Snow Dragon and Private Peaceful as they grace the local stage for the first time In 2014.

LEGO Friends Friendship Giveaway

LEGO Friends has recently launched their new friendship campaign and is partnering Alvinology.com for a giveaway.

As part of the friendship campaign, LEGO Friends has rolled out a short film titled, “How to Build a Friendship”:

In addition to this, LEGO Friends  has also rolled out a Limited Edition Friendship Diary, encouraging children to jot down their thoughts and feelings. The diary is filled with engaging activities including drawing spaces, craftwork and an assortment of games that can be played with friends. A nice gift for the little ones.

I am giving away the following on this blog:

Top Prize
1 x Friendship Diary
1 x Heartlake Pet Salon (usual price: S$59.90)

Runner Up Prizes (x2)
1 x Friendship Diary
1 x Mia’s Magic Tricks (usual price: S$19.90)

How can you win these prizes?

Follow these simple steps:

  1. Watch the “Lessons of Friendship” film
  2. Do a screen capture of the video
  3. Write a nice Friendship-related statement with the screen capture as a meme and email it to alvinologist@gmail.com by 15 Nov 2013. Here is a sample from me: 

The most creative memes (purely by judging only) will win the prizes

Easy?

Send in your entries now. I look forward to reading your memes. 🙂

[Movie Review] Like Father, Like Son (そして父になる Soshite Chichi ni Naru)

Like Father, Like Son (そして父になる Soshite Chichi ni Naru) is a multiple international awards-winning 2013 Japanese drama film directed by Hirokazu Koreeda. It was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and won the Jury Prize as well as a commendation from the Ecumenical Jury. It also won the Rogers People’s Choice Award at the 2013 Vancouver International Film Festival and the Wuaki.TV Audience Award at the 2013 San Sebastián International Film Festival.

Koreeda also directed Nobody Knows (誰も知らない Dare mo shiranai), a 2004 Japanese drama film based on the 1988 event known as the “Affair of the four abandoned children of Sugamo”. I enjoyed Nobody Knows very much and appreciate Koreeda’s sensitivity in bringing out children emotions and how they see the world.

Expectations were high when I went for the preview screening of Like Father, Like Son.

Trailer:

Synopsis:

Ryota (Masaharu Fukuyama) and Midori (Machika Ono) are an ambitious urban couple pushing themselves and six-year-old son Keita (Keita Ninomiya) up the social ladder. The boy, however, appears to lack the drive found in his father. Then the parents are told shocking news: Keita was swopped with another baby at birth. Should they keep him or fix the mistake and take their biological son, raised by laidback shopkeeper Yudai (Lily Franky) and wife Yukari (Yoko Maki)?

If you were the father or mother of Keita, what would you have done?

As a father of a two year son now, I find I am unable to make a clear decision. The first conclusion I had was the same as Ryota – why not try to keep both? The problem is, would the other party agree? Is it fair to them?

The film got me thinking about the age-old debate of nature vs nature.

In Ryota, I see the failings of an elitist mindset, something which we often fault the current batch of PAP leaders in Singapore for. Ryota is not a bad person. He wants the best for his child, but it took him a while to reconcile the fact that regardless whether it was his biological son or the son he brought up, the child is not him.

The film had an open ending. It works for me as it invokes thinking. Rachel and I were still talking about it after we left the theatres, debating over the different scenarios that could have panned out.

While the parents stress themselves out thinking which decision works best for themselves, what is neglected is the feelings of the children. The director brought out this message subtly, but with a strong, lasting impact.

Koreeda is good in dealing with topics revolving around kids’ emotions.

Like Father, Like Son is one of the best movie which I have watched this year. Do go catch it. It is now showing in Singapore cinemas.

NTUC First Campus – It Began With You

Are you familiar with NTUC First Campus?

NTUC First Campus (NFC) is a pioneering childcare operator in Singapore, established since the 1970s. It manages three pre-school brands which parents with young children will be familiar with – My First Skool, The little Skool-House International and The Caterpillar’s Cove.

NFC runs a total of 120 centres island-wide, guided by the principle that every child deserves a good start in life. Its social mission is to ensure that every child, regardless of social or economic background, can receive quality and affordable early childhood care and education.

It is with these in mind that NFC embarks on a social recruitment campaign to promote the appreciation for pre-school educators and encourage more to fulfill their aspirations in joining the early childhood care and education industry. I am happy to know of this campaign spearheaded by NFC and am more than willing to help spread the words.

Personally, I have great respect for people working as pre-school educators, just like those in the nursing professions. These are jobs which require a lot of care and patience.

Close your eyes and visualise what a pre-school educator should be like – does a kind, parent-like figure comes to mind?

Can you picture yourself as this person?

If you can, the future of Singapore may just lie in your nurturing hands:

If you love children and believe you can make a difference in the little ones’ lives, consider sending your resume over for a career with NTUC First Campus.

NFC works hard to establish support network and career advancement opportunities for their staff. Both new and current teachers can develop their knowledge and skills in their tailored training programs, as well as learn the best practices through regular meetings and forums.

To find out more about NFC careers and positions available, do visit their official social recruitment website – It Began with You.  or their official facebook page. 

Meanwhile, if you are undecided, consider taking this online challenge to find out if you can understand a child will and have what it takes to be a pre-school teacher:

NFC is giving away S$50 CapitaMall vouchers weekly for participants of the online challenge. In addition, there is also a grand prize of a travel package worth S$1,500. Try out the online challenge HERE on Facebook or HERE if you do not have a facebook account. Have fun. 🙂

Movie Review: Mr. Go (미스터 고 / 大明猩)

Mr. Go (미스터 고 / 大明猩) is a 2013 film written and directed by Kim Yong-hwa based on Huh Young-man’s 1984 comic The 7th Team (제7구단) – about a gorilla who becomes a baseball superstar and his 15-year-old female manager.

Mr. Go is the first South Korean film to be fully shot in 3D and is a co-production between South Korea and China. It was released simultaneously in both countries on July 17 and 18, respectively. Mr. Go is now showing in Singapore cinemas.

The movie’s theme song “Bye” was sung by Kim Tae-yeon, a member of Girls’ Generation. Composed by music director Lee Jae-hak, “Bye” had a Korean version and a Chinese version:

Korean –

Chinese –

Synopsis:

Young circus ringmaster Wei Wei has only bat-swinging gorilla Ling Ling to depend on as her only family member and friend, when her grandfather dies in the Great Sichuan Earthquake, leaving behind an insurmountable debt. When a loan shark threatens to sell Ling Ling and the circus kids to cover the debt, Wei Wei has no choice but to allow Ling Ling to be scouted in the Korean Baseball League by the materialistic sports agent Sung. Ling Ling, now dubbed “Mr. Go,” becomes an instant hit with fans and leads his team Doosan Bears to a miraculous winning streak.

Yes, I know the storyline seems really ridiculous, but the movie was surprisingly entertaining and moving!

Rachel and I brought Asher to watch Mr. Go  together. This is the first movie we brought him to watch and he enjoyed it a lot, sitting quietly throughout. He would clap with the screen audience when they applauded Mr. Go during baseball matches and would laugh when he see the gorilla eating human snacks on screen.

Animals and children transact global boundaries. This movie is perfect for family audiences anywhere in the world. It has been a long time since I have watched such a family-oriented movie with no kissing scenes or sexual jokes or excessive violence on screen.

Mr. Go is a beautiful story of the friendship between a girl and her gorilla as well as their influence on the people around them.

Mr. Go and his trainer
Mr. Go and his trainer

The movie has been marketed with limited publicity in Singapore. I would not have known about it if I had not seen the trailer when I was in Seoul earlier in July. This is a real pity because I think it has great potential to be a big box office hit with it’s clean storyline and magnificent CGI on the gorilla:

Btw, if you find the female lead familiar looking, her name is Xu Jiao. Her first movie was as the lead actress in CJ7 (长江七号), a 2008 Hong Kong-Chinese science fiction film co-written, co-produced, starring, and directed by Hong Kong comedy king, Stephen Chow.

She has grown-up quite a bit since her movie debut, but her acting is still as good and she can move people with her onscreen sweetness.

The ending of the movie suggests a sequel. If it is in the pipeline, I am looking forward to it and I am sure Asher is too! 🙂

Cruising with the Family in a Volkswagen Sharan

About two weeks ago, I had the privilege to own the Volkswagen Sharan for a week, courtesy of Volkswagen Singapore. The car is a 7-seat MPV with a 2.0 TSI engine:

I will get to drive this for a week! How exciting! :)
I will get to drive this for a week! How exciting! 🙂

According to the sales representative from the Volkswagen Singapore showroom, the model is selling well in Singapore, with batches often sold out.

Rear view from the side
Rear view from the side

When Rachel and I went to collect the car at the Volkswagen showroom, our heads were filled with plans on how to best utilise the car’s spaciousness.

Rachel hatching plans on how best we can utilise the car for the week
Rachel hatching plans on how best we can utilise the car for the week

Before my son Asher was born, whenever we go out together with my side of the family or her side of the family (both of us have a younger sister), there will be five of us to fit nicely into a standard saloon car.

After Asher came along, my sister or Rachel’s sister will have to take public transport to sacrifice a seat for Asher and his bulky car seat.

With the Sharan, this no longer will be an issue:

The car is really spacious!

Loaded Asher into the car
Loaded Asher into the car – spacious?
There is still room for two more pax behind Asher!
There is still room for two more pax behind Asher!

Beside having a seven pax seating capacity, you can pack all sorts of camping gear, your bicycles and even a canoe into it. The last two seats in the last row are easily foldable to allow for more storage space if you are not carrying so many passengers.

Here is a wider picture that better depicts how much space there is inside the car
Here is a wider picture that better depicts how much space there is inside the car

The car is cleverly designed to let in more light with its large glass windows and a sun-roof, making the car appear even more spacious than it is for both the driver and passengers.

Pressing the electronic button to open up the car roof
Pressing the electronic button to open up the car roof
Panel to adjust the car roof
Panel to adjust the car roof
Asher showing off the open roof to his aunt
Asher showing off the open roof to his aunt
Asher with his aunt
Asher with his aunt
One problem I had with the Sharan was that Asher will get very upset every time I need to get him out of the car!
One problem I had with the Sharan was that Asher will get very upset every time I need to get him out of the car!

On the day when I returned the vehicle, I had to catch a flight to Seoul right after. I find it pretty amusing how small my luggage seemed when I packed it into the car boot as compared to a regular saloon car:

My luggage looks really small beside the Sharan
My luggage looks really small beside the Sharan
After loading my luggage into the car boot, there is still so much space
After loading my luggage into the car boot, there is still so much space

It feels great to be able to fit my wife Rachel, my 22-month-old son Asher, my parents and my sister into the same car with me and we still have room for one more person! I took everyone for a short spin on the first day when I collected the Sharan and the feedback from everyone was positive – the ride was smooth, quiet and there was lots of space for everyone in the car.

All the passenger seats are equipped with three-point seatbelts, which means that you can fit in up to six child restraints! The perfect car for those with large families.

The Sharan also comes with lots of automated and nifty tech features, including park assist with rear view camera, keyless igntion, electric handbrake, automated headlight adjustment, among many other cool stuff.

Using the car GPS to navigate around - it's pretty accurate and easy-to-use
Using the car GPS to navigate around – it’s pretty accurate and easy-to-use
It is a touchscreen btw - like how all screens ought to be these days
It is a touchscreen btw – like how all screens ought to be these days
Car dashboard
Car dashboard
All the buttons are lit, making them easier to locate even when you are driving at night or in a dark tunnel
All the buttons are lit, making them easier to locate even when you are driving at night or in a dark tunnel
Picking the radio station to listen to while cruising in the Sharan
Picking the radio station to listen to while cruising in the Sharan
Me driving the Sharan happily, chauffeuring my wife and son around
Me driving the Sharan happily, chauffeuring my wife and son around

Here is a video for a quick overview of the Sharan:

During the week when I had the car, I could hop on and drive off anytime easily, without having to fiddle with any buttons to switch on the aircon or even adjust the headlight since everything is automated. It made me feel lazy, but it also forged a personal connection between me and the car, as it seemed to intuitively understand what I wanted.

Happiness.
Happiness.

How was my experience driving the Sharan?

It felt very much like what this video depicts:

Exhilarating.

Making a turn - it doesn't feel heavy at all, despite the size of the car
Making a turn – it doesn’t feel heavy at all, despite the size of the car

The car is large and I was expecting it to handle like a bulky van when picking speed or cornering, instead, it purrs along fine like a smooth feline.

Me in the Sharan
Me in the Sharan

My son Asher loved the car so much he learned the word “Volkswagen”. Coincidentally, he has a die-cast VW model car which my dad bought for him sometime back. For some inexplicable reason, he was drawn to the car and picked it himself at the departmental store. He is able to associate the two together and recognises the circular Volkswagen logo.

When we first seated him in his car seat in the Sharan, he turned and pointed to the VW logo and said “Volkswagen” to me.

Asher pointing out the VW logo to me
Asher pointing out the VW logo to me

The few times when I drove him in the Sharan, he refused to get out of the car and would want to go for a longer spin! When I asked him if he preferred our current car or the Sharan, he replied without hesitating, “Volkswagen”! I kid you no.

Now I have to save up to get this car…

One converted Volkswagen Sharan fan, looking very pleased with himself with his car choice
One converted Volkswagen Sharan fan, looking very pleased with himself with his car choice

To find out more about the Volkswagen Sharan and purchasing information if you are interested to buy one or take a test drive, do visit the official Volkswagen Singapore website.