Category Archives: Singapore

Goopy Goodness! (Indoor Activities for toddlers)

This past long weekend we had grand plans of bringing Elliot to the zoo and to various outdoor playgrounds to enjoy time as a family. Alas, the dreaded haze returned to Singapore and clouded what was meant to be a wonderful weekend together, casting a shadow over our outdoor plans.

But no matter. We didn’t want to let a little haze get in the way of family time. Friday was spent roaming around Plaza Singapura super duper early. Let me share with you a little tip, that I noticed a few other families also seemed to do: Malls in Singapore are mostly empty before 11 am. Go to a mall early and you get the whole place to yourself. You can run like a crazy toddler (or woman) through an empty floor, sit for as long as you want on the coin-operated mechanical kiddy rides. Because Spotlight opens early as well, we enjoyed roaming the aisles looking at the colourful fabrics and home crafts. We left just before 12 noon and hardly encountered much crowd.

E having fun at Spotlight!
E having fun at Spotlight!

On Saturday, we got up early and spent the entire morning making goop.

I found the recipe on my favourite parenting channel on YouTube, What’s Up Moms – they called it Non-Newtonian Fluid, but I just call it goop!

Goop is incredibly easy to make. To me, DIY kids activities need to require as few ingredients / materials as possible, be as easy as possible to make and quick and easy to clean-up afterwards.

So after researching many, many, many DIY kids activities, I finally settled on making GOOP!

The result was SOOOO much fun, I really can’t wait to share it with everyone.

1) Corn starch
2) Food colouring
3) Water

1) Measure out 1 cup of corn starch into a plastic bowl
2) Mix the food colouring with 1/3 cup of water
3) Pour the coloured water into the corn starch
4) Use a tablespoon to mix it up
5) PLAY!

I know it seems extremely easy. It really was! And it was so much fun. The end result is this gooey viscous liquid that “solidifies” when you touch it or hit it but then melts when it is left alone. Maybe some of you might have made this in school, unfortunately I didn’t!

E loved playing with it, because in his own words, he was “making cake”. But he didn’t like touching the goop with his hands. That’s why he decided to use a spoon and a measuring cup instead. I, on the other hand, was content to dig my fingers into the thick liquid – playing with the unique viscous texture! Needless to say, it was fun for everyone!

The viscous liquid took shape in my palm
The viscous liquid took shape in my palm
E spent about 1.5 hours playing with it. He said he was “making a cake”.
It looks like a liquid, but it's pretty thick!
It looks like a liquid, but it’s pretty thick!

Do let me know in the comments if you have tried this out!


A Walk in the Park

Our after dinner routine often begins like this: “LET’S GET READY! READY! GET READY! YOU GOT YOUR HELMET? YOUR SHOES? LET’S GO!!!!!!” Often spoken as loudly as the capital letters imply.

And then E-Man runs to put on his shoes, grabs his helmet, gets put into his car seat and then our little red hatchback flies off into the night. No quiet time or winding down time for this family.

We often reach the park at around 9 pm. I know, most other toddlers are in bed before eight, but ours goes to bed about 10, well, ok 10-ish. I finish work late and because he has nothing better to do during the day than to sleep, eat, poop and play, so the night is family bonding time.

We almost always go to the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. It’s a beautiful space with a waterway running through it.

We often spend our time playing with this spinning top catapult that you catapult into the air so you can watch it fly with the breeze with its inbuilt LED light flickering away amongst the park lamps.  E-Man loves this especially because he gets to pick up the top wherever it lands. Sometimes our spinning top catapult attracts other young kids who stop and watch us play. Sometimes I let them have a go as well. Most other times we bring our big bottle of bubbles and let E-Man run after the bubbles.

E-Man at Bishan Park
E-Man at Bishan Park. Can you see MacDonald’s across the waterway?

We aren’t the only ones in the park.

Once, as we walked towards the space we often occupy, we met an older couple dancing in rhythm with a ball and racquet. We were all mesmerised for a while. It looked a bit like tai chi or qi gong, but yet different. I had personally never seen anything like that before. E-Man loved it. He watched them for a while, enjoying the traditional Chinese music blaring from their small transistor radio.

After a while, when they stopped for a break, we went over to talk to them. Conversations always flow easily with a baby in your arms. They let him play with the ball and we realised the ball wasn’t as light as it seemed. They explained what they were practising was called rhythm ball”, a form of tai chi (I think). They even gave me the opportunity to try out their steps. It was certainly not as easy as they made it look! They actually told me that there’s a lady who teaches a group of rhythm ball enthusiasts every Friday and Saturday evenings from 8 pm. I actually went to the park once during those times, but didn’t see anyone, sadly.

Another reason we like the park is because we get to see and meet so many dogs! E-Man is a HUGE animal lover. Every time he sees a little dog he HAS to go up and grab it. Much to the delight of the owner. They just love seeing a little baby run up to their dog to give it a big hug.

E-Man with me and Peaches, the dog my sister was dog-sitting
E-Man with me and Peaches, the dog my sister was dog-sitting

We also play catching and hide-and-seek. I can’t imagine anywhere else in the entire world where a baby can run completely uninhibited in a public park at 9 pm at night.

Oh, I guess at this juncture I should explain why he has to wear a helmet to the park. Yes. It’s because he runs TOO freely that sometimes he topples over. Most of the time it’s my fault because I play a serious(ly fun) game of catching with him. The park is so big and wide and safe that we just run like crazy people everywhere and once he ran too fast and toppled over head first on the path. I heard a thud. Do not judge me.

Needless to say, he has worn a helmet from that time on. It’s actually become a ritual for him. Like he knows that before he gets out of the car, he needs to put his helmet on. Then when he gets back into the car, he gets to take it out.

A few times since then, while playing hide-and-seek, he has accidentally bumped his head on a pole, which was completely pain-free. He even noticed the difference the helmut makes and insists on it when he goes out now.

Apart from the dog-walkers and rhythm ball dancers, I’ve come across late night picnic goers, cyclists, sword fighters, Thai boxers (I think?) and people just sitting on benches talking on phones.

It’s a really safe space for the community. I must also confess that there’s also a large MacDonald’s in the park. I’m not sure what the health conscious amongst us have to say about that, but we personally like it. We can go in and buy a cone anytime we want or even, I confess, chicken nuggets.

E-Man is also thoroughly tired out by the time we get home at 10. So by the time he gets home, he is completely spent and ready for bedtime. Really, raising E-Man is a walk in the park.

“Breaking Fast” with new friends

Do you know which mosque in Singapore has a section made out of soya sauce bottles?  Find out why at the end!

Just yesterday I had the great privilege of learning about the history and heritage of this Mosque and then had the opportunity to join my new friends to buka puasa (breaking fast) at sundown.


Prior to attending the “Ramadan Trail”, a free two-hour guided tour conducted by volunteers from Sultan Mosque on Arab Street, I knew little about Sultan Mosque and Ramadan.  From discussions with my Muslim friends, I had vague ideas about why Muslims fasted during this month but after the tour, I have a whole new level of respect for them.


So my tour was conducted by a French convert to Islam.  Lovely gentle lady who converted to Islam eight years ago when she married a Singapore Malay.  She shared about ablution or the wudu, the steps that Muslims take to cleanse themselves before they approach Allah in prayer.  Then she shared a bit about the history of the Mosque which was constructed between 1824 and 1828, and then we went into the Mosque to see the prayer hall.


There was an air of serenity in the prayer hall.  It was so peaceful.  It wasn’t the first mosque I’d been to as I’d been to quite a few when I went to Turkey, including the famous Blue Mosque and Ayasofya in Istanbul, but Sultan Mosque was beautiful in its own way.  I loved how airy and cool the Mosque was and the rich green carpet and tapestry.  I was so impressed by how humble the Mosque’s surroundings were.  I was impressed by how there wasn’t a 50,000 strong amphitheatre with cutting edge sound system and surround sound (I don’t even know what this means!).  They didn’t have wall-to-wall LED screens or the most expensive music equipment.  In the prayer hall there was space for what mattered most.  Prayer.


At the top of the prayer hall there were numbers which indicated the times Muslims must pray throughout the day, the time of sunrise (when they must start fasting) and the time of sunset when they can buka puasa.


Very interesting.  We then walked up the steps to the roof where we saw the Mosque’s four minarets.  It was so beautiful, to stand on the Mosque’s roof and listen to the Azan while the sun set over the busy city.

After the Azan, we went back downstairs and listened to a short talk in the Mosque’s auditorium about Ramadan and why Muslims fast.   I think it’s best for me to link it here, just in case I don’t explain it properly.  One of the reasons is that they want to feel compassion for the poor by understanding what they may actually go through everyday.   Good way to keep humble and put life in perspective.


Unbeknownst to me, after the talk, we were invited to stay to break fast together with our hosts.  It was so surprising and wonderful.  As we were walking down from the roof, I saw huge plates of nasi briyani being carried out for the believers to buka puasa.  It smelt delicious!  I was so excited to find out that I was going to enjoy this briyani!


We “broke the fast” by eating an un-even number of dates and drinking water and then started on the main dish.  Each plate of briyani is supposed to be for about four to five people.  But as there was more food than people, I ended up sharing a plate with my friend.  I thought at first, it was a great idea since I was so hungry.  Until I found out that it is considered very rude to leave a plate full of food.  We panicked!  What were we supposed to do?  How could two girls finish such a huge plate?  Luckily one of the Muslim ladies came to join us and we managed to finish it.

One beautiful thing I noticed about the layout of mosques in general is how open and inviting the spaces are.  They are open for all – rich, poor, young, old, physically challenged, mentally challenged.  During our dinner, a young mentally challenged man walked in and straight away without hesitation the ladies stood up and cried out, “Come, brother.  Come join us.”  And then the ladies were rushing around getting him food and drink.  Within minutes he was happily eating with a big smile on his face.  I was so moved.  So very very moved.

It was a beautiful end to a truly unforgettable evening.


Oh yes, and before I forget, the soya sauce bottles were included in the Mosque because during the construction of the Mosque, the people around the area wanted to donate something to the Mosque but as they were very poor they could only donate soya sauce bottles!  Can you see the bottles?  They form the dark section just underneath the golden dome.