Getting Along Swimmingly with The Swimming Room (Plus a Giveaway!)

There are so many classes for children these days. You can pick from typical academic ones like Math, Chinese and Science, or sign your kid up for more exotic classes like circus arts, belly dancing, yoga or even mermaid school!

We are always keen to let the kids try new stuff if they are interested but the one enrichment class that is non-negotiable is swimming. The husband feels that water safety is the top priority and feels very strongly that the kids must know how to swim.

Anya started swimming with Eugene of The Swimming Room when she was 3 years old. At her first lesson, she kept crying and wanting me to get into the pool with her and she didn’t want to put her face in the water at all. Eugene was so patient with her, reassured her repeatedly and got her to go through all the activities. After a few lessons, she started looking forward to her weekly swimming class and it was hard to get her out of the pool after class! You can read more about Anya’s experiences with The Swimming Room here, here and here.

kicking

kicking

Of course, when it was Adam’s turn to start swimming, I immediately signed him up for classes with Eugene. Adam is not confident at all in the pool and would usually cling to me like a barnacle when we go swimming, so I thought I would have to wait a long time before he started to enjoy his swimming classes.

I was pleasantly surprised that he was keen to participate from the first lesson even though he was clearly nervous about being in the water. He’s so comfortable with Eugene and it’s clear that Adam trusts Eugene to take care of him in the pool. It’s been a few months since he started swimming and his water confidence level is so much higher than it used to be and he always looks forward to his swimming lessons.

straightening legs

straightening legs

swimming

swimming

heads in water

heads in water

getting ready to blow bubbles

getting ready to blow bubbles

individual attention

individual attention

leap of faith!

leap of faith!

Back when I was trying to sign Anya up for swimming lessons, I was quite boggled by the number of options available and I had no way of knowing whether that particular swimming school or coach was good. Some of the swimming schools I tried contacting didn’t even bother getting back to me and it was all rather frustrating. So I’m really glad I managed to find Eugene and The Swimming Room!

Since the holidays are round the corner, you may be thinking of checking out some swim schools for your child but may not know where to start looking. Here’s your chance to cross that one item off your list!

GIVEAWAY! :)

I have a THREE session passes to be won by three lucky readers! Each session pass entitles you to 3 lessons. Do look at the table below to ensure that there is a session your child is able to attend.

To qualify, simply do the following by Tuesday, 2 June 2015, 2359H (Singapore time):
1. Like ‘Life in the Wee HoursFacebook page.
2. Like ‘The Swimming RoomFacebook page.
3. Like and share this post and tag two friends in your post.

available sessions

available sessions

Terms & Conditions: This giveaway is open to Singapore residents only. Winners will be contacted through Facebook message and will have 24 hours to respond, failing which a new winner will be drawn. All incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries will be verified before the winners are announced. To be fair to our sponsors, please note that all fake Facebook accounts (e.g. accounts set up purely to take part in contests with no or very few real friends) will also be ineligible to win.

Mermaid by Cerrie Burnell & Laura Ellen Anderson

I must be a mermaid,
I have no fear of depths,
and a great fear of
shallow living.

 -Anais Nin

Mermaid (written by Cerrie Burnell and illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson) is about a little boy, Luka, and his friend, Sylvia. Luka lives by the sea and longs to learn how to swim. Sylvia is wheelchair-bound and swims beautifully. They meet by the sea, become friends, and Sylvia teaches Luka how to swim.

reading on a Vespa

reading on a Vespa

Luka dreams that Sylvia is actually a mermaid from a palace under the sea. When she becomes a new student at his school and the other children ask why she is in a wheelchair, he tells everyone that she is a mermaid.

palace under the sea

palace under the sea

As adults, we are quick to label and define a person by his disability. Luka’s friendship with Sylvia shows us that a person is so much more than her disability. To him, Sylvia is not his friend in a wheelchair; she is a mermaid who taught him how to swim. The focus is never on her disability but on her kindness and their friendship.

Mermaid

Mermaid

Growing up, the author Cerrie Burnell lamented the lack of diversity of the characters in the books she read. She was born with a right arm that ends just below the elbow and did not see any disabled characters in books that she could identify with and relate to. In an interview, she said:

We need diverse books. We need to show every child that they belong between the pages of great literature, regardless of heritage, faith, ability or financial security. That’s how you build a lifelong love of reading, and how you promote the inclusive world that I want my daughter and young readers to grow up in.

why are you in a wheelchair?

why are you in a wheelchair?

While we never find out why Sylvia is in a wheelchair or whether she really is a mermaid, the point of the book is that people come in all different shapes, sizes, and ability. The books that our children read should have a diversity of characters too and Mermaid is a rare book that will help children become more sensitive to the different types of people around them. It is available from Book Depository for S$18.16.

Disclaimer: We received the book from Book Depository for review purposes. This review contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. 

Nepal Earthquake Relief

We were in Nepal about 6 months ago and have many fond memories of the country and the people there. The earthquake came as quite a shock to us and it’s devastating to see many of the beautiful places that we visited in ruins after the natural disaster. We have been praying hard for the people in Nepal but we want to help in more tangible ways. If you want to help too, do look at Nepal Relief Community and Singapore Red Cross Society for more information.

Pictures of some of the sights in Kathmandu and Pokhara:

Nepal

Nepal

momo dumplings

momo dumplings

Garden of Dreams

Garden of Dreams

swinging about

swinging about

view of Everest from our mountain flight

view of Everest from our mountain flight

on the plane

on the plane

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Swayambhunath

Swayambhunath

Swayambhunath

Swayambhunath

Swayambhunath

Swayambhunath

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Changu Narayan

Changu Narayan

Changu Narayan

Changu Narayan

by the Bagmati river

by the Bagmati river

looking towards Pashupatinath

Pashupatinath

Boudanath

Boudanath

Patan Durbar Square

Patan Durbar Square

Patan Durbar Square

Patan Durbar Square

World Peace Pagoda

World Peace Pagoda

on Phewa Tal

on Phewa Tal

waiting for sunrise on Sarangkot

waiting for sunrise on Sarangkot

dawn

dawn

celebrating our 9th anniversary

celebrating our 9th anniversary

cycling to the dam

cycling to the dam

by Phewa Tal

by Phewa Tal

snacks by the lake

snacks by the lake

after cycling

after cycling

Naked Museum Tour at National Gallery Singapore

There’s so much going on in this SG50 year! Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum just opened its doors last month and National Gallery Singapore will be opening in October. We managed to win passes to their Naked Museum tour and got a sneak peek of the place.

I think it’s truly amazing how they have managed to bring the Supreme Court and City Hall buildings together in a cohesive way. It’s a beautiful place and I can’t wait to see it when the artwork goes up on the walls.

on the Naked Museum tour

on the Naked Museum tour

The Singapore Courtyard was created from the space that used to be the carpark of City Hall

The Singapore Courtyard was created from the space that used to be the carpark of City Hall

City Hall Chamber hosted many important events in Singapore's history: the formal surrender of the Japanese in 1945, the inauguration of Yusof Ishak as the first Head of State, and the swearing-in of Lee Kuan Yew as the first Prime Minister

City Hall Chamber hosted many important events in Singapore’s history

The rooftop of City Hall will be an F&B area and public viewing deck

the rooftop of City Hall will be an F&B area and public viewing deck

view of the outside

view of the outside

Corinthian pillar

Corinthian pillar

branches

branches at the linkway between City Hall and Supreme Court

Visitors can walk around the Rotunda Dome at the Supreme Court Terrace

visitors can walk around the Rotunda Dome at the Supreme Court Terrace

the rotunda dome

the rotunda dome

Part of the historical lobby of the Supreme Court. The husband has fond memories of this place.

Part of the historical lobby of the Supreme Court. The husband has fond memories of this place.

thinking about the last time he sat on this seat

thinking about the last time he sat on this seat

chocolate?

chocolate?

the base of the pillars

out on the balcony

Looking up at the Corinthian columns from the Supreme Court balcony

Looking up at the Corinthian columns from the Supreme Court balcony

one of the former court rooms

one of the former court rooms

outside the court rooms

outside the court rooms

the library

the library

steps down to the foundation stone

steps down to the foundation stone

there's a time capsule below that's supposed to be opened in the year 3000

there’s a time capsule below that’s supposed to be opened in the year 3000

they preserved two holding cells in the Supreme Court wing

they preserved two holding cells in the Supreme Court wing

save me!

save me!

he definitely looks guilty

he definitely looks guilty

The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name

Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge and wife of Prince William, has given birth and it’s a little PRINCESS! There’s a lot of speculation about what the name of Her Royal Highness the Princess of Cambridge is going to be, but whether it’s Charlotte, Alice, Elizabeth, or Alexandra, the princess will probably be able to buy a keychain with her name on it off the rack.

One of Anya’s major gripes is that she can never find her name on a ready-made keychain. I had the same problem until I visited Paris two years ago and discovered that my name was pretty common over there. So she was really excited when she got to the end of this book: The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name.

The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name

The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name

In the book, a little girl wakes up to find that she had lost her name. She sets off bravely on an exciting adventure and meets an Aardvark, a Narbalek (that’s a little rock-wallaby!), a Yeti, and an Angel. They each give her the first letter from their name, and in doing so, help her to find her lost name!

lovely illustrations

lovely illustrations

I adore the unconventional characters in the book and the beautiful illustrations. Anya loves that the book is written just for her! When she reached the end and discovered her name printed there, she looked up with such a bright smile on her face.

something interesting is happening

something interesting is happening

the girl found her name!

the girl found her name!

I can imagine that any child would be delighted to see his or her name on such a charming little book, but this book will be extra special for children with uncommon names or names in other languages. It’s perfect as a full-month, birthday or Christmas gift and you can even personalise the dedication on the first page of the book.

You can get a preview of what the book for a particular name will look like over at the Lost My Name website and choose if you want it gift-wrapped. Each book is S$39.99 and shipping is free to any part of the world. This is a book that the child would want to hang on to even when he or she grows up. I know a few adults who would be ecstatic to get the this as a present too!

Disclaimer: We received the book from Lost My Name for review purposes. All opinions are my own. 

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Musem opened its doors to the public on Tuesday and I went to check it out without the kids in tow. The most important thing you need to know before making your way down is LKCNHM that you have to purchase your admission tickets through SISTIC (online or at SISTIC counters). They do not sell admission tickets at the venue.

So here are some things you can expect to see at LKCNHM. I didn’t really go into details about the displays because the whole point is to go to the museum and see them for yourself, right?

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

at the entrance

at the entrance

About 4 years back, we visited Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research that was located at the Science Faculty of NUS. That was a much tinier place compared to LKCNHM. The new museum is spacious and beautifully done up. The staggered admission timings also ensure that it doesn’t feel uncomfortably crowded. Many of the specimens from that museum can now be found at LKCNHM.

spacious

plenty of room to move around in

a slice of the Changi tree that was thought to be locally extinct

a slice of the Changi tree that was thought to be locally extinct

common trees in Singapore

common trees in Singapore

fungi

fungi

The ‘Towards Animals’ display is simply fascinating. Do you know what Venus’s Flower Basket and Lazarus Jewel Box are? What about a sea mouse? Do the Smiling Worm, Fireworm and Peanut Worm look like their names?

A tip for the ‘Towards Animals’ display: the details for the items on display are all on the left. Instead of moving back and forth to check the information whenever I saw something interesting, I took a photo of the information and magnified it on the display screen of my camera so that I could look at the display and the information at leisure.

I really liked this 'Towards Animals' section

I really liked this ‘Towards Animals’ section

frog

Malaysian Borneo Frog

huge spider crab

huge spider crab

see how big it is in relation to the two men??

see how big it is in relation to the two men??

something's bugging me about this place

something’s bugging me about this place

nature is amazing

nature is amazing

big fish!

big fish!

crocodile

crocodile

more frogs

more frogs

rainforest

rainforest

check out that big skull!

check out that big skull!

Man vs. Wild

Man vs. Wild

For most, the highlight of a visit to LKCNHM would be the dinosaurs. The three dinosaurs arrived in Singapore (in 53 crates!) between 2012 and 2013, and took two weeks of 12-hour days to assemble. There were more than 1 000 elements to the 150-million- year-old skeletons, with some bones weighing more than 200kg. Apollonia, Prince and Twinky are truly impressive and I’m so proud that we are able to see real dinosaur fossils in Singapore.

the dinosaurs

the dinosaurs

half-hourly light show

half-hourly light show

One of my favourite sections is the one on the geology of Singapore. This can be found on level 2. I think most of us living in Singapore don’t even know what is under our own feet so it was quite an eye-opener to see the type of rocks that can be found in each part of Singapore and be able to touch some of these rocks.

fascinated by this section on the geology of Singapore

fascinated by this section on the geology of Singapore

rock samples

rock samples

you can even see the plants outside

you can even see the plants outside

I remember that guy from RMBR

I remember that guy from RMBR

looking down at the skeletons

looking down at the skeletons

museum shop

museum shop

Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
(next to University Cultural Centre)
Faculty of Science, NUS
2 Conservatory Drive
Singapore 117377
Tel: 6 601 3333
Opening hours: Tue to Sun and Public Holidays – 10 am to 7 pm
Admission fees: Adults – $15; Child/ Student/ NSF/ Senior Citizen/ Disabled – $8 (Local resident rate)

Read more about Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum over at Life’s Tiny Miracles!

Heart of Youth – Swensen’s Celebrates Mother’s Day (with a Giveaway!)

Heart of Youth

Heart of Youth

Being a mother is not the most glamourous of roles. When I’m at work, I’m usually in quite a presentable state. On weekends however, I’m always busy running around trying to keep up with the kids so I don’t bother to spend time brushing my hair or even dressing up. My weekend uniform is usually that of a t-shirt and yoga pants. But I love that the kids keep me young at heart even though I don’t always  feel very young and energetic!

My mother takes care of the kids on most weekdays and they are a real handful so she usually looks harassed and disheveled. She was a bit embarrassed about taking a photo with the cake in what she claimed to be an unkempt state. I think she looks pretty good! Swensen’s Heart of Youth cake is perfect for this relatively young grandmother. Vanilla fudge ice-cream infused with marine collagen keeps her youthful and ensures that her skin and bones stay healthy!

my youthful mother

my youthful mother

I'm still young-at-heart

I’m still young-at-heart

Since motherhood is all about the kids and not about the glamour, here’s a picture of me at my most unglamourous. Show your appreciation for your mother, mother-in-law, or even your grandmother this Mother’s Day with Heart of Youth: a blush pink heart-shaped cake with sugar flowers and a white chocolate crown to show her who the Queen of your heart is!

Heart of Youth is priced at $51 (excluding GST) and no advanced ordering is required. Available at all Swensen’s and Earle Swensen’s outlets from 23rd April to 10th May 2015 (while stocks last).

GIVEAWAY! :)

I have a Heart of Youth cake worth $51 to be won by one lucky reader!

To qualify, simply do the following by Sunday, 3 May 2015, 2359H (Singapore time):
1. Like the ‘In the Wee HoursFacebook page.
2. Like the ‘Swensen’sFacebook page.
3. Like and comment on this Facebook post telling me why your mother is forever young! Tag a friend in your comment.

Terms & Conditions: This giveaway is open to Singapore residents only. Winners will be contacted through Facebook message and will have 24 hours to respond, failing which a new winner will be drawn. All incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries will be verified before the winners are announced. To be fair to our sponsors, please note that all fake Facebook accounts (e.g. accounts set up purely to take part in contests with no or very few real friends) will also be ineligible to win.