Disney On Ice: Everyone’s Story @ Singapore Indoor Stadium

Image from SportsHub

We managed to score free tickets to Disney on Ice¬†at SportsHub this weekend. Hubby and I had seen the show a few years ago (pre-BB) and we thought BB might enjoy it, especially since he had already started to remember Disney characters and enjoyed singing along to the YouTube videos of the songs. BB especially likes the Moana and Coco (technically Pixar) soundtracks, ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen, and ‘I See The Light’ from Tangled (he calls that last song the “lantern song”).

The program started with “pre-show” shenanigans from Goofy and Donald Duck, as both conspired to switch off the lights in the stadium. Zootopia’s Judy the bunny and Nick the fox encouraged the audience to use their mobile phone’s flashlight app to “shine” light on the stage to help them fix the problem. Quite cute as all the kids (and parents) were game.

Then after a short song from¬†Pinocchio¬†(with a muted reaction I thought — no wonder since that Disney film screened in the 1940s — even these kids’ grandparents wouldn’t have watched it! ūüėõ),¬†condensed versions of¬†Finding Dory and¬†Beauty and the Beast followed. BB was momentarily scared during the fight scene with Beast and Gaston (he insisted “Alis na tayo”,¬†Filipino for “Let’s leave”)¬†and we had to assure him it would all end happily and the Beast would live and turn to a prince. BB was actually following the story!

Finding Dory

A lineup of all the major Disney princesses and princes followed. It was good to see even Tiana and Prince Naveen from The Princess and the Frog in the lineup, along with the classics.

Then the big event: a condensed version of the entire¬†Frozen¬†movie. I thought it was quite well done, the set was complete with a working fountain, frozen castle, and a snowmaker machine. Even Olaf’s “In Summer” song got the full treatment, complete with his summer drink. I did an informal headcount of the number of little Elsas in the audience: there were too many. It was clear this was the part most of the kids were waiting for — and BB enjoyed it the most as well. He recognized the songs, and kept asking “Where Elsa go?” after she exited the rink.

An intermission followed. BB was still very engaged during break because a small ice resurfacer came out and started cleaning the rink — he knew all about the truck from watching Truck Tunes (video below) and stayed glued to his seat. ūüôā BB and his trucks!

The second half flew by quickly, with a song each from¬†Aladdin¬†(interesting that they picked the Genie’s “Friend Like Me”) and¬†Toy Story¬†(“You’ve Got a Friend in Me”).

They also showed highlights from¬†Mulan¬†(including a cool dragon dance). It was good to see an Asian princess on the ice (representation is key, especially for the many young girls in the audience), although her beau Captain Shang was a Caucasian in a wig¬†ūüėā. Small steps!

The program ended with¬†The Lion King’s¬†“Can You Feel The Love Tonight” — a lot of wicked skating and spinning for this routine, but I was most impressed with the fellow playing Pumbaa, because he was skating on all fours!¬†All the characters came out for an encore.

By the end of the show, BB seemed ready for more. He even asked, “Where’s Moana?” Will definitely catch the show again next time it’s back in town.

BB’s favorite part of the show
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What Baby Learned at the Baby Gym

When BB was around 1¬Ĺ years old we thought he wasn’t getting enough interaction with other little bubs his age. There were older kids at the condo playground, but BB was mostly stuck with¬†yaya¬†at home all day. (Back in the Philippines, BB would probably have no shortage of¬†ninangs / ninongs / titos / titas / lolos / lolas + little cousins¬†dropping by, but given where we were, we had to think of alternatives.)

There was a baby gym near our place so we thought to give it a try.

Baby gyms — popular chains include My Gym, The Little Gym, and Gymboree — offer gym programs that allow kids as young as 19 months to engage in physical play in a safe environment (read: foam padded floors and equipment, colorful toys, friendly and helpful instructors, etc). Some also offer school-based programs like a preschool.

The baby gym we enrolled BB in, on a 10 x 1-hour session course plus unlimited free play during weekdays, was gym-based. (We weren’t keen on “school” programs as he was so young.) The course also required parent interaction, so one of us, either Hubby or me, joined BB on the gym floor during class time.

Class would start with the same song and actions (“Smash, banana, smash smash banana!”). I think the repetition allowed the kids to gain confidence joining the singing and the actions as the weeks went by.

One of the main focus areas was on developing the kids’ “gymnastic” skills. BB wasn’t turning cartwheels,¬†but as the sessions progressed he was hanging on monkey bars, tumbling on the mat, balancing on padded beams, and diving into the ball pits.

There was plenty of music (a mix of popular kids’ songs, some were Barney songs I think) and dancing, with both kids and parents encouraged to actively participate. The good thing is, the teachers don’t force your kid back in the circle if he/she suddenly stands up to run and play elsewhere, but they do try and coax the child gently back.

There were games, races, and puppets at the end of each class, and a sweet send-off song with all kids getting their arm stamped with a cute cartoon. We noticed BB got increasingly confident with heights, speeding up the ladder to the slides with just one hand for balance.

I appreciated that parents were encouraged to sing and dance along with the children, because we could do the songs back home and it delighted BB to recognize the familiar tunes.

By the end of the program BB never actually got 100% comfortable with playing with his peers (it was a class of kids from 19 months to 3 years old, so there was a bit of disparity in ages).

But a lasting legacy from BB’s time in baby gym is his I-can-do-it attitude when faced with physical challenges — be it climbing and rolling off the sofas at home, scaling the kiddie climbing wall at the mall, or facing slides tummy-down.

Overall — thumbs up baby gyms! Highly recommended for active little ones.

Kids Read #9 (Halloween edition!): Ma-Me-Mi-MUMU! ūüéÉ

It was always such a treat to be allowed to stay up late to watch¬†Magandang Gabi, Bayan‘s Halloween specials, with its cheesy floating “white ladies” and powdered cemetery ghosts. To a ’90s kid like me they were the SCARIEST THING EVER (followed closely by the early Shake Rattle & Roll franchise).

Jomike Tejido’s¬†Ma-Me-Mi-MUMU! is a wholesome take on the Philippine supernatural, through the eyes of little Sophia and her¬†Lolo Nanding (Grandpa Nanding).

We begin with a neighborhood boy taunting Sophia, saying,¬†“May mumu sa bahay n’yo!”¬†(“There’s a¬†mumu¬†in your house!”) Sophia is afraid of encountering a¬†mumu¬†(monster) in her house — and imagines one in the kitchen, in the bathroom, or wherever she goes.

Lolo¬†Nanding helps her overcome her fear of monsters by presenting them in a friendlier light. Tejido makes clever use of these creatures’ “real” traits as a way for Sophia to bond with them.

For example,¬†Lolo Nanding encourages her to challenge any¬†manananggal¬†she meets to a sewing contest. In local folklore,¬†manananggals are vampire-like creatures that can separate the upper and lower half of its body to be able to fly at night and prey on pregnant women. (!) But Tejido’s version is cute as a button!

Similarly,¬†Lolo¬†Nanding suggests that Sophia use the¬†tiktik’s¬†long, snaking tongue to paraglide…

… that she teach the¬†tiyanak, a monster baby, his ABCs…

… and give the¬†kapre,¬†a cigar-smoking giant thought to reside in big trees, some¬†pakwan¬†(watermelon) candy so he’d dump his cigar.

For other monsters Tejido doesn’t stray far from folklore. If you pass an unexplained mound on the ground in the province it’s supposedly good practice to say¬†“Tabi tabi po”¬†(“Excuse me”) just in case you disturb these¬†nuno sa punso,¬†or Philippine dwarves.

Ma-Me-Mi-MUMU! is a fun introduction for children to a distinct part of Philippine culture. I personally love that Sophia is introduced to these creatures by her lolo, to whom she gives his favorite tea and fruit at the end, as thanks for rhyming so long.

There’s a gallery at the back of all the monsters in the book…

… and the book is bilingual in English and Filipino, so you can help your little one learn the language too.

A highly recommended, scary-not-so-scary book to read the kids this Halloween!

 

ūüďĖ

Ma-Me-Mi-MUMU! (Tahanan Books)
Written and illustrated by Jomike Tejido

Php 195 at National Bookstore

Kids Read #8: There Was a Peranakan Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

I try to help BB embrace the vibrant culture here in his present home, Singapore, mainly through the books we read to him and by taking him around this small island-city. To BB, the best way to get from point A to B is via the local SBS or SMRT buses — he loves looking out the large windows and pointing at the things he sees (“Biddings! Tees! Canes!” [Buildings! Trees! Cranes!]).

As for books, Epigram Books has a lot of good selections for kids and adults alike. An excellent find of ours is There Was a Peranakan Woman Who Lived in a Shoe by Gwen Lee, a book BB has been asking us to read more of lately.

BB is now old enough to remember his favorite nursery rhymes. He even replaces the words sometimes, in an attempt to make us laugh (“Baa, baa black…BUS!”).

BB’s perfect for Ms. Lee’s book, which rewrites traditional English nursery rhymes in a Singaporean context, using local food, places and festivals.

For instance in “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Lights” (a recreation of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”), the focus is on the local Deepavali festival or ‘The Festival of Lights.’ Meant to symbolize light conquering the darkness, the Deepavali (or Diwali) festival has Hindus “waking up at dawn to bath in oil, dressing up in colorful clothing, and going to a local temple for prayers. At home, clay oil lamps are lit, doors are decked out with green mango leaves, and colorful designs called ‘rangoli,’ which are made of dyed rice or flours, are drawn on the floor. Homes are also thoroughly cleaned and adorned with flowers and other colorful decorations.” (1)

Other rhymes include ‘Hickory Dickory Dock’ (about the common house gecko instead of a mouse!), ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ (about moon…cakes), and the titular poem, which instead of an old woman in a shoe with too many kids, is about a Peranakan woman in a shoe with too many nonya kueh (sweet or savory bite-sized snacks). Peranakan refers to Straits-born Chinese or Baba-Nyonya. They’re the masters of Singaporean staples like laksa, which “blend Chinese ingredients with cooking techniques and spices used by the Malay/Indonesian community.” Yum!

Beautifully illustrated by Cheryl Kook, the book is a lovely re-imagining of beloved traditional rhymes and humorous enough to merit repeat “Read, Mama!” requests from BB.

That’s good enough for me!

 

(1) Source: https://publicholidays.sg/deepavali/

ūüďĖ

There Was a Peranakan Woman Who Lived in a Shoe (Epigram Books)
By Gwen Lee, Illustrations by Cheryl Kook

S$14.90 + GST

Kids Read #7: Dr. Seuss’s ABC

Some books are classics for a reason. I think Dr. Seuss books fall firmly within the classic camp.

Of the ones we’re fortunate to have, Squishy’s current favorites are ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ (“Sam-ay-am!” by his request) and this one, Dr. Seuss’s ABC.

I love reading Dr. Seuss out loud because it just sounds so¬†musical. (“Big B, little B, what begins with B? Barber baby bubbles and a bumblebee!”) I discovered that “Seussian verse”¬†is meant to sound better out loud — so it’s perfect for little kids who’re just starting to read.

Again in typical Seuss fashion we’re introduced to zany characters like the Fiffer-feffer-feff (see below) and Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz…

… and¬†humorous activities like painting pink pajamas, oiling orange owls, dreaming of a dozen doughnuts and a duck-dog, and walking a quacking quacker-oo.

Squishy loves sounding out the letters with me (“Jee-jee-jee!” for G), which I take as a sign that he’s enjoying the book too.

I think Dr. Seuss’s ABC has a soft spot in my heart because we had a CD-rom (!) of the book back in the ’90s.¬†Both the print edition and the CD have the same words, but the CD has some clickable content and sounds accompanying each page too (for example, you could hear the mice humming their midnight music on “M”).

Can’t go wrong with a classic!

ūüďĖ

Dr. Seuss’s ABC (Random House)
By Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel)

Bought secondhand for around S$3 at the atrium in Lucky Plaza
ūüôā

Kids Read #6: Bee Safe by Joyce Piap-Go

I knew Squishy had absorbed at least one key¬†lesson from this book when he pointed at one of our electric sockets, looked at me and said, “Basap” (“Be safe”).

We started reading ‘Bee Safe’¬†to Squishy¬†when¬†he developed a keen interest in poking around stuff he wasn’t supposed to be poking in the first place.

Source: Lunar Baboon

The book follows Dee the Bee as he encounters everyday situations at home, in school, or out and about, with a glimpse of the unpleasant consequences that may follow if Dee isn’t doing the “safe” thing. The book is illustrated by Maria Cristina Sison, a member of¬†Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan.

It was tiring (and pointless) to keep saying “No!” every time Squishy reached for a socket or stepped into the kitchen when the oven was switched on. Because he’s too young, he won’t understand long-winded explanations either.

So, on top of baby-proofing where we can, we’ve taken to reading him this book and pointing out to him the spots in the house where he was most likely to encounter such situations.

We realized Squishy was¬†remembering¬†some¬†of it when he suddenly started making a “boo-hoo” face whenever we tried to read ‘Bee Safe’ to him. We eventually concluded that he was associating¬†the book with all the bad stuff that could potentially happen if he wasn’t careful … so maybe in this case the lesson was actually¬†too¬†effective, haha.

On a positive note, that means ‘Bee Safe’ is an easy-to-follow read even for toddlers as young as 1¬Ĺ years old. Our¬†point here was not to scare our little one, but rather introduce him to basic safety precautions in a loving and protected environment, with adults he knows and trusts.

Recently Squishy’s more relaxed about us reading the book to him again. “Dontdodat” (“Don’t do that”), he’d say, whenever he remembered parts of it (it’s really just the bits on the electric socket and washing hands that he remembers for now — which is just fine!).

It’s good that he’s friends with Dee the Bee again, because I just found out my mom bought the rest of the books in the series (Bee Polite, Bee Green, Bee Active, Bee Happy). Bring it on, Dee!

 

ūüďĖ

Bee Safe (Hiyas Press)
By Joyce Piap-Go

Php 80 at National Bookstore

Kids Read #5: A for Adobo by Nelson Agustin

Squishy was reading ‘A for Adobo’ to his¬†lolo on one of our regular FB Messenger calls and it went something like this:

Me: “A is for…?”¬†Squishy: “Dobo!”

M: “B is for…?”¬†S: “Babangka!”

“Nakakagutom naman yung binabasa mo!”¬†(“Your book is making me hungry!”), my dad laughed.

‘A for Adobo’ is exactly as described — an alphabet book for the Filipino family who loves to eat (that’s us, ehem).

Each letter of the Filipino alphabet, i.e. A to Z plus¬†√Ď (Pi√Īa) and Ng (Daing na Bangus), is accompanied with a beautifully-shot, high-resolution photo of each Pinoy dish.

I see what you did there with the “J”!

It’s a board book so it’s perfect for¬†toddlers like Squishy. The bright colors and clean setting also make it a joy to read for the parent (that’s me — or Hubby!). I suppose the only drawback is that it tends to bring on unusual cravings for¬†okoy¬†(which Squishy pronounces with an exaggerated pursed-lip “oh”) and¬†paella valenciana.

I see what you did there with the “X” and “Z” too ūüôā

I think it’s an excellent find and a good way to introduce Pinoy food to Squishy. He likes saying some of the words so much that they sometimes sneak their way in to other alphabet book readings. The other day we were reading one¬†in English to him and, on asking him for a word starting with E (and expecting “elephant” etc.) he suddenly says “Mada!” (for Ensaymada). Oh well, bilingual households ftw. ūüôā

(Ignore the Movavi watermark in the video please! Am too cheap to spring for the registered version, haha.)

I picked up this book on one of my usual National Bookstore runs. I try to drop by whenever we make a trip back home. ‘A for Adobo’ can be¬†found in National’s¬†kids’ books section. I noticed¬†there were both board book and softcover editions.

A highly-recommended read — except on an empty stomach.

 

ūüďĖ

A for Adobo РBoard Book (Tahanan Books for Young Readers) 
By Nelson Agustin

Php 275 at National Bookstore