Wednesday, May 26, 2010

All you need to know about Universal Studio Singapore Part 1

Last week, we went to the newly opened Universal Studio in Singapore. It was not as crowded as we expected. Perhaps it was not a weekend. 

It is very easy to get there via MRT. Hop onto the nearest MRT station from your hotel and get to Harbour Front Station. There are several ways to get to Universal Studio from here. The most convenient is via the Sentosa Express. 

Sentosa Express Station is located at 3rd floor of Vivo City Shopping Mall adjacent to the MRT station. The cost is SGD3 flat rate for child / adult. However, you still need to purchase the tickets individually despite it being the same rate. Return trip is free of charge.

It took us less than 10 minutes to get to Universal Studio from here. We reached Universal Studio at about 10.00am in the morning.


Operating Hours : 10.00am to 7.00pm It was not very crowded at the ticketing counters because more than 10 ticketing booths were opened that day. However, it is advisable to book your tickets online if you are planning to go on the weekends. The park controls number of visitors per day. Usually, tickets would be sold out by late morning / noon on weekends.

Operating Hours
For now, with several attractions not ready (frankly, we were very disappointed with this ...), one day pass is enough. If you go the right strategy (please read "Tips to beat the Crowd" below), one day pass is mooore than enough.   

Universal Express - unless you really hate queueing, it is not really necessary. The extras you are getting are waiting time not more than 5 minutes per ride and you get to enjoy the performances at VIP seats (best spots).

As most of rides are quite challenging, I personally think that it is not very suitable for children 5  or 6 years old and below as compared to Disneyland. So if you happen to bring young children along, be prepared to skip quite a number of rides / performances.

In the month of May 2010, each ticket purchased will be complemented by a SGD10 meal voucher in any restaurants in Universal Studio Singapore plus a SGD5 souvenir voucher.

Though the operating hours is until 7pm, Hollywood Boulevard (mainly retails shops and restaurants) extends their operating hours till 9pm on Friday and Saturdays. But, on the day of our visit, the shops and restaurants in Hollywood Boulevard remained open until about 8.00pm as there were still plenty of customers in the shops. 

Tips to beat the Crowd

1. Watch where the big crowd are moving (especially those comes via tour agencies) . Avoid them!

2. Go against traffic.

3. Pick up the latest performance schedule, decide which time slot you intend to go before you start your journey. Clear them off your list as early as possible so you will not need to stop in the middle of rides and rush for another show. The park is really not that big, it is absolutely alright to walk back and forth from one area to the other.

4. Have early lunch - just before 12noon will be good.

5. Skip rides (I mean only rides, not performances) in The Lost World and Ancient Egypt during noon time. That is the time when crowd from both sides (ie. via New York / via Madagascar) meet. Come back after 4.30pm. 

6. Skip the retail shops along Hollywood Boulevard and head straight to either Madagascar / New York depends on where the crowd are moving. Come back later for shopping.

7. If you have particular interest in certain characters within the park ie. Dinosaur, Madagascar etc., do find some time to visit the small retail shops within the area itself as some of the merchandise may not be available at the Hollywood Boulevard shops.

8. Wear comfortable shoes preferably flat and tied shoes as some rides may require you to suspend in the air.

Hollywood Boulevard and New York
As you entered the park, you will be welcomed by many lovely shops and restaurants offering attractive merchandises. That is the Hollywood Boulevard. As they will remain open until 8.00pm at night, it is a good idea to drop by later before heading home.

Next, you will come to a junction where to your left is Madagascar and to your right is the New York / Sci-Fi City. When we were there, we went to the right because we saw many people heading to the left. Remember to avoid big crowd.

Head straight to Pantages Hollywood Theater in Hollywood Boulevard if you can catch the first show at 10.30am. Otherwise, catch the next one that suit your time.

Next, diagonally opposite the Pantages Hollywood Theater is Lights, Camera, Action! in New York, hosted by Steven Spielberg. This is a MUST-NOT-MISSED!!

However, young children may not enjoy this. It creates loud bangs, strong winds, huge things swaying from one end to the other.... but really fantastic!

That's basically all you can get in New York because Stage 28 was not ready at the point of our visit.

There are also outdoor performances in front of the Palace (Street Dance) and the Pantages Hollywood Theater (Kowabunga) at 11.00am and 11.45am respectively. If you want to learn how to do street dancing, then don't miss the 11.00am performance. 

Street Dance at 11am

Kowabunga at 11.45am

  • The performance was alright initially but it was a bit too length though.

Sci-Fi City

As everybody must have known by now, the Battlestar Galactica was not operational, therefore only one attraction left to enjoy in this area. The Accelerator. It is just like the teacup rides. It sways more and more as you turn your steering... Nothing new really. So, if you really have not enough time to take this ride, you can just give it a miss! 

Ancient Egypt

When we arrived Ancient Egypt, it was almost noon.  We could see the crowd were building up. Treasure Hunters were very very crowded.

This is one of the easy rides. Young children will definitely enjoy this. But, we skipped this and headed for lunch as the waiting time was 45 minutes!

Remember, get to the restaurant just before 12noon!. 

We saved a lot of queueing and waiting time because the majority of the crowd were still enjoying their rides when we had our "peaceful" lunch.

The other attraction in Ancient Eygpt, Revenge of the Mummy was not that popular. My girl is 8 years old. She is qualified for the ride (need to be at least 122cm height). Unfortunately, she is kind of timid. Therefore, we skipped this one too. My friend told me that it was really fun and SCARY!!! So, if you are ready for the excitement, don't miss this one.

Click here to All you need to know about Universal Studio Singapore Part II

All you need to know about Universal Studio Singapore Part 2

Click here if you wish to start from "All you need to know about Universal Studio Singapore Part 1"

After lunch, we went back to the Treasure Hunters in Ancient Egypt. As most people had gone for lunch, the waiting time has reduced from 45 minutes to 15 minutes only!

The Lost World
Next, it is time for the WaterWorld performance at 1.30pm. This again is a MUST-NOT-MISSED event. If you can't catch this one, be sure you catch the next one at 4.30pm. There are only two shows daily.

Be prepared to get really wet if you happen to seat within the PRIME Zone!! The wet zones are demarcated so choose your seats at your own risks!

You are about to experience the real live gun-fire fighting and awesome stunts and explosions as in the movie!

There were some moms with young children left the the theater in the middle of the show as it was kind of "unexpected" for young kids though there was no height / age limit.  

See how the crowd enjoyed the water splashing prior to the show began.

By 2pm after we finished watching the WaterWorld and after lunch for some, most crowd gathered in The Lost World at this time of the day. The only attraction in The Lost World that was totally not crowded was the Amber Rock Climb because you need to pay a separate fee to enter for this one. 

I would think that it would be better if Universal Studio can offer another package with entrance fee + Amber Rock Climb at the ticketing booth. It is just psychological thingy I felt because not many people noticed that extra fee applied until they got the map (after purchase the tickets) or until they reached the Amber Rock Climb itself. Many would not want to spend the extra dollars just because it was not included.  

Canopy Flyer was great and the crowd were tremendous too. Unfortunately the waiting time was 50 minutes when we were there. So, we decided to skip this and come back later.

To take this ride, make sure you have tied shoes. However, if you happened to wear slippers, they would advise you to keep them at the designated place.

Dino -Soarin was nothing but just the Dumbo thing in Disneyland. Young children will enjoy this as well. Again, if you do not have much time left, it is alright to skip this one.

Another disappointment was the Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure. It is a river raft ride within the dinosaur habitats. It was not ready at the point of our visit, unfortunately.

Far Far Away

Then, we moved on to the Far Far Away park. Shrek 4-D Adventure was fantastic. Though there is no height limit, younger children (5 years of age and below) may not enjoy this as it is quite thrilling. Your seat will move, water sprinkling from everywhere, you get a feel of spider crawling over your leg....

Next, the Enchanted Airways. This was really fun. It is not as scary as the normal roller coaster, so children will enjoy it.

Donkey LIVE - I personally don't really enjoy this because first of all in terms of humour, it is nothing comparable to the Stitch in Disneyland. Secondly, which is the sickening part (may be funny for some but...), was when they made fun of one of the audiences about her smelly armpit! It was just a joke of course but out of so many things to talk about, why this one? With such hot weather, it made people felt so uneasy. So, to avoid being grabbed, make sure you choose a seat away from the main aisle in front, at the back, left or right.....

Magic Potion Spin - this one was good only for really very young children. It is located in one of the retail shops - Fairy Godmother's Potion Shop. 

It was 3.30pm when we reached the last park, The Madagascar.

Madagascar: A Crate Adventure
It is a river boat ride into the jungle with Madagascar. But, when we reached the check-point, we were told that they were facing some technical difficulties and trying to fix it. The staff had told us to come back later. So, we did. In fact, we went back there twice! But soon, we found out that the canal was extremely dry. We suspected that the ride was never working since god knows when.

Next is the Party-Go-Round. Basically it is a merry-go-round and that's is it. Your little children will enjoy this.

The Ogre House was a sad encounter as the interior was either not ready or it was not meant to allow visitors to enter? I wasn't sure.

By 4.00pm, we were almost done. We headed back to those rides that we have missed. No hassle at all because the crowd has reduced tremendously.

After going around for all the rides, it was about 6pm. We still have some spare time for shopping in the retail shops within each park. To be frank, it was not easy to spend the souvenir vouchers of SGD15 (SGD5 each for the three of us). They were either too pricy or not practical stuff.

With a fair bit of top up, we ended up buying 1 key chain, 2 pens and one bouncing ball from the retail shops in Hollywood Boulevard before heading home.  

Last but not least, like Disneyland, you would come across movie characters as you walked around the park, be sure to get a snapshot with your favourite artists. Our children may not know all characters. You know like Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Boop etc. Of course there are also the more recent ones like Madagascar gang, Shrek, Princess Fiona, Woody Woodpecker etc.

All in all, if the park is fully operational, I think the experience would have been much more. The free vouchers indeed compensated some of our disappointments.

Most of the rides are very "adventurous" for my girl though she is 8 and exceeds the minimum height limit. Anyway, I personally feel that bringing toddler there would not be a good idea though. 7 years old and above would be fun.

A few attractions worth-mentioning like the Lights, Camera, Action by Steven Spielberg, The Waterworld, Shrek 4-D and Pantages Hollywood Theater. There are really fantastic live performances that you probably won't get it elsewhere.

I hope Universal Studio Resort Sentosa Singapore can quickly do up the rest of the attractions in the park to make it a "wholesome" adventures for all, that is value for money.

p/s. the information above is good for the current date it was created.  For more information, please log on to 

Friday, May 14, 2010


最近,有位朋友建议让我们两家的小孩一同学华语。朋友告诉我说就试一试,让她们一起玩,一起学习, 或许会有不错的效果。


我整顿了一下以前给我女儿学华语使用的flashcard, 第一阶段有60个字。

如何教导小朋友,可以参考我的部落格 用flashcard学华语

因为这位小朋友已经七岁了,我就不用太大的字体,我把A4纸它分成6个格,输入这60个字/词,然后再用影印机把它们影印出来就可以了。150 - 160gram 厚的纸挺够了。

如想共作参考,可用email联系 (很抱歉,我的电脑本领不怎么样,不懂得把zip file 放上我的部落格,暂时只能以email方式联系了。请见谅。)。

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My First Visit to the Dentist Chapter 6

   “Hello Dr. Phuong.” My mummy greeted.

   “Hello Mrs. Shee. How did you know about our clinic?” Dr. Phuong asked.

   “Oh… a friend of mine came here before. She recommended me to try. ” My mummy answered.

   “Oh really? That’s good.” Dr. Phuong replied. Dr. Phuong has a face of a grandfather, a kind-hearted and loving grandfather. He had a greyish white hair that matched really well with his white teeth. I guess it is a must to have nice teeth if you ever want to be a dentist.

   "Em… it is her first dental visit so she is a bit nervous.” Mummy told Dr. Phuong as she pointed at me.

   Oh.. what an embarrassing secret mummy…. Dr. Phuong smiled at me. His jaw didn’t really drop to the floor as I would have imagined. Well, it was not that embarrassing after all. But yeah, mum was right. He was handsome.

   “Oh.. no problem sweetheart.” Dr. Phuong said.

   As they were talking, the nurse in charge pushed me to the dentist chair. She was a Vietnamese and she didn’t speak good English. I couldn’t really understand what she said but I could understand from her body language that she wanted me to sit on the dentist chair. Mummy was still busy talking. I was nervous and I wanted to shout for “Help mummy!!!”

   Before I realised it, I was already on the dental chair and hooopsh…. I heard a sound of like the air being let out from a big balloon and I was being “pushed” up. Wow, that was awesome! I felt like I was the pilot getting ready to take off. The nurse put a piece of paper towel on my chest. She clipped the paper towel on one side and role a green wire over my neck and clipped on the other side of the paper towel. That was a DIY do-it-yourself bib. Awesomely easy. Isn’t?

   I was really nervous. At that very moment, I really wanted to escape. I recalled my mummy once told me she was nervous going to dentist too. She was even more nervous going for injection but somehow as we grow, we need to learn to control our nerves and they are controllable. So, I tried really hard to calm them down.

   “Shirley, it is OK. I just need to put on my glove then I take a look at your teeth. I am not going to do anything but just to look at your teeth. OK?” Dr. Phuong said.

   I could not find my voice. I just nodded. Tears came to my eyes but I controlled it from rolling down. I knew I could do it. Mummy said I just need to trust Dr. Phuong and everything would be fine.

   “Oh, you have such a nice teeth there. You must have been brushing your teeth.” Dr. Phuong said.

   I nodded with my mouth wide opened. I came to realise that it was not easy to nod with an open-mouth though.

   “OK, close your mouth a little while.” Dr. Phuong said as he passed me a mirror.

   “Can you see your teeth in the mirror?” Doctor asked. I nodded again.

   “Come over her Mrs. Shee so you can have a good look at her teeth. Let me explain to you.” Dr. Phuong said.

   “She has a few permanent teeth down here and up here as well. Because her gum is still a baby gum, therefore you will see that the teeth are quite “squeezy” down here. But, not to worry, wait for a few months for her gum to grow more.” Dr. Phuong said.

   “OK.” Mummy answered.

   "OK, Shirley. Close your mouth and say gee…You see her front teeth are not inline with the bottom teeth. This is because she has a habit of using her tongue to push her teeth.” Dr. Phuong continued.

   “Babies like doing that but usually they will stop after two and a half years old.” Doctor added. Really?

   “Shirley, you are seven years old already. I am sure you are not a baby anymore. Right?” Dr. Phuong said. I smiled a little.

   “Now, I will teach you how to exercise your tongue so that you will stop pushing the front teeth using your tongue.” Dr. Phuong continued.

   "Open your mouth a little and say ah…, then stick your tongue on the palace… yeah… higher a bit.. yeah… that is right. Then close up your teeth and say gee…. without moving your tongue. OK? Then, try to swallow.” Dr. Phuong said patiently as I did what he said.

   “Sometimes it will be difficult to swallow; perhaps you can give her a glass of water. She can swallow the water instead.” Doctor said.

   “OK, Shirley? Can you do again? Say Ah…. OK OK…. Stick your tongue… yes, very good. Then, say Gee…. OK, now swallow. Well done!” Dr. Phuong said as he nodded with a gentle smile.

   Dr. Phuong said that I needed to do this exercise 10 minutes a day for the next two months. He would see me again in two months time.

   “Shirley, do you like rabbits?” Doctor asked me as he showed me a rabbit face with two front teeth resting on his bottom lips. I smiled a little bit more. He looked really like a rabbit when he did that. A rather cute but elderly rabbit. Gee…

   “wek.. I tenk we ma lik abit but… we don’t want to look like one. Do we?” Dr. Phuong teased. I figured out after that what Dr. Phuong was trying to say ~ “well… I think we may like rabbit but…” I laughed.

   Yeah, mummy was right. Dr. Phuong was funny, handsome and really nice.

   You know, I still didn’t quite understand. How something as soft as my tongue could possibly pushed my teeth out? They are called permanent teeth, aren’t there? Permanent means something that cannot be moved or erased. If you had used permanent markers to write on a whiteboard, the writing would be permanently there and would not be able to move it or erase it.

   “It is because her gum is still a baby gum; therefore it is still not very strong.” Dr. Phuong told my mummy. Wow, Dr. Phuong was not only handsome, nice and funny, he was a mind-reader in fact.

   “Shirley, when you come for the next visit, I will see how well you have done. If it is necessary, we will fix an appliance to help you hold your teeth to the right position. If you practice well, then we will not need any appliance. OK?” Dr. Phuong said again.

   Dr. Phuong showed me and my mummy how an appliance looked like. Yuk! There were wires that looked like braces. It was ugly. Dr. Phuong said the appliance would help to pull my front teeth backward if I tried to push them forward with my tongue.

   “You need not wear it at school. You can wear it at home after school.” Dr. Phuong continued.

   I didn’t want that thing to be in my mouth. It looked like the fake teeth my grandpa was wearing except it had wires instead of white teeth on it.

   “Some children can use their tongue to fix and take out the appliance, without using their hands. It becomes their little toy.” Dr. Phuong said.

   Really? Well, it may not sound so bad if I really had to put it on. If it was for my own good, may be I could try. It was not painful after all.

   As I heard Dr. Phuong was talking to my mummy, my mind wondered. I didn’t know since when I started to relax lying on the soft dentist chair. I still heard Dr. Phuong saying something to me or may be to my mummy as if we still didn’t understand. But I wasn’t paying much attention. I was admiring myself in the mirror that Dr. Phuong gave me just now. It was a special mirror. It was a two sided mirror. One side was a normal mirror. The other side was a magnifying mirror. Wow, that was another awesome!


   “Dr. Phuong, Shirley has a few new teeth coming out but the old ones are still there. Is it necessary to pull them out to give way to the new ones?” I heard my mummy asked.

   “No, no. It is still early. Not until it becomes like that, we can let these teeth drop naturally. Keep wiggling it, Shirley, it will be fine.” Doctor answered as he pointed to my other permanent tooth that just grew out of my gum. I had been expert in tooth wiggling. So far, I had wiggled 6 teeth and I had 5 teeth in my secret box. You know why? Let me tell you.

   I lost one of my little teeth in school. It must have been a naughty tooth because it chose the wrong time to come off. I was having PE lesson on that day. As I was chasing after my opponent, I felt something rough in my tongue. Oh my god, something bad happened. I stopped running after my friend, instead I ran for the toilet. I took the tooth out from my mouth and washed it under the running water. I wanted to make sure that it was really clean so I could keep it in my secret box at home. When I was done washing it, I dropped the tooth onto a tissue and then only I realised that there was no tooth in between my fingers! The tooth was so little that I didn’t even know it slipped off my fingers. I didn’t know when it slipped off my fingers either!

   So, back to my first dental visit today, well. it was really nothing after all. It was not as embarrassing as I had imagined. There was no pain. And Dr. Phuong was not a monster dentist either. The visit in fact turned out to be AWESOME!

• I learned how to make a DIY do-it-yourself bib. That’s awesome No. 1.

• I knew how a pilot would have felt at the point of taking-off. That’s awesome No. 2.

• Dr. Phuong’s detective mirror was as cool as my detective pencil case. That’s awesome No. 3.

The only trouble now is, I have to wait for another ttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo months before I can own the appliance. I wished really badly for the TIME MACHINE …….

   Don’t worry, the soon-to-be-my appliance will be mine soon. In the mean time, I will make myself busy with the detective pencil case.

   Oh, I almost forgot, I suppose to tell you the story about my teacher who did not agree that I was a PERFECT (= polite + obedient + hardworking + helpful + talented + well-mannered + confident + brave) young lady. I will tell you next time.

~~~ THE END ~~~

My First Visit to the Dentist Chapter 5

   As I said before, I was a PERFECT young lady. I honoured what I said. I promised I won’t open the present and I kept my promise. Well, to tell you very frankly, I actually forgotten about the detective pencil case for a while. You know, it was not my present yet, it was just a soon-to-be-my present, so I didn’t really ask my brain to keep a record of it.

   "Shirley, tomorrow is Saturday. We are going to see Dr. Phuong.” Mummy reminded me on Friday night.

   “Don’t tell me mummy.” I said.


   “Well, you wanted the brave girl present. Isn’t it?” Mummy said.

   “Yeah, but just don’t tell me.” I said.

   Mummy understood. What I meant was just bring me there. I didn’t want to think about it and I certainly didn’t want the monster dentist to come after me in my dream tonight. I just wanted to get it over with as soon as possible.

   The next morning when I woked up, everything seem quite normal. Mummy prepared breakfast as usual. Daddy prepared to go to work. I had my breakfast as usual too, watching my favourite Tom & Jerry cartoon of course.

   As soon as I finished my breakfast, Mummy said: “OK, let’s get going. Dr. Phuong didn’t like patients who are late.”

   I opened daddy’s special cupboard wanted to take a good glimpse of the pencil case before I went to see Dr. Phuong. Daddy had a special cupboard in the living room. He didn’t like anybody to mess up his belongings so he would keep all his things (I meant things that he thought I was too young to handle) in the special cupboard. I knew he would keep the soon-to-be-my present in his special cupboard because that was the only “safe” place in the house, out of reach by a PERFECT young lady like me. But, I tell you a secret. I could reach it now because I have grown taller. Daddy didn’t notice actually. Gee….

   “You can pack it in your bag and bring it with you.” Mummy said.

   “I can?” I can’t believe what I heard.

   “Yes, it is a brave girl present. Isn’t it? It will make you brave. As soon as you finish seeing Dr. Phuong, you can open your present.” Mummy continued.

   Shortly after that, we arrived at the dental clinic. There were a few people waited at the reception area. I saw strangers with sour faces. The nurse at the registration counter was the only one who had smile on her face. Of course she was happy because she didn’t need to see dentist. She sees Dr. Phuong everyday.

   Mummy filled up a form while I was busy trying to control my heartbeat. It just went “pip pop pip pop pip pop pippop pippop pippop”. Mummy said that heartbeat of a normal people would be 60 to 80 a minute. It would not be good if it shoots up to 100. I started to worry if I would get heart attack for that.

   “OK, sweetheart. We are done. Let’s sit down there and wait.” Mummy said.

   “Mummy, can I see my pencil case?” I asked.

   “Go ahead.” Mummy answered without even thinking. I opened it and started to play with it. We were seating by the glass window. I saw two kids were playing jump rope at the pavement outside the glass window where we were sitting. They saw my detective pencil case. I could see how much they admired it. I was so proud that I made the right choice to come to the dentist at this very moment. As they were looking, I started to demonstrate how it worked. They eyes were wide opened, as wide as when I first saw this pencil case.

   “Shirley Shee.” I heard my name was being called. Mummy quickly ushered me to keep my case and followed the nurse to Dr. Phuong at Level 3. My heart went “pip pop pip pop pip pop pippop pippop pippop” again…..

My First Visit to the Dentist Chapter 4

   “Shirley, dentist doesn’t give injection nowadays. There is a special kind of gel. Spread the gel on your gum, you won’t feel the pain when the dentist pulls the tooth out.” Daddy said.

   Another fairy tale I thought to myself. Nancy Krulik (she is one of my favourite authors of the century) said dentist would give an injection first!

   “I don’t want.” I said.

   “What about daddy buys you a brave girl present? Let’s go and get it now.” Daddy said. This was some kind of surprise to me. Just like the playing computer games in the middle of the night kind of surprise. Daddy never bought me presents for free. I have to either earned it myself or I really behaved very very well at home or on special occasions like my birthday, Christmas or something.

   Within fifteen minutes, we were in the departmental store. Daddy said that as soon as I finished seeing the dentist, I could own the present. We walked round the departmental store. My eyes were wide opened scanning each and every item on the shelf.

   I saw what I wanted. My best friend in old school, Terry, had one of those. It was a nice pencil case. It was not an ordinary pencil case. It was a PERFECT pencil case for a PERFECT young lady like me, Shirley Shee. The pencil case has many gadgets. With press of buttons, my pencils, ruler, eraser would jump out of the case. I could check the dates and temperature with my pencil case too.

   Daddy bought me the soon-to-be-my present. On the way home, I had the pencil case by my side, nicely wrapped in a see-through plastic bag. Daddy said that I could look at it and touch it for a while. After I seen the dentist, I could have it. As I was flipping the case, I saw something - a thin piece of plastic in between the case. Another hidden gadget I thought. When we arrived home, I decided to try my luck.

   “Mummy, may I open the pencil case for a short little little while?” I asked mummy.

   "You will get to open it after you see the dentist this coming Saturday.” Mummy replied.

   “I just want to see the gadget. Just one peek, OK Mummy?” I pleaded.

   “All right, just one peek. You promise to seal it back after just one peek, OK?” Mummy said. I knew Mummy was always nice to me. I knew I had to follow some ground rules but with mummy I could sometimes bend the rules a bit and straightened it back afterwards.

   I opened the plastic bag carefully so that I won’t break it. I needed to wrap it back as best as possible as if it had not been opened before. I tried to press the thin piece of plastic. Nothing jumped out of the case. Strange.

   “Look at the illustration inside the pencil case, Shirley.” Mummy said. Oh yeah, I must be too excited until I couldn’t even think straight.

   I managed to work it out. The thin piece of plastic was swung out. Wow, it was a magnifying glass! Wow, what a detective pencil case!

   I couldn’t wait until Saturday. Another three days, oh dear…I needed the TIME MACHINE badly…..


My First Visit to the Dentist Chapter 3

   “Shirley, you need to see dentist otherwise your teeth will not grow nicely. Brian went to see dentist whenever he has a loose tooth. It is really nothing.” Mummy kept nagging behind my ears.

   “Mummy, I am not Brian. Brian is a boy and I am a girl.” I said.
   “Sweetheart, Dr. Phuong is very good with kids. Sammy’s first dental visit with Dr. Phuong was very pleasant as well.”

   Mummy added on. I didn’t want to pay attention to what mummy was saying.

   “You want to end up like Sammy when you turned 15 years old?” Mummy raised her voice a little bit.

   Sammy was my mummy’s best friend’s daughter. She was 15 years old. She didn’t like seeing dentist just like me. It was worst for her because she had to keep this embarrassing secret for 15 years (I only kept it until 7!). Now she wanted to go to dentist because she would be grown-up soon and she needed to look beautiful. She wanted to do colourful braces just like her best friend. Dr. Phuong said that she had 13 cavities to patch. Before she could do the braces, she needed to fix the cavities. In one month’s time, she had to visit Dr. Phuong four times just to patch all the cavities. Dr. Phuong said that she would need to do only one tooth every year if she had started seeing dentist when she was three. Yeah, I guess I would not want to end up like her. It wasn’t fun at all. it was just P.E.R.F.E.C.T.!

Painful x 13 times - 13 cavities to patch

Embarrassing x 15 times - she was 15 years old

Ridiculous - because Dr. Phuong’s jaw would drop to the floor!

Fantastic Imagination - I guess as we grew, our imagination grew too. There would have been scarier monster dentistsss for sure!

Entertaining x infinite times - a funny story passed on and on and on and … just like my mummy’s friend passed to my mummy, mummy passed to another mummy, another mummy passed to another mummy….. Soon, Sammy would be famous!

Cavity x 13 times - she had 13 cavities, didn’t she?

Total Disasters when all the above add up.

   To receive the honour of "First visit to dentist at the age of 15", you will have 13 cavities to patch, becoming famous for nothing, Dr. Phuong’s jaw dropped to the floor….

   I certainly did not want to be like Sammy. But I didn’t know how to be Brian either. I needed the TIME MACHINE badly…..

   I tried so many ways to convince myself to see dentist because I did not want to end up like the PERFECT Sammy! Unfortunately I just couldn’t find any.

   I flipped through all the records in my brain (my mummy said when we wanted to recall something but we couldn’t, it must be because our brain needed some time to flip through the thousands of pages of information in our brain. Sometimes it took us more than two days to find it or sometimes our brain just gave up looking for it!). I went to my little library (gee… my big book shelf actually) to do some research like my mummy. I read through all the dentist story books I had in my little library. I read them over and over again. I didn’t believe any of the fairy tales in them.

   As you know, to pull a tooth, the dentist would give you an injection. After the injection, the dentist would take a pliers or something to pull your tooth out. Ouch, just like that! Oh my god! That was the worst thing that could ever happen. I hated injection. I hated pliers. I hated loose tooth. I hated.. oh no… I needed the TIME MACHINE badly….. really badly…..

My first visit to the Dentist Chapter 2

   The secret was ... emm... I should make it more difficult to guess...

Try to break the code to find out about my secret.

a=z, b=y, c=x, d=w, e=v, f=u, g=t, h=s,i=r, j=q, k=p..... see the pattern?

r zn hvevm bvzih low mld zmw r szev mlg yvvm gl hvv zmb wvmgrhg!

   See, I told you, it was a very embarrassing secret. I could not share it even with my best friend. Only my mummy and daddy knew about it. I knew it was not normal for my age but you see, I am a PERFECT young lady; I didn’t have any tooth problem at all.

   I did have a few loose teeth. I wiggled them myself, cleaned them nicely and I kept them in my secret little box.

   You see, when we were sick, we would see doctor. Doctor would give us medicine and we would recover after taking the medicine. Have you ever seen doctors if you were not sick? You get what I mean, that was why I thought it was really not necessary. Unfortunately, one day……

“Shirley, how is your new tooth coming along?” daddy said.
   Come to think of it, I was asking for trouble myself. I was standing in front of the mirror doing funny faces (something I enjoyed doing during my free time, and daddy walked pass me. He saw my teeth in the mirror and that was why he asked. So to avoid trouble in the future, I am telling myself that next time, don’t ever do funny faces in the mirror when your daddy walked pass!

   Daddy flipped my upper lip, and then my lower lip, then he said:” Honey, I think she needs to see dentist. She has two permanent teeth coming but the milk teeth are blocking the way.” My daddy shouted to my mummy in the kitchen.
   It was like the whole world came down to my face. NOOOOOOooooooooo!! That night, I couldn’t sleep. As soon as I closed my eyes, I saw images of monster dentist chasing after me. My mummy was beside me telling me bedtime stories, patting my back as she used to do when I was three months old. She put my head on her soft chest hoping that I would doze off like before. All these didn’t seem to work at all.

   “Come sweetheart, let’s play Diner Dash!” Mummy said. I was so surprise because it was already over 12 midnight. I was never allowed to play computer games after 9pm. Today, my mummy allowed me to play computer games at 12 midnight! I played and played until my right hand was so tired clicking the mouse button.

   “Mummy, may I close my eyes to rest a while?” I said with a tired voice. Well, not only my hands were tired, actually my eyes were very sore too.

   “Sure, go lie down on the bed for a while. “ Mummy said.

   Before I knew it, it was the next day. I woke up in the morning, I still had that monster dentist in my head. I was expecting my daddy or mummy would ask me to go to dentist again. But surprisingly, nobody mentioned anything. I thought to myself: “Yes…. I am safe”. See, like I said it is really not necessary to see dentist after all.

   Several days passed, the monster dentist disappeared and I forgot about the dental visit all together. My mummy forgot about it too, I thought, until one day……

   “Shirley, I found a good dentist! Dr. Phuong is very good with kids. All my friends’ children go to him. He is funny, nice and handsome. My friend’s daughter, she is …..” Mummy was talking non-stop. This was what I meant sometimes my mummy’s request could be quite “overboard”!

   Finally I knew why nobody was talking about visiting the dentist during the past few days. Mummy needed time to do research. It took her 3 days 7 hours and 30 minutes to work on her research paper (I figured them out in a piece of paper by calculating time from the day daddy checked my teeth until this very moment).

   The whole world practically splashed all over me from head to toes. How I wished I had a that could bring me to one day after the dentist visit!

My first Visit to the Dentist Chapter 1

    Hi, my name is Shirley Shee. I am 7 years old. My mummy always said that I am the best child among her other friends’ kids.

   My mummy also said that many of her friends so envy of her having me as daughter. Especially those with boys, naughty boys I mean. Every time they saw me, they would have the urge of having another baby, of course a baby girl as sweet as Shirley Shee, and that is ME!

   From young, my mummy said I have been very good girl, apart from when I was in her womb, I was kind of naughty as my mummy was saying. I liked to disturb her at 1.45 in the morning. She had to wake up in the middle of the night to sooth me to sleep again. Mum, I wasn’t naughty actually. As you knew, I was not able to speak at that age. I was just trying to tell her that I would be born at 1.45am. See, I was born at exactly 1.45am on the 12th of December.

   But, after I came out from her womb, my mummy said I was never a problem. Well, only the initial three months after I was born, I had a habit of waking up in the middle of the night. My mummy had to carry me and patted me on my back so that I would go back to sleep. As soon as I dozed off, well kind of, she would set me in my bed.

   As soon as I was in my bed, I started to cry again. Mummy had to pull me to her arms again and … over and over she had to do this until… She got so tired that she put me on her chest while she leaned on two pillows behind her back, then she would pat my back trying to catch some sleep at the same time.

   Sometimes mummy dozed off before I did. Even at that age, I knew it because when she dozed off, she stopped patting me. But, that was OK mummy, I understood. I loved her soft chest, not really the patting though. I couldn’t speak at that time, so I couldn’t tell her that.

   Mummy said that she needed to rest because she had to go to work the next day. She couldn’t be staying up all night to watch me. Well, mummy didn’t quite understand me. I didn’t do it on purpose actually.

   As you know, I was not able to speak at that age, so it was kind of hard for me to explain to her how bad the baby cot cushion was. It was very hard that I could feel how many wooden planks below the cushion. It made me so hot until I could feel my sweat building up behind my back and around my neck. How would I be able to, at the age of three months, to sleep on such a bed?

   So, I decided to express my thoughts through theeeesseee actionsssss. Anyway, my mummy said that was OK because she knew I missed her heartbeat and she was happy that I missed her even in my dream.

   Well, back to where we were, as my mummy was saying, she had never had any problems with me since I was three months old. I had no problem at all in school. All of my teachers except one (I will tell you the story later), said that I have been a very polite, obedient, hardworking, helpful, talented, well-mannered, confident and brave young lady. She has been very proud of me all the time. I knew it of course, because from her smile and her sparkling eyes, I could see them.

   I always tried my very best to do what mummy asked me to because I knew there were good stuff and there made me become a better person.

   Well, you know, like the grown-up said, we are humans, we made mistakes too. So, sometimes I could not help it when my mummy’s request was a bit “overboard”. I threw tantrums sometimes. But, I am sure everybody does.

   I saw my mummy threw tantrums to my daddy sometimes. My daddy did the same thing to her too, and sometimes to me as well. I forgave them. So, I would expect they would forgive me as well. Nevertheless, I promised myself I would try harder to make my mummy happy every time I upset her.

   Having been such a PERFECT (= polite + obedient + hardworking + helpful + talented + well-mannered + confident + brave) young lady, I had (I think) one little bad stuff. I won’t really say it was a very bad one, but I think it was more like a secret. An embarrassing secret that nobody (especially my beloved teachers and best friend, 2nd best friend, normal friends should ever know). The secret was…………. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Learn to Swim

Let's celebrate.

Yesterday was a great day for me. It would definitely be the greatest day of all for my daughter. I received an email from her swimming teacher telling me how impressed she has been with her ability to swim now.

From young, my daughter has fear in water. She was comfortable only to play in the baby pool even at the age of 7! I must admit that I didn't do my job really well to make sure she picked up swimming at younger age.

The thing was I myself was not able to swim. I was fear of water too. I had let her tried when she was 5. After a few lessons, she gave up. 

Ever since then, she was surviving well in school. There were swimming lesson, she managed to pick up some breathing and floating skill...Free style, breaststroke ... yes, she knows the style, but to way! 

Time passed, two international schools she has moved on since she was 6, so far none of her teachers at school saw it a problem. Unfortunately, or should I said fortunately, the current school she is going to, view it as something totally unacceptable!  

I recalled three week ago, a letter from her new school swimming teacher came. She was very concern over my girl's swimming. She emphasized that it is a life skill that everybody must learn.

She suggested that after the spring break, have her joined the after school activities of younger age group because her level was way below the expectation for her current grade. I signed her up straight away thinking that it would be a good chance to push her swimming.

Unfortunately, I overlooked one little issue. Pride. 

My daughter refused to join the younger group swimming lesson because she said that they would tease her. I told her that they were so young, they won't realise that you were actually an older kid because it was just a after school activity and everybody could join and blah blah blah.... She was not convinced obviously.

Now that I recalled, I did hear for myself one of her classmates' younger sister made nasty comments like :"Hey, why can't you swim in the deep pool? You are in Grade 3 now!" Though she answered casually :"Yeah... yeah... I can't swim well." But, the real fact was, she took it to heart. I realised this after.

So, I had a chat with her. I offered her two alternatives.

1. we would not go anywhere this spring break. We will engage a swimming instructor and start lesson for the next two week. Swim everyday until you are good at it, I told her. If she is able to swim by then, mom will meet up with her school teacher so as to excuse her from the after school activities. 

2. go to the after school activity when school reopens. 

Obviously, I left her with not much choice. She finally agreed to try with an instructor. The initial few days was a struggle. Another few more days, I saw some light. she has more courage. Her instructor had done a great job I must say. She even tried to challenge herself by entering the deeper end of the pool. And finally she did it! 

I was so so glad and proud of her.  

Today, after 2 weeks of intensive learning, she is able to swim finally. She could do non-stop lap swimming for free style and breaststroke. She is fine-tuning her back stroke and starting to learn butterfly now. 

Mummy and Daddy is so proud of you, girl!

Yes, let's celebrate.

Let's celebrate in Singapore this weekend. 

You deserve a good break!

Friday, May 7, 2010

How to improve my child's Math

"Mom, I don't like to do Math because I hate thinking!" that was what my girl has been telling me whenever I asked her to do Math homework.

She will always complaint. Between Literacy and Numeracy homework, she will go for Literacy. Knowing the difficulty she will face back in Malaysia school with poor Math like this, I started to get worried about it.

I tried to find many exercise books on Math and reading material for her to do at home after school. After trying for sometime, I find that she simply does not have enough time to do so many things in a day. Her days become so stressful because mummy said after you do this, you do that. After that one, do this...  

Soon, those Math exercise books stayed forever on the shelf for days, then for weeks and before I knew it, it became obsolete. I had to give them away to younger kids. 

One day, I met with her school teacher for the usual end of term parents teacher meeting. I expressed my concern over her Math work. I told her that my girl hates Math because Math needs a lot of thinking.

So (as a "kiasu"* mum I would definitely admit), I suggested to her teacher that if her class works were unfinished, please allow her to bring back the worksheet so I can let her finish up and have more practices at home. Math is about speed and practices I told her!

* "kiasu" means scare to lose out attitude in our chinese dialet

So, more "kiasu" than ever, I even asked to borrow the school reference book so I can reinforce her weaknesses.

I must say that her teacher was very very very reluctant when I asked for unfinished class work to be brought home. She stressed to me that the topics will be repeated in the next term. Not to worry if they are not good at it now.

But after a long chat, my persistence finally paid off. She lent me a reference book.

I thought to myself. Yes, I did it. I am going to make a copy of the book and let her do the exercises in advance. She won't be lost in class. Hurray!!

Before we ended our meeting, she repeated to me that at home, have your girl tell you the time. Relate her day in day out with Math. Ask her simple question like "what is the time now?" "what time will it be 20 minutes from now?"... or like when you have 300grams of red beans and you need 1/3 of it to make some dessert. Ask her to weigh for you the amount you need. Or when we go grocery shopping, ask her simple question like I have $50 and I need to buy a few things. Ask her to work out if I will have enough money to buy them etc.

Why so "anti-homework"? I recalled during one of the introductory meeting between teachers and parents, the head teacher even reminded all parents to restrict homework time to maximum of 30 minutes. In my heart, I was thinking "Wow? Are you sure it is enough?"

In my school of thoughts in the old days, to be good at Math, teacher said you need to do many exercises and worksheets. The more you do, the faster you would become and the more familiar with the question patterns. Then, you can score!

This really struck my mind. Yes, familiar with the question patterns, cover all angles and then can score high points. Precisely, that is our strategy!

But in international school, it is a different learning style. They emphasize on conceptual learning. Math is about logic. If the child understands the logic, irregardless of the question pattern, it can be solved. 

So, when I got back home, I simply flip through the reference book I borrowed from her teacher and I returned it the next day.

I didn't even bother to make a copy of it. I didn't even make my girl a schedule for Math works at home. I stopped buying these exercise books for the time being.

I simply adopt her teacher's advice. Learning Math is so stress-free for her now.

It really helped a lot. I hope this little tip is beneficial.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

What Religion is Not Important

A friend emailed this to me. It is really the truth of life. There is no good or bad religion. Any religion that makes us a better person, that is a good religion for us. I always believe that everything starts from our heart. A good heart will nurture good action.

I recalled on the eve of last Chinese New Year, my daughter asked me why do we need to burn the paper clothes, paper shoes and all the shining papers to our great grand parents? Will they ever receive them? How do they receive them if it is all burnt like that?

I was really speechless. I do hope someone will answer me this question because I had been wanting to ask the same question myself but I know there will not be logical answer to this because I am an adult. She is just a child. She believes that everything we do must have a reason.

I told her that it is a way we show our respects and care to our ancestors. By doing this, we are telling them that we still remember you. You are still our great grand parents no matter where you are.

During Chinese New Year, we buy new clothes for ourselves. But, not to forget, our great grand parents needed new clothes for Chinese New Year too. Therefore, we gave to them on this special occasion. 

If you ask me, is this a right or wrong religion? Honestly, I don't know. But, what I know for sure is she will grow up to be a good person because she understands the meaning of respect. 

On this note, please enjoy this video. 

p/s. in case when you click PLAY button on the YouTube and the message "The video you have requested is not available, simply copy and paste this bold text Your Religion is Not Important in the YouTube search bar at the top, it will lead you to the video. The first video on the list with Lamma on the screen, that is the one. Enjoy!