Monday, November 30, 2015

Art and architecture at the National Gallery

One of the first things we did as a family after Lesley-Anne's 'A' levels was visit the newly opened National Gallery.

Andre thought this was National Geographic-familiar, lol.
The National Gallery houses the Southeast Asian modern art collection but a big part of its appeal to us is that is is housed in the former Supreme Court and City Hall. The architecture of these historic buildings is absolutely gorgeous.

Walkway linking Supreme Court and City Hall
City Hall Chamber
Holding cell for those awaiting trial
Chief Justice's chambers
Rotunda Gallery
There's also a roof garden gallery where you can have possibly one of the best views of Singapore's skyline.

Panoramic shot taken by Lesley-Anne
Oh yes, the art, haha!
One of the earliest uses of batik technique in modern art
This piece caused a minor schism in the OCD segment of our brains.
There were some pretty interesting art installations too.

There was a guard in front of this one. Every time a young child ran into the room, I had a nervous twitch.
If I'm being perfectly honest, I enjoyed the architecture of the National Gallery more than the art. That's not to say the collection isn't impressive - it is. Just that a lot of SE Asian art seems to veer towards gory and nightmare-inducing themes, probably due to the tumultuous history of our region. Aesthetic-wise, not my favourite.

However, the gallery is totally worth a visit. To celebrate its opening, admission is free from now till 6 December, but you have to book tickets as entry is limited to a fixed number of visitors per day.

Enroute to our dinner destination, we walked through Fullerton Hotel, which was all decked out in yuletide glitz.   

Dinner was at Over Easy at One Fullerton where we had an indulgent meal of mac and cheese, burgers, fried chicken and waffles, milkshake, mohito and a plateful of sliders!

The reason Kenneth chose this spot for our dinner was because of the special fireworks display right outside...
...followed by the Marina Bay Sands light show.

'Tis a beautiful city, Singapore.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Stress test - how not to go bananas

So the 'A' levels is in full swing and everyone in our family is already heartily sick of it. Lesley-Anne is so stressed out that her eczema has blossomed like summer sunflowers. As for the rest of us, we're playing the supportive role. Andre has wised up to the fact that his spontaneous and persistent: "Jie jie, jie jie, jie jie, whatcha doing, jie jie, jie jie, did you hear me?" is NOT a good idea at this point in time and likely to trigger fits of rage.

Some mothers write inspirational notes to their tortured exam kids. Me, I paste Grumpy Cat printouts on Lesley-Anne's door:

I'm not being mean, honest. Just trying to make her laugh (although when she came home from a particularly disastrous paper, her death glare was so potent I didn't dare put up a new one. At times like these, the only correct course of action is to stay far, far away until the coast is clear).

On a more serious note, I do believe that the art of managing your kids during stressful periods is to know your kids well. Lesley-Anne already puts a lot of pressure on herself and can suffer from anxiety, so we try to alleviate that (or at least not add to it). During revision, she uses her wardrobe as a white board, which I think is pretty ingenious.

Apart from her 'A' level preps, she's also in the midst of university applications now and sometimes worries over whether she can get into this university or that. We constantly remind her that God knows where's best for her and if He doesn't want her to go to a particular university, she can speak like Christiane Amanpour at the interviews, write like Sylvia Plath in the admissions tests, and still be rejected.

When she's in a bad mood, she wants to be left alone, so we give her the space.

When she's in the mood to chat or just need a venting outlet, I try to be there for her and we sometimes share stupid jokes and silly stories, which go a long way towards lightening the atmosphere. Take the cue from your kids (and pray for them) - that's the best formula to help them through stressful times.

And of course, we know that all this is temporary. Only two more weeks before we're home free!


On a separate note, my heart goes out to Paris and all families of the victims of the horrific event that happened on Friday. Even as I write this sentence, it sounds so pitifully inadequate. When the news first broke, I couldn't find the words to describe how I felt, beyond the very inarticulate and uncharitable, "I hope all the perpetrators burn in hell." Other people have tried to put words to their thoughts - those who blame Muslims, those who defend Muslims, those who blame refugees, those who blame the Western world, those who cry foul at the disproportionate media attention vs the blasts in Beirut, etc etc. Everyone had an opinion or an explanation.

I read some of them and then I stopped reading. Perhaps it's because I was so sickened by the wanton disregard for the sanctity of human life that all the words and analyses in the world seemed meaningless and pompous. What did they matter? At times like these, when our faith in humanity is shaken to the core, the only thing that can bring hope is kindness to others. The accounts of strangers offering help and opening up their homes to those who were injured bring a glimmer of light to the dark. It is my heartfelt wish that the victims and families of the victims encounter much kindness and love from those around them.

May we always be kind to one another.

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." - Mother Teresa

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Celebrating local writers

This past week, the civic district was all abuzz with writers, writing and writers talking about writing. Yes, it's the annual Singapore Writers Festival!

I was part of a panel last Sunday, for the session "Help, My Son Doesn't Read", together with Sherlock Sam authors Adan Jiminez and Felicia Low, as well as Paro Anand from India. The session was moderated by Adeline Foo.

We shared tips on how to get reluctant readers hitting the books and also our recommendations on books for boys. The venue was great - some attendees were right at home in the bean bags.

Looks like this boy's parents don't need the session! Good choice of book :D 

Taking questions from the audience.

A surprise attendee - Lesley-Anne's previous ballet teacher, Ms Chew! One of her sons is a reluctant reader and she wanted to see if she could garner some tips on how to motivate him. What a wonderfully supportive mum. 

I hope some of you managed to bring your kids down - the SWF For Families portion features so many fun activities for children. If you haven't, try to make it this weekend (the Festival ends this Sunday, 8 November).

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