Thursday, December 29, 2016

Art, science (and math) in full glory

Every year-end school hols, we try to make an excursion to either a museum or an attraction of interest. This year, we made a trip down to the Art Science Museum at Marina Bay Sands for three ongoing exhibitions - Journey to Infinity: Escher's World of Wonder, NASA - A Human Adventure, and Future World.

The Escher exhibition was the one we were really keen on. In case you don't know, M.C. Escher was an artist who combined mathematical concepts in his art, playing with perspective and architecture. One of his most well-known contributions was the artistic interpretation of tessellations to a completely new level. In Singapore, primary school kids still learn about tessellations today.

This was one of his earlier works on tessellations...

Sky and Water 1
which gradually became more complex.

Angels or demons?
Circle Limit IV
From 1954, Escher began working on optical illusions and concepts of infinity, which resulted in some pretty captivating and today, iconic artworks. 

Ascending and Descending
All four of us loved the Escher exhibition, which probably says something about how OCD we are as a family 😆

As an undergraduate, I chanced upon a book of Escher's artworks and was immediately hooked. The geometry and poetry of his lines spoke to me so much that I attempted to recreate a colour version of one of his works. This was one of his early woodcuts during the period when he was consumed by the architecture of buildings:

Inside St Peter's
My not-quite-exact replica in coloured pencil.

Our main purpose was to visit the Escher exhibition but since there was a special all-access ticket to all three ongoing exhibitions, we decided to cover 'em all.

The NASA exhibition is good for kids and adults interested in all-things space. You get to see models of different space shuttles...

Saturn V
and gawk at space food...

 and space toilets.

You can also pay $6 to get a ride on G-Force - Astronaut Trainer Ride. It's a contraption that tilts you back and forth and spins you around. We watched for a bit to see if anyone came out of the ride walking sideways or throwing up. Nope, nobody did!

Finally, there's the Future World exhibition. In my opinion, this exhibition is great but more for younger kids (primary school and below). It takes interactive art and play to a whole new level. For example, you can draw your own a sea creature, scan it in a machine and see it swim on the digital wall. What's amazing is that the picture doesn't come out static - it moves and squirms like real sea creatures.

Something around every corner to enthrall the little ones.

The Crystal Universe with 4D technology and a heckuva lot of LED lights was quite spectacular.

I know this post might come a little late since it's nearing the end of the school hols (parents say "yay!" kids say "boo!"). However, the exhibitions are still on so you might want to book one of the upcoming weekends to take your kids.

Future World is on till 8 Jan, Escher exhibition till 26 Feb and NASA exhibition till 19 March. Special all-access pass to all three exhibitions available.

Monday, December 19, 2016

It's the most wonderful time of the year

December leading up to the Christmas season is always my favourite time of the year, and I'm sure I'm not alone. The kids are off from school, work usually slows down as people clear their leave and go on holidays. As if in cahoots, the weather cooperates, sending showers of blessings that cause temperatures and tempers to mellow. One of my favourite sounds in the world is the fall of raindrops on the roof. It reminds me of God's protection against the storm and makes me feel safe.

This year especially, I welcomed the winding down period because 2016 was such a hectic year for our family. Lesley-Anne started university, Kenneth embarked on a new job, and Andre completed his 'O' levels. Here he is happily clearing out his mountain of school and assessment books.

Lesley-Anne and I launched the new Danger Dan and Gadget Girl series, and on top of that, my business boomed, so much so that I could barely keep up.

I'm not complaining though - all these are blessings for which I'm deeply grateful. But up till last Monday, Lesley-Anne and I were still working on book-related stuff. We conducted our very last school talk of the year, and finished up the manuscript for a new Danger Dan adventure. So it was such a tremendous feeling of relief when that was done.

The very next day, we went shopping! Just some background, Lesley-Anne, my sister and I all hate shopping for clothes. Really and truly. It's such a bothersome chore and it seems like something is always not right - either the fit, the colour or the price (that's the reason I don't like shopping online for clothes. What looks good on the screen too often doesn't look good in person). So once every year in December, the three of us make a pact to dedicate a day for clothes shopping so that we're more or less set for the year (and since we'd be Christmas shopping too, that's two birds with one stone!)

This year, Andre unwittingly decided to join us gals, lured by the promise of brunch and tea. It probably started dawning on him that he'd gotten more than he'd bargained for when we spent a prolonged period at Topshop.

Six hours later, he declared the shopping trip more tiring than the 20km night walk he went on at badminton camp.

I have a funny feeling he won't be joining us next year 😆.

As for me, I'm a happy camper. All my shopping's done! Now all that's left to do is to enjoy the rest of the holidays, feast and be merry.

A very blessed Christmas to all of you, my fabulous readers! May you experience the joy and peace of the season, and bask in Christ's love, always.

Monday, December 5, 2016

My other badminton player

For a long time, sports was never Lesley-Anne's "thing". That is, until she went to JC and joined the Modern Dance CCA. Dance is siong, to put it mildly. Thanks to the numerous practice sessions which include intensive PT, by the end of JC, Lesley-Anne was a compact little package of muscle (she could hold her own arm wrestling Andre). She even managed to overcome her dislike for running and clinched a gold for her NAPFA test in JC2.

When she entered Yale-NUS, she continued to seek out Dance CCAs, but she decided to also try out for a sport. That's one of the great pluses of university life - you're encouraged to join as many CCAs as you like, without having to commit to just one (and without the fear of losing points if you drop one).

She tried out for badminton as that's one of the few sports she enjoys. She occasionally plays with Andre during the holidays, for fun. She thought it would be a great way to learn how to play the game properly, as Yale-NUS engages a professional coach for its training sessions.

What she didn't realise was that since Yale-NUS has a very small enrolment, its pool of athletes is tiny. Hence, some sports have difficulty attracting members, especially female athletes. So when Lesley-Anne signed up for badminton, the CCA happily welcomed her. Then two weeks into Yale-NUS and just four basic training sessions later, she found out, to her horror, that not only did she make the girls' school team, she was expected to represent Yale-NUS in the upcoming NUS Inter-Faculty Games!

Got official t-shirt and everything, don't play play! When she told us, in a panic, we didn't know whether to send congratulations or condolences. It was just so funny. With total confidence in her abilities, I told her, "Err...just try to win a few points, ok?"

It became even more unreal when she said she was being fielded as a singles player. This was pure strategy - Yale-NUS knew it didn't stand a chance playing against some of the other more formidable teams, so it placed all its bets on its doubles and assigned the rookies to singles to get thrashed for experience.

But as we all know, life is often stranger than fiction. It turned out that at the very first meetup, the opposing team had the exact same strategy of assigning the sacrificial lambs to the last singles match. Lesley-Anne's opponent was as petite and inexperienced as she was and upon discovering this, Lesley-Anne proceeded to desperately "anyhow serve" (her own words) and lob as high as she could. Final score: 21-17, 21-8! She didn't just win her match, hers was the deciding match (last singles in a set of five). WAHHH! Rookie win! Honestly, when we heard the news, we 😂😂. Except Andre who was slightly indignant. "Who on earth wins their very first competition match??" Lesley-Anne, apparently.

Since that very eventful baptism by fire, Lesley-Anne has been enjoying her twice-weekly badminton sessions tremendously. Then in end October, Yale-NUS organised an overseas athletics trip, where quite a few sports CCAs like badminton, tchoukball, floorball and basketball were given the opportunity to each send a team to Taiwan to play friendly matches with Taiwan universities.

Lo and behold, Lesley-Anne was selected to go! It was a real surprise since she's so new to the game and there are stronger players on the team. We're guessing that she was chosen because of her commitment (she diligently attends every single training session).

So off to Taiwan she went for four days and had a marvelous time. The team of eight players (four boys, four girls) had the opportunity to play against three different Taiwan universities and even though their opponents were way better than they were, it was a priceless experience.

Funny fact: Yale-NUS is known for its international mix and for some reason, the Taiwanese thought Lesley-Anne was Korean. One group of students called out to her, "Anyoung haseyo!" 😝

Lesley-Anne has been very fortunate. I can safely say that few other universities would have given such a golden opportunity to a newbie. And for me, I'm just pretty stoked to be able to say that both my kids are on badminton school teams!

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