Sandy Dandy – Fun in the Sand (+ Giveaway!)


*UPDATED 22/4/2017*

We revisited Sandy Dandy yesterday with a new Korean friend I made. It has changed significantly since our last visit. The wooden caravan is the newest addition and some toys have been shifted in. The entrance is a bit too high for younger toddlers like Elise and she had to plonk the top half of her body on the floor before wriggling up. A step would help smaller kids get up and down easier.

The shelves have been decorated with items from All Things Felt (which are also for sale). The colourful felt ornaments add more vibrancy to the place. Handcrafted by underprivileged Nepalese women, every product you buy empowers them to continue creating crafts to support their families. There’re name banners (pre-order only), pen toppers, cot mobiles, bags and even rugs.



Elise with her oppa. He’s a well-mannered and slightly shy boy who took good care of Elise when they were playing together even though Elise couldn’t really reply to his questions. The see-saw is a new addition as well as it wasn’t there when we last visited.


In the sandpit. It was a Friday and the area was packed. Jennie says that it’s best to come on Wednesdays and Thursdays to avoid the crowd. In spite of the limited space, the kids found their own corner and did their own things. Other than another Korean boy who tried to snatch a toy from Elise, we didn’t notice any kid fighting or bad behaviour like pushing or taunting.

We spent about 3 hours there from 3pm to 6pm. The menu has been updated to include main dishes like chicken lasagne in addition to hot snacks (chicken nuggets, fries, wings, chicken sausages) which are all air-fried or microwaved.

Most parents left around 5pm, leaving the sandpit empty for us to enjoy. I’m glad they liked the place. You know how it’s like when you feel responsible for suggesting a venue to ensure a fun date? I had nothing to worry about because when we were walking out of the place, YJ (the little boy) kept telling his mother over and over that he wanted to go back to play. Overall, it’s a great place for some peace and quiet as you can sip on coffee or do your work whilst keeping an eye on your kid in the sandpit through the full length glass windows.

*ORIGINAL POST 7/4/2017*
Elise finally met up with her buddies Matty and Hana after a very long while. This time, they explored a newly opened indoor sand playground! 🙂 After a challenging lunch with the toddlers, we walked over to the Forum. Like most indoor playgrounds, there are temperature checks conducted upon arrival. We each received a guest card which was meant to record our purchases at the cafe so we only needed to pay all charges upon exit.

A mini play area with various toys for the kids to entertain themselves with. The toddlers spent a lot of time here before even venturing into the sandpit! I spoke with Jennie, the owner of Sand Dandy about how the idea was formed. She wanted a safe space with actual sand for children to play in. As a mother of two young children herself, she put extra thought into the design of the area, ensuring that it was safe enough. Most of the items are customised as she wanted the edges to be rounder to protect the children.

The empty shelves on the side will eventually be stocked with handmade felt toys crafted by disadvantaged women. Jennie was approached by various baby product distributors but chose to showcase something less generic yet suitable for children instead.
Ample seating space with benches and tables. The space is open for event bookings as well, so you can consider holding your kid’s birthday or full month over here.
Spot the bouncy castle at the back of the cafe? Elise wailed the moment she saw it so no go. We did spot a few other children using it though!  The cafe stocks a wide variety of desserts like cake pops, push pop cakes, jelly cakes and pies in addition to hot snacks which are only either air-fried or microwaved. They order their supplies from a local baker and currently do not make desserts in store.

A jelly cake, icing cookie and Pokemon chocolate cupcake. The cupcake was a bit too dry and crumbly for my liking but the jelly cup suited my tastebuds.
There’s no attached bathroom, but there’s a baby room for diaper changes with an armchair for nursing in privacy. I felt this was quite a thoughtful idea because not all indoor playgrounds have such a facility. It’s still quite bare and work-in-progress at the moment, but Jennie is doing most of the work herself! It’s a commendable effort.
Our kids, still stuck at the kiddy play area.

This Grow’n’up slide is about the same height as the one we have at home but is steeper so the kids swoosh down fast! I wish I got this instead of my boring slow slide. Thankfully, the kids mostly played by themselves and we only had to break up one fight between Matty and Elise at the end.

The highlight of Sandy Dandy – the sand pit! The wooden boat and lifeguard post with slide is also custom-made so you won’t find it elsewhere. Occupying an entire shop unit of space, the sand pit contains play sand from Mothercare and near the front, kinetic sand. The sand is sooooooooooooooooooooo soft, it’s like being at the beach except you’re likelier to touch a sand toy instead of a used cigarette butt or plastic bag. No bugs over here too!
It was a therapeutic experience for me. We’ve been to playgrounds which use cassia seeds in place of sand and while those weren’t too bad as well, nothing beats an actual sandpit. I used to make sand cakes at the playground with sticks for candles as a kid. Except now with kinetic sand, you can make your cake and CUT IT! The front part near the entrance is packed with kinetic sand and the play sand fills the rest of the pit, so it’s not exactly a mixture.
Sand is flipped every 3 days and 100kg of new sand is added monthly as part of maintenance. If your kid soils the sand, take note that you’ll have to pay for sand replacement! The sand toys are santised daily too.
Her thoughtfulness extends to the quality of sand toys used in the play area. Most of the toys are made in Germany at a higher cost than usual and while she did buy some from Taobao, she refused to use those which did not pass her mom-standards. No flimsy plasticky toys over here!
Sandy Dandy provides little jumpsuits to prevent sand from getting into clothes and diapers. There is no extra cost to use the jumpsuits and it is not compulsory to wear them either; it’s up to you! We put the jumpsuits on for them and led them in. The jumpsuits did keep a lot of sand out from their clothes! There are also brushes at the entrance to brush your feet with.
“Momma can we go in already -_-“
Our little minions treading the sand.
Matty, having had his confidence boosted by all his MyGym lessons, clambered up the steps all by himself! On a big-kid slide!
Go Matty!!!
I’ve brought Elise to the beach a few times, but haven’t sat her down on the sand proper so this was her first time. She seemed to like it and used the tiniest shovel ever to fill up her mold. Yes, she ate sand as well. *shrugs* It’ll all come out I guess. 肮脏吃,肮脏大. The last I read, sand has anti-bacterial qualities… Sand play is a great sensory experience for young children. Instead of hard ground, they get to feel the softness of sand beneath their feet.
It was a great play date and new experience for the kids.  There is unlimited playtime on weekdays and it only costs $15.50 (kids below 24m) to let the kids use the facilities for the entire day. :O On weekends, playtime is limited to 2 hours. I see myself bringing Elise back again. I loved sitting in the sand and it was total heaven when the kids were captivated enough to play by themselves without bugging us. Best.


* GIVEAWAY *

Sandy Dandy is giving away prizes of 5 play passes and 5 1-free-hour passes for weekend play to a total of 10 readers!

From now till 2nd May, just:

1. Like Bibimbubs & Sandy Dandy on Facebook and Instagram @bibimbubsblog, @sandydandysg

2. Like & Share this Facebook post (set to “Public), tag any parent(s) who may be interested 🙂

Sandy Dandy

583 Orchard Road
#02-33 Forum The Shopping Mall
Singapore 238884 

Highlights info row image +65 6734 6806

Highlights info row image Weekdays 10:00 – 19:00, Weekends 10:00 – 20:00

** Not a paid review. We all paid full price for the play session. All opinions are of my own.

Blue House Atelier

We’ve been to Blue House Atelier at UE Square quite a number of times now. The Atelier offers Playgroup, weekly classes  and drop-in sessions. Lessons ($40) are an hour each with a theme. Each child is introduced and an instructor will sing a few songs before introducing the theme of the day. As they focus on the Reggio Emilia approach of learning, the children get to be in control of how they want to play, how long they want to play and whether they want to play at all!

LESSONS:

For one lesson, they brought out raw oatmeal and pasta for the children to mess with. Sensory play is essential for babies and toddlers to develop cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional skills. Elise started off by swiping around the box…

…then she decided to climb inside the box! The instructors encourage parents to let children be during the session – they are allowed to smell the oatmeal, throw it, fling it, put it in their hair, put it in their friend’s hair etc. It’s all about messy play. Mess =/= stress when you’re not the one having to clean up!

In other lessons, there’s messier play where the babies can be in their diapers for easier cleanup. Once, the babies played with tubs of cold yoghurt on bubble wrap, smearing it on their faces and round tummies. On another occasion, they fiddled with tubs of water beads along with ladles, pots and pans to build their gross motor skills.

They had a contraption where they let children blow streamers up in the air to intrigue their curiosity. Every lesson is slightly different depending on the theme. Kids who choose to stay at the first activity can continue doing so until the end of the lesson. It’s an entire hour where kids get to have their way without being nagged at. FREEDOM!

DROP-IN:

They also provide drop-in sessions for unsupervised free play ($25). The environment is spacious with a high ceiling and glass walls allowing natural light to shine through. There’s a diaper changing area as well. It used to stock wet wipes and tissue but the most recent time I was there at noon, the bin was full and there were no wet wipes to be seen.

They shift their furniture every now and then.

It’s a chance for you to plonk your kid there to explore while you sit and watch them do their thing. The place is child friendly and they’re not likely to get hurt even if they trip and fall. You’ll still have to break up fights if needed though at this age, most kids indulge in parallel play (playing alongside each other, taking interest in what the other kid is doing but not influencing it) instead of interactive play. Interactive play begins at a later age.

Over at the dark corner, there’s a light box with sensory bottles. Sensory bottles are plastic bottles which are filled with water, gel, oil and trinkets such as buttons, pasta, water beads. These bottles cost next to nothing to make but they trigger children to question why some objects move slower in oil as compared to water, why some bottles are quiet but others are noisy, why the contents in certain bottles can’t move (one was filled with agar).

A wall-mounted light box for kids to insert coloured plastic rods into to create their own design.

They are open on weekends at UE Square so even working parents can bring their kids over for a sensory experience. I prefer this approach of teaching because it allows children to learn through play without placing stress on them while stimulating their senses and invoking their curiosity. They can’t express themselves yet, but their little minds will be questioning.

 

 

Blue House Atelier
83 Clemenceau Avenue
#-01-35/36 UE Square, Office Tower
Singapore 239920
Telephone: +65 6235 2126

Check the timetable for drop-in sessions. Remember to bring socks for both adult and child.

2 Turf Club Road #02 – 05 to 08
Singapore 287988
Nearer MRT : Sixth Avenue – 10 minute walk
Telephone: +65 6462 6547

** Not a paid review. I paid for the lessons and drop-in sessions.

My New Life as a SAHM

A few weeks ago, I visited my friend from secondary school who gave birth recently. Both her and her husband were all-rounded model students (smart, school councilors, leadership roles in their CCAs) and nurtured their young love for over a decade before getting married. I wasn’t close to them and didn’t keep in touch after graduation, so our only connection was Facebook.

She messaged me over Facebook after reading about Elise and told me about her newborn son having to undergo an emergency operation due to a congenital birth defect. Thankfully, her son is now healthy and thriving. After Elise’s swelling subsided, I made arrangements to visit them. My friend’s nephew was also there so both of them played together. When the kids got restless, I followed my friends mother-in-law for a stroll to the nearby reservoir.

There, I told her that I stopped working full-time and am now physically around Elise 24/7. Recently retired after having worked as a nurse for more than 30 years, she emphasized the importance of a woman needing to earn her own money. “Men respect women who earn their own money, even a little. It gives you a voice”. I agree with that actually, because having to depend on another person entirely for finances makes you a bit vulnerable and dependent. She also shared with me her child-rearing tactics, claiming that she never needed to use a cane.

“I understand that your maternal instincts are strong, especially when she’s still young. However, she’ll need you lesser when she starts school full-time and you may find it challenging to get re-employed with a gap. Moreover, working outside makes you creative which helps in educating her”. 

It’s been about 2 months. Weekday mornings used to be immensely rushed. I had to prepare lunch for her, get ready for work, latch her and express out some milk for her all in an hour. Commuting to work took an hour. Including travel time, I was away from Elise for at least 10 hours. Now that I have the luxury of spending the entire day with her, I get to bring her for impromptu meetups with her baby friends.

On the housewife front, I’m still getting nagged at by my husband for not doing the laundry properly or keeping the house clean enough. He’s the one who picks up stray hair strands, sets a timer for the laundry so he can “save water” and vacuums the floor. What kind of chores am I doing at home? Cooking, washing the dishes, dumping the clothes in the machine on “Quick” mode (“You didn’t use softener right? There’s no fragrance!”) and haphazardly draping them onto the laundry line (“NO! Look at those crumpled clothes! You need to fling the water off the clothes before you hang them up! 야! 뺄래를 탁탁 털어야지!”). His best line is “너 근대에 한번 갔다와야돼” or “You need to go to the army”.

We should really hire a part-time helper.

For 2017, I should make some plans for my personal growth as well.

  1. Appearance
    Restart my skincare routine in order to prevent myself from morphing into a frumpy, unkempt housewife. There’s obviously nothing wrong in prioritising family. It’s just that I am still holding onto a glimmer of hope that I can still look presentable years down the road and not stare in the mirror feeling crappy about myself.
  2. Studies
    Brush up on my Korean, pick up a new language, learn new skills. 2016 was a stagnant year in terms of learning.
  3. Career
    Or lack of. I know a number of capable supermoms who have started and grown their business whilst maintaining their family. How do they do it?!

Meanwhile, I’m just going to enjoy whatever time I have as a housewife.

Here’s Elise and Matty at the Botanic Gardens – one of our impromptu playdates where we brought the babies to a water park without towels or spare clothes. Thankfully, the babies were air-dried quickly due to the toasty air. We managed to get them to hold hands! Hehehehe.

Elise spent Christmas Eve with Snorlax at a close friend’s house.

On Boxing Day, we met new friends. We joined a group of Singapore-based wives with Korean boyfriends and spouses. The location of the meetup had an amazing view of the CBD. We exchanged presents, the kids chased each other around and my husband finally got to enjoy some beers and pour out his sorrows to people who get him.

The men created their own chat group too. Now he can feel like he belongs~. My husband was extremely reluctant to accompany us at first. He was already all dressed up, sitting in front of the computer and asking “Do I really have to go? Why don’t you go alone with Elise?”. He ended up enjoying himself tremendously. See? You may be right, but your wife is never wrong.

At the bus stop near our house, a little girl came over to tickle Elise’s chin out of nowhere. Superstarrrrr. This was the day we went to the hospital for her check-up. We saw Dr Ganga again and he stressed on the importance of genetic testing, especially if we are intending to expand our family. This test is not covered by insurance and costs approximately S$3,500 because the specimen and blood samples have to be flown to Canada. Genetic testing for Retinoblastoma will show if it is an inherited condition (if it is, the risk of siblings developing Retinoblastoma is much higher). Dr Ganga asked us to crowdfund if necessary, but I don’t feel comfortable sticking my hand out to ask for money from strangers.

From the articles we’ve read online, it doesn’t seem likely that it will recur. Retinoblastoma metastasis generally occurs within the 1st year of diagnosis. 15% of unilateral retinoblastoma cases develop tumours in the other eye. A good thing is that her optic nerve was cancer free and recurrences usually occur with tumours which touch the optic nerve. Is this money worth spending? I’m really not sure. My father suggested that the hospital should use her case as research and pay for the genetic testing since Retinoblastoma is so rare in Singapore.

On the 25th, Elise will undergo another Examination Under Anasthesia (EUA). It’ll be the third time since November that she’ll be under GA. I’ve read about decreased intelligence in children who have underwent GA compared to those who have not undergone anasthesia. 🙁 I’ve asked the doctors but GA is their preferred method as they will also be creating a mold for her prosthetic eye and they don’t want to risk her waking up during the procedure. 🙁 This won’t be the last EUA as Elise will need to be under surveillance to monitor for recurrence.

Dr Ganga mentioned adjuvant/preventive chemotherapy (chemotherapy that is done after surgery to eliminate cancer which may not have been physically excised) that I am not keen on. It’s like a repeat of my cancer situation where the physical tumour was removed with surgery and adjuvant chemotherapy was declined. Let’s just hope that it is truly gone and doesn’t metastasize elsewhere years later.

In other news, look who had her very first professional haircut! I’ve only snipped her fringe twice with blunt scissors. My husband booked an appointment for all of us with Edward, his new friend, who happened to work at Dusol Beauty. I used to frequent the salon years ago. Edward was incredulous that I didn’t recognise him because he worked there longer than my hairstylist.

My head feels much lighter. The last haircut was months ago at a dodgy $4.90 place. Being pampered with a shampoo and head massage sure was heavenly. We had mall vouchers so the total cost was very affordable!

Getting her to stay still was a challenge.

I am Elise, hear me roar! Straight bangs to look like a little boy. We all had new haircuts for the new year. 🙂