Advent 2017: Day 16

I was still very tired today, so the Barn Owl let me sleep in until it was time for me to take J and Little E to take part in the ‘Doctor for a Day’ programme at Mount Elizabeth Orchard (recommended to me by David from Life’s Tiny Miracles).

It was really fun experience, and both J and Little E thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Afterwards, I was completely exhausted and slept most of the afternoon away. I’m glad the Barn Owl is such a hands-on parent when he’s home on the weekends!

P.S. We are following the Advent calendar from Truth In The Tinsel this year!

P.P.S. Check out our other Advent posts here with lots of crafty fun for the season and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

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Book Series that we love (Chapter books): My Blade Quest

We’ve recently been introduced to yet another homegrown Singaporean author, Don Bosco, and his Super Cool chapter book series – My Blade Quest!

These adventure books are definitely good for readers who need to gain confidence in moving away from picture books, and are looking to slowly expand their vocabulary. Each chapter is only 3-4 pages long, and will not appear intimidating even though the illustrations are few and far between. This makes them perfect for primary schoolers who are not yet confident readers, but don’t want to be caught reading ‘kiddy books’ during the silent reading time in class!

The stories are funny and exciting, with a smattering of pop culture elements to capture the attention of our technology and media savvy kids. The main characters Jay and Shu, heirs to the Blade Quest card game empire, are intrepid and intelligent…and I really like the fact that they have a loving sibling relationship!

don-bosco-my-blade-quest-book-series

A quick read before bedtime

I introduced this series to 9 year old J, and he was glad to have something fun to read to unwind during the hectic end-of-year exam period. The series has 9 year old J’s stamp of approval and he has since re-read the books several times.

J says – If you are looking for an in-between mystery and adventure book series that is more challenging than Geronimo Stilton and less silly than Captain Underpants, then these books are good for you. I enjoy imagining Jay and Shu going all over the world to find treasures and meet new friends. And I wish I had a Blade Quest Card Game!

Little E is just beginning to start reading chapter books, so I’ll be reading My Blade Quest with her during school holidays and hopefully this will help her to read more independently!

Bonus For Owls Well Readers: If you are looking for a great gift idea for a special little person in your life, the fine folk over at Armour Publishing have kindly offered an exclusive discount code for all Owls Well Readers! Hooray!  Just enter the code OWLS17 at checkout to enjoy 20% off any purchase of My Blade Quest Series (Books 1 – 4). (Discount code is valid from 17 Nov to 8 Dec 2017).

Buyer’s note: I received a set of My Blade Quest books from Armour Publishing for this review. If you would like to get the books for a little adventurer in your life, you can find My Blade Quest and other books by local authors here. Don’t forget to use the discount code!

Travel Essentials: BabyZen Yoyo+ (aka Best Stroller Ever)

We’re talking about our latest favourite travel essential over at Owl Fly Away today!

Owl Fly Away

Okay, as you can tell from the title of this post, we are completely in love with the BabyZen Yoyo+.

babyzen-yoyo-owlflyaway-travel Travel anywhere with the BabyZen Yoyo+

We’ve been using this stroller for nearly a year now (thanks to the generosity of the fine folk over at BabyZen Singapore who were kind enough to send us a lovely stroller to try), and it’s seriously the best stroller we’ve ever had – and so handy for travelling!

Not only is the stroller lightweight, sturdy and easy to manoeuvre around, but it collapses down so small that you can bring it on board any flight as carry-on baggage! As you can imagine, this makes life SO much easier when travelling.

Babyzen-yoyo-plus-travel-essential-baby-owlswell The perfect “anywhere chair” and napping corner

Thumper was so comfortable in the BabyZen Yoyo+ that he would easily take naps in it, anytime, anyplace, anywhere. This meant that we could stay…

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Peaceful Port Macquarie: Shelley Beach

We find seashells on the seashore (and much more)

Owl Fly Away

It was late in the afternoon when we reached Shelley Beach, after post-prandial jaunt at Sea Acres National Park.

The skies were clear, but the beach was damp after the day’s drizzling. That didn’t stop the kids from getting onto the soft white sand and running straight down to the sea!

shelley-beach-port-macquarie J and Little E enjoying some sandy playtime

Shelley Beach is a lovely little natural tidal lagoon, so it is much more sheltered and the waves are gentle enough for little ones to paddle about in (under supervision, of course). The beach has got some very basic facilities – just toilets and a changing area – so make sure you have plenty of water and snacks with you before you go!

Thumper was pretty tired, so I put him in his stroller for a quick nap in the sea breeze (much more fun than napping in the cramped…

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Peaceful Port Macquarie: Abundance Lifestyle and Garden

We’re writing over at our travel blog, Owl Fly Away, today – check it out!

Owl Fly Away

After our drizzly morning at Sea Acres National Park, we had worked up quite an appetite!

As the weather forecast showed sunnier skies further inland, we decided to take a scenic drive to nearby Hastings Valley to have lunch at the cafe in Abundance Lifestyle and Garden.

The cafe there was bright and airy with beautiful views over the lake and served pretty decent meals as well!

delicious-food-abundance-garden-centre-cafe-kids Tucking into some delicious burgers and salads

The cafe was empty when we first arrived, but it soon began to fill up with hungry customers. Surprisingly, the cafe environment remained relaxed and tranquil! Perhaps the fresh scent of eucalyptus wafting across the lake on the gentle breeze had a calming effect on us all.

abundance-garden-centre-port-macquarie-cafe-walk Exploring the garden centre

Afterwards, we decided to wander around the lake and landscaped gardens, admiring all the beautiful plants.

We spent an hour or so exploring the…

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Friday Break: GISELLE by Teatro San Carlo giveaway

 

Giselle_510x720Hi Owls Well Readers,

I have got a real special treat for you guys today!

One lucky Owls Well reader will make away with a pair of highly-coveted tickets to the opening night performance of GISELLE by Teatro Di San Carlo worth SGD$290.

This is all thanks to the fine folks over at Base Entertainment Asia! Thank you guys for sponsoring this awesome giveaway!

 

If you’d like to join me in watching the wonderful prima ballerina Ekaterina Oleynik dancing with the Teatro Di San Carlo ballet company on 26 April 2017, 8pm, here’s how you can take part in this giveaway:

  1. Be a fan of the Owls Well Facebook Page
  2. Share this giveaway on your Facebook Page (set to public), tagging @Owls Well as well as at least two friends
  3. Make a comment below telling me who you’ll be bringing with you to the ballet if you win! Don’t forget to tell me the name of your Facebook account that you used to share this giveaway and include your email address! (If you would like to send me the email address privately, leave a comment for the other answers, then email me at 4owlswell [at] gmail [dot] com)

(This giveaway is open to anyone with a Singapore mailing address and closes at noon on Monday 25th April 2017. Winners will be picked via Random.org – just make sure you complete all 3 easy steps!)

P.S. Find tickets to GISELLE here

UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed – Peishan is our winner! Thanks for playing!

Life Science in a Jar: Mealworms

J came home one day and asked for a disposable tupperware for school. His Science teacher wanted each child to bring home a mealworm to rear over the March school holidays.

I didn’t know anything about mealworms so whilst he was in school, I did a little bit of research and found out that they are quite easy to rear – all they need for food and bedding is dry oatmeal. They get enough water from their food, so it isn’t necessary to provide a water bowl, which acts more like a death trap for unsuspecting mealworms.

Of course, when J brought the mealworms home, both the mealworms were lying in a small puddle of water. It had been a hot day and J thought they might need a drink – all living things need water to survive, right?

WRONG.

Neither of the mealworms appeared to be moving, so I told J that he might have accidentally drowned both of them. Poor J was crestfallen.

“Poor innocent mealworms,” he moaned, peering at the motionless creatures, “They were so active before and now they’re just lying on their backs! They look so stiff.”

Just then, A Becky C happened to phone up for a chat. Well, I remembered all of a sudden that she used to rear mealworms in an old pencil case! Ah ha! Help has arrived!

“DEBS!!!! I have something important to tell you!” she chirped in my ear.

“NONONONO WAIT WAIT LISTEN LISTEN THIS IS AN EMERGENCY!” I shrieked back. “I THINK THE MEALWORMS HAVE DROWNED!”

A Becky C laughed at me, then said “Okay calm down. If they aren’t swimming around in water, they might still be okay. Just dry them off with a tissue. Mealworms are very stupid. Sometimes they get so stressed that they think that they’re dead, but they aren’t. The only way to tell that they are actually dead is if they start to curl up and decompose. Then you’ll know that they’re dead.”

So J dried the mealworms off with a tissue and sure enough, after a few minutes, one of the mealworms started to twitch it’s legs ever so slightly. Then it seemed to wake up and start crawling around again. The other mealworm just lay quietly but every so often it would twitch and shudder, as if remembering it’s watery ordeal.

I transferred the mealworms into a dry container with a nice layer of dried oatmeal, and both the mealworms immediately buried themselves in the meal.

mealworm-pupae-beetle-life-cycle

Three stages of the mealworm’s lifecycle

By the next day, one of the mealworms was fully revived and was running laps around the perimeter of the container. The other worm was very lethargic. It moved so little that we were convinced that it was dead.

Turns out, the blessed creature was busy pupating – it eventually shed its skin and turned into greyish-white pupa. A week or so later, the pupa split open and a white beetle crawled out, which turned brown, then black.

J and Little E took turns feeding the mealworm and darkling beetle. Occasionally, if they were eating a piece of fruit, they’d drop a small piece in as a treat to the beetles.

mealworm-beetle-science-lifecycle-kids

Keeping an eye on things

Of course, Thumper was most fascinated by the little creatures and would check on them many times an hour. I had to teach him to stop picking up the container and shaking it around, which would send both the mealworm and darkling beetle into spasms. Eventually, he learned to grip the edge of the table instead and just bring his head down to the table surface to peek at the insects. I’m so glad that he’s learned how to respect small creatures!

Both of J’s mealworms have completed their life cycles and are now darkling beetles, and J is hoping that they will start breeding soon. (Also, Little E is complaining that she doesn’t have a pet. So let’s see what we can do about that.)