Friday, 27 September 2013

Make-Your-Own-Camera Today!

You know how I enjoy making stuff? I do enjoy the process of making toys for the kids out of recycled materials. Not only do we save money from buying toys for the kids, we also get a art & craft session out of it, which the kids totally enjoy. Also, having made the item, the kids usually treasure their hard work and actually take pretty good care of it. It is also a lesson on being thrifty, on making the best of what we have.

We do not have a habit of frequenting shopping centres, but even then, on the rare occasions that we do go to the shops, the kids will sometimes ask if they can buy something which they see. My reply is often "We don't need it." and quickly herd them away. 

Nowadays, I don't even need to say anything... 
Shawna speaks for me "We don't need it, right, Mummy?" 
"That's right!" I say, beaming ear to ear.
Isaac:"I have a great idea! Why don't we make it?!"
Asher:"And we can paint it!"
Proud mummy me:"Yes, we can!"

And the best part about making stuff is, every child can make one. We can't and won't buy the same toy for every child. It's an extravagance that we should not indulge in even if we could afford it. To us, lessons on being thrifty and being innovative and creative are more valuable than money can buy.
So that's all you need. Some cardboard (dimensions in picture above), a toilet roll, a pen knife, some duct tape to tape the ends of the camera together, and some string for the neck strap. If you're wondering where I got my lovely thick golden string for the neck strap - they are salvaged from paper bags' handles! :) I can honestly say these DIY Cardboard Cameras cost me less than a dollar to make! :)

Try it! And when it gets played till it's in bad shape, just trash it and make another one!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Are you going to Brave Maeve, The Musical?

Have you heard of Brave Maeve?

I first heard of Brave Maeve when I read this article, whose link I came across when someone shared it on Facebook. Maeve is a little girl who contracted cancer when she was three years old. Her parents brought her for medical treatment and rallied around her trying to ease her discomfort and ride out the difficult journey with her. Along the way, Maeve's mother, Joanne Poon, wrote a story for Maeve, trying to help her understand in simple terms, the grueling chemotherapy treatment she was going through. Thankfully, Maeve, who is currently about 7 years old, is now well. The story has since been published into a book, and now there is a musical on about it! 

Watch this video below, and read this article

This is such a heartwarming story of love and hope, that when I found out that the book has been published, I wanted to buy it, even though it was available for borrowing from all National Libraries in Singapore. Upon further investigation, I realised it was actually made free, you just had to go pick it up! I immediately made a trip down to pick up the book. Due to its popularity, I understand that there's not likely to be anymore copies of the book available for pick up. However, in addition to the National Library, Brave Maeve the book can be read at in Children's Cancer Foundation offices in National University Hospital and KKHospital, Singapore.

Joanne's dream, is to make this book available in all paediatric oncology wards around the world, so if hospital outside Singapore would like a copy of the book, just email to request for one. In fact, kind volunteers have translated the book into the following languages: Chinese, Malay, Bahasa Indonesia, Russian, German, Vietnamese, Spanish, and French. The translated word documents of these languages can be downloaded off the Brave Maeve Singapore Facebook Page

The twins, Asher & Shawna, simply love the book. From the day I brought it home, the twins would often request for it. Often, we would have to read it back to back for at least two times, before we could move on to reading a different book. Now, they know it so well that they can read along with me, finishing the sentences of every line. They would ask me questions, like, why Brave Maeve had to go for X-rays, and why her parents had to stand outside the door and not beside her when she was having her X-ray taken. Every time the kids refused to take their medication when they are ill, I'd say "Remember Brave Maeve? You have to let the good soldiers in to fight the bad soldiers. Medicine is your good soldiers. You need to let them into you so that they can fight the bad soldiers for you to poo them out!" and they'd relent, open their mouths and swallow the medicine I was administering.

So you can imagine my excitement when I realised that they were putting up a Brave Maeve Musical! Wooohooo! Check out the cool poster below! We bought tickets for ourselves, and we're bringing my three nieces along too! The kids are so psyched up and keep asking me when they are going to see the Brave Maeve performance. We can't wait! :)

Do you want to go to the Brave Maeve Musical too? As of right now, I understand that there are still approximately 100 to 200 tickets available for the Friday night 8pm show on 4th October 2013, as well as limited tickets available for the Saturday night 5th October 8pm show. Venue is at 121 Dover Road, Singapore 139650 Lee Kong Chian Centre for Performing Arts 2 at The Anglo-Chinese School (Independent). Email to book your tickets now! 

Brave Maeve the book would be available at The Musical for a minimum donation of S$15 per book. This goes towards funding for a reprint :) You may also read more above Brave Maeve, her mummy Joanne, and their journey with childhood cancer in this blog post here on The Playful Parents.

Please note that this is not a sponsored post - I paid for my tickets! :) I just feel that this is a very worthy cause that we should support! :) Oh wait! Want to see Maeve herself? This video below is a video of Brave Maeve reading the story that her mummy wrote for her! :)

The Brave Maeve from Singaporean of the Day on Vimeo.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Lanterns from recycled materials

I love using recycled materials to make stuff, and lanterns are so cool coz it looks so awesome when the candles are lit up in them. I can't claim all the credit of course - I've had inspiration! Especially from these few blog posts from Hai Fang's blog :)
Our lanterns aren't really in the league of those in the links above. But I'm happy enough with them! I help the kids with the structure, but the kids do all the painting required. I like crafts where the kids actually get to do something, rather than wait around for Mummy to complete them.

Here are the lanterns we made this year for the 2013 Mid-Autumn Festival :)
Technically, we made the plane above last year. But we didn't paint it last year, so I decided to give it some colour this year. Also, it kinda of turned out looking like a bird instead of a plane (It's a bird, it's a plane, okay okay, I'd try doing a Superman next year!). So I figured maybe if I paint it green, it'd look like an army plane? Plus Shawna had mixed up her yellow and blue so we had this army greenish paint there... and so she happily painted it green... I like how it turned out :) definite improvement!
This one above is made from takeaway salad bowls from The Salad Shop. I'd accumulated some when I was working in town in the past couple of years in my previous job. I loved the unique shape of the container and thought it would make a cool lantern. Got the kids to paint its insides. Stuck a quarter of a toilet roll in the bottom half to hold the candle in place. Wait till it dries, put in the string, and voila! Love this lantern! :)
This one above was actually partially inspired by Mum in the Making, her post got me thinking that actually a lantern is just a frame with sides, and just figure out a way to put in the candle, and we're all done! So what I did was to actually use a plastic bottle for the bottom of the lantern. The plastic sides of the bottle was split so as to form the square base - I folded the corners of the plastic sides and just stapled the paper to the folded ends. The paper is actually magazine paper, so you can actually use your favourite artist's picture, or even use nice wrapping paper, or drawing block paper with the kids drawings/painting on them. Anything goes! After I put in the string, I found that the top folded in, not maintaining the blockish shape - so I pasted ice-cream sticks at the top on all four sides(see bottom right hand corner picture). And the most ingenious part of this lantern that I like is... you can unscrew the red cap, stand a candle in it, light it, and screw back the cap with the candle lit in it! :p hehehe...

So those are our lanterns this year. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! :)

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Isaac's doodles - show and tell!

In the children's childcare centre, the teachers often give the children paper to draw on while waiting for us parents to come get them. Thus, in the past few years, I often find many pieces of paper with Isaac's doodles in his bag. Asher & Shawna are still at the age where they aren't really able to draw something recognisable, but Isaac's drawings has progressed to the stage where he can do so.
The Christmas day drawing on the left, that he talks about in the viddeo. And the X-Men drawing on the right. See Wolverine's three claws?! See how Cyclops' eye power zaps the "Bad Girl Wolverine"?! Fierce ah!!! Storm looks happy in the sky though! Amongst the clouds she must be! :p"
Being a mummy brings out the hoarder in me, and I just couldn't bear to throw his drawings away. Thus, I started to collect them and bind them by the year, into a booklet. I also did that for the twins artwork that they bring back from school. Such a waste to throw them away, I thought. I tried to curb my extreme hoarder instinct by forcing myself to throw some of the art or craftwork that was too difficult to keep - like too three dimensional or had organic material like beans that I was afraid would grow mouldy in time.
I like the speech bubbles on the drawing on the left. Think it's some car chase or something! Big race on the right side drawing too!
And then I also had the idea to start taking videos of Isaac talking about his drawings - I thought this would be a good way to expose him to give him experience of presenting his work to others. Heard they have to do Show & Tell in primary school, so why not have some practice eh? Besides, I think the kids are still at a pretty cute age and I want to take videos of them talking and such... before they get too self-conscious about it - which reminds me, I must take more videos of them!

Yes, that's Batman flying through the night sky... hur hur hur... And on the right hand side - My Little Pony(s) apparently! One of Isaac's classmates at that point in time really liked My Little Pony and must have really gone on about it to Isaac.
Without further ado, let us welcome Isaac and Asher with Isaac's drawings! :)

If you're wondering why the boys are "slanging" - I'm not sure either. Perhaps they perceive that as The Presentation Voice or tone to adopt.
Love the drawing of Earth near the bottom left of the left picture! :) On the right hand side, Isaac draws a Zoo. I remember him being fixated on drawing Zoos for a period of time.

Monday, 16 September 2013

The week we had a Volkswagen Sharan!

We had a new friend for a week! Guess who? The Volkswagen Sharan! :) Volkswagen Singapore had so kindly offered us a week's loan of this fantastic family car, for us to try it out and blog about it.

The kids were all excited and asked "How come have new car?" We were quick to emphasize that we were allowed this privilege for only a week - we didn't want them crying and throwing tantrums when we have to go back to using our own car!
Even though we have a family sized car of our own, we happily jumped onto das wagen when we were offered this opportunity to try out the Sharan for a week. I'd always loved (toy) cars as a child, and when I was finally old enough to take the driving test, I passed it on first try :) My father's cars have all along been manual cars, so I was very proficient with driving with manual controls too. It's fun!

We were told that the Sharan has manual controls as well, if we so choose to activate it. We didn't try it though, being a little jitterish about driving a car that didn't belong to us. We had a whole load of other cool features to try out though, so it was all great fun!

Here are the kids giving a thumbs up! A seven seater car, the Sharan has three rows of seats. We like to install the kids in the second row so that it gives us lots of boot space. Two child seats and a booster seat fits into our own car just right, as Isaac is quite slim and can fit in between the two child seats. but with the Sharan - he has almost double the space! We could even fit in another proper car seat for him, if we wanted to.
Of the three kids, Isaac was the most excited about the "new car". Being the observant 6 year old he is, he started noticing many automatic functions the car had, stuff which could be done with just a touch of the button on the dashboard, without the driver even leaving his seat. 

For example, the side sliding doors on both sides AND the back door to the boot, can all be closed automatically by just pressing the appropriate button on the dashboard. The sun roof can be opened with a touch of the button... and when hubbs told Isaac that the car could even park itself... He exclaimed:"What?! Really?! Wow! This is such a relaxing car!"

Yes, it is true! The car can park itself! When we went to pick the car up, the Volkswagen sales manager gave us a quick run through of the car's functions, and gave us a demo of the car parking itself, vertical parking. We were suitably impressed as it looked so easy! We managed to give it a try ourselves, setting the car on it's Park Assist mode to park the car... in a parallel lot! And it did it! With great ease, I might add! Way cool!

Can you see behind the boys what we have in the boot? Bicycles! That's right!
With a simple flick and push, the back row seats can be pushed flat down to reveal an enlarged boot space. It's huge!!! All in, we managed to fit in a full 20" mountain bike, a foldable Brompton bicycle, two skate scooters, a box that had hubbs' inline skates and all the guards etc in it, and a bag of boardgames (oh, we always have some boardgames in the boot) - and there was still space to place stuff if we really wanted to bring more stuff.

In fact, with the spacious legroom in the middle row where the kids were sitting, we could even place their school bags in the same row as them. As such, there were times when we simply picked the kids up early from childcare, and drove straight to the park - with all our barang already in the boot!

If you're wondering why I don't have many external shots of the Sharan in this post - it's because I hardly took any! And no, it is not because the car ain't pretty - it IS a very handsome car (take a look at it from all angles here, by shifting the slider)... The reason why I took so many pictures of the interior of the car, is coz I'm a very practical sort of person. I value the function of an item, more so than its looks. And if you're thinking if that is why I took so many pictures of the boot... yes, I think that's the car's greatest asset! hehehe pun intended! :p
For me, as a mother of three young kids, and wife to a husband whose second love is the great outdoors - having a car with a humongous boot, is truly an asset. We are the sort of people who go camping with an 8-men tent, a huge ice box, a real telescope, 2 foldable deck chairs, and enough food to have a steamboat for five grown men - on a two day one night camping trip. It's a pity we couldn't get to go camping with our Sharan."Our Sharan" ? See, feels like ours already :p

 With our normal cargo for the week, the boot is massive. So we can afford to bring the back row seats up (middle bottom picture below) - the back row which could comfortably seat 3 people even though they meant it for two. They must be German sized ;)

We can also choose to just bring down one seat (bottom extreme right pic), and have more boot space. But actually, we do that so that our helper can get into the car through the back, instead of us having to shift the kids' car seats in front to let her in by the sides.Hassle free, this way.
There are also a number of other automatic features which are new to me, and which I think is a boon, for convenience as well as safety.
  • The head lights are sensor driven and come on by themselves. I liked this as it was sometimes easy to forget to turn on the lights when driving in the evening, or when it rains heavily. It even comes on when you enter a dark carpark in the day time.
  • Windscreen wipers turn on automatically and would go faster if it was raining heavily. Which is cool, coz when it is raining heavily, the roads are slippery and vision is poor - I don't have to worry about fiddling with the wiper controls, and just concentrate on driving safely.
  • Side mirrors automatically tilt itself downwards when we are doing reverse parking - so that we can see the curb. I confess I never ever bother to do this with my own car, so it was very good that the Sharan would do it automatically! 
  • When reverse gear is on, the music (be it radio or CD) would switch off. I thought it was a very good safety feature - one less distraction!
  • Again, when in reverse gear, the LED display would show a view of the back where you are reversing to. It also shows the outline of where your car is expected to move to if your wheels were turned in whatever direction it was in at that time.
Even if you used the automatic parking feature the car has, you still retain some measure of control of the car because the Sharan does the steering, but you control the brakes and hence, the speed. Also, nothing beats a careful human eye to watch out for running children/pets or protruding structures when reversing into a lot. 
So, I was asking everyone the best one or two things they liked about the Sharan...

Shawna loved the built in sun shield in the sliding car door (above, extreme left). Frankly, I loved that she loved it because I didn't need to put up make-do sun shields for her as she complains about the sun shining in at her everyday! She also liked the control button at the side door which allows her to close the automatic door - she wouldn't be able to open the door though, coz we turned on the childlock.

Asher liked the sunroof. He would always ask us to open the shades to the sunroof which will leave the sunroof's glass panes closed, but the "ceiling window" clear, so that he can look through it at the trees and buildings we pass (above, extreme right). At first, we would resist doing so if it was the middle of the day - "It'd be so hot!" hubbs and I protested. But we agreed to bring back the shades as we are firm believers of learning from experience - so we figured that when the shades are withdrawn and when Asher feels the heat from the sun - he would learn his lesson and ask the shades to be put back on. But to our surprise, even though it was around noon time, it didn't feel hot at all! Apparently, the glass is tinted in a special way to admit the light, but reflect the heat! Miraculous! It made the car feel bright and cheery, without being hot. After that day, we would often drive with the ceiling shades withdrawn.

Isaac, when I asked him, said he liked the sunroof, the built in GPS navigation system( He liked seeing where we were going.) and, surprise surprise his three-point seat belt. I didn't expect him to name the seat belt as one of his favorite features, though it certainly is a feature I liked. If you see the second picture in this post, you can see that Isaac, even though being seated in the middle of the centre row, has a three-point seat belt - instead of a two point-just-across-the-waist seat belt that most cars have for the middle seat. Paranoid Mummy Pam, me, always fears that one day, Isaac might come flying out of his seat belt towards the windscreen. I pray that never happens, and was suitably pleased to see that the Sharan had a three point seat belt for all its seats.

Hubbs, as men would be, I suppose, said the car picked up pretty quickly (for such a big heavy car), and said that he was very impressed with the automatic parking system. We only used the automatic parking feature a couple of times, so it wasn't so much that we couldn't park the car ourselves, but that we were simply amazed that the car could park itself!
As for me... gosh, I am so gonna be revealing my inner Auntie-ness in this response... and lest I sound like I am gushing, I shall try to be brief in my description of the features I like which have not been mentioned above...

I love the keyless door opening system All I need is for the key to be in my pocket, and I can just slip my hand into the door handle and unlock the car. This is supremely handy since I am usually carrying ten million bags of the kids' stuff, or from the supermarket, or struggling with holding the umbrella while trying to carry one of the twins in a heavy down pour. I can even open/unlock the car from the passenger side door or the back (boot) door. Very handy.

The steering wheel has the radio/CD volume and chapter controls on it! This is immensely useful since I tend to always adjust the volume due to the kids' request to do so, or I also often lower the volume to hear what the kids are saying to me when they talk to me. They are at the stage where they get irritated if they are asked to repeat themselves, and yet very annoyed when they think we are not listening to them. They  have also started being aware of different songs and would like to request for specific songs at times. Thus, these controls on the steering wheel ranks as a safety feature with me - coz it keeps my hands on the wheel!

I also like it very much that I can flip up and down the back row seats with such ease that requires neither herculean strength, nor a genius engineer brain, and it doesn't put any of my fingers in danger of being crushed or snapped off. Very very much appreciated, thank you.

I also found it pretty incredible how the front seats can be adjusted in any and every way using those three controls on the side of the seat (bottom middle picture in the above collage), simply amazing. As such, I could achieve the very height, tilt or angle of the driver seat to my exact preference.
Last but not least, (my most auntie moment is here) I love it that because of the way the middle row flips up (see left hand side picture on the second last collage above) - it's very easy to clean!!! I can find the toys, and pick up the crackers the kids drop. I can easily vacuum away the crumbs of bread and other dirt that accumulates on the floor of cars... I can keep the car clean! Easily!

All too soon, the week came to an end. It was like having a friend come stay with us for a week long holiday. And now we say goodbye! With the Volkswagen Sharan going at $230k (including COE) as a recommended retail price, it's highly unlikely we'd be driving the Sharan again anytime soon. But if we should have this range of budget for a car in future, the Sharan is definitely a car which we will consider.

Meanwhile, thank you Volkswagen Singapore, for this week - the week we had a Volkswagen Sharan! :)

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The pep talk on The Bully

Remember the post on Isaac being 6 years old already? I mentioned that Isaac's just had a pep talk on how to deal with bullies...

This came earlier than we expected it to. We thought it'd only happen in primary school, but no. Where there are children, there would be bullies. Apparently, one of Isaac's classmates is something of a bully/irritant/socially inept boy. He looks pretty normal and harmless to me. But I have heard from Isaac, some of the other kids, and even another kid's mom, that this particular boy, is indeed quite ill mannered and obnoxious to everyone. So at least I know that Isaac isn't making things up, nor is he being singled out. Even the teacher admitted that this boy was ill mannered.

A week before our Dinosaur Party in school, Isaac suddenly told me that he changed his mind, that he didn't want the dinosaur party to be in school anymore. I asked him why. He said "Because The Boy will destroy it!" and he started to weep bitterly. Yes, drama. I tried to ask him what sort of negative behaviour does The Boy exhibit but Isaac didn't know how to describe to me - other than showing me a rude (kiam4 pa4) face, which he says "The Boy always does that!". Nevertheless, I quickly assured him that hubbs and I would be present, and so if the boy starts to 'destroy' anything, we will stop him. Thankfully everyone was very well behaved at the party. But it kind struck me how bothered Isaac was by this boy.
Stern faced Isaac! :p
Picture by Orange Studios - Read our Orange Studios post!
A few nights ago, we were playing a board game with the kids after dinner, and... I'm not sure how the conversation started, but suddenly Isaac revealed the reason (or perhaps one of the reasons) why he was very frustrated with The Boy...

Isaac:"He says that I'm a girl!"
Me: " Is it true?"
Isaac: "No!" *incredulously*
Me: "Exactly! It's not true. So just tell him to stop saying that."
Isaac :"I did! But he still keep saying!"
Me: "Just ignore him, don't listen to him."
Isaac: "But he keeps saying it! I say to stop, but he still say!"
Me: "Did you tell Teacher Joranna about this?"
Isaac: "Teacher Joranna says not to tell her if people call you names. She say, please settle it yourself."
Me: "Right... she is right though, you must learn to deal with it yourself... So, er, try not to play with The Boy too much."
Isaac: "I didn't! I try to avoid him, but he will keep coming to me!
Me: "So you try to avoid him but he still finds you?"
Isaac: "Yes! When we go to different corners to do things, he will ask Teacher Joranna if he can change corner, then he will come to my corner!"
Me: "Then you ask Teacher Joranna if you can change corner, then you change to a different corner?"
Isaac:"I tried that already! Then he will change corner and follow me!!!"
Hubbs & Me:"Maybe he just wants to be your friend?"
Isaac:"But he keeps saying me!!!"

At this point, he was so upset he was almost tearing. I felt so sorry for him that I simply said:" Do you want a hug?" He nodded, hurried over, hugged me and sat on my lap. I felt so sorry for him Not because someone called him names, but because, I could feel his sense of helplessness... That he had tried everything he thought to do, but still nothing solved his problem. I also felt a bit sad that I knew I couldn't protect my child from everything in the world - he would need to learn to fend for himself. He needs to learn how to deal with it...

After he calmed down somewhat, we continued our discussion...

Me: " Does The Boy say mean things to other people too?"
Isaac: "Yes. He quarrels with everyone and call people names."
Me: "Ah... so what do other people do?"
Isaac: "They also call him to stop, but he doesn't stop. Especially The Girl, he always quarrels with The Girl. They call each other names all the time, because he starts first, so The Girl fed up, and started calling him names also."
Me: "Really? What do they call each other?"
Isaac: "He calls her The Naughtiest Girl, she calls him the Most Horrible Boy. He says she is Miss Ugly Pony Tail and she calls him The Boy with the Smelliest Mouth... and many others; I cannot remember all."
Me: "So all these names they call each other, is it true? Not true, right?"
Isaac: "Yeah... not true... oh except that The Boy really does have a very smelly mouth - coz he doesn't brush his tongue!"
Me: "Riiiight... But the point is, The Boy calls The Girls names which are not true. Just like he calls you names which are not true. So... you don't need to worry about other people thinking whether those things he says are not true. Next time, if he calls you names again, just tell him "Please stop calling me these names, because they are all not true."
Isaac is silent and mulls it over for a while...
Me: "So The Boy calls everyone names and quarrels with them?"
Isaac: "Yes, nobody likes him. Everyone ignores him because he is so irritating."
Me: "Do you think it is nice when nobody likes you and everyone ignores you?"
Isaac: "Not nice..."
Me: "Yes, it's not nice at all. So maybe The Boy is trying to make friends, but he doesn't know how. He only knows how to call people names and quarrel with people because that's the only way people will pay attention to him?"

Isaac looks a little stunned...
Me: "We cannot control how other people behave, but we can control our own reactions to them. So perhaps, what you can do is, the next time The Boy behaves well, you can compliment him by telling him something like. "It's nice when you behave like that, let's play together." you know, like how we tell Asher & Shawna that they are behaving well, to encourage them..."
Isaac: "Oh! Last week The Boy behave well for 3 days!"
Me: "Wow! You see, that's not so bad. So you can try to encourage him to behave well all the time!"
Isaac: "Okay... Can we continue playing this game now?"
Me: "Oh, okay. So... you feel better now?"
Isaac: "Yes, Mummy. I wish we had this talk earlier."

That's when I almost cried.

And that's when it struck me, that as my babies grow up, we may be faced with more and more of such 'problems'. Where matters are not as easily resolved as it may involve other people... People we have no control over. People who may be mean to my child simply because they feel like being so. All we can do is to pray that they meet nice people throughout their lives... and to teach them how to deal with it.

Monday, 2 September 2013

The Extended Tan Family Photoshoot with Orange Studios

I love photos. I love having nice pictures of my kids, family and friends. I enjoy taking the photographs, but that would also mean that I am often not in any of them. Thus, when Orange Studios approached us to do a shoot with them, I quickly replied to say yes. Especially when they agreed to let me bring my whole clan along! hehehe... Well, actually, it's just my parents, my sister and her family, and us. See how law abiding we are? Government say Stop at Two, my parents stopped at me and my sis. Government say have three or more... My sis and I have three kids each. Not too shabby, eh?
We've been wanting to get a nice shot of our three generation family. But, despite having two gigantic DSLRs in the family, photographs taken with the tripod and timer function is simply no match for this wonderful picture below. It is simply amazing that all 12 of us are looking at the camera and smiling too!!!
Photo by Orange Studios
And the amazing thing about the above photo and all the other photographs taken during the Orange Studios shoot is, it was all very spontaneous. We didn't have to line up according to height. We weren't shifted around like inanimate objects. We were not given any specific instructions to place our limbs in predefined positions nor anything like that. 

Being something of a control freak, I had to resist the urge to try to organise the kids to be synchonised "All sit with your legs out. Shawna! Sit properly! Smile! Ah yah, why some squat, some sit?!" Wait. I think I did say all that! Thankfully, the pictures just came out great. 

Ryan, the photographer, just seemed to have a knack for capturing us at our best.  
Photo by Orange Studios
We tried to ask for an outdoor shoot, figuring that nice background scenery would definitely be preferred to a boring studio shoot. But we were told that Orange Studios currently only do studio shoots, and no outdoor shoots. We further became even more skeptical when we realised that it was just gonna be a pure (boring!!!) white background. What? No ornate fake library background? No beautiful Japanese sakura flowers falling in the snow scenery? Er, not that we wanted those... just that.. er, er... you mean like that also don't have?!

But what do I know?! Look at the pix! Ryan's good, very good at making us the stars of our own shots. I can see, now, why he prefers to just use a plain white background. So that the emphasis is on us! :)

Photo by Orange Studios
You know, with my love for family photographs and making photo-customised items, I confess that I am a fan of those online website deals where you can buy a coupon for a really cheap family photo shoot... Thus, this is definitely not our first photo shoot, studio or outdoor. But, after going for a photo shoot with Orange Studios, I now understand the difference in service standards between mass booking photo shoots and the personalised service provided by Orange Studios

For mass booking photo shoots, the time allocated is fairly strictly adhered to. So, time is of the essence. As such, the photographers tend to frown when you appear with too much clothing changes and props. However, with Orange Studios, they actually make a personal phone call with you days before the appointed day of the shoot, to have a chat with you, giving you some tips on make up (light or none!), dressing (multi-colour is the way to go), as well as to encourage you to bring props along!

We brought our cardboard swords (above), Spiderman, Shawna's Minnie Mouse, bubbles... My sister's family brought their inline skates, Natalie her Lego, Rebecca her art box, and Isabelle brought along her whole collection of Geronimo Stilton books!

Photo by Orange Studios
We all brought clothing changes, and were very pleased to see that Orange Studios has a proper changing area in the studio that can provide you with some privacy to change in. Oh, you'd be surprised - we once went for a studio shoot which didn't have a changing area so the ladies had to go to the public toilets to change while the men hurriedly changed in a corner of the studio.

We had loads of fun that day at Orange Studios. Despite us being such a big group, Ryan was very patient and flexible with us, and especially the kids! We did big extended family shots, nuclear family shots, couple shots,  individual shots for the kids and many other different combinations and variations. 

I love this one of Asher below! Yes, of course we had to bring Spidey!  :)
Photo by Orange Studios
In my experience with the various photo shoots I have done with different studios, I realised that different studios have a different system of charging. So before you take on a studio shoot, be sure to clarify and understand what you are paying for.

Analysing Orange Studios' rate card, their system of charging is simple. You are charged $150 for the creative session of a one hour photo shoot in the studio, this is payable upon booking and is non-refundable. After the photo shoot, they will edit the pictures and place them in an online gallery for you to view and make your selection in the comfort of your own home. Thereafter, depending on how pleased you are with the resultant pictures, you can choose whichever package deals ($200 onwards) they have for you to buy the high resolution pictures, in soft copy, hard copy, flush mount album, or canvas prints. Thus, in other words, if you like the pictures taken, you can choose to pay more to get more of the pictures, but conversely, if you are not happy with the pictures taken, you can refuse to pay any more. Thus, you pay for what you want! :)

And boy do I have good news for you! If you like the style of pictures that Orange Studios does, why not give them a try? Quote "Tan Family Chronicles" and receive a S$150 cash voucher which can be offset from their package rates. However, you need to make the booking within one month from the date of this post, and the date of your photo shoot session needs to be within two months from the date of this blog post.

Look at the beautiful shot of my parents below... Frame it! :)
Photo by Orange Studios
Author's Note: Orange Studios offered us their photography services in exchange for a blog post. Opinions expressed are entirely our own! :) 


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