Skip to main content


Showing posts from September, 2018

US East Coast 2018: Good 'Ol Movie-Making Magic

Universal Orlando consists of two theme parks (Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure), and a water park (Volcano Bay). We adults were looking forward particularly to this day, as the grandparents were taking our kids to the Animal Kingdom on their own, and so the two of us got a day out at the parks with my sister. Universal Studios Florida is premised on the wonderful art of film making, and the rides reflect this emphasis, like Transformers: The Ride 3D and Men In Black: Alien Attack. Islands of Adventure has guests embarking on an adventure to visit different islands. We enjoyed the rides at Universal Studios Florida, which mostly involved a 3D simulation with some twists and turns. What was fascinating about Islands of Adventure were the shows, which gave the audience a glimpse of special effects and the movie making experience, such as Poseidon’s Fury and the Universal Studios Horror Make-Up Show. We loved the old-school presentations, on-cue humour

US East Coast 2018: Space - The Next Frontier

"For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace." When US President John F. Kennedy first launched the space programme decades ago, humankind had completely  next-to-nothing understanding of space exploration. The year was 1961, just a couple of years after the Soviets had launched the satellite Sputnik into space. It was an extension of the Cold War beyond the reaches of the planet; it was the beginnings of the Space Race. Yet before the end of the 1960s' the Americans had won the race to the moon by sending the first men there, a feat unparalleled in human history. This was a most interesting aspect of scientific advancement that I had never personally encountered; that was until I stepped into  Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and personally came face to face with the milestones of US space hist

US East Coast 2018: A Parent’s Guide to Surviving Disney (& Having a Blast)!

Thanks to our uncle’s most generous gift of a week of timeshare in Orlando, the three cousins and their entourage of parents and grandparents all got the chance to visit Disney World this time round!   Due to the varied interests of our boys and their 2-year-old cousin N, we decided to divide and conquer in order to save costs and to make the best of our limited time there. Different combinations of adults and children went to the Magic Kingdom, the Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios as well as Universal Studios and Kennedy Space Center during the week. Our sister, who figured out the complex algorithm, took pains to ensure there were breaks in-between for the grandparents to rest, as well as taking into account early closing times for the various parks. It all worked out well, and everyone enjoyed themselves. Here are some tips we have for surviving and conquering a trip to the theme parks: 1) Plan ahead and do some reading - This will ensure that you make the m

US East Coast 2018: Where Children Learn Through Play

The Glazer Children's Museum in Tampa is an excellent place for children to visit.  The museum has a strong vision to create an inclusive community fuelled by the imagination; one where play is purposeful and learning is interactive. We could see this vision expressed very clearly in its exhibits, which were outstanding in every way. For instance, the main exhibition simulates the working port of Tampa, and children learn the ins and outs of how a port functions. There is also a fascinating display on weather which teaches children how a tornado is created - our 6yo E was able to answer afterwards that heat, wind and rain are required before a storm can be unleashed. We spent many hours exploring the numerous exhibits, which were diverse in their perspective and approach. For instance there was a huge climbing exhibit which allowed children to physically experience the journey of a water droplet - from how it ascends to the cloud layer as water vapour to how it descends again

US East Coast 2018: Sun, Sand & the Deep Sea

The Tampa Bay area lies in the west coast of Florida near the Gulf of Mexico. It was in this vicinity that we settled for one week, at the lovely beach town of Madeira Beach. Dubbed "Mad Beach" by the locals, it was great time for us to hang out with Sue's sisters and parents, who joined us for this leg of the trip. We enjoyed the entertainment district of John's Pass,  a charming and quaint area with a laid-back feel and  which boasts of delicious seafood.   Another place of interest is the  Seaside Bird Sanctuary, which is a non-profit organisation that takes care of injured wild birds. The Sanctuary houses a hospital which handles emergency medical cases. Its aim is to rehabilitate the injured birds and eventually release them into the wild.  Sadly, a number of these birds are no longer able to care for themselves in the wild, and they are then provided for by the facility on a permanent basis. Among the animals we saw were vultures, owls, herons and pelicans.

US East Coast 2018: One Enchanted Garden

The ethereal sounds of the glockenspiel permeated the entire forest. One could almost hear the sonic vibrations in the distance, as the enchanting music reverberated as far as the ear could sense.... We were right in the centre of a natural alcove in the Children's Rainforest Garden of the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida. And although the sun was scorching, it seemed we had found a sweet spot of tranquility and calm in the midst of an otherwise hot d ay. Our two boys chiming a duet of an ethereal magnitude at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. A perfect spot spot of serenity in an otherwise urban world. Spanning 15 acres, the Gardens was gifted to the city of Sarasota in the 1970s by Marie Selby, a gardening enthusiast and accomplished pianist. She was also the first woman to cross the country by car. It was truly amazing to walk in the Gardens, and we enjoyed many hours savouring the various rare plants and flowers. There are apparently more than

US East Coast 2018: Animal Magic in "Magic City"

A new day in a new country. The boys arose at 5 in the morning excited at the prospects of adventure in a new land. And indeed our first adventure came from a  huge thunderstorm overnight, and our shoes were soaked to the core.  This meant that we had to spend the first part of our morning drying shoes with a hair dryer. All set with still-damp socks and shoes, we headed out to our first sight in America, the  Flamingo Gardens Wildlife Sanctuary. This is a place which takes in and cares for injured and unwanted animals that are not able to otherwise survive in the wild.  Established in 1927, the Flamingo Gardens is an iconic feature of the Miami area, and houses more than 3,000 species of plants and the largest collection of Florida wildlife. In a sense, this served as an introduction to the many species of wildlife that we would be seeing over the next two weeks.  Flamingo Gardens is home to the iconic pink bird; a sight to behold! The barred owl. "Good Mo

US East Coast (August to October 2018)

A Road Trip to Remember! This is a record of the Lim Family's epic 40-day adventure along the East Coast of the United States of America. It's a journey in 5 legs - Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington D.C., and you are invited to follow our daily updates at our Facebook page  here . Taking the controls at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Florida Journal Entry 1: Arrivals & Adventures   Journal Entry 2: Miami - [Flamingo Gardens]  Animal Magic in "Magic City"   Journal Entry 3:  Sarasota  - [Marie Selby Botanical Gardens]  One Enchanted Garden Journal Entry 4: Tampa   - [Madera Beach, Tarpon Springs, Heritage Village]  Sun, Sand & the Deep Sea Journal Entry 5: Tampa - [Glazer Children's Museum] Where Children Learn Through Play . Journal Entry 6: Orlando - [Disneyworld] A Parent's Guide to Surviving Disney Journal Entry 7: Orlando - [Kennedy Space Center]  Space - the Next Frontier Journal Entry 8: Orlando -

US East Coast 2018: Arrivals & Adventures

"When are we going to America?"  That was the perennial question from our boys for at least a year; the time when we first let slip that we were going on a holiday to the United States. This is after all the land from which their homeschooling curriculum, Classical Conversations (CC), was first conceptualised. And it was particularly poignant that for the last couple of months, that the kids had embarked on a foray into US history and geography, as part of their CC curriculum. So the boys were excited that we were going to visit places such as George Washington's home and various  Civil War  battle sites. They were of course very happy to hear that we'd be hiking in the mountains as well. All excited to embark on our grand 40-day adventure in America! "Is it going to be a long trip?" Our kids love to ask this question for all our holidays. During some of those moments I have given answers such as "Just over the weekend", or "About a