Snowing in Singapore

Every post between now and the end of the year, I’ll be highlighting a charity at the start of every post.  NONE of these charities have asked me to do so; they are charities I have been touched by or believe in/donate to myself.  I’ll tell you a little about the charity, why I support it and a link.

Charity of the Day…Homeless Prenatal Program

HPP has three major goals:

  1. Healthy Babies: ensure that parents give birth to healthy babies and successfully bond with their infants
  2. Safe, Nurturing Families Where Children Thrive: ensure that parents are knowledgeable, motivated and empowered to support their children’s success and healthy development
  3. Economically Stable Families: ensure that families have access to information and resources that move them towards permanent, stable housing and economic self-sufficiency.

I first read about the Homeless Prenatal Program when it was highlighted in People Magazine in early 2011, and it struck a chord with me.

The fastest growing population in poverty are women with children.

As a woman who grew up poor and saw her mom struggle, I want to help them.  We were never homeless and my mom has never touched drugs or alcohol, but I did drop out of high school in part to help my family pay rent and for food when I was barely 17.  My mom was a great mom, and she always wanted more kids…but one of the biggest reasons she didn’t was that another child would have tipped the balance from the knife’s edge to major poverty.  I’m also lucky that my mom knew that her biggest priority for me was an education so that I would have options.

As a teacher I had students who WERE homeless.  Who were the victims of abuse (including children who had been removed from their parent’s homes).  Who had parents who loved them but had no resources to help them with even third grade work.  Who rode the bus for over an hour each way from a homeless shelter to attend seventh grade.  Who felt like giving up because their parents referred to them as “the fuck up of the family” (true story, but I wish it weren’t).  Who joined gangs for a sense of belonging.  Maybe if Boston had an organization like this, I might have seen fewer of them.

These are families in crisis, who need help.  I’m lucky enough that prenatal care, or developmental support is well within my financial grasp.  I don’t question that I’ll have a roof over my head or my children’s.  This past mother’s day, rather than buying me gifts, I asked for a donation to this organization; something I’d like to make into a tradition.

Donate to the Homeless Prenatal Program



It’s probably the thing I miss least about living in Boston.  Or at least the part of snow that involves shoveling out my car, icy roads, scraping ice off my car windows, the paucity of parking spaces, and a thousand other nightmares.  While I’m focusing on the ones you feel most as a car owner, it’s not exactly fun to trudge through slushy icy sidewalks, or in the road if the sidewalks have yet to be plowed.  Not owning a car means shivering on the side of the road or at a subway stop wondering when (if?) the next bus/train will arrive, and the inevitable weather related delays in public transportation.

Even having said at that…it just doesn’t feel like Christmas or winter without snow.  While I may hate shoveling it, there’s something magical about a day when you’re free to just relax in your home and watch it blanket the world outside.  The joy of catching snowflakes on your tongue.  The immense delight as a student (or teacher) of an unexpected snow day.  The utter stillness of the world just after a snow storm.  The way a tree’s branches looked encased in ice as if it were crystal.

After almost two years, I have to admit, I’m almost as excited about the prospect of snow when we return home as Elanor is (because she doesn’t remember ever having seen it before).

Imagine my pleasant delight, then, to know I could see “snow” in Singapore.

Tanglin Mall

The Tanglin Mall has a “Snow storm” every day (twice on weekends and public holidays) through January 2nd, 2012.  I just had to take the family.  Sure its’ fake, and there’s something strange about snow and shorts (but not a killing dose of hypothermia) but I’ll take what I can get.

We got there a bit before the Avalanche (which turned out to just be a cascade of foam at foot level…meh) began, and let Ellie explore.

Ellie loved the reindeer’s “jingle bells”

Ellie also needed to hug Frosty.

We had been talking up the snow to Ellie quite a bit, but she was getting out of sorts by the time things got going around quarter to 8.  This should have been a red flag to us (as her regular bedtime is 10pm and the child hates napping with the force of a star going supernova), and in fact, looking back I can tell she was getting sick.  Instead we thought she’d just had a long day and was feeling a bit cranky.

The storm itself is, if you let yourself believe for a few moments, actually quite magical to watch.  It certainly made me homesick for a few moments.  Then I got caught up in observing other people’s reactions.  I take snow for granted–I don’t remember a winter without it, and until our move to Singapore, I’d only had two Christmases away from Boston–in 2006 when we were in Mumbai, India for our wedding reception and 2007 when Ravi and I went to New Orleans.  Snow is just something that has always been part of my life, so I’ve never really given thought to what it must be like to encounter it for the first time or how magical fake snow might seem if you’ve spent your life in the tropics.

It warms the cockles of my cynical little heart

Here’s a vlog of the snow storm…my favorite part isn’t my reaction to the snow, but those around me and the car horns that started honking in enthusiasm.

Sorry for sound issues…especially when I was next to the generators, it gets hard to hear me.

Ellie was awake during the snow storm, but was uncharacteristically “meh” over the whole thing.  Within minutes of the novelty wearing off, she had passed out on me.  I handed her to Ravi to get photos and video of the crowd as they giddily danced (literally…there was a conga line) and played in the “snow.”  We didn’t let her play in it as one of the signs I’d read said it could be toxic if ingested and the poster on the mall’s website warns against letting it get in your eyes.  To me, this did not seem like stuff I wanted Elanor playing in.

I’ve since learned it’s just soap, but I’m still pretty confident that THIS is a bad idea.

While I am generally not the over reactive parent, I’m still not sure I’d love my kids playing around in that stuff.  I walked around in it for a bit to get photos and it seemed more like the stuff you spray on your windows than soap (although there was obvious soap bubbles on the ground from the avalanche).  But if you want to play in it or let your kids play in it, you’ll be happy to know that there’s a hosing off area just off to the side by Starbucks.

Oh yeah…Rhiannon was there too.  She slept through it.  Existence and presence at the event documented.

It’s an annual tradition at Tanglin and one worth checking out if you’re in Singapore for the holidays.  Especially if you’re feeling a bit homesick for winter…the sight of kids dancing around in fake snow in the bathing suits and grownups dropping dignity and doing a conga around a tree will give you a smile.

This entry was posted in Attractions, Culture Shock, Holidays (Not Singaporean), Random Stuff, Shopping, Singapore, Uniquely Singapore, With Kids. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Snowing in Singapore

  1. Kirsten says:

    I was there the very first year they introduced this snowstorm thing. I didn’t really play in it but too much of that foam made my skin itchy the next day, so it’s probably a good thing E didn’t play in it.

  2. bookjunkie says:

    yeah doesn’t seem so good to get soap in the eyes. Must sting.

  3. Dawn says:

    About that snow: we’ve had snow ONCE this year – in October, and it was a disaster because the leaves were still on the trees, so they got super-heavy and downed power lines everywhere. More than half the state was out of power for at least a day; the entire state didn’t get restored for about two weeks. Last night there was a thunderstorm, with rain. So yeah, you’re not missing snow just because you’re not in Boston this year!

    • Crystal says:

      Fair enough, and I’d be just as irritated if we were there. But boston dot com was saying that there might be flurries on Xmas Eve/Xmas.

      Happy Hanukah, by the way! We had latkes last night, and E has been requesting “My first Hanukah” by Tomie de Paola on a regular basis, so she can identify the menorah, shamash, and dreidls, And yes, she knows the dreidl song, which I semi regret teaching her as I’d forgotten how much of an ear worm it is.

      • Dawn says:

        Happy Hannukah to you too! I’ll one-up you on the dreidel song: my mother-in-law (who is Catholic) gave F a light-up dreidel that plays the dreidel song over and over and over… :p (In fairness, though, she also has a Hannukah book which she read to F to explain the holiday; I swear she’s out-Jewish-mothering me!!!)

      • Crystal says:

        I totally know that kind of dreidl. We had one for Chanukah ’04, when two of my three roommates were Jewish. We decided to do Chanukah, but realized on the first night’s day that we didn’t have a dreidl to play the game with. So poor Kate was running all over the place looking for one. That was the only one she found. We ended up nicknaming it the ghetto dreidl (is yours see through as well) because in part it wouldn’t stop, even after falling over, the way it’s supposed to. At one point we were banging it on the table to try to make it stop playing the song. Since then we’ve had an annual “ghetto dreidl contest” to see who can find the tackiest dreidl (has been expanded to all holiday crap in recent years…we forgot to do it this year)–there was the bouncing singing dreidl, the stuffed singing dreidl, the super classy crystal dreidl, the rabbi/chanukah rubber ducky, the grow a dreidl, the dreidl shaped cookies, the giant dancing dreidl Ravi spotted on CNN or Cspan one year, the singing latke figure, and so forth. It was one of my favorite things about the holiday season…four or five of us would take photos when we saw stuff at Target or wherever and text it to each other (or occasionally just buy the thing to gift another of the group with).

        See today’s (the 26th’s) entry…Singapore just had its very first public menorah…E was super excited to go see it.

        Is the Chanukah book you have the board book by Tomie De Paola? That’s the one we have. E loves it.

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