Stickerkid Labels for the New School Year + Promo Code!

We are contemplating to send E, our secondborn, to school some time next year and I almost forgot how one should prepare for school (after all, F has been in playgroup/school 2.5 years now and the groundwork of getting school stuff ready is somewhat done) until Stickerkid approached me to give their labels a try. Memories of how we prepared F for time away from me and the anxiety from having to trust the teachers to be there for her came rushing back; that I will have to manage when it’s E turn to go to school and it’s not going to be an easy task, but shopping for school supplies is definitely a more joyful thing to do in comparison so I will focus on that for now.

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The pack that Stickerkid sent me contains 60 small stickers, 20 iron-on clothing labels and 14 shoe stickers. They were a real breeze to customise!

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For the small stickers (46mm by 6 mm), one gets a choice of 9 fonts and 4 font sizes coupled with different background and text colours. I went with black text in a very standard font on yellow background, to encourage E to easily fish out his belongings and recognise his name in a regular font type. It’s a good thing that Chinese characters can be easily added to the text; I simply switched my keyboard on my Macbook Pro to the Simplified Chinese format and typed the hanyu pinyin out for the characters to appear on the customisation site. As these are small stickers, there isn’t any room for fancier fonts or cute images so they can look boring but I like that they are straightforward and fuss-free, and that they do their job well even on narrow surfaces such as pencils and toothbrushes. I have been testing the labels out on E’s belongings that get washed daily at home, and they have hung on real tight and still look brand new.

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The iron-on clothing labels (48mm by 12mm) come with only white backgrounds and a single font type, but you can select from up to 6 font sizes depending on your needs. These are easily ironed-on; simply have a moderately heated iron press on the baking paper provided, which in turn goes on top of the label, and the label gets transferred to the clothing. We launder our clothes at 30 degree Celsius or lower, and the labels have withstood all that washing from a month ago. The amazing thing about the clothing labels we received is they can be removed if we want to pass the clothes on to someone else (do note that Stickerkid offers permanent clothing labels too).

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The shoe stickers (38mm by 40mm) are the cutest of all; you get three lines of text and a tonne of images to choose from. I spent a lot of time picking out the cartoon because there were loads of adorable ones! E is obsessed with saying the word ‘owl’ now, so I decided to go with that eventually. These stickers fit well into his shoes, he is wearing size 21 now, and the round and squared edges fit on the insoles perfectly. The same pair of shoes have been worn to Hong Kong and back and almost everyday in Singapore in the past month, and I am happy to report that they are still beautifully stuck on!

i think we are pretty much all set for the new school year for E, and beyond; given the durable nature of these stickers, I don’t think I have to purchase another pack anytime soon (even though I would love to get my hands on the larger labels that allow us to print cute cartoons on them).

As we round up 2016 (AND before the festive season swoops in on us), it is the perfect time to order a set of labels for your child if he or she is heading to school in the new year. There are different value packs to choose from, if you are looking for a set, and individual types if you are looking to replace your current ones. Take 10% off your purchase from now until 30 Dec 2016 with the promotional code Sticker10.

Now…onto getting a schoolbag and his uniforms!

*I was given a set of Stickerkid labels for the review. No additional monetary compensation has been received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

Good Riddance to Burning Pains With PRIMERO ErgoSilver Laptop Riser

We haven’t got enough space for a proper writing desk at home and we have resorted to working at the dining table when the need arises. Sometimes, I work on the laptop at my vanity dresser too if I want to be in the comfort of my room, but no matter where I work, I end up with burning pains in my neck and shoulders after 10-15 minutes. The kind that renders me unable to turn or tilt my head without screaming for the husband to help, the kind that bothers me so much that I can’t go to sleep.

It’s no wonder how much I try to avoid working on my laptop. I can’t be bothered to backup photos as often, edit or write if I can help it. I end up getting a lot of stuff done on the phone, but we all know that nothing beats going on the laptop for certain projects, and working became (literally) a real pain in the neck.

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Without the laptop riser
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With the laptop riser. See the difference?

When Laptop Stand Singapore contacted me to give their PRIMERO ErgoSilver Laptop Riser a try in exchange for an honest review, I jumped on the opportunity. It is touted to help reduce the physical stress that we get from working on the computer for too long, by raising the laptop to a more comfortable height.

I was curious at first, as I was certain I didn’t hunch over my laptop. It turned out that I was doing that unknowingly, because after using the PRIMERO ErgoSilver Laptop Riser, I could go on working on the laptop for at least 45 minutes before starting to feel the strain on my neck and shoulders. By raising the laptop to a height that is closer to the eye-level, I no longer subconsciously hunch or jut my neck out (like a pigeon) to read whatever’s on the screen (something that I notice I was doing when comparing my postures with and without the riser). The slanted keyboard did feel a little awkward at first, as I was used to typing on a flat surface, but I got over that gradient after about two sessions, and now I feel more comfortable using my laptop on the riser instead.

The laptop riser is very light and portable (26cm in length, 18.5cm wide and 8cm high), and as you can see, you could stuff your external hard drive etc under the riser if you need more space at the sides of your laptop. You could also collect the cables through the hole at the back of the laptop riser to neaten things up on your workspace. A laptop riser is really a multi-tasker then, if you take maximising workspace productivity into consideration. It has rubberized silica gel pads on the top surface and bottom surface to increase friction (so that your laptop doesn’t slip right off) and to prevent scratches on laptop. The riser is also suitable for laptops up to 17 inches and so it works for most laptops out there. The best thing is that this simple gadget is rather slim as compared to its counterparts and looks good in any household (long-time readers will know how obsessed I am about things like that). At only $34.90, it really is an affordable solution to enhance your experience working at the laptop and to banish the pains that you may get from working on the laptop for too long. I really can’t live without mine now; it’s a good thing the husband doesn’t work as much as I do so I don’t have to share!

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There are also plenty of other workspace solutions over at Laptop Stand Singapore if you are looking to maximise productivity and space, and I’d say if Christmas shopping for that practical someone in your life is proving to be a challenge, this might be a good place to start!

Thank you, Laptop Stand Singapore!

*I was given the PRIMERO ErgoSilver Laptop Riser for the review. No additional monetary compensation has been received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

Halloween Fun at Timbré @ Gillman

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Just this Saturday, we did something that we don’t usually do, and oh boy, did we have LOTS OF FUN! Ever since the kids came into our lives, we don’t go out of the way to take the kids to child-friendly places for meals, you know, those that dole out crayons and colouring sheets, or those that have play areas within their premises; that’s because M and I are adamant at dragging the kids along to eateries that will satisfy our food cravings of the day, no matter how kid-unfriendly (or friendly) these gastronomic destinations are.

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When I received the invitation from Timbré @ Gillman for an afternoon of fun at its Super Social BBQ, now held on both Saturdays and Sundays, I was about to turn the invitation down (given that E sleeps early and we don’t have dinners outside) until I read that Super Social BBQ starts at 4pm! And when I was told that bouncy castles are available and outdoor fun is guaranteed for the kids, I was sold because F has been badgering me to take her to a bouncy castle. For the month of October, Super Social BBQ hitches a ride on the Halloween theme and I was told that we could carve our own pumpkins, let the kids get creative with the Halloween-themed arts and craft activities and also have their faces painted. It sounded like an afternoon that would please BOTH adults and children (plus early dinner, that’s high on our priority list), so I said yes to Timbré @ Gillman!

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Now, F’s eyes nearly popped out of her sockets when she saw not one, but TWO bouncy castles. We arrived at about 4.30pm, and the crowd didn’t come in until about 5.30pm-6pm, so we had at least one good hour in the sprawling backyard of Timbré to ourselves! F went free-range on the massive playground that Timbré put up, and I simply stood with a drink in my hand, and snapped away on the camera as I watched F have the time of her life. Now, before you think that we might get bitten by mosquitoes with all the greenery around us, Timbré hands out mosquito repellant patches to everyone. As a parent, I can’t say that people are always considerate towards families with young children, but Timbré can do no wrong. Adequate facilities for the kids to have fun at, thoughtful gestures (did I mention the bags of popcorn that they hand out to children when patrons arrive?) to make mealtimes enjoyable and stress-free for parents and kids, a conducive environment for the children to play safely in with parents and friendly staff looking out for all the kids. This is the stuff that parents dream of!

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As this month’s theme is Halloween, there was a cute pumpkin patch on the green, and we took the opportunity to carve our very first pumpkin! Carving tools, pumpkins (with their tops pre-cut) as well as markers were provided, so all we had to do were to slip on the disposable plastic bags, dig the fibres and seeds out of the pumpkins, and then get on with the decorating and carving. To be honest, I wasn’t too keen on carving the pumpkin myself because I could tell it requires a fair amount of strength and I was worried about stabbing someone with the long, serrated knife if I didn’t gauge my strength properly. All I did was watch F draw some eyes and a gaping mouth before she signed off on the pumpkin. When I returned to our table empty-handed, M asked, ” Where is the pumpkin?” I said I wasn’t going to carve it and M promptly stood up and announced that we had to do it because it would be our very first attempt.

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M’s enthusiasm rubbed off on me and we cheered him on as he hammered the knife right through where F drew the eyes. It was hard work but well-worth the effort! F was extremely amused and M was satisfied that we could bring our very first Halloween pumpkin home. More on that later.

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We took a break from all that outdoor fun (not without some persuasion, of course, because F wanted to go wild at the bouncy castles again AND blow some bubbles) and returned to our table when the food arrived. Of course, we had to say hello to the BBQ chef who somehow got into very serious trouble with the chef’s knife.

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We ordered a variety of dishes to share, and you’d be glad to know that Timbré serves PLENTY of alcohol. M had an ice-cold pint whilst I, the designated driver, indulged in freshly squeezed orange juice and a sea salt caramel milkshake (the shake was too sweet for me though, but they were a hit with the kids because you get a generous scoop of ice cream on top). Before I forget, I do have to say that even though it’s mostly outdoor seating at Timbré, we didn’t feel hot and sticky from the humidity that afternoon; it could be due to the good ventilation that none of our kids had wet hair plastered all over their scalps by the end of the evening!

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Timbré Chicken Wings | $14

Moving on to food. I didn’t get to grab a bite of the chicken wings as I was watching over a very active E who was busy stacking up stools at the craft corner but M and F enjoyed the wings! They were served piping hot and were crispy, or so I was told!

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F, enjoying said wings

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Simply Fish & Chips | $12

Another dish that pleased the kids was the fish and chips. Although the fish was a tad dry, the spiced batter was crisp and aromatic, and the flesh was sweet (thankfully not tasteless like so many renditions I have tried in Singapore).

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The bone marrow has been gutted and those precious, unctuous morsels are scattered amongst the moist, bite-sized pieces of beef. It was pretty good with the peach marmalade and caramelised onions, and it reminded me a little like little nuggets of kebab, and I wished I could wash this down with beer.

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Crispy Pork Belly | $16

I loved the caramel vinegar drizzled on the crispy pork belly; I thought the flavours went well. Whilst F enjoyed the crunchy pork crackling, I would have preferred a more brittle texture on the skin.
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Baby Back Ribs with Homemade BBQ Sauce (300 grams) | $23

We also ordered two dishes off the BBQ menu, which is only available during weekends at Super Social BBQ. The baby back ribs were flavourful and meaty but were just a little dry, which is a shame. A few minutes short on the grill, and these would have been perfect.

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The porterhouse was our favourite dish that evening! I mean, come on, 400 grams of porterhouse at only $48 and cooked to perfect doneness (by that, I mean our favourite medium rare)? I can’t fault this. timbre16

Chocolate Sphere | $15

The chocolate sphere was a real stunner. M isn’t a fan of desserts, so F, E and I had this all to ourselves. The chocolate mousse was incredibly smooth and light, and the kids and I ended up fighting for the last spoonful! I like that it isn’t too sweet, and the fresh fruits and coulis were  spot-on pairings for the chocolate mousse. A must-order, if you ask me.

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Of course, the danger of having fun activities calling out to your kids during dinner, would be to have them leave the table more often than necessary. F, who hates getting painted on, asked if she could have Dumbo the elephant painted on her arm, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. For the first time ever!

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timbre23She promptly ran off to paint some creepy eyes on pebbles at the craft corner (guided by a very patient young lady), before tearing down the grassy patches with a bottle of bubbly fun (also freely available at Timbré) with a giggly E in tow.

We rounded off the dinner listening to a few grown-up songs sung by the live band (Unified plays on Saturday evenings), who then very gamely sang kiddy tunes such as Wheels On The Bus and Let It Go after getting requests from the children.

We had a hard time persuading F and E to leave (E screamed in protest, “NOOOOOO!!!”) and as we struggled to buckle the kids up in the car seat, I told M that we have to come back again. The food is not the best, admittedly, but really, we had such a relaxed and good time with the kids that we, big, big foodies (if you don’t know already)  are happy to return for its Super Social BBQ. I reckon we will be back in November, as I’ve been told that the theme then will be Carnival and we can expect carnival games which are right up our alley! The bouncy castles couldn’t hurt too. And that chocolate sphere…and the porterhouse…

Thank you, Timbré @ Gillman for the fun evening! We will be back!
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Our first Halloween pumpkin, it all its g(l)ory, on our balcony

Timbré @ Gillman is located at:
9A Lock Road Gillman Barracks, Singapore 108926
+65 6694 4201

*I was given dining credits to experience Super Social BBQ and was not obliged to write a review. The excess was paid out of our own pockets. No additional monetary compensation has been received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

Miracle for My Skin: Love Organic, Love Botáni

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In the third trimester that I was pregnant with Ethan, three eczema patches showed up on my face that left me wondering what went wrong with my skincare regime. At first, I thought it was just pregnancy hormones messing my skin up, but when the three scaly, itchy, dry patches grew larger, even long after I have given birth, I had a hunch that my body was reacting to the chemicals in the skincare products I was using and that it was time to overhaul my beauty regime. Yes, I was on a mission to clean things up, quite literally, because I am convinced my skin was suffering from the effects of harsh chemicals slathered on my face.

For many months, I used calendula on my skin. The formulation we had worked wonders to get rid of Faith’s eczema, and I applied the calendula ointment on my face to see if it might help with the patches. The wonderful bit is two of the three patches cleared right up. The bad thing is one stubborn patch remained on my left cheek. That patch annoyed me to no end, as it looked red if I didn’t put on any makeup, and if I did paint my face, the patch showed up dry and flaky and there was nothing I could do to conceal it.

After this, I tried different organic and natural skincare products from local and international brands in an attempt to improve the condition of my skin. Whilst the products have been excellent at really nourishing my sensitive skin without stinging or causing itch, none could get rid of the third eczema patch on my face. I was about to give up on the search and cave into using steroids when I stumbled upon the Botáni range of natural and organic Australian skincare carried by a local store, Love Organic.

Karen, of Love Organic, very generously sent me a couple of Botáni products to try, and one and a half months after using them, I am completely sold. Yes, COMPLETELY, you read that right.

Just a little background on Botáni products before I go into the details of how the products helped me. All ingredients used in Botáni products are Eco-Cert approved, and do not contain petrochemicals, mineral oils, PEGS, silicones, paragons, artificial fragrances or colours, animal derived ingredients, propylene glycol and sulphates. The signature ingredient of Botáni skincare products is Olive Squalene – nature’s only biocompatible ingredient which bears the closest resemblance to human squalene, our body’s in-built moisturiser. We are all born with 12% squalene and this starts to decrease from the age of 25 onwards, leading to premature ageing, dry skin and fine lines among others. In short, olive squalene should be your new best friend, even if the ravaging effects of time isn’t.

The Olive Skin Serum is my favourite of all the products that I have been given (or my favourite of all skincare products I have ever used in my life, for that matter). I would go as far as to call it a Miracle for my skin because the third eczema patch has been banished to oblivion two weeks after applying this serum on my face. My skin feels extremely nourished, and is so much suppler and smoother than before.  I noticed that my skin looks more radiant too and I feel more confident about going out without putting on makeup. This is unsurprising, given that the serum is infused with highly concentrated 100% phyto-active Olive Squalene, vitamins C and E. The serum has been clinically proven to increase moisture levels by 50% within 24 hours, to stimulate cell renewal and collagen production, and is ideal for sensitive/eczema skin. I have been told that it doubles up as a makeup primer too; in my case, it’s good for holding my makeup in place for about 4-5 hours. A little goes a very long way when it comes to this serum. I use it once in the morning and once at night, and only require two drops each time for my entire face and neck area. The best way to use it is to pat the drops onto damp skin (fresh from toning, don’t wait until the toner dries out) until it is completely absorbed. Because the serum is incredibly hydrating, I don’t always apply moisturiser after that (not even if I am about to go to bed in an air-conditioned room) and only do so if I want to give my skin a little extra pampering. The serum alone is enough to keep my skin nourished and hydrated, and I wake up with clearer, suppler and smoother skin even after a night in an air-conditioned room. This workhorse is a must-have for me. Case in point below.

This is a photo of me taken first thing in the morning under natural lighting. I just woke up half an hour before the photo was taken, was bare-faced and the photo is not filtered or altered in anyway. My skin is not perfect but it’s so, so, SO much better than before I started using Botáni skincare! I would never publish a selfie taken in broad daylight if my skin were looking battered like before. (Note: The two red blobs on the bridge of my nose are tell-tale signs of nose-pads from my glasses. Had to point that out as it’s nothing harmful caused by the products.)

The Rescue Eye Treatment, enriched with anti-inflammatory plant actives such as Arnica Root, Licorice Root, Acacia Senegal Gum and Olive leaf extract, works wonderfully to hydrate my awfully-dry undereye area. I used to sport fine lines not unlike wrinkled crepe paper and dark circles that were telling of the lack of restful sleep. Half a pump is more than enough to take care of my eyes and whilst the gel feels slightly tacky at first, once it’s absorbed into the skin, it no longer feels sticky. I would say that my dark circles have lightened by up to 40%-50%, and the lines are not so pronounced now. I highly recommend giving this a shot!

I absolutely love the Soothing Facial Mist too. It is alcohol-free and refreshingly scented with Rose Damascena, and makes me feel so good on a hot day or when I just need to perk up! I did use this as a toner before patting on the Olive Skin Serum, but it smells like such a luxury (and is much more expensive than the toner I have been using, which works well for me) that I like to keep it for critical moments throughout the day instead (like kids driving me nuts and I’m completely flat out of battery, or when I am feeling irritable and sticky, or when I am on the road and want to feel energised). I also spray this on to set my makeup, and…have I mentioned how refreshing this is?! Okay, I think you get the point.

The Olive Soothing Cleanser is a cream-based cleanser that is absolutely wonderful at cleansing my skin. It leaves my skin feeling fresh and clean, without stripping its moisture, or weighing it down like some cleansing oils do. It was also effective at removing non-waterproof makeup. Just 2-3 pumps for the entire face should suffice and it can be applied directly on dry skin before you wash it off when you are done massaging your face! Unfortunately, this is a little expensive for me as a daily cleanser but I would definitely purchase it to remove non-waterproof makeup because I know I’m in good hands when I use this. I mean, I had enough with gentle cleansers claiming to remove non-waterproof makeup AND not working.

Two other product samples that I was given were the Boost Balancing Moisturiser and the Olive Repair Cream. The former is very lightweight and easily absorbed, and works wonderfully to hydrate my skin as a day moisturiser. But what I really adore and will purchase again is the Olive Repair Cream which packs a punch when it comes to delivering moisture to my skin. I’m reaching my mid-thirties soon and I do appreciate intense hydration and healing properties of a good moisturiser, and the Olive Repair Cream, which is an ideal treatment for eczema, psoriasis,  redness and irritated skin, does just that. It is touted to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, improve the appearance of scars and even out skin tone, but the sample I received was only good for 2-3 applications, so I can’t vouch for that but I am eager to test that out when I purchase the full-sized product!

So there you have it! I know this review is a little lengthy, but if you have made it down to the last lines, I hope my thoughts and experience with the different Botáni products will help you in some way! I have experienced the benefits of green beauty (I’m only months into cleaning up my regime) and  I must say that I am loving how nourished, clean and unburdened my skin feels now. Botáni has proven to be an excellent choice for me, and the products are mostly very affordable, so I’m definitely making it a huge part of my regime now. It doesn’t hurt that Love Organic is an online store based in Singapore, and there several stockists island wide too if you want to touch and feel the products. Please let me know if you have tried the other products and seen real benefits from using them! I would love to give the rest a try too.

*I was given the Botáni products for the review. No additional monetary compensation has been received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

Dear Faith: And You Are Four

Dear Faith,

I am not sure why but I feel like the mother of the bride on the eve of the wedding. As I put you to bed this evening, I struggled to hold onto your last night as a three-year-old. Tomorrow, you will be four and my heart aches a little at the thought of that. I am pining for you already, like a mother missing her newly-married daughter. Yet, I am looking forward to see how your growth might lend you room to embrace and explore this world, to experience joy and all that life has to offer (even amidst trials and tribulations), much like how the mother of the bride yearns for her child to experience and contribute to the joys of marriage and life after that.

The past year has zipped by much too quickly for my appetite. Your little brother, Ethan, was only a little over four months old when you turned three, and I have been spending a lot of time taking care of his needs, making sure that we are all fed and alive. I am sorry that you had to spend the same amount of time pottering about on your own, telling stories to your bears, singing to no one in particular, waiting for what must seem like an eternity when I ask you to hold on as I hastily complete the tasks at hand and generally, growing up so that I can cope with two children.

As much as I have noticed your new quirks this year and caught on the most astounding conversations with you, I am convinced that I have missed out as many precious moments and I hope that if you have ever resented me for not being there 100% of the time, that you would forgive me. Because I have tried my best to be as present as I could be, my love, and I will strive to do that for as long as you want me to.

Speaking of those moments that I have had the privilege of sharing with you…there are so many quirks of yours that I wish I were the most prolific writer to document every bit of you as a three-year-old, because you are worth celebrating over and over again.

You’d surprise me with the passionate and incredibly cheeky girl you have become (a far cry from the shy tot you once were), parading traits which are reserved for us and only us. Like how you would suddenly drop your toys, run towards me, cup my saggy cheeks in your tiny hands, grit your teeth and exclaim, “Arrrgggggh, I love you soooooo much!” And when I ask you how much is much, you’d shout, “TWENTY TIMES!” (If you must know, twenty is the largest number you can understand in the concept of math right now, and I know that you are trying to tell me that you love me with everything you have.) Or when you shake your booty in the most comedic fashion (like a waddling duck!) whilst wearing a duck face complete with slitty eyes to make your father and I choke on our laughter, before you collapse in giggles. Or when you ‘host’ TV shows and insist that Papa and I watch you whilst you cue us to applaud or laugh hysterically at the most appropriate moments.

At times, you’d show maturity beyond your years and lead by example on how we should live. Like when you chide us for wasting water because you have been designated a part of the ‘water police’ in school, and “Mama, it is very important, you know!” Or when you remind me firmly that I mustn’t shout when I lose my temper at Ethan because, “Shouting is wrong, Mama. You must talk nicely to Didi, just tell him not to do it anymore.” Or when you use your smarts to sneak into our bed more than once a week. “But Mama, Papa is working late again, so I can sleep in your bed tonight, right?” Or when Ethan screams in the car seat and as I check on how you are whilst I drive amidst the ruckus, you calmly announce, “Mama, I am being patient.” And then there’s the bedtime prayer, which you lead every night. “Dear God, thank you for the food. Thank you for our home. Thank you for Papa, Mama and Didi. Please take care of us, keep us healthy and safe. Please take care of E from N1 (your schoolmate who has leukaemia), Teacher J (who is pregnant) and baby, Teacher N (who is also pregnant) and baby, and Aunty S and baby F. Amen.” And your empathetic heart would always make room for people whom you think need God’s help depending on what has happened on that day.

Of course, there are those tender moments that tug at my heartstrings when you remind me that you are really just a three-year-old and still my baby deep down inside. Like when you get awoken by thunder and lighting, and cry inconsolably for us to comfort you before winding up in our bed so we can cuddle you to sleep and make you feel safe from the storm brewing outside. Like when you insist that you don’t ever want to get married and have babies because “I only want Mummy, and I want to be a baby.” Or when you insist on reading the same bedtime story (It’s Time For Bed by Mem Fox) even though we have been putting you to bed with the same lines since you were nine months old, because it makes you feel secure. I, too, recall on many occasions that you would sob quietly in a corner after you spot my white hairs, “Mama, are you going to die? I don’t want you to die, Mama. I don’t want you to die…” How about the nightly requests you make of us after we turn off the lights? “I want bubbles and (to go to the) playground and (to go) swimming, I want Papa Mama (to) come. I want chocolate milk and chocolate bread and cornflakes and milk. Goodnight! 我爱你,爸爸。我爱妳,妈妈。”

All these moments, told and untold, are slipping away as you approach the grand age of four. And my heart…I am not sure if I am ready to let it all go just yet because I haven’t had the luxury of savouring every moment with you this year.

But I know this. That I yearn to make new memories with you and I will hold on to them as tightly as I can until the day I draw my last breath. That I will try my best, however daunting it is, to help you make sense of and navigate the world that can be at times cruel and brutal like the thunderstorms that strike fear in you at night. That I will live out my grey hairs loving you and watching you blossom, if God would give me the time and opportunity to do so. Time and tide waits for no man. Yes, you will be four tomorrow, and we will say goodbye to the years behind us and look forward to what’s to come; it’s not going to be easy on my heart but I think I am feeling a little braver because we are doing this with your not-so-little hand in mine.

I love you twenty times, darling. Until you know what thirty means.

Mama

Shopping, Mummy-Style, with Agape Babies

[*SPONSORED POST] I have said it before and I will say it again, that I LOVE online shopping. I didn’t care for it before I became a mother though; I much preferred taking a walk, running my grubby hands carelessly over the terrain of merchandise on display, and feeling the thrill of actually bagging items upon checking out at the cashier.

BUT. Becoming a mother has changed my lifestyle on many fronts; I have to be careful about spending, and I have neither time nor energy to lug kids (who seem to choose to be exceptionally cranky when I need them to be un-cranky) to the stores.

I have been shopping online at Agape Babies since just before I had Faith four years ago. My very first purchase was the Medela Freestyle breast pump set, which I bought for 50% off the retail price and remains an incredible steal now. Since then, I have found many more fantastic deals for products that are crucial to our parenting needs. I have saved so much money on Laninsoh nursing pads, California Baby products, Melissa & Doug toys, books, you name it, and I hardly go to brick-and-mortar stores for things that the kids and I use. It no longer makes sense to go through the hassle of lugging the kids through the crowds when I can save tonnes of money shopping online at Agape Babies in the comforts of my own home.

This time round, I managed to stock up on the Laninsoh nursing pads (been using them for as long as I have been breastfeeding), California Baby Bug Repellant (our go-to spray when we are out and about), and carted two Handwriting Practice books from Letterland for F as she has been asking me to get them. And I did all this on the mobile phone!

For an avid user of the mobile phone like myself, the mobile-optimized website makes for a great shopping experience on the go. I don’t have to power up my laptop, and all I have to do is do quick searches and cart the items on my phone, even as the kids are pulling at me or glued to my hips. Major win.

Fans of Jujube, the poison of many mums, will be glad to know that Agape Babies has
expanded its brand & product selection to include more hot brands like said poison and 3M. Agape Babies now carry over 250 brands and 6000 products in over 10 categories at incredible prices, so it’s really a no-brainer for parents, newly-minted and seasoned alike, to shop on the site.

If you are a first-time customer, you get to enjoy $10 off your first purchase on top of getting a free gift. VIP customers get to enjoy special price reductions and also lifestyle privileges. If you’d like to save on shipping, which isn’t costly by the way, you can opt for the one-click self-collection from 3 convenient locations – Newton, Sengkang and Old Airport Road. Smaller parcels can be picked up from 72 locations across the island as well.

To sweeten the deal for you, Agape Babies is giving my readers 5% off all items except milk, diapers, wipes, Jujube, Medela breastpumps, sale and clearance categories. All you have to do is to enter the coupon code pleasuremonger5% upon checkout (valid from 22 Aug to 12 Sep 2016).

I am not sure what else I should say to convince you to give Agape Babies a shot in changing your mummy-and-me shopping needs, but seasoned mums who have tried will tell you that shopping at Agape Babies is a lifesaver, as it has been for me all these years!

*I was gifted shopping credit and paid for excess amount incurred from the items I picked. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

BoxGreen: Delicious and Healthy Snacking

[*SPONSORED POST] Mothering is hard work and I often find myself starved of time for a proper meal. It’s non-stop action from daybreak in this home and I often have to wolf down a slice of plain bread and a glass of water whilst trying to stop my incredibly active toddler from diving off the high chair at breakfast, and then have pathetic morsels of lunch whilst carry out the same heroic act of saving said toddler from potential injury. The only time when I can really sit down in peace is after E has gone to bed. That’s when I have dinner with my preschooler, F, who is quite good at staying put during mealtimes, and my husband, M. It comes as no surprise that I have been eating the less healthy way, as I load up on disproportionately larger dinner portions than that for breakfast and lunch.

Owing to a lack of fuel from pathetic breakfasts and lunches, I usually am famished by the time the clock strikes three. That’s also when E is done napping by my side (yes, little one can’t nap without me), and when we need to leave home to pick F up from school, so I only have time to manage a few sips of water and wolf down some individually wrapped pieces of chocolate or biscuits. Nope, I don’t like to have fruits on a near-empty stomach as I tend to feel nauseated and gassy after that, so I only munch on fruits at dinner. And the lack of solid meals in the earlier part of the day has left me craving for sinful foods.

Often times, I dream of having a good tea break. I know it will get me through the day in a much better mood to last until the kids’ bedtimes, but there just isn’t any time to stop for a breather, lack alone for some healthy grub. I know the sugar from biscuits or chocolates doesn’t help in stabilising my glucose levels, but they are the most convenient AND yummy snacks I have!

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When BoxGreen contacted me to try out their healthy, portion-controlled snacks, I agreed, more for my husband than for myself though, because I thought they would be blander than the sinful stuff I like to munch on. Who knew that I wound up liking the snacks so much that I told my husband off for finishing everything that came in my subscription box?!
BoxGreen2 Each subscription box (for individuals; $19.90 per box) comes with 4 types of snacks made with natural ingredients, with 3 controlled, nutritionist-approved portions each. All packs are sealed for the snacks to stay fresh, and they are super handy to bring around. One can choose from over 3o types of snacks (they really do sound delicious; I wish I could have tried When Life Gives You Yuzu, Smoky BBQ Crunch, Rocky Pecan Brittle, just to name a few) and can opt to have the box delivered to you once a week, once every fortnight, or once a month! Here’s a rundown of what I received:

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1. Quirky Quinoa Puffs & Friends (Organic quinoa puff, honey sunflower seed, pumpkin seed, baked almond; 30g ; 154.0 cal): These taste like rice crispies but are obviously healthier as the puffs are made from protein-rich quinoa. I love, love the slightly salted honey sunflower seeds which add good flavour to the toasty bits.

2. Raspberry Choco Rhapsody (Freeze dried raspberry, baked almond, white chocolate; 25g ; 139.4 cal): I absolutely love this! The slightly tart raspberries tempers the sweet white chocolate, bitter cocoa and nutty almonds. An exploration of flavours was what this was! The chocolate-coated freeze-dried raspberries were melty, and provides a lovely textural contrast to the crunchy almonds. Thumbs up for this one.

3. The Amazing Amaranth Cluster (Puffed amaranth, raisin, raw sugar, gum Arabic; 20g; 68.2 cal): To be honest,  I am little skeptical about this as I don’t appreciate the flavour of amaranth and I am not a fan of raisins, but the textural contrast between brittle amaranth clusters and nougaty raisin is its saving grace. But husband and kids love this, and the biggest of the lot says it tastes good with yogurt. The youn rugrats were fighting over the last clusters. Well, not for me.

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4. Twilight Cherry Express (Freeze dried cherry, dark chocolate; 30g; 156.6 cal): The cherries are wonderfully tart and the freeze-dried texture encased in melty dark chocolate is right up my alley. I can’t decide if I like this more than Raspberry Choco Rhapsody!

The portions are nutritionist-approved and controlled for. They are on the smaller side for someone who eats with wild abandon like me, so I’d imagine pairing them with yogurt would work better for me until I get used to having smaller snack portions.

For people who are looking for convenient and healthy ways to snack, whilst taking the brainwork out of going through what is actually healthy in the market, I reckon the BoxGreen subscription box service will work wonderfully. It is inexpensive, and one can control the frequency of subscription. It doesn’t hurt, at all, that the snacks are actually delicious and that they are far, far removed from tasting like hamster feed. BoxGreen has convinced me that healthy snacking can be delicious too, and that we don’t have to succumb to sugary or sinful treats to satiate our appetite for tasty food! You would be glad to know that with every BoxGreen sold, the company donates a meal equivalent to Willing Hearts, a soup kitchen that helps out the less privileged in Singapore. Double win! You can also pool your resources with your colleagues or friends and get the BoxGreen Team Box; it can be a group or custom one, and everyone can get snacking together!

If you would like to give BoxGreen a try, use my code pleasuremonger to get 30% off your first subscription box. This code does not ever expire and applies only for your first box, and if you are getting the individual subscription, your first box only amounts to $13.93 for 12 packs of snacks. Seems like a pretty good and wholesome deal to me!

*I was gifted a BoxGreen subscription box for the review. No additional monetary compensation has been received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

Prison Break 

4.20am

I woke up to Ethan’s soft cries and thought he needed to nurse again. After all, he has been waking up in the middle of the night for the past two weeks, and I thought this was just like any other night.

As I approached his room and groped for the handle to the door, I was puzzled by the amplitude of his cries.

Why does he sound so loud when his cries sound so muffled on the monitor? He sounds like he is…just behind the door?! But it can’t be, right…?!

I opened the door gingerly and peeped. Wasn’t sure why I did that because I did tell myself that I was just sleep-deprived and that I was just thinking too much. And lo and behold, two very large, round eyes that were brimming with tears were staring back at me in complete darkness.

OMFG HE GOT OUT OF THE COT AND HE *IS* BEHIND THE DOOR!!!!

!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!!!

I yelled for M because I couldn’t contain that leaping (in a bad way) heart of mine. How in the world….how did he…he is only 16 months old…but the base is pretty low on the cot…Faith never did…he can’t even walk consistently yet…it’s pitch-black in here with the black-out blinds and drapes…how did he…OMG MY SON PRISON BREAK LEH WHAT THE!!!

M was in disbelief, and he semi-shouted, “Is he hurt? Is his head okay? CHECK HIM NAO.” Then he ran outside with the torch he grabbed from E’s room and came running back after a few seconds, muttering that we have to lower the cot first thing in the morning. (M clarified that he went out of the room because he thought there might be an off-chance that someone broke into our home and wanted to kidnap E, and because E cried, the badass left him sitting behind the door. Say whutt?!)

F, who was sleeping in our bed, stumbled into E’s room, rubbed her eyes and was utterly confused, “What happened to didi?”

I wish I knew what happened!

Needless to say, I slept with one eye open after I put E back to bed. I Googled a million videos of babies doing the great escape and couldn’t believe that my baby, the one with the manja longan eyes, is as fearless as these Youtube babies.

So. We lowered the cot to the bottommost rung, even though it was already on the second lowest adjustment. We plonked the very large playmat right under. We removed all dangerous objects, even knobs on drawers, drilled the chest to the wall, and hung up all loose blind and curtain cords, waaaaay out of (even my) reach. The sockets are all sealed, wires all kept, and we are going to monitor E’s bedtime shenanigans for a while. He is still too young to be transited to a floor mattress, so let’s hope these changes contain him until he is ready to sleep in a big boy’s bed like his sister did at 29 months.
Doodle courtesy of Gong Gong, who calls him Ninja Kid. 

How I Protect My Skin From The Sun: NAÏF Protecting Sunscreen

[*SPONSORED POST] When I was in lower primary, I was often teased for having fair skin. I was called all sorts of things, including a vampire, and man, did I detest having a fair complexion.

When I grew older, I was still at the receiving end of this mockery and I didn’t embrace what I have until I was in my mid-twenties. I remember going out to the beach on weekends during my late teens, just to get a tan, but funnily, all I did was to turn into a lobster and then revert to channeling Morticia Addams. I must add that I sunbathed without sun protection, and I regret it because I do have a few spots on my face now that I am in my thirties. Had I known that exposure to the sun will cause hyper-pigmentation later in life, I would have been more consistent about sun protection when I was younger.

It’s a little late to start anti-ageing skincare routines in my late twenties it seems, because those spots had shown up on my face by then, but I guess it’s better late than never! I apply sunscreen on my face and body everyday, even when I stay at home; reason being our apartment is flooded with natural light and I get exposed to UV rays even when I am indoors. I also make school runs and the sun hits my arms and the right side of my face whenever I drive, so I am rather strict about applying sunscreen before I leave home.

For years, I wasn’t too concerned about using chemical sunscreens and I have unconsciously leaned towards those that do not leave a white cast (which means they are likely to be made with chemical UV filters), but lately, I have been reading up on greener and safer skincare options and realised that it is just better to use physical sunscreens (stable in sunlight, good balance between UVA and UVB protection especially if it contains zinc oxide, generally do not contain harmful additives). You can have a read about the general differences between a physical and chemical sunscreen over here. The dreadful thing is physical sunscreens are thick and opaque, and are known to leave a white cast even after you have had a good workout rubbing the product into your skin. I don’t mind it at all if I were just going for a swim but I don’t really want to be walking around looking like a splotchy plaster wall when I am out and about.

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About two months ago, Tim invited me to give the NAÏF Protecting Sunscreen a try. It boasts an SPF of 50 and protects from both UVA and UVB rays with its physical filters (15% zinc oxide, 5% titanium dioxide), is preservative-free, and is touted to be incredibly moisturising. I couldn’t say no after learning about its benefits, and it helps to know that the NAÏF line of skincare products is formulated with babies in mind, are dermatologically tested, hypoallergenic, pH skin neutral and the products are made without any harmful ingredients. Yes, you heard right. The products do not contain mineral oil, parabens, phenoxyethanol, SLS/SLES and harsh chemicals. Indeed, a quick check on the EWG site reveals that the ingredients of the Protecting Sunscreen are ranked low in hazard scores.

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I have been using the NAÏF Protecting Sunscreen on my body since then and it is amazing! It is runny, wonderfully emollient and incredibly easy to apply compared to other physical sunscreens I have tried; seriously, it takes only ten seconds to rub it in and the sunscreen does not leave a white cast. It keeps my skin moisturised, and I come off smelling clean and fresh. Have I mentioned that I am super-sensitive to smells and feel dizzy upon inhaling most scents? This, I have no qualms whatsoever!

The NAÏF Protecting Sunscreen really is a godsend, and I will purchase it once I run out as it is remarkable and convenient for daily use. Baby Pure Singapore, exclusive distributor of NAÏF products, also gives back – the company sponsored $10 vouchers for approximately 6500 Hair for Hope participants and it also donates a dollar to the Children Cancer Foundation for each Protecting Sunscreen sold. I can’t think of a better way to protect myself against the sun AND to do good at the same time.

NAÏF Protecting Sunscreen retails for a very reasonable $35.90 online and you’d be happy to know that one gets free delivery within Singapore with a minimum purchase of $60!

*I was gifted the NAÏF Protecting Sunscreen for the review. No additional monetary compensation has been received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

Imagine|Native: Creative Fest for Kids

ALL HAIL THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS!

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When school is out, I reckon that parents and caregivers have to gear up. We all know how cabin fever turns holidays into ‘horri-days’, and I thought it’s the perfect opportunity to share our experience at Imagine|Native, a creative festival for kids at the Maritime Experiential Museum (also home to the S.E.A. Aquarium) well-worth visiting this school holidays!

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Sharing a moment with the Ang Ku Kueh Girl. How adorable is she?!

Imagine|Native runs from 27 May to 12 June 2016; it hosts a variety of live performances, workshops, book reading sessions, talks, educational activities all set to a marine theme, as well as a sizeable book fair featuring many titles from the local book scene. This educational fiesta aims to promote the love for reading among children and to inspire them to learn more about marine life and conservation.

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“Courtesy, it begins with me!”

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Edmund Chen, sharing about his book, My Little Red Dot

We were treated to a performance by the Fin-tastic Fishy Friends, got up close and personal with Ang Ku Kueh Girl and Singa the Courtesy Lion, sat in while local children’s book author, David Seow narrated Sam, Sebbie and Di-Di-Di: At the S.E.A. Aquarium to children beneficiaries and the media, and actor-turned-illustrator, Edmund Chen shared about his book, My Little Red Dot, and even had a go at the touch pools (sea cucumbers, starfish, etc). We also stood in awe of the staggering display of the 10,000 books donated by the public and RWS staff in a book donation drive organised by RWS and People’s Association, and were heartened to learn that these books will go to children of low-income families in Singapore.

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The activities at Imagine|Native differ daily and I can’t list everything down to the last detail because there’s so much going on. One can expect guided craft workshops, colouring sessions, storytelling by local authors, book launches and book signing, photo ops with mascots of our local icons, and more! It’s best to check the Event Calendar, so you can identify the activities (and authors/characters) that you are most interested in before making a trip down at the timings suggested.

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It doesn’t look it but Faith was thoroughly enjoying the activity at the S.E.A.A Babies station! She just didn’t want her photo taken and gave the poor attendant the stink-eye.

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Learn more about the Manta Rays and head over to the aquarium after to take what you have learnt further!

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Meet Mai the Manta!

There are also a few interactive stations at Imagine|Native. The touch pools are wonderful for all who would like to get up close with marine animals such as the starfish and sea cucumber. The Manta Station educates one on how best to identify Manta Rays and I love that one can pick some information up over here and head to the aquarium after (tickets sold separately or in a bundle, more information below) to spot Manta Rays for real! Don’t forget to take part in the lucky draw at the ‘Name the Manta’ station to stand a chance of winning the grand prize of a Ocean Suite staycation for two and two S.E.A. Aquarium passes. One can also colour the marine animals on the mural, and learn more about the new marine babies bred by the aquarium and the life cycles. Again, a perfect prelude to the S.E.A. Aquarium if you are planning to visit the latter.

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Great local book fair with books going at 15% off!

The book fair is a must-visit, with books from various local authors going at 15% off. The admission tickets for adults come with vouchers that can be used to offset your purchases (terms and conditions apply), so it’s an absolute win-win situation! I spotted the Timmy & Tammy series, which we love, the books by David Seow which are beautifully illustrated by Soefara Jafney, The Magical Dragon Playground, a new book by Wang Shijia detailing the adventures of Ang Ku Kueh Girl & Friends, and many more!

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Rounded off the festival with a visit to the S.E.A. Aquarium. Don’t forget to purchase the bundle if you want to head to the aquarium too!

Judging from what we experienced at the launch, it’s well-worth stopping by Imagine|Native, especially if you were planning to visit the S.E.A Aquarium during the school holidays. It’s a great way to tie in what your child can learn from workshops, book readings and the interactive stations at Imagine|Native, and putting it in context for them at the aquarium. Simply pick out the events that you would like to be part of, and purchase your tickets online or onsite for your day of visit!

TICKETS TO IMAGINE|NATIVE (do not include admission to S.E.A. Aquarium):

Adult One-Day Pass: $6 (onsite), $5 (online). Includes 1 $5 Imagine|Native voucher

Child One-Day Pass (4 to 12 years old): $3. Includes $25 Goodie Bag

There are bundle promotions for tickets to S.E.A. Aquarium + Imagine|Native, Adventure Cove Waterpark + Imagine|Native, as well as discounts for Maybank Card Holders.

More information on tickets can be found by clicking the Promotion tab over here.

Thank you, RWS, for inviting us to Imagine|Native and the S.E.A. Aquarium!