Category Archives: Useful Knick-Knacks

Family Photography: Grow Old With Me

Moments. The biggest ones that make your heart leap. The most insignificant ones that escape your consciousness. The ones when you laugh till your belly hurts. The ones that you’d rather others not know about. There are, too, the quiet ones when time stands still, and those pauses that seem to take far too long to skip. They make up our lives, our passage here in the world we know, and they make more difference, in the lives of the people who love you, than you think they do.

When I was on the cusp of my teens through to my twenties, I hated being photographed. I didn’t know how to smile for the camera and I certainly didn’t like the way I looked. All that changed when I started dating the love of my life. Suddenly, I was desperate to record every waking moment spent with M, determined not to let those times slip away because…really, I have the memory of a goldfish and I don’t want to forget the moments that we share. Never mind the huge cystic pimple on my nose when I headed to London to visit him, never mind the crooked teeth, I just wanted to capture as many smiles (awkward ones too) as possible.

When I moved to London, I dabbled in very (very) amateur photography. It started with food photography and styling, and then I tried my hand at taking travel shots. M often rolled his eyes at me for trying to take photographs of him too, but hey, good or bad, we now have tonnes of memories to fill the album with.

Now that we have children, I make it a point to do a family photoshoot once a year, much to the horror of M initially. “A few hundred bucks spent on photos?!” That’s what he used to say until he saw the coffee table albums I put together and realised how precious it was to be able to thumb through beautifully captured moments of the kids growing up and of our family just hanging out together. It has come to a point where he goes, “Let’s get A (our usual family photographer) to take our photographs again this year!” Because you see, sometimes when life gets tough and discouraging, M and I often snuggle up in bed at night to look at our family photos, and that is all it takes to get us back up on our feet again.

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Not all photoshoots are created equal though. I had one where the photographer physically moved our body parts (can I just say we were absolutely stiff and it was hard for the photog to move us too) so that we looked perfect for the shot; while that works for people who aren’t as stiff and are more intuitive at posing for photographs (I am absolutely envious of people who know how to work the camera), M and I just end up looking and feeling ridiculous and self-conscious because we aren’t naturals in front of the camera.

When Gideon from Grow Old With Me approached us to do a photoshoot, the first thing I did was to check out his portfolio to make sure that our styles align. As we aren’t good in front of the camera, we needed a photographer who can coax genuine emotions out of us and that’s what I saw in his work with other families. Eyes squeezed shut amidst hearty laughs, flailing arms that end in the biggest hugs, thoughtful, quiet exchanges, knowing smiles. And that’s exactly what we got out of the hour we had with Gideon.

He made an effort to get to know us, what we do, who we are, how we parent; he even knows what makes us joyful and what makes us tick. My kids usually take pretty long to warm up to people but they took to Gideon very quickly. He has a way with children, getting to their eye levels, asking questions and playing games with them; that is pretty much how he worked his magic to get Faith and Ethan to be at ease and just hang out as they usually do with us. It didn’t matter if two cameras were clicking away. The entire session was easy, comfortable and it felt like we were catching up with an old friend. Many shots were taken while we were still chatting away with Gideon, some were taken in the midst of a guided conversation we had with the kids, and others were captured when we were just having a grand ol’ time being outdoors. Sure, the children did whine a little because of the heat, but that’s to be expected anyway.

The best thing about Gideon is he wants to be there. He shared that Grow Old With Me came about because it was a natural progression to grow with the newlyweds that he has photographed, as they begin their journeys in parenthood. He recognises the ups and downs of parenthood, and sees each photoshoot as an opportunity for the family to bond. It is this that drives him to capture the moments that might have otherwise gone unnoticed in our daily lives, and I am thankful that he shared this ethos with us. Our exact sentiments, really.

We really like how the photos turned out; in fact, I just spent two hours grinning like a goofball while reliving the moments we shared that day (someone’s got to do the hard work of picking out photos to put up on the blog, there are too many good ones!). I shall leave the photos with you (it’s a slideshow and may take a while to load) and don’t forget to check out the promotion below!

Promotion:

I heard from Gideon that Grow Old With Me is looking to plan some activities that would help parents better capture moments with their children, and I honestly can’t wait to see how that pans out. While that is still work in progress, if you are looking to do a family photoshoot, you might be glad to know that Grow Old With Me is offering a 20% discount on the hour-long ‘The Family Bonding’ package (usually priced at $328), which which suits a family of 6 people (max). All photos will be processed and returned in high resolution (digital format) within a week. It’s a pretty amazing deal, if you ask me, so hurry and book a slot with Grow Old With Me! The promotional code GOWM is valid until the end of April 2017.

Like Grow Old With Me on Facebook and stay updated on Instagram over @growoldwithmesg as well! 

A Super Fun Play Book That My Kids Love + Promo Code! 

I love toys and books that give us good mileage because (a) I don’t want my home to be cluttered with things as seasons change, (b) we save money in the long run, and most importantly (c) the kids learn not to hanker after the next flashy toy they see and learn to explore the same object in different and creative ways.

I am in disbelief at how well the third point has worked out for us but I am beyond glad that it has. The kids, especially F who is 4 years old, have no problem leaving a toy store without throwing a tantrum. Yes, they would be fascinated by all the knick-knacks calling out to them from the shelves, but they are perfectly happy to leave the store with minimal persuasion as they have learnt (with our guidance and then on their own) that they have sufficient open-ended toys at home that are always fun-enough for them.

One thing that I really like is a good quiet book that grows with the child. I have been looking for one since E was born as I had hoped for the book to keep F busy whilst I nurse E to sleep in the evenings. One can get really useful ones online, some of which you can personalise with pages that you like, but holy moly, those can cost USD10 per page and I just can’t bring myself to spend more than $100 for a busy book with sufficient content, no matter how well-made or interesting they are. I managed to work out a way to keep F quietly busy eventually when my secondborn winds down for bedtime, but when the very active E was due to go on his second flight, I searched for one that cost about $60, bought it on impulse, and regretted the purchase because it was completely uninteresting and none of my kids liked it.

When Sapna from Smarter Concepts approached me to give My Super Fun Play Book a try, I was skeptical at first but having taken a look at the book and the company’s vision in detail on the site, I was sold.

The company is committed to sourcing materials ethically and works closely with seamstresses and handicraft producers to ensure good workmanship. Smarter Concepts cultivates homegrown talents, develops skills of underprivileged women in the Philippines, and promotes their welfare by maintaining fair labour practices, and purchasing the play book is an amazing way to support this vision. The book has also undergone stringent tests and conforms to the European standards of EN 71 and ISO 8124, and it is good to know that the book is safe for my kids to play with.

 
I am glad to report that the play book is highly sought after in our home. F and E love to take it from room to room (it’s super portable as it’s made of fabric and not the least bit heavy) and they sit down quietly to go through the activities on each page. The only time when they make a peep is when they fight over it…which is pretty often because the book is fun for kids of various age groups! E is about 22 months old and he loves sorting colours, playing with the finger puppets, brushing the dog’s teeth, or simply taking the accessories off and sticking them back on the pages. F particularly enjoys a game of Tic-Tac-Toe, loves making pizza (and Mama gets a go at teaching her what a balanced diet is using the different ingredients available) and she is very keen on learning how to tell the time, braid hair, tie shoelaces, etc. Have a look at the time-lapse video I have taken of F playing with the book and you will see that it really is a book that grows with the child.

The workmanship of the play book is excellent too. E can be pretty rough with things in our house but the play book is so impeccably sewn that it has survived his vicious tugging on some of the accessories on the pages! The stitching and attention to detail is evident on every accessory on every page and this has me wondering how this book of 12 pages can go for less than USD4.80 per page (even cheaper if you use my discount code)!

The book is really affordable for its quality and mileage, and gives even the best quiet book I have seen out there a run for its money. I am planning to bring this book with us for when we travel in a few months’ time; this way, the kids get something (they love) to do other than vegging out in front of the telly onboard!

You may purchase this book over here. Don’t forget to use my discount code thepleasuremonger to get USD10 off the book (that works out to only USD48!) when you check out (valid until 31 January 2017, so HURRY).

*I was given the play book 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.

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.

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.

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.

Ecover ZERO – Cleaning Products That Wouldn’t Kill Your Skin

[*SPONSORED POST] Three years ago, I became that parent who constantly sources for eco-friendly, safer products to use in our home, knowing that Faith is likely to lick the floor, throw her toys around and chew at them after…you get the picture. I knew I couldn’t totally protect her from the big bad world but I was (still am!) determined to minimise her exposure to harsh chemicals, especially when she suffered from eczema back then (she hasn’t had flare-ups in the past year or so). I tried using a couple of products to clean our home and have been loyal to mainly two brands since 2012, one of which is Ecover. I have used its floor cleaner religiously over the past three years and am a huge fan of it. We have gone through bottles of that stuff and I only have good things to say about it. I was naturally delighted when Ecover invited us to try out the ZERO range, which is touted to thoroughly clean with its gentle plant- and mineral-based ingredients whilst staying gentle on sensitive skin with its colouring-free and fragrance-free formulation.

I have tried the following for about two weeks now, and am VERY pleased to report that the ZERO range lives up to very high expectations.

  

The ZERO Laundry Liquid is superb at cleaning our clothes, even at 30 degrees Celsius, which is the temperature I use to save on utilities. I haven’t found any stains or aggregates that may come from certain laundry powder or liquid products, and our laundry comes out smelling clean even though the laundry liquid is fragrance-free. I really, really like the fact that it is so because I am very sensitive to smell (I abhor most fragrances from laundry products…they make me feel nauseated). I have also used the laundry liquid on the kids’ clothes, and F, who has more sensitive skin of the two, has not reacted to this new product, unsurprisingly so as it has been dermatologically tested and approved by Allergy UK. Yay! I am also glad to know that the laundry liquid does not contain any phosphates or optical brighteners; that’s super good news for my handwoven wraps and pretty baby carriers!.

We also use the ZERO Fabric Conditioner in every load and it does the job of keeping our clothes soft pretty damn well! Again, our clothes smell clean, even in the absence of fragrance. I’m pretty amazed at how the products do this. I suppose the plant- and mineral-based ingredients are super effective at cleaning! I mean, if something is truly clean, then it shouldn’t smell funky, right?

And the ZERO Washing Up Liquid? Stellar. My hands used to age with every round of dishwashing I do, no thanks to the harsh but effective dishwashing liquid that we were using before trying out the ZERO range. My hands no longer feel parched and tight with the ZERO Washing Up Liquid and most of all, I am truly in awe of its cleaning prowess. The dishes, pots and pans are squeaky clean when I am done washing, even with the sometimes-heavy cooking I do! LOVE this product. And my dishes don’t come off smelling like ‘Lemon’ or ‘Lime’, just clean! 

I am pretty impressed by the ZERO range, and highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for clean-and-green products that are suitable for sensitive skin. They are definitely more expensive than the harsher counterparts that I used to use but I think  the products are well worth the money if you are in need of something that is eco-friendly AND less likely to kill what’s left of your sensitive skin, 

You can shop online at Ecover or get hold of its products at the following stockists.

*I was gifted Ecover ZERO 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.

Kiddy Packs: Party Favours, Sorted

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[SPONSORED POST*] So. The angels from Kiddy Packs descended and gave us much needed help with the party favours for F’s 3rd birthday party. I AM EXTREMELY THANKFUL FOR THAT. We had 29 kids over for the party, 25 above the age of 1 and 4 under the age of 1. I was struggling to keep my children alive amidst chores, cooking, and party planning, let alone sort out decent party favours for our pint-sized guests! Kiddy Packs took all that stress off!

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Samantha, owner of Kiddy Packs, made it much too simple for me. All I had to do was pick out what I wanted, and she would have them packed and delivered to my specifications! I didn’t keep to the party theme when it came to choosing the favours; I was more concerned about getting things that the kids would love and use, ones that are age-appropriate as well, given that we have some babies in our midst. Samantha was very accommodating and let me pick out two different types of favours to cater for kids of different ages. Knowing that most of the children love Peppa Pig, I thought the Peppa Pig Sticker Pack, which includes 1 booklet of 200 (!!) stickers, 2 colouring pages and a set of 3 markers, would be a real crowd-pleaser! F was thoroughly enamoured with the sticker pack even though she isn’t familiar with Peppa Pig; I mean 200 stickers, for crying out loud! The sticker pack was of excellent quality too, nothing like the nonsense I have bought for cheaps on a certain mass-purchase site (those don’t last and they annoy the hell out of me). As for the younger ones, I thought some sensory play might be good and I got them a Maraca and Finger Puppet each! Turned out that I made a faaaaab choice because F, at a grand old age of three, loved them too, so I guess those are good toys to grow into!201510 Faith's 3rd Birthday 15 201510 Faith's 3rd Birthday 16Missy, it’s a Maraca, not a microphone…(F obviously doesn’t care because she loves to sing and would turn anything into a mic!)

I am very particular when it comes to aesthetics, so I turned into a ribbon Nazi and asked Samantha if she could deck the packs out in blue and yellow bows, and she obliged! I’m relieved that she doesn’t dress the favours in tacky packaging; there is no way I would allow that at any of my parties…I would fight to the last breath..okay, don’t mind me going off-tangent there.

Anyway, the packs were promptly delivered on the day that I requested and they arrived in perfect condition! They looked good on the dessert table and were well-received by the kids, according to the parents, and I am glad that Kiddy Packs extended the invitation to review to us! I wouldn’t have known of such a service otherwise, and would have wound up getting crap for the kids, yet again, this year, so…thank you, Kiddy Packs!

You can shop online at Kiddy Packs.

*I was gifted 29 packs of party favours 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.

Babywearing: Review on K’Tan Active

[SPONSORED POST*] When F was born, I was the most clueless first-time mother around. I didn’t know anything about the importance of establishing routines (the horror), early bedtimes (where have I been?!) and what-have-you, and I certainly didn’t know that one could wear a baby.

Noob, right? I know.

I was first introduced to the world of babywearing by three lovely friends – Y, Y and P – who came bearing gifts and an arsenal of knowledge on slings, soft structured carriers, wraps and pouches. I was exhausted, frazzled and completely overwhelmed by an 8 week-old who didn’t sleep unless she was held in my arm, so you can imagine how grateful I was (still am!) to the three ladies.

Eager to try the different ways out, I put whatever I could get my hands on to the test. The pouch was difficult to manoeuvre for me as F seemed squashed in the cradle position; no matter what I did, I couldn’t get her chin away from her chest and that made me very nervous. The wrap, whilst highly adaptable to a growing baby and very versatile in terms of carrying styles, was much too intimidating; I didn’t attempt it until I gave birth to my son, E. I was most comfortable with slinging F in the kangaroo position, one that she loved and one that I struggled least with until she was ready for the soft structured carrier when she turned 5-6 months old. I didn’t stop babywearing until F was much too heavy for my swollen frame to bear when I was pregnant again.

Now that E is all small and squishy and warm in my arms, I am back on the babywearing track. I scoured the web for beautiful and practical options and I now have 3 slings, 1 wrap and 3 soft-structured carriers (but SSCs are too big for infants so I didn’t use them until recently) to play with. I am no noob when it comes to slings and bought a third one only because it comes in such a beautiful weave. But the wrap, oh that wrap…I love its lightweight fabric and how it offers even distribution of weight on my shoulders and lower back. You see, there is a particularly noxious point somewhere across my shoulders now, having borne the weight of a growing child for most hours of the day (and night) with poor postures for the past three years, and a wrap offers much relief now that I am babywearing again. Also, one can adjust the wrap to suit the favoured carrying styles well as the sizes of the wearer and baby!

There is a problem though. Actually…two. I don’t wear nursing clothes as I find that nursing wear tends to be expensive and unflattering, and the openings are much too restrictive for baby to get a good latch without having his or her face buried in fabric; I end up wearing normal tops and using a nursing cover instead. As you can imagine, nursing with normal tops whilst being bandaged with a wrap is a challenge, especially when I am out alone with my baby. It is difficult to thread my top back down to my waist through the ties from the wrap whilst cradling a squirmy baby in one arm (a baby with not-so-great neck control at the moment, if I might add). As such, I only use the wrap when someone heads out with me, so I can hand E to whoever whilst I cover myself up again after nursing. And the second problem? It is tough to try and re-tie the wrap if you can’t free up your arms. (Perhaps I should have invested in nursing tops because…I LOVE this wrap to bits!)

Of course, I am being a total noob again because there exists a wrap that does not requiring any fumbling of sorts, and I only realised this when my friend, S used it and again when Happy Coast Kids contacted me to try out the K’Tan.

It is basically a wrap that you purchase based on your clothing size, and it supposedly hugs your baby right, as a well-adjusted wrap does, without the need to fumble with knots and what-not! I jumped at the opportunity to try it out as it seemed to fulfill most of characteristics that I want – convenience, support on both shoulders, lightweight, breathable fabric – in a carrier. There are a few models to choose from, based on your needs. I picked the K’Tan Active as it blocks over 90% of UVA and UVB rays, and I figured this was a plus given that we get a lot of sun during our outings with the kids and even in our very brightly lit home. I did make the boo-boo of picking S instead of XS; word to the wise, make sure you select your true size (I went a size larger as I normally like loose-fitting clothes, but with the K’Tan, you would need it to fit you quite snugly for your baby to be worn safely)! Once I had the size sorted and made sure there wasn’t excess fabric around E when I put him in the K’Tan, I put the carrier to the test.

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For starters, it was easy as hell to prep myself with the K’Tan. I simply had to make sure my arms and head were looped through correctly; this is as easy as putting on your T-shirt. Popping E into the K’Tan was not a problem too; I am used to propping his knees up and drawing his feet up to his bum before putting him in a kangaroo position in the sling. This is no different, he was snug in the pre-set loops of the K’Tan in no time. Taking him out to nurse posed no challenge whatsoever, as there are no knots or tied loops to fumble with; I only had to pull the two sides of the fabric down to his bum and pop him back out of the wrap, and I could lift my top up to nurse him easily before making myself decent and putting him back in the K’Tan without help. The K’Tan is certainly a very user-friendly carrier! Just check out the videos here on the various positions one can easily put a baby in!

E remains relatively cool in the K’Tan as the fabric wicks away moisture and breathes; that’s a bonus as it can get really hot with the weather in Singapore. E also seems comfortable in the K’Tan as he didn’t struggle in it and slept rather quickly whenever I put him in it. Ten points for sleepy dust!

Whilst the K’Tan distributes the weight evenly between my two shoulders, I did find that if I carried E in it for more than a few hours, my middle and lower back would start to ache. I do tend to ache eventually after hours of babywearing, so perhaps this has to do with my longstanding back problem as I was thrown off a horse a few years ago and I failed to take care of my back after I became a mother. The other issue that I had with the K’Tan was how someone of a different size wouldn’t be able to use my carrier. My husband is really tall and wider than I am, so I would have to get two K’Tan carriers if he wants to carry E this way too. This wouldn’t be the case for the sling (M doesn’t like to use a sling), a wrap (M finds it too troublesome) and an SSC (which can run a tad large for E’s petite frame, but we can easily solve that problem with a simple gadget we found).

Based on my usage of the K’Tan over the past few months, I would say that it is perfect for solo outings with the baby as I don’t need an extra pair of hands whilst popping E in and out of the carrier. It is also wonderful for when babies are still too small for soft structured carriers (which I am a huge fan of) and a lifesaver for parents who aren’t adept with the sling and wraps. Simply put, it is completely fuss-free! The material is great for our weather and the fact that the K’Tan Active blocks out UV rays is such a bonus as I do not apply sunscreen on my kids until they turn(ed) 6 months old. This came in really handy as we head outdoors with F pretty often and I certainly don’t want E to burn in the sun! Personally, I would keep outings in the K’Tan to just 2-3 hours as my back starts to ache after that; this isn’t really an issue though because I don’t head out with E for longer than that when I am alone with him. I would recommend the K’Tan as the perfect carrier for babywearing noobs and parents to infants especially (to be used with care and according to instructions, of course)! Now that E is almost five months old, I have switched to using SSCs that I can share with M, but I have seen parents carting their kids around in a K’Tan even after the kids’ first birthdays, and that says a lot about its longevity! As long as one gets the right size, it does take A LOT of stress out of fumbling with knots and pieces of fabric when trying to wear a baby. I do wish the K’Tan carriers come in more attractive designs locally; wider ranges are available internationally, so perhaps this is something Happy Coast Kids can look into bringing in!

*I was gifted one K’Tan Active in Black in size XS (sans shipping). 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.

You may shop for the K’Tan on Happy Coast Kids!

Look Ma, My (Clean and Soft) Hands!

[SPONSORED POST*] I didn’t used to carry hand sanitisers with me unless I was on holidays. After Faith was born, I became a clean freak and lugged at least one bottle from a certain brand everywhere I went because I didn’t want her to fall ill and hand sanitisers are real lifesavers in making sure that we emerge from poop/pee accidents (mostly) unscathed when there isn’t a bathroom in sight.

For more than two years, the hand sanitiser did its job, but left my hands smelling like alcohol (not unlike the days when I had to spray my hands down with 70% ethanol whilst working in the research lab) and feeling very, VERY dry. I was keen to look for an alternative but never got down to it. Most hand sanitisers that are on the market contain alcohol anyway.

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Then, Su-Lin from Our Lifestyle Shop gifted us with the latest kid on the block, the safeHands 7 Oz Bundle Pack ($59.70) that consists of three bottles of alcohol-free hand sanitisers (in assorted scents), which changed my life, quite literally. My hands were no longer dry. I no longer reek of alcohol; instead the sanitiser leaves a pleasant, subtle scent if I choose to use the scented ones (Cucumber Mint and Clean Linen). The foam dispensed feels good on the hands (and thrills F to bits with its texture). It is very gentle on the skin (F has eczema and has not reacted to safeHands at all). I have one bottle in my car and have barely made a dent in the bottle despite using about four pumps daily since the middle of November 2013. Granted, it’s not cheap at almost $20 for a bottle, but you get a whopping 7oz of product in each bottle (more than the usual sanitisers on the market), and considering that one full pump suffices for sanitising purposes, you do get a lot of mileage out of one bottle.  I’d say you pay for quantity AND quality, especially when it’s non-toxic, non-drying, alcohol-free, non-flammable and non-irritating, and is the only FDA-registered, EPA-recognised and USDA-approved hand sanitiser that kills MRSA, VRE and C-diff. SOOOO much win!

I have just one nagging thought about the safeHands sanitiser. It’s too big for me to lug in my diaper bag…I mean, you CAN, but I’d much prefer a travel-sized one for outings, especially when a single pump gives you sufficient product to eliminate germs. Now, THAT would be perfect! I’d say the 7oz bottles are great for keeping in cars and on desktops for when you need to sanitise your hands.

GIFT WITH PURCHASE:

To kick off the new year, we have our first giveaway for you! Receive a free sample of Drain Blast (two tablets good for a total o two uses; the full-sized product is good for 12 uses) with every purchase of the safeHands Bundle Pack! Enter the promotional code thepleasuremonger when you checkout. Promotion valid until 12 February 2015.

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More on Drain Blast:  It is a Green product (yay!) that is used to eliminate blockages in commercial and residential drains and to get rid of fruit flies in drains. The bacteria in the product chomps on the scum layers where the flies live, breed and eat, and therefore, eliminates the food source for the flies. When used as a biological mop water treatment (and by that, I mean you drop a table into a bucket of water meant for mopping), it removes food sources for other insects as well including cockroaches, disrupts the habitat that flies require for breeding and degrades organic material in cracks, crevices and drain lines. Be gone, you nasty bugs! I would LOVE to get my hands on this!

*I was gifted one safeHands 7oz Bundle Pack to review. No monetary gift was received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored items, should I find the products unsuitable.

You can shop online at Our Lifestyle Shop.

Calling All Clean Freaks and Insect-Phobes!

[SPONSORED POST*] I’m pleased to share some good news with you! First up, The Pleasure Monger has been appointed one of the Ambassadors of Our Lifestyle Shop. It wasn’t a tough decision to agree to Su-Lin’s invitation because we genuinely love the products that we have been sponsored by and purchasing from the shop; some of the products, I have been using for over two years ever since F was born as I endeavour to keep our exposure to toxins to a minimum whilst keeping our home clean, safe and insect-free. Second, the festive season is just around the corner and the store is offering some pretty amazing Christmas bundles for all you clean freaks and insect-phobes like myself!

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Just two of my favourite products!

The bundles are permutations of four of my favourite products that I use to keep my home clean and insect-free, and now is a good time as any to stock up on these babies!

1. ‘Deck the Halls with Clean & Merry’ at $79.90

The bundle consists of:

One KONK® I HH Flying Insect Killer (one of the most effective and safest insecticides known to man, and I have been using this for more than two years ever since F was born, to keep our exposure to toxins to a minimum while killing those pesky insects such as roaches and mozzies)

One B-Sanitized™ (a simple one-step solution for environmental protection against viral, bacterial fungal and mould contaminants, and yes, we used this to contain the spread of HFMD after F got infected at school)

– FREEBIE: Receive one SafeHands® Hand Sanitizer (Unscented) for free when you purchase this bundle

– Enter cleanmerry during checkout to enjoy this promotion!

2. ‘Jingle Bell KONK’ at only $126

The bundle consists of:

– Three KONK® I Flying Insect Killer Refills (used in the KONK® I patented Automatic Air Guard Timed Release Mister, it regularly releases metered doses of KONK® I, providing consistent, 24 hour round-the-clock protection against these flying and crawling insects, keeping your loved ones safe)

– FREEBIE: Receive one KONK® I HH Flying Insect Killer for free when you purchase this bundle

– Enter jinglebellkonk during checkout to enjoy this promotion!

3. ‘Santa’s Christmas TWIN pack’ at $199

The bundle consists of:

– One Automatic Air Guard Timed Release Mister

– Two KONK® I Flying Insect Killer Refills (used in the Mister, it regularly releases metered doses of KONK® I, providing you consistent, 24 hour round-the-clock protection against these flying and crawling insects, keeping your loved ones safe)

– FREEBIE: Receive one KONK® I HH Flying Insect Killer for free when you purchase this bundle

– Enter twinpack during checkout to enjoy this promotion!

4. NEW: ‘Wishing U a SafeHands Christmas ‘ at $59.70

The latest product to grace the inventory of Our Lifestyle Shop, the SafeHands® Hand Sanitizer is non-toxic, non-drying, non-flammable, non-irritating and alcohol-free. You’d be glad to know that it is the only hand sanitizer that kills MRSA, VRE and C-diff. Our Lifestyle Shop has rolled out a new bundle which consists of:

– Three SafeHands® Hand Sanitizer (one each of Unscented, Cucumber Mint and Clean Linen; my review will be out in January 2015)

– No promotional code needed. SImply click on this link to purchase.

All offers are valid until 31 December 2014. Don’t forget to enter the promotional codes when you check out to receive the bundles with the freebies that come with it! Now, go load up your shopping carts!

 *No monetary compensation has been received. This post was written as part of the Ambassadors Program.