Friday, October 31, 2014

Review + Worldwide GIVEAWAY!!! Personalised Book for your child!

As you have read in an earlier post, Dumpling just celebrated her birthday recently. It was a bittersweet experience for me frankly as I can never quite remain dry-eyed during this annual celebration. Simply put, they grow up too fast, too soon.

Her birthday present (formally) was a pair of ice skates as she started taking lessons earlier this year. But I was also on the lookout for another gift; something that adds meaning to her birth.
We were very blessed to have been given a personalized book! And not only that, it is one that is customized to her name.

:: The story and the book is started by 3 dads and an uncle. It was first started as a DIY project where they wanted to create personalized books. However, a quick look at the UK census showed that there are just about 14,000 names in the UK which makes it almost impossible to create personalized versions. Almost? Yes, almost.

Because these creators, being the creative people that they are, decided to base the stories on the letters that make up our names! So, with stories for 26 letters of the alphabet done up, was hatched!

As my name has 2 “A”s in it, for the purpose of the review, I used my name to see if there are any duplicates.
:: The illustrations
The illustrations in the books are wonderfully creative. More than that, they bring to ‘live’ the most magical stories that “maketh” your child’s name. From trolls to robots, from bears to elephants and from aardvarks to angels, the reader goes on a mighty adventure where these characters give the reader the first letter of their names. The pictures are colourful and I absolutely adore the characters used as they are often funny and likeable.

:: The Ordering
The ordering process is basically a very simple 3–step procedure.

  1. Type in your child’s name
  2. Choose Gender
  3. Hit Preview!
The “preview” was the most magical part for me as it allows me to see exactly what the stories revolving the letters are about!
And as you can see, even with 2 "A"s in my name, there were no duplicates in the stories too! :)
Best of all, the order comes with an option to add a note!
 Now, what if you have a boy, would this book still work? Absolutely! :)
:: The Final Product and Surprise!

The book came within the estimated date the system gave me. Check out the lovely 'envelope' it arrived in!


Dumpling was more thab curious and tore it opened when she realised that the item was "made for her"!

She then read the little dedication note in front...

And started thumbing through it in record time. When she finally got to the last part, she realised that the whole story made up her name and was really happy with it!

The actual book was of really good quality - the pages are thick and the printing was sharp. I also love that the pages are matt as I do not like the reflection of the light on glossy pages. :p
Now, for the exciting part? Well besides the fact that this book is literally for everyone, and the price includes free worldwide shipping, I have a copy to give away too!!!  (Book is suitable for kids from 2 - 6!)
:: To enter:
1. Enter through rafflecopter below!
2. Leave a comment below on who you are giving the book to and why! Please include your email address  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

:: Terms and Conditions:

- Entries that do not fulfill the requirements stated will be disqualified without notice.
- Winners will be notified by email, through the email address provided.
- This is a WORLDWIDE giveaway. 
- Claiming of the prize will be through the sponsor and details will be listed in the email.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this in order to do a review on and give my opinion of it. No monetary compensation was received for this post.

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

DIY Frozen Party!

The kid recently had her birthday celebration. With quite possibly about 90% of the girl population around the world, the theme was none other than Frozen. Yup, after months of prep work for the party, this very word sends chill (all pun intended) down my spine. LOL

The kiddo decided very early on (as in more than half a year prior) that it would be totally COOL (yes, corny I know) if she were to have a party at The Rink where her friends can have a go on ice and she gets to do what she enjoys too!

If you are looking to host a party with a Frozen theme, The Rink is a pretty good idea and here's sharing our prep journey.

:: Here’s 5 easy steps to planning a Frozen Party:

1) First up, decide on a venue and book for the date.
In our case, it was at The Rink. You can give them a call, check and book for a slot. Each slot is for 2 hours and you can check with them if you could come in a tad early to do up the room but they do provide a very simple printed laminated 'bunting' for the birthday child on one of the walls in the party room.

2) Birthday invitations

I went a little crazy this year as I am so anal about designs so I sort of created 3 different invitations. You can easily google for Frozen images. My eInvite below was created very simply using powerpoint, nothing fancy like Photoshop.

All you have to do is to place the image as the background, create a border and add on a ‘sticker’ (also googled), insert in a text box for the words. The version below was sent out as the first eInvitation. Thereafter, I mailed out the hardcopy invitation cards.

Because I created so many different versions, I used the 'last' design (below) as a reminder eInvite one day prior.
3) Party favours

The party this year is a much cozier party as Dumpling invited about 10 friends excluding her cousins. With the guest list decided way early on, I could then work out how many sets of party favors we needed.

It is a personal habit of mine to include personalized gifts and books whenever I can. With the invitee list all mapped out, I was able to suss out the various Frozen titles and ordered them when I happened to receive a discount code from Books Depository!

For her girlfriends who are P1 going kids in 2015, I also ordered some fun watches from eBay.

Now, I believe that many parents would face the same challenge as me when it comes to this theme for the boys – what do we then give as favors for them? I saw some really fun ideas of packing marshmallows, pretzel and choc / raisins in a bag where we can ‘build an Olaf’ but I wanted something a tad more personalized.

I googled a bit and decided on making some personalized aprons. I bought the image off etsy as well and got a friend to add on the names of the boys for me. I then printed on some iron-transfer stickers (Avery brand) and did the ironing on and voila!

Favor bags packing in process...

Favor bags all ready!

4) Décor

This gave me quite a headache as the Frozen themed décor were all out at the various party stores that I went to. So, having to improvise from there, I worked on using the Frozen colors of light blue and white.

a) Buntings
Birthday buntings are a must for me and you can find many options on Etsy is an amazing place and the best part is that many of the sellers offer personalization meaning that I could add on Dumpling’s name to the order.

b) Balloons
Balloons are a cheap and effective way to jazz up a room. Because my party was in the morning, I was not able to order the helium-filled balloons from the company as many of these are able to deliver only after 10am. What you can do instead is to blow them on your own. Thereafter, tie 3 – 4 to one string and use the tape to paste the string onto the wall. Here’s how ours look:

5) Cakes cakes and cakes!
I placed my order with Diana Gale, a fellow mum blogger at Domestic Goddess Wannabe whose food blog recently won an award! Diana was really great. All I had to do was to google for photos to show her and basically shared that I would like to have an ombre cake and some mini cupcakes. One of my close friends then helped me to place the order for the cake toppers (as I decided to swear off fondant cake this year). Once the sugar and the toppers were added to the cake, it was definitely ‘theme’ ready!

I also ordered half a dozen of jam-filled cupcakes from Diana where the buttercream was also in the frozen blue. Diana provided the printed cupcake toppers too!

The cakes were yummy and we had children oohing and ‘aiming’ for the slice / cupcake which they wanted. It was not overly sweet and I particularly love the jam filled cupcakes where Diana also added some shaved white choc as ‘snowflakes’.

Final Tips:

I am a stickler for small details so in my case, since I DIY the design and printing (I go to Bras Basah for cheap printing on matt art card, stickers, etc.) I try to make personalised items as much as I can.

I designed and printed personalised water bottle labels...

Tent Cards

And personalized thank you tags which I tied to the goodie bags as the items in the bag differs slightly

As signages are often the first point of 'contact' when the guests arrive at any venue, The Rink was kind enough to allow me to design the 'Welcome Signage' which is inline with the theme too.
Dumpling aka 'Queen Elsa' LOL attracted a fair bit of attention as she posed with the signage)
Having details like these help to 'glue' the whole theme together.
Of course, the rest of the party was a breeze as the kids basically entertained themselves on ice! Kids having a safety crash course before starting...
The cousins...
Close friends...

And of course, we ended off the lovely morning with the birthday cake and song!

To all our friends and family who celebrated with us, thank you for taking the time and for your lovely wishes. We are blessed many times over with your love. :)
If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Active and Outdoor Play: A Johnson’s Baby Active Fresh Powder Review

Leading a healthier lifestyle has very much been an area of key focus for the past few months where I started some new fitness initiatives. I took up ice skating classes together with the kiddo earlier in the year and have been exercising weekly for the past few months. I like that the kiddo has an avenue to expend her energy and burn her ‘beans’ when we play outdoors or head to the rink.

Much has been said on outdoor play time and how it is important for early childhood development. In fact, in a recent video which I watched, The Play Experiment, Johnson’s baby conducted a social experiment to find out how kids play.

I personally thought that the findings were very interesting! Do you know that 7 out of 10 kids chose idle toys (figurines, devices, board games, etc.) over active toys (bicycles, soccer balls, Frisbees, etc.)! Whatever happened to the sun, the air and the great outdoors?

It seems that today's parents understand and see the importance of early childhood education for their kids as stepping stones to succeed later in life. However, it is also interesting to observe that this trend creates a more sedentary lifestyle for children, leaving little or no time for kids to play outdoors.
It is no secret that I favour outdoor time and as Dr. Chong (Dept. Head, Child Development, NUH) aptly shared in the video, kids who play often generally sleep better, can communicate their needs better and even focus better. So what’s the recommended time you might ask? 60 minutes each day.

As for me, with the change in lifestyle, I decided to bring Dumpling with me to Krabi recently where we had a chance to spend some time outdoors. I received a bottle of Johnson Baby’s Active Fresh powder just before I left for my trip and I brought it along with me.

:: Road Test
Johnson Baby’s Active Fresh powder uses a technology which neutralizes malodor where the powder masks it and renders it odorless. More than that, the Active Fresh technology continues to release a long last fragrance as the day wears on.

:: The Sand
Dumpling loves to run and bask in the sun and so do I. While I love to perspire and enjoy a good workout, Dumpling gets irritated when she gets all sticky. I, on the other hand, am one who is sensitive to smell. We used the powder when we headed to the beach and the sand did not stick to Dumpling much!
 (See how little sand stuck to her? Happily digging for seashells as the sand didn’t bother her much!)

:: The Sea
As for me, I put it to the test as we went snorkeling.

 While I love the sea and the sun, the seawater does tend to also be a tad sticky after snorkeling when we are on dry land.

So, I used it after our snorkeling and the light flora fragrance lingered on as the afternoon wore on. There was no sticky feeling and I felt fresh too.
:: The Sun

I even used it on a hot hot hot morning when we went elephant trekking!

It was definitely a great choice as the flora fragrance helped me deal with the ‘funky’ smell at the elephant trekking area.
So did the powder survive the road trip? Definitely! It is now a regular product which we use daily before leaving the home!

(The munchkin showing me her cheeky face and having fun apply the powder on her own)
The range (Bath + Powder) is available in major supermarkets and other retail outlets.

:: Disclaimer:
This is part of a sponsored conversation and review for Johnson’s Baby active fresh initiative.  Johnson’s Baby is advocating 60 minutes of active play a day which helps to build a sharper mind through increased concentration and improved problem solving skills, which aids in better academic performance.  (Based on a study conducted by the US Department of Health and Human Services and is adapted by several programs worldwide.)


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Parenting with Love - Counting down to Primary School

It has been almost 3 weeks since my last post. I have been tied up at work and on a few new 'projects' for our homeschool but there are also a lot of things have been on my mind too. With the munchkin entering into mainstream school in just a few months, a lot of doubts and worries clouded my mind. I believe very much in homeschooling but that would require me to take a step back from work and depend on a single source of income. Something that I am not prepared to do for the moment.

I do not like the academic drill and focus of the local system. While I understand the reasons for standardized tests, I feel that there are also many other areas which results and grades do not shed light on. I certainly feel that there is more to “life” than being textbook / worksheets smart. I rather have a child who enjoys discovering and is a keen learner than one who aces through rote and does not find joy in learning. I love my job and my colleagues so I cannot imagine how life will be where one has to go to school and yet dreading it daily.
When we homeschool, we do it at our own pace and at our own time, without having to worry if she is left ‘behind’ as the classes and activities can be tweaked according to her interests and her abilities. With public school, I will face the pressure and the competitive culture that Singapore is known for. Having a type ‘A’ personality, I worry that I get sucked into the whole Tiger Mum approach. I fear that I end up pushing my child. I fear that I will be one of those parents whose only mode of communication is to yell incessantly at the kid. Or worse, to yell at her for missing out on that half a mark on a paper. With each push and each yelling session, I worry that I will be a step removed from her, and from the bond that we have so preciously built up for the past few years.

Then I had a chat with someone from the Ministry recently and she shared something beautiful, and something wise with me.

On something beautiful: a businessman she met earlier in the week shared with her his ‘glorious’ 'successful' days where he had houses, penthouses and sports car aplenty. Unfortunately his business crashed during the 'dot com' era and though he managed to start up something again, it was never quite the same. His eldest child is getting married in a few months time and he told my friend that his greatest achievement is not how his business grew or how he managed to salvage the situation. His proudest moment instead is when his child said to him that she did not need any money from him for the wedding or renovation. But for him to keep the money for himself, for ‘old age’ she said. His greatest achievement lies in his children and how they have turned out, not what their results were.  
The wise sharing: my friend suggested for me to pen down on what sort of daughter I wish to see in 3 / 5 / 8 / 10 and 15 years down the road. Pen it down as a letter to her or as a journal entry for myself. "Read it again and you can then see what truly matters to you, as a parent," she said. 
In various blog entries, I have shared that I would consider my role as a mum, a successful one if my child is happy, healthy and is a compassionate person who also loves God. A year on and I still feel the same, and have the same thoughts. So yes, this will be my mantra and guiding light for the next 15 years to come. Hopefully I will still be able to remain as the fun, loving and supportive mum.


If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram.
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